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Water safety in your home

What is Legionella and Legionnaires’ disease?

Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia which is caused by the legionella bacteria.

It can affect anybody but those who are more susceptible include people over the age of 45, smokers, heavy drinkers, people with chronic respiratory or kidney disease and people with impaired immune systems.

Legionellosis is the collective name given to the pneumonia-like illness caused by legionella bacteria and includes the most serious and well-known Legionnaires’ disease, as well as the less serious conditions of Pontiac fever and Lochgoilhead fever.

Legionella are bacteria commonly found in the natural environment. They can also be found in artificial water systems such as storage tanks, pipework, taps and showers.

The bacteria is usually associated with larger water systems including factories, hotels, hospitals, museums and cooling towers, but they can also thrive in smaller water supply systems used in homes and other residential accommodation. Other potential sources of legionella include spa and whirlpool baths, humidifiers and fire-fighting equipment.

Legionella is able to survive in low temperatures and can multiply in temperatures between 20°C and 45°C. However, legionella is killed in high temperatures of 60°C and above.

How can our customers help?

You can identify and report issues that might increase the likelihood of legionella bacteria breeding to dangerously high levels.

If you have a water outlet, particularly a shower that is seldom turned on, we would advise that you turn it on and let it run for a few minutes every week.

When turning on a shower we suggest that you hold the shower head facing down over a bath before turning it on to lessen the risk of the spray being at breathing height.

We also suggest that you run your taps and showers if you have been absent from your property for more than 2 weeks.

If you are experiencing regular water temperatures which are hotter or colder than expected, please get in touch with us.

Is there a risk in your home?

Yorkshire Housing ensures any risk is minimised by implementing appropriate control measures.

All properties where staff work, and/or that have hot or cold domestic water systems to communal parts will have a risk assessment carried out and a management plan will be put in place within the required timescales. This includes incorporating a testing and cleaning regime.

Some of this work can be carried out in-house by trained members of staff, the remainder will be carried out by an appropriate contractor. These activities will be recorded.

We will inspect properties before they are offered to customers and any legionella risks would be identified during routine work carried out by our staff.

If you have any questions please get in touch.