Legionella is a type of bacteria found in the Legionellaceae family and can be found in low amounts in freshwater environments, such as lakes and streams. However, when Legionella bacteria finds its way into man-made hot and cold water systems, it can cause Legionnaires’ disease, which can become fatal for certain people and age groups.
Why are hot and cold water temperatures important?
Legionella, like other bacteria, requires certain habitats in order to survive and multiply. For Legionella to survive, water temperatures of between 20 and 45c must be met. If your hot and cold water tanks fall within these limits, it’s strong;y advised that you arrange a Legionella risk assessment with our team at AMES Group.
Below, we have outlined the systems you should check to control and reduce the risk of Legionella in all water system units.
Hot taps – How to check your water temperature
Temperature checks to identify the presence of Legionella can be conducted by anyone, and only requires a thermometer. However, landlords must know what to look out for when it comes to measuring the temperature of their hot and cold water systems.
Below is a simple step-by-step guide for identifying risks associated with Legionella:
- Place the thermometer inside the hot water flow for approximately one minute
- Record and read the temperature on the thermometer
- A safe recording should read no less than 50c
- If your recording is below 50c, it’s important you contact a Legionella risk assessor to conduct a survey of the property. This is a service we provide at AMES Group.
Cold taps – how to check your water temperature
In a similar concept to checking hot water tap temperatures, cold water taps should follow this format:
- Place the thermometer into the cold water flow, this time for two minutes
- Take a reading of the recorded temperature after two minutes
- Your recording should be below 20c
- If it is above, please contact us so we can instruct further
Water heaters/calorifiers – how to check your water temperature
It’s good practice to check the water flow and return temperatures at least once a month. Temperature probes can be used to safely monitor and record the temperature of calorifiers. If the outgoing water is less than 60c, this increases the risk of Legionella bacteria forming.
Air conditioning units – how to check your water temperature
In short, air conditioning units cannot cause Legionnaires’ disease, because the bacteria requires water to form and multiply. However, there are scenarios where air conditioning units can become infected with Legionella bacteria, these may include:
- If your air conditioning unit functions off a water-based system of cooling a refrigerant and then becomes infected with Legionella bacteria.
- If one of your water systems harbours Legionella bacteria, which then spreads to the air conditioning unit.
Maintaining your water systems and performing regular checks will alleviate the theta of Legionella being transferred through air conditioning units. If you discover that your water systems are contaminated and linked up to air conditioning units, please contact our engineers for advice and support.
Additional checks to ensure water temperature safety
We advise you take monthly water temperature and flow checks from your calorifier as well as checking your cold water temperature once every six months. You may find it helpful to keep records of your recorded temperatures, so that in the event of a risk assessment being carried out, we can reflect on this information and come up with solutions to fix the problem.
The risks of not checking water temperatures
The biggest threat associated with Legionella bacteria is Legionnaires’ disease. This type of disease can be fatal for some people, particularly those over 60 and those who suffer with compromised immune systems. If someone drinks or inhales water from a contaminated man-made water source, they are at risk of contracting the disease, and you may be held liable if your property’s health and safety regulations were not met.
For peace of mind and certified risk assessments
If you would prefer one of our certified engineers to conduct a full Legionella risk assessment at your commercial property, we’re here to help. Our risk assessments are designed to be fast, affordable and minimally-invasive to ensure we do not disturb your work environment. Once we have taken water samples from your systems, it will take approximately 2-3 weeks for your results to return. Once we have them we will contact you with results.
Book your legionella temperature test today and ensure the safety of yourself and your occupants.