One of the most important aspects of Legionella risk control is timeliness. As with any risk management programme, there is often an optimum timeframe for many of the tasks involved: leave it too long or do it too soon and your efforts may be in vain. The best approach to maximising efficiency is to follow an organised programme of monitoring tasks.
If your rental property is left vacant for any extended period of time e.g. during school or university holidays, make sure you flush all water outlets once a week. When a domestic water system isn’t used frequently water can stagnate in the system and allow bacteria to flourish. Keeping the water flowing is an important control measure for Legionella, so run all taps and showers for at least two minutes per week during void periods, making sure that you leave the room and ventilate the area well to avoid breathing in any infected particles. You should also flush all toilets.
The majority of the UK has hard water in its mains supply, meaning that limescale can be a particular problem. Calcium deposits around taps should be removed by your tenants as part of regular household cleaning, with limescale tackled at least once a month. We advise landlords to specify in the terms of the lease that tenants must descale monthly as a way of controlling the risk and keeping the system free of scale. Being vigilant about limescale will also prolong the life of your plumbing and appliances as well as helping them operate more efficiently.
Similarly, tenants should be required to descale showerheads quarterly, fully immersing the spray head in descaler for the recommended amount of time. For more advice on descaling and dealing with limescale, read our recent blog.
We recommend doing a visual check of the plumbing twice a year. It’s a good opportunity to check that your tenants have been descaling outlets as well as generally giving the pipework and water tank the once-over. Look out for rust, corrosion, sediment and biofilm too as these are all food sources for Legionella bacteria. Make a note of any remedial action or repairs required and be sure to carry them out promptly.
Once a year we recommend a full inspection of the water tank(s) in your rental property. Check for any cracks or damage, leaks or fissures and make sure that the lid fits properly. Is it properly insulated or lagged? If it’s an outside tank check that it isn’t in full sun as that could cause the stored water to heat up to bacteria-breeding levels. Also consider whether the tank needs cleaning as any slime, debris or sediment encourages bacterial growth. If it does, you can do this yourself or call in the experts (contact us to find out more about our tank cleaning services).
Your Legionella risk assessment should be reviewed every two years, or earlier if something has changed. Changes which should trigger a review include any building work or alterations to the plumbing, any changes to the law regarding Legionella risk control, a change of tenant or your current tenant’s risk profile changing (such as developing a health condition which makes them more susceptible to infection).
By following this simple Legionella control timetable you can ensure that you are meeting all your legal responsibilities and keeping your tenants safe. If you have any questions or need assistance with managing the risk of Legionella in your rental properties, contact us today.