Commercial building owners and managers often have a lot on their minds, from keeping up with regular maintenance around the facility to paying bills and conducting renovations. One thing that is easy to forget about is water treatment and caring for the water systems within the building.
In commercial buildings especially, bacteria like Legionella can pose a significant problem if not kept in check proactively. Be sure to test your water for Legionella regularly, and consider adding the following steps to your schedule to prevent the bacteria from proliferating and gaining a foothold to begin with.
Understanding Which Areas Are Most At Risk
One of the most valuable and time-saving things you can do in your journey to prevent Legionella is to be targeted in your approach. Some areas or types of machinery are more prone than others to fostering Legionella, and if you understand where and how many of them you house within your commercial building, you can develop a more refined strategy.
The spread of Legionella is most associated with showerheads, hot water tanks, decorative fountains or other water features, and especially hot tubs and cooling towers. These last two are some of the most common perpetrators.
Evaluate Water Temperature
Legionella bacteria thrive in warm water, typically ranging from the mid 70s to the mid 110s Fahrenheit. This is the ideal range in which Legionella can multiply and overtake your water system. If you are aware of areas of your water system that constantly operate within this temperature range, you have a potential Legionella target to focus on.
However, be aware that temperatures that can kill Legionella—typically upwards of 132 degrees—are too hot for humans, causing scalding injuries sometimes as soon as just a few seconds after exposure to hot water. Speak with a Legionella prevention professional to navigate how to keep your water at a prohibitory temperature without causing risk to others and abiding by regulations on safe water temperatures.
Conduct Regular Cleaning And Disinfecting
It is important not only for Legionella prevention but also general equipment maintenance that you actually physically clean the internal surfaces of your machines from time to time.
If you use a cooling tower, scrub the basin to remove sticky biofilm and sludge where Legionella can hide and find nutrients. The smooth, cleaner surfaces of freshly attended machinery and equipment will make it harder for Legionella to gain a foothold on which to begin a colony.
Consider Water Treatment
One of the most common and effective means of controlling Legionella bacteria in a commercial water system is to treat the water. Chlorine or chlorine dioxide is a common solution, but the exact formula that will work best for you is likely not a cookie cutter solution and must be developed based on the specific challenges and risks your system is facing.
Hyperchlorination from time to time can wipe out existing bacteria, but if you regularly use very hot water in your systems, this can make it harder to maintain adequate amounts of chlorine in your water. You may also consider using algaecides or biocides to cut into biofilms—sticky masses of biologic material that collect on water surfaces and provide a safe haven for bacteria.
In fact, biofilms can be so resilient that they shield Legionella from temperature and water treatment chemicals that can kill them. This means that even an established water treatment plan could fail to adequately address Legionella in your system if you are not comprehensive.
Establish Connections And Draft A Schedule And Plan
From understanding which chemicals to use to locating vulnerabilities and testing your water for Legionella, this is not a task that you should handle alone. Take the time to establish rapport and a connection with professional Legionella prevention experts who can offer guidance. This means that you will have a company on standby to assist immediately if you do begin to notice signs of Legionella and prevent an outbreak, since a swift response is critical.
They can also help you to create a schedule for testing, water treatment and cleaning that will both prevent the growth of this bacteria. Also a plan for an immediate response should you find legionella or other bacteria in your water systems this will keep you in compliance with local and state regulations for your commercial building.
Work With The Professional Legionella Prevention Experts
If you are considering how to prevent Legionella in your building, or if you have questions about your current plan and need advice, the pros at Tower Water can help. We understand that crafting an effective prevention strategy requires a custom plan tailored to your specific building. Reach out to schedule an appointment to discuss your options.