Legionella: keep your water safe and clean

Boy Washing Hands by WaterLegionella germs in your pipes and taps at home can lead to infections, which in some cases can be fatal. Luckily the risk of legionella being in your home is low, and we’ll help to manage the risk. There are steps you can take to help reduce the chances of your water being contaminated.

What is Legionella?

It’s the name given to a group of bacteria which can be found in rivers and lakes, which can sometimes enter the water pipes found in your home. In very small amounts legionella is not harmful. However, it can spread in a water system if the conditions are right for it to grow.

You will be at risk if you inhale water droplets from a contaminated system. Legionella can grow and spread if water is left standing in pipes for a long time, and if the temperature in the water system is between 20°C to 50°C.

The bacteria can cause a number of infections, and although most are not serious, this includes Legionnaires’ disease which can be fatal in 10–12% of cases. The likelihood of legionella being in your home is very low because most households do not store huge amounts of water. They also use water regularly so it’s not standing still in pipes.

What is Catalyst doing to reduce risk?

We use a water hygiene company to check whether legionella is present in any of the water systems in our homes. Where necessary, and in line with our legal obligations as a landlord, we regularly monitor and inspect buildings to make sure water systems are clean and the water is safe to use.

What you can do to keep safe?

Follow our tips to help keep the risk to a minimum.

  • Set the right temperature: make sure hot water cylinders are at 60°C or above. Regular use of cold water should also ensure temperatures stay below 20°C.
  • De-scale taps and showers: legionella can grow and multiply on scale or rust. De-scale taps and showers every three months or when there is an obvious build-up of scale. The harder the water in your area, the more frequently you should de-scale.
  • Use water taps once a week: this helps to make sure you don’t have water standing still in pipes. If you’ve been away for more than a week, you should run all your taps for a few minutes before using the water.

To find out more visit the legionella section of our website.