As your Landlord, we have a legal duty to make sure you are aware of the possible causes and symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease so you can identify any problems easily and report any concerns that you may have. The chance of contracting Legionnaires’ disease from the domestic water supply in your home is very low. However, there is some simple advice you can follow to protect yourself which is outlined below. Please read it carefully.
What is Legionnaires’ disease?
- Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia. Anybody can catch it, but it is more likely to affect those who are susceptible because of age, illness, immunosuppression or smoking.
- Most cases are usually in people aged between 40 and 70.
- There is no evidence to show the disease is contagious and only 200 to 400 cases of Legionnaires’ disease are reported in the UK each year.
- The bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease does not appear to multiply at temperatures below 20°C and it will not survive at temperatures above 60°C.
- The main area of concern is stagnant water which is stored between 20C and 45°C. This situation can occur where taps, showers and other outlets (including dishwashers and washing machines) within your home are not being used on a regular basis.
How do you get it?
- By inhaling small droplets of water from contaminated sources that contain legionella bacteria.
- The bacteria have to be carried in very small droplets of water, like the spray (fine aerosol) generated from a shower or spray taps. In domestic properties the risk from Legionnaires’ disease is considered to be very low due to the regular and continual use of the water supply.
The symptoms of Legionnaire’s disease are similar to those of flu, high temperature, fever or chills, headache, tiredness, muscle pain and a dry cough.
- You cannot get Legionnaires’ disease from drinking contaminated water.
What precautions can you take as a tenant?
- Not to interfere with the settings on your boiler or water heating system.
- The hot water should be set so that water is heated to at least 60°C. Just be aware of any scalding risks that this may present.
- Make sure the water coming out of cold outlets - is cold (not lukewarm).
- If a shower is not being used on a regular basis you should flush it through for at least 10 minutes every week. During this activity always allow the shower to run on a high temperature setting for a few minutes before resetting it back to normal. Always keep clear of the water flow/spray whilst doing this task and run the shower direct into the drain if possible.
Clean, descale and disinfect any shower heads periodically. This should ideally be done at least every 3 months. It is also highly recommended that you completely replace your shower head at least every 12 months.
- Always ensure you keep shower heads and taps clean and free from a build-up of any lime scale, mould or algae growth.
- Flush through any taps that are not used regularly for at least 10 minutes each week.
- If you have a dishwasher or washing machine within your property you should ideally make sure it is being used at least once per week.
- If you have an external hosepipe – always disconnect it after use and make sure any residual water has been emptied out. Never leave a hosepipe connected to an external tap particularly during warm/hot weather and always flush the hose (direct into a drain) for at least 2 minutes prior to re-use – with any spray creating nozzle removed. Always store hosepipes appropriately (in a cool place) when not in use.
Please tell us as soon as possible if:
- Your cold water is still running warm after you have initially run off any water which may have accumulated in the pipes.
- There are any problems with water flow, debris, foul odour or discolouration in the water.
- Your boiler, immersion heater or hot storage water tank is not working properly, particularly if the water is not coming out of the taps at a sufficiently high enough temperature after it has run for at least 1 minute.
What to do if you think you have contracted Legionnaires’ disease?
If you suspect that you or someone in your home has contracted Legionnaires’ disease, you MUST contact your doctor immediately. You should also contact us so that we can take the appropriate action.