Flushing Your Water Systems
Legionella and other types of harmful bacteria can colonize any water system, and if the water stagnates, these bacteria can proliferate to unsafe levels alongside biofilms forming within the system. To prevent Legionella and other types of harmful bacteria from getting to such unsafe levels, flushing should be used as a method of purging any bacteria from the water systems. This purging action ensures that the levels of Legionella and other bacteria remain low whilst also helping to remove biofilms from the system.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, buildings such as office blocks became vacant as individuals began working from home, this left water systems rarely used, if used at all, giving Legionella and other bacteria the ideal conditions to multiply. As a result, more care and attention needs to be taken when carrying out flushing as this is more likely to create an aerosol and if Legionella is present in the system, then the bacteria can be inhaled. To overcome this potential risk, you need to control aerosol generation. This can be controlled by reducing the force of impact of water on hard surfaces and removing spray outlets. If the control methods mentioned cannot be used, then the operative should be issued with a suitable face mask with P3 protection and the flushing undertaken when other building users are not in the area.
Methods for Flushing Safely
The following methods can be used to control the risk when flushing outlets on a water system:
- If the system is tank fed, ensure the water in the tank is not stagnant. This can be checked visually alongside checking the stored temperature is within 3°C of the incoming mains
- Remove spray outlets such as shower heads and kitchen plate washers where possible
- If spray heads/ inserts cannot be removed, then control aerosols by one of the following methods:
- Run the outlet into a bag with a corner cut out of the bottom so the water runs to the drain without release or aerosols
- Fit a hose large enough to go over the outlet and run the hose to the sink or drain so no aerosol is produced
- Hold a cloth or towel over the outlet whilst flushing, this will prevent aerosol production (this could contaminate the water too, so use this method sparingly)
- Flush all toilets with the seat down
- If an outlet is being flushed for the first time, but the rest of the system is okay, then run it slowly for the first 5 minutes and then increase the rate of flushing
- If flushing little used outlets on a well-controlled system where there is no Legionella presented or suspected, then flushing to mimic normal use
How to Ensure Compliance
Hydraclean Ltd ensures that all of our clients are compliant within the HSG274 Part 2 guidelines. Our Legionella specialists and water hygienists safeguard water systems by carrying out the following:
- Routinely checking building water systems where there is a risk from Legionella to ensure:
- A good turnover of water
- Adequate control parameters at outlets are achieved (temperature and/or biocide levels, and inspected for cleanliness)
- All inspections and measurements should be recorded with the following details:
- Name of person undertaking the survey, verified or authenticated by a signature or other appropriate means
- Date on which it was made
- Sufficient details of sample location so that a repeat sample can be taken at the location if needed
Hydraclean Ltd has developed its services to provide our clients with the best flushing and Legionella compliance services possible. Hydraclean Ltd offer weekly flushing and hot and cold water system checks to ensure that our clients water systems are fully compliant at all times. Furthermore to all the services that we offer our clients, we also have developed Delta Compliance Online, an app that allows our clients to always access the data for these tasks, at any time, to ensure they are compliant and can carry out some of the routine tasks simply ‘In House’.
Delta Compliance Online enables multiple sites to be monitored at the same time, saving on admin time and the handling of log books. To find out more about Delta Compliance Online, please visit our website www.hydraclean.co.uk or phone 0161 430 5100.