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Information about Legionnaires’ disease

Information about Legionnaires’ disease

Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia caused by bacteria which can be found in ponds, hot and cold water systems and the water in air conditioning and refrigeration systems. Legionnaires’ disease is caught by breathing in water droplets from air conditioning, spa baths or water systems such as showers that have been infected with Legionella bacteria.

Together Housing is committed to ensuring the Health and Safety of its customers at all times. To avoid Legionnaires’ disease, follow these simple procedures:

  • Store hot water at between 50oC 60oC. Legionella bacteria does not like temperatures that exceed 45oC.

  • The bacteria cannot breed in water cisterns where the water is used regularly. If your property is empty for over a week i.e. when you have been on holiday then you should run the hot water for ten minutes, this will turn over the water in the storage cistern (this does not apply to dwellings with combination boilers).

  • If your shower has not been used at least once in any seven day period, you should flush out the hose and head at arm’s length on the hottest setting available. Making as little spray as possible for two minutes. This will clear any stagnant water from the hose and head.

  • Clean any shower heads every month or sooner, should there be visible contamination to the shower head. This will maintain the good hygiene of the shower. The showerhead is a source of spray, making it the most likely appliance in a house that a person can potentially inhale water droplets containing Legionella bacteria. The showerhead can be cleaned with any good proprietary cleaner (available from most supermarkets).

  • You should also soak the showerhead and flexible hose in a disinfectant solution every 3 months to make sure any build up of bacteria is eradicated. This will ensure the most efficient operation of your shower and also make sure the water you are showering in is clean and will reduce the risk of antibacterial contamination.

  • Avoid stagnation within the water systems, open garden hose taps weekly, ensure all taps are used weekly for at least two minutes.

By following these simple procedures, it drastically reduces the risk from Legionella bacteria within a domestic dwelling.

Together Housing Group recommends that the temperature of bath and shower water is always tested before use. In the case of babies, children and older people the carer should do this. This is most easily done by immersing an elbow into the water. The elbow is more sensitive than the hand.

Together Housing Group will not recommend a water temperature for bathing as it is not practical to take a thermometer to the bath and devices which change colour cannot be relied upon.

Find out more on the NHS Choices website: 

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Ross is the Digital and Social Media Officer at Together Housing.