Did you know that 75% of the measured Legionella breakouts occur in drinking water installations?¹ And, that 9 out of 10 Legionella-outbreaks are caused by problems that could have been prevented with effective water treatment?¹
In-effective water management or engineering faults in the drinking water installation can increase the risks of Legionella. With a future focus on energy reduction, the requirements for drinking water installations are becoming stricter. Since energy is an important resource for combating Legionella, it is necessary to identify the risks for Legionella growth. By choosing the right solution in Legionella prevention, we can reduce energy usage and increase health perspectives.
Read in this article about the energy objectives of the future and how this may cause problems in drinking water installations. In addition, we will provide a possible solution to continue to guarantee Legionella safety.
Energy demand vs. the energy objectives
of the future
Legionella bacteria grow rapidly at a warm water temperature between 25 and 50 °C. The temperature for your nice hot shower session is not only important for your comfort, but also in combating Legionella. In theory, to kill Legionella the warm water temperature should reach 60 °C minimum. A disadvantage of such a high temperature is that it increases energy costs tremendously. For the production of hot water for one individual, 800kWh is needed on average.² Hot water usage remains unchanged, while strict objectives are made by the EU to reduce the energy demand by 2020. Consequently, more measures must be taken to combat Legionella in the drinking water installation.
Optimization of drinking water installations
There is a lot of potential for improving the design of hot water systems in order to reduce energy usage and ensure health. Also, there is adequate knowledge about the growth of Legionella in drinking water installations. However, with the ambitious energy objectives, the risks of Legionella growth are often not taken into account. Despite the fact that the drinking water installation design complies with legislations, unwanted heating and stagnant water might occur which stimulate Legionella growth.
Problems in the drinking water installation
Despite strict regulations concerning installation design, the risks of Legionella remain a concern. A hot water system design can be completely legionella safe but is always connected to a pipeline network where problems may arise. For example, when a hot water pipe is too close to a cold water pipe it will create a hotspot. When the cold water pipe is heated by its neighbouring hot water pipe, it poses a potential risk for contamination. A similar hotspot might arise through the use of underfloor heating where cold water pipework is installed too close to the heating system. Or pipework that is installed into lowered ceilings where rising heat causes hotspots.
Other problems that could lead to Legionella growth in the drinking water installation are long pipes and dead ends. Hot water cools down in long pipework, giving Legionella a chance to grow. Dead ends create stagnant water where the Legionella bacteria can multiply rapidly. Also, cheaper solutions are often chosen to generate more profit during a project. Such as plastic pipes that form a perfect base for biofilm growth. Biofilm is the breeding ground for Legionella which offers better circumstances for the bacteria to grow and survive.
Solution: professionals and copper silver ionization
The solution starts with the deployment of professionals. Requesting guidance from professionals in the field of Legionella prevention during the design and construction of drinking water systems will save you a lot of hassle in the future.
Nevertheless, our experience is that the Legionella bacteria can still find ways to grow. In this case, copper silver ionization is the best solution. According to the RIVM, copper silver ionization is the most effective Legionella prevention and control technique. This technique gets the job done, even in the event of difficulties in the drinking water installation. Due to an allover presence in the drinking water system, the residual effect is much longer and less flushing activities are required. In addition, copper silver ionization is effective at all water temperatures, hot spots and even in stagnant water.
This technology yields considerable costs savings in line with the energy objectives. As thermal treatment is no longer needed, copper silver ionization could lead to cost reduction on energy. Also valuable water can be saved as flushing the pipes of stagnant water could be reduced to a monthly activity.
Good for your wallet
Great for the environment
Even better for the future
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- DIN 4708-2. Zentrale Wassererwärmungsanlagen, Regeln zur Ermittlung des Wärmebedarfs zur Erwärmung von Trinkwasser in Wohngebäuden, 1994, Berlin.
- RIVM Rapport 703719078. (2012). Effectiviteit van beheerstechnieken voor legionella in drinkwaterinstallaties.
- Regeling legionellapreventie in drinkwater en warm tapwater, voorschrift 5.1.7 van bijlage 2.