Legionnaires disease is caused by legionella bacteria that can grow in water sources in your home. Luckily there are some simple steps you can take to keep you and your family safe.
What is Legionella and Legionnaires disease?
Legionnaires disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia, usually contracted by breathing in small droplets of contaminated water. It can be found in outside water sources, but also in hot and cold water systems in your home.
Luckily it’s rare for people to contract Legionella-related diseases. However, in certain conditions the bacteria can grow which increases the risk of someone catching the disease. The risk of contracting Legionnaire’s disease increases with age and is higher among people who:
- are over 50
- are heavy smokers or drinkers
- suffer from chronic respiratory or kidney disease
- have diabetes, lung and heart disease
- have an impaired immune system
What can you do?
There are some steps you can take to keep your water system safe:
- set your hot water thermostat to 50-60°C (122-140F).
- dismantle and clean your shower heads of limescale and debris every 3 - 6 months.
- disconnect and drain external hoses when not in use, and regularly flush external taps.
- thoroughly clean your tap heads
Leaving your home empty
If you’ve been away from home for ore than a week or if you have taps, showers or toilets that you don’t use every day we also recommend that you:
- run all taps and showers for at least five minutes.
- if you have a hot water cylinder which you’ve turned off or not used for a while, heat it up to around 60°C to kill off any bacteria.
- flush the toilet twice to circulate fresh water and empty the cistern.
Remember you should always tell us if you are leaving your home vacant for more than 28 days.
When to contact us
You should call us on 0300 123 2222 if:
- Your boiler or hot water cylinder isn’t working properly, especially if the water is not coming out of the taps at a high enough temperature
- The cold water is still running warm even after you’ve run off any water which may have accumulated in the pipes. Your cold water should not go above 20°C
- You notice any debris or discolouration in the water.
Most of our customers have a mains fed cold water supply but if you still have a cold water storage tank ensure it has a close fitting lid and is lagged with insulation. If not, then please contact us to rectify this.