The workforce shift to home environments emptied commercial buildings across the nation. Dynamic gyms, bustling offices, lively dormitories, and other once-filled public spaces pressed pause at least once in recent months.
As building owners reopen, there are water safety issues to consider. Lead, copper, and harmful organisms, like Legionella, often accumulate in stagnant water, making it hazardous for employees, guests and residents. There are steps building owners can follow to prevent contamination and improve water quality over the long term.
Flush Out as a First Line of Defense
Before people begin flowing through your doors, flush out your building’s water system via all points of use. If you detect odor, you’ll want to get water moving through a few times, until it subsides. If occupants return in segments, consider repeating the flushing protocol for several months in corresponding phases.
Now is also a good time to do some maintenance:
- Check on pressure reducing valves and backflow preventers. If there is standing water, look for debris and sediment in the water, especially for solutions with steel-on-rubber elements.
- Inspect the strainer screens. Strainers also catch debris and sediment, which can build up over time. Clean out strainer screens, as part of the flushing protocol.
- To minimize any aerosolizing of bacteria from the water system, clean out flow controls or aerators in your system. Consider changing them over to a laminar product.
Is your building smart?
You can schedule automatic flushouts based on your operation. Set sensor faucets to turn on once a day to purge the lines. Use smart, also known as IoT-enabled, technology, like Zurn plumbSMART, to monitor usage, set up custom alerts for high or low usage, and track trends. That data can be used to adjust the building’s water management plan for optimized performance and ideal intervals.
Combat Bacteria and Control User Temps
Water temperature also helps reduce risks associated with water stagnation, particularly against bacterial growth. While the right hot water temperature can combat bacteria, such as Legionella; it can scald hands during handwashing. So, how can you address both safety issues at once?
Thermostatic mixing valves control temps at the source, instead of the water heater. That way you can:
- Inhibit bacteria growth before it reaches point of use
- Cut down on wasted running water, while waiting for right temps
- Ensure consistent, safer temps for user comfort
- Prevent risk of bacteria growth and scalding at once
- Upgrade economically without major install steps or system changes
Understand the Risks of Legionella and Take Control
Legionella is a naturally occurring bacteria in fresh water that can be hazardous to humans. The bacteria can grow in large plumbing systems. People who breathe in aerosolized contaminated water droplets may develop a serious lung infection known as Legionnaires’ disease. Usually this disease is treatable with antibiotics. However, it is fatal in about 1 of 10 people.1 Maintaining a temperature of 140° F in hot water heaters can minimize the potential of Legionella growth.
All these proactive steps can help building owners battle the issues of water stagnation and improve water quality. Zurn offers a range of water control and connected products and solutions to fit your goals and budget for water safety and quality. Visit zurn.com to learn more.
- Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Legionnaires’ Disease Fact Sheet, 7/18/2016.