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WATER TREATMENT Winter water systems maintenance


Spencer Culley, managing director at Churchill Environmental, explains the importance of water system maintenance and treatment, with a focus on acon needed during the winter months


he maintenance and treatment of water systems is a vital aspect of building management in any sector. The UK Government has strict guidelines in place on hot and cold water systems, and for good reason – failure to be compliant can lead to bacteria outbreaks that can result in serious illness, or even death.


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At Churchill, we work throughout the year to make sure water systems are free of bacteria and contamination. Hospitals, schools, Universities, and offices all have unique needs, but the basic principles of compliance stay the same: hot water systems need to be above a certain temperature, and cold water systems below another, to avoid stagnation.


Depending on the complexity of the water system, temperature checks can be carried out manually or by using mechanical solutions or remote monitoring. We’ve found through experience that service voids and pipes behind panels are common areas that fail to meet the required temperatures. As we enter the winter months, a new set of challenges are presented to facility managers. The major issue we see is the potential stagnation of water systems due to infrequent use. This is defined as not being used for seven days, or less frequently in healthcare. Infrequently used parts of a system require regular flushing to ensure systems remain bacteria-free. University halls of residence are a prime example. Entire buildings are vacated for weeks on end with sinks and showers going without use. We work with many building managers to identify areas of a building that need flushing. This can be done manually, or with valves that are timed to automatically flush a system. A common mistake can be to turn off hot water when a building is not in use. This is not advisable; indeed, we often use sensors on hot water systems that send alerts if the temperature dips below the required level. Where a building, or part of a building, is not fully used or temporarily out of use, normal legionella controls are compromised. While a flushing regime may well minimise any microbial growth, sampling for legionella may be prudent once re- opening for use. Legionella is one of





the more dangerous bacteria that can develop in water systems and can multiply quickly when conditions are favourable.


While previous legionella tests would take 10 – 15 days for a lab to send results, there are now on-site tests available that confirm the presence of legionella bacteria almost immediately. These could be a crucial component in any FM’s arsenal.


With foresight, planning, the implementation of compliance software and/or partnering with expert external teams, the winter months shouldn’t cause any additional stress for FMs. The key thing to look out for is infrequent use and stagnation, which can be addressed and remedied with relative ease. Keep up with the other compliance basics and your water systems will make it through to spring in top condition.


As we enter the


winter months, a new set of challenges are presented to facility managers. The major issue we see is the potenal stagnaon of water systems due to infrequent use. This is defined as not being used for seven days, or less frequently in healthcare





BSEE


Read the latest at: www.bsee.co.uk


BUILDING SERVICES & ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEER FEBRUARY 2020 31


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