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Plumbing Systems: A Key Line of Defense Against Legionella

Legionella is a type of bacteria that can cause Legionnaires' disease, a serious form of pneumonia. The bacteria can grow in warm water, such as in hot water heaters, cooling towers, and decorative fountains.

Plumbing systems can help to prevent the growth of Legionella by:



Keeping water temperatures hot. Legionella bacteria cannot survive in water that is heated to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Water heaters should be set to this temperature or above. To keep within code regulation on residential buildings, we will then need a mixing valve to drop down the temperature to 120 Fahrenheit to supply the plumbing fixtures.


Flushing pipes regularly. Flushing pipes help to remove sediment and biofilm, which can provide a breeding ground for Legionella bacteria. Pipes should be flushed at least once a year, and more often if the water is stagnant. At the same time the storage tanks can be drained and cleaned when flushing the system.


Using chemical treatments. There are several chemical treatments that can be used to kill Legionella bacteria. These treatments can be added to the water supply, or they can be applied directly to surfaces where Legionella bacteria may be present.


Installing filtration systems. Filtration systems can remove Legionella bacteria from the water supply. These systems are especially important for people who are at high risk for Legionnaires' disease, such as those with weakened immune systems.


By taking these steps, plumbing systems can help to prevent the growth of Legionella bacteria and protect people from Legionnaires' disease.

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