Water is essential for life, whether for you, your pets or your plants. However, if not stored correctly it can also present a risk to your health.
Harmful microscopic bugs known as Legionella bacteria can build up in your taps, pipework, cylinders and tanks – especially if water has not been running through them properly. If you breathe these bacteria in, they can make you ill with something called Legionnaires’ disease.
Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia that can affect anybody. It can be very dangerous and potentially even fatal. Some people are more at risk than others, including smokers and heavy drinkers, people over 45, and people with diabetes; or lung and heart conditions
We carry out regular safety assessments in properties such as apartment blocks, which have a communal water supply and tanks, and double-check where Legionella is more at risk of developing. In addition, we carry out regular temperature monitoring and flushing regimes. We always make these checks before we let a property as part of our health and safety programme, even if they have been checked recently.
There are a few simple steps you can follow to help reduce the risk of Legionnaires disease:
- If you have taps or showers you don’t use regularly, run them for 5-10 minutes at least once a month to clear the pipes.
- Try to clean the outside of taps and shower heads at least once every three months.
- Ensure there are no places where water can sit still as this can build up bacteria.
If you require further advice, please call us on 0161 448 4200. A copy of Southway’s Water Safety Policy is available on our website.
Heating controls and pipes
Having a good understanding of how to control your heating can help you stay warm and safe all year-round. If you’re unsure on how to control your heating, contact us.
If you have central heating, use the thermostat to keep the temperature comfortable. During the day a good setting is between 18°C and 22°C. If it’s very cold outside, set the heating to stay on continuously, but turn the thermostat down lower for the night. Remember, the higher the thermo-stat setting, the more fuel you use.
If you’ve got central heating and you’re away when it’s cold outside, leave the heating on continuously with the thermostat right down to 6°C to avoid the risk of your pipes freezing. If you don’t have central heating and you’re going away, turn the water off at the stop tap by turning the tap clockwise. Then drain off all the cold water. This empties the pipes and cold-water tank. Then turn the immersion heater to OFF. If you have a solid fuel boiler, let the fire die out, then drain off all the hot water.
Make sure you’re familiar with where your stop-tap is and that it is working properly. If there are problems with it, let us know as soon as possible.
If a pipe bursts in your home, try not to panic. Give us a call and follow the steps below to get your home safe and dry again as soon as possible:
- Turn the water supply off at the stopcock tap. It’s probably near the kitchen sink. Turn off any gate valves from the water tank.
- Turn the cold taps ON. Make sure the sink and bath plugs are out. And save some drinking water in a jug for later.
- Turn the immersion heater and central heating OFF if you have them. If you have a solid fuel boiler, let the fire die out.
- Turn the hot taps ON to drain out the water.
- If there’s water near the lights or sockets, turn the electricity off at the meter.
- Catch leaks in basins and soak up water with towels to prevent water damaging your home.
- Try to keep warm and dry. Put on extra layers of clothes until things warm up again.