Legionella bacteria

Let homeowners know if they’re risking Legionella

Gas engineers should notify homeowners and dutyholders if they become aware that Legionella could grow in their domestic water systems. The HHIC’s Installation, Service & Training (IST) Group is reminding engineers of the importance of this advice if they become aware of the potential while they are attending heating and hot water breakdowns.

The HHIC Group says that even when gas engineers at a breakdown aren’t there to undertake a specific inspection or risk assessment of the water system, they should always bring any obvious non-conforming installations or risks to the attention of the homeowner or dutyholder.

It’s a similar approach to that when engineers come across a gas appliance that is Not to Current Standards but is safe for use: the customer should be advised verbally and notified in writing on the job sheet, where appropriate.

A typical example could be where a gas engineer attends a property where they need to inspect the feed and expansion tank in the loft, and they see that the cold water storage cistern supplying a vented hot water cylinder is uninsulated, not WRAS-approved, and in poor condition with no lid or screened overflow fitted. While this typical scenario may not directly lead to the presence of Legionella, when it’s combined with other considerations, the risks of exposure to occupants starts to increase.

Gas engineers can help to prevent exposure to this nasty and dangerous disease by highlighting any non-conforming installations contributing to the risk of the formation of Legionella bacteria to the occupier or dutyholder, along with highlighting to them where they can find information about how to reduce the risks.

The HSE provides comprehensive free guidance for dutyholders here.

The presence of Legionella bacteria in water systems doesn’t vary according depending on the season, and the risks of it forming remain much the same throughout the year – whenever the water system’s conditions are such that will enable its growth.

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