Updated on 10th May, 2023 by Martin Astley
Most people don’t realise exactly how dangerous plumbing problems can be. Our drainage and plumbing cover team frequently sees households where the plumbing system is potentially contaminated, which can lead to a wide range of different illnesses.
What is Legionnaire’s Disease?
One of the main health problems plumbing engineers are concerned about is Legionnaire’s disease. This illness arises when the legionella bacteria infect a person’s lungs. It can lead to flu-like symptoms, chest pains, breathing difficulties, and hospitalisation. Between 10% and 15% of people who contract the disease will lose their lives as a result of complications, and in 2010, 38 people died from the condition in England and Wales alone.
The legionella bacteria thrive in water systems, including domestic water supplies in the UK. It particularly favours standing and stagnant water that is between 20 and 45 degrees C. Plumbing systems can also encourage the growth of this bacteria if they contain inappropriate fittings, appliances, and materials that harbour microorganisms or provide nutrients for the bacteria to grow.
Preventing Legionella in Home Plumbing Systems
Plumbing repairs should therefore be completed according to the guidance in the Health and Safety Executive’s Approved Code of Practice for the Control of Legionella Bacteria in Water Systems. Everyone who is involved in the development, installation, production, and maintenance of water systems has both a legal and moral duty to take all reasonably practicable steps to prevent legionella bacteria from growing.
However, cowboy traders are unlikely to be aware of the steps they need to take to protect the safety of their “customers,” and even if they are aware of the risks, they are likely to cut corners and take shortcuts rather than make a serious attempt to deal with the problem.
Home emergency cover and Legionnaire’s Disease
To minimise the risk of Legionnaire’s disease, water systems must:
- Keep water temperature below 20 degrees C and above 60 degrees C, with consideration of the risk of burns and scalds
- Minimize the amount of water that is sprayed into the air.
- be kept clean and well-maintained to prevent microbial growth.
- developed in such a way as to reduce water stagnation, such as by removing unnecessary cisterns or pipework and shortening pipe lengths as much as possible.
- made using appropriate materials that prevent legionella bacteria and other bacteria from prospering, with synthetic rubber gasket plasticizers highlighted as a key location for the growth of legionella.
Boilers and central heating systems can host the legionella bacteria as they store water. Modern combi boilers pose a lower risk than older models as they keep the water moving. However, people with more modern boilers may still become infected with this deadly disease, as it can flourish in spa baths and whirlpool baths.
Stay safe with 247 Home Rescue
If your plumbing system breaks down or starts leaking, you need to get in touch with specialists; don’t just use someone an acquaintance has recommended to you.
If you’re having trouble with any aspect of your boiler. If you’re suffering from a home emergency such as an electrical breakdown, plumbing problem, or security issue, then be sure to get in touch with us.
Call us on 0345 3192 247, and one of our friendly technical team members will go through some simple diagnostics to see if your problem can be resolved over the phone. If not, we’ll send an engineer to be with you as soon as possible to ensure you’re back up and running in no time.
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