Legionella in Idle Water Systems

With the rampant issues for the past two years caused by the pandemic, many businesses have been forced to close their doors to customers. Yet, many business owners are unaware of what might be lurking within their pipes when their systems are allowed to idle for long periods. What’s lurking…? A very nasty bacteria that chlorine cannot do away with easily. This harmful bacteria, Legionella, can be problematic.

Legionella is a particularly pesky bacteria that can lurk in many water systems – But usually, it is held at bay by your active water system flushing away films and sediments before they can allow bacteria to fester.

How Does Legionella Infect My Business’s Water System?

While minute amounts of Legionella pose little risk to patrons, allowing a water system to sit and stagnate propagates this waterborne bacteria throughout any body of water. Experts say it thrives in certain other amoebae, ciliated protozoa, or biofilm. Even finished water supplies aren’t immune to this problem. Running the water after your business reopens will likely not flush it from your systems – It is protected by biofilm, which is within your pipes.

Which Businesses are Most Susceptible to Legionella Infections?

Any building with an HVAC system with water condensation, buildings with cooling towers, and any residence with common standing water – Including water heaters. Other buildings that might have issues with this are closed gyms and community centers – Any pool, hot tub, bath, or other systems that could be considered hazardous.

What is Legionnaires’ Disease?

Legionnaires Disease is a bacterial infection caused by breathing in water vapors contaminated by Legionella. Historically, this disease is fatal for one in ten individuals, so you must test your building for this before reopening to prevent tragedy from befalling your patrons and employees.

What Happens If My Building is Infected?

If Legionella has compromised your building, you will need to call in sanitization experts to cleanse the building’s water supply of the bacteria – Considering that it is in biofilm and more ‘hardy’ than you would expect, this can be rather extensive. The cleansing process will include bio-dispersants to penetrate any biofilm, mineral deposits, and other porous locations that harbor the bacteria.

Do not wait or assume that it can be managed with simple hand-washing. This bacteria is hardy and can absolutely devastate anyone it infects. So be sure first to use a test once you reopen your business to detect Legionella, and then if it’s within your water systems, call in the experts to be certain it is flushed from your system.