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Our COVID-19 Response See Our Statement

COVID-19: Plumbing Systems & Legionella


No one knows exactly what will happen with COVID-19 in the coming days, weeks, and months. That’s why it’s important for building owners and managers to prepare their buildings in the short-and long-term as tenants begin to think about returning to the workplace.

Right now, plumbing system maintenance may not be at the top of mind, but there are a few things that building owners and managers can do now that will make a big difference later.

Immediately

  1. Thoroughly flush all of the domestic water lines, removing stagnant water.
  2. Clean the hot water system to prevent any possible legionella, a bacteria that can be deadly if it gets in your lungs. With buildings shut down, this is the perfect condition for legionella to flourish. Of particular concerns are buildings with shower rooms where legionella may be present in the hot water lines and could easily be inhaled from the steam created during showering.
  3. The most effective cleaning solution is to chlorinate the water system, which is comparative to installing a new system. As part of the restoring of the domestic water system, the building can engage their building Plumbing Contractor and water testing company to perform and these tests and confirm the quality of the water being delivered.
  4. Another place for legionella to breed is within the  cooling tower water basin. The building should engage their chemical treatment vendor to test and adjust the chemical levels of the condenser water. 

Long-term

  1. Provide automatic trap priming for all floor drains and floor sinks. This will maintain plumbing traps during periods of low or no water flow in the water distribution system.
  2. Replace manual flush valves with programmable flush valves. Program valves to flush a minimum of once a week. This will help in controlling stagnation of the water lines and to keep flushing of the drain lines.
  3. To help necessary contact points in the restroom, lavatory faucets, soap dispensers and paper towel holders can be replaced sensor operated/touchless units and the egress door could be equipped with a foot operator.

If you’d like to find out more information about these plumbing systems and how they can help your building, please reach out to our Associate Principal and technical plumbing expert, Gregory Riley at griley@wbengineering.com.

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