What do I need to know about water safety?

Water Safety covers Legionella, hot water and overheating thermostats.

What is Legionnaires’ disease?

Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia that can kill. It can affect anybody, however, it mainly affects vulnerable people due, for example, to age, illness, a lowered immune system or smoking.

A bacterium called Legionella Pneumophila, and other bacteria that live in rivers, lakes and reservoirs cause the disease. They can also live in purpose-built water systems including hot and cold-water systems, storage tanks, pipe work, taps and showers. In the right conditions, the bacteria may grow. This increases the risk of legionnaires’ disease so it is important to control the risks.

The risks tend to be higher in larger water systems like those in factories, hotels, hospitals, museums and cooling towers. But the bacteria can also live in smaller water-supply systems used in homes and other residential accommodation.
Legionella can survive in low temperatures, but thrive at 20°C (68°F) to 50°C (122°F). Temperatures of 60°C (140°F) and over will kill Legionella.

How to reduce the risk of Legionella in your home

The risk of Legionella is very low, but you can take steps to avoid it. The risk is greater when you move into a new home. It is also higher if you are returning after a long break.

  • Keep your cistern covered, insulated, clean and free from debris
  • Make sure your pipe work is insulated. If it isn’t, ask us to do it for you
  • Run your shower or hot tap continuously for at least 5 minutes when you move in or return after a long break. This flushes out any bacteria.

Please remember that if you are going away for over 2 weeks, let us know. Then we won’t think you have abandoned your home.

What we do to reduce the risk of Legionella

We are responsible for some large water tanks in blocks of flats, which supply more than one home. We arrange regular checks of these water systems for Legionella.

Hot water

Accidents involving overheating hot water cylinders are rare. However if you know the warning signs, you can help to make sure you and your family are safe if your cylinder does overheat.

These are the warning signs to look out for:

  • Excessively hot water coming out of the hot taps
  • Excessive noise or ‘bubbling’ from the hot water cylinder
  • Hot water coming out of certain cold taps (some storage cisterns also feed cold taps in the bathroom)
  • Steam/moisture in the roof space

If you think your thermostat may be overheating, please turn it off and contact us on 01452 424344.

If you report a problem with an immersion heater, we will check whether any of the warning signs are present. We will ensure that all immersion heaters we repair or replace have a safety cut out feature.

You can also contact Gloucester City Council’s Environmental Services on 01452 396396.