Water Hygiene and safety
Having clean water in your home is vital for your health and wellbeing.
Although most household water systems contain some bacteria and other organisms which do not cause any problems, you can become ill if the bacteria multiplies in the right conditions. The bacteria can spread in small droplets of water (such as the spray from showers or taps) which if inhaled, can cause Legionnaires disease.
It isn’t spread directly from person to person and you can’t get it from drinking water.
Legionnaire’s disease is a form of lung disease, caused by legionella bacteria. It is quite rare with only 400-500 cases reported in the UK each year. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/legionnaires-disease/
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms are similar to those of flu:
- High temperature
- Muscle Pain
- Dry Cough
What to do if you think you have contracted Legionnaire’s disease?
If you suspect you or someone in your household has contact Legionnaire’s disease contact your doctor immediately.
You should also contact us on 0800 169 5454 so we can take appropriate action.
1. What you can do to keep you and/or your family safe in your home
Follow these simple steps to help keep bacteria number low:
- Run all unused taps (indoor and outdoor) for at least two minutes weekly
- If you are going to be away from your home for a week or more, make sure you run your taps when you get home, this will help to flush out excess bacteria
- Keep all showerheads and taps clean and free from the build-up of limescale.
- Keep hot water at a minimum temperature of 60°C but beware of the risk of scalding. If you are not sure how to adjust the temperature of your boiler, let us know.
- If you have any concerns about your water system, give us a call on 0800 169 5454.
Preventing burst pipes in cold weather
Why do frozen pipes sometimes burst?
Water expands as it freezes, pressurising the pipe from the inside out. Whether the pipe is strong enough to withstand the pressure without buckling comes down to the volume of water that’s frozen, the type, shape and age of the pipe, and whether corrosion was already present.
If a pipe freezes...
- Turn off the water supply at the stopcock.
- Check to see if the pipe has burst.
- Slowly thaw the pipe with hot water bottles or a towel soaked in hot water, starting at the end nearest the tap.
- You can also use a hair-dryer (lowest setting) but NOT a naked flame or blowlamp.
To prevent a pipe from freezing
- Insulate pipes, particularly pipes in unheated areas like loft spaces or garages. Make sure there are no gaps at bends, valves or fittings.
- Fix dripping taps – even a small trickle can result in a frozen pipe.
- Find your property’s internal stopcock or valve and make sure you can turn it off if necessary. Most stopcocks are fitted under the kitchen sink and close by turning clockwise.
- Minimise draughts from outside and close doors and windows to unheated parts of the property.
- Leave the heating on low when you are away and get a friend or neighbour to check the property regularly.
- If a property is going to be unoccupied for long periods, turn off the water at the stopcock and consider draining down the system so there is no water left in the pipes.
2. What we can do to keep you safe in your home
Dealing with a water leak
If there is a leak outside your property, please contact you water supplier (usually Severn Trent https://www.stwater.co.uk/in-my-area/check-my-area/)
If the leak is inside your home or building, turn the water off at the stopcock (usually found under your sink or in an airing cupboard) please call us on 0800 169 5454. Make sure that you turn the taps off in the bath, sink and basins and remove plug (this prevent any flooding when the water is turned on again)
3. Where you can find more information
For data about Legionella from the Governments website - https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/legionnaires-disease-guidance-data-and-analysis
For advice about symptoms - https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/legionnaires-disease/
For advice about your water supply - https://www.stwater.co.uk/building-and-developing/help-and-faqs/water/am-i-at-risk-of-legionnaire-s-disease/Water Safety Factsheet Water Safety Animation