Water Safety after COVID-19 ECQ

As businesses, buildings and other facilities are preparing for reopening, we at Advance Machine would like to remind everyone to include water and sanitation in your business continuity plan.

Many businesses are temporarily closed to the public or have limited access in order to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Due to the resulting drop in water use, the plumbing in your business, buildings and other facilities can carry stagnant or standing water. This increases the risk of bacterial growth, such as Legionella and other waterborne bacteria in your plumbing system, and in associated equipment that use water like cooling tower, pool, fountains and ice machines.

This is because bacteria multiplies rapidly when water is stagnant or slow moving.

Why is this important?

legionnaires disease bacteria

This digitally colorized scanning electron microscopic image depicts a large number of Legionella pneumophila bacteria. CDC

Legionella bacteria causes Legionnaires’ disease, a serious type of pneumonia. According to the US Center for Disease Control, about 1 in 10 people who get sick with Legionnaires’ disease will die.
The threat from Legionnaires’ disease is compounded by the fact that those afflicted by this disease tend to display the same symptoms as corona virus patients, i.e., cough, chills and fever, which increase the risk of misdiagnosis.

Starting up water systems after closure and low use

Reduce potential for water borne diseases: To ensure safety, you and your team must wear proper PPE during the disinfecting and flushing process. Use N95 masks or similar approved protective respiratory masks, eye protection, protective gloves, and suitable protective clothing.

  1. Flush water through all hot and cold water fixtures (ex. Shower, faucet, eyewash stations, etc.)
    • Flushing may need to occur in segments (e.g. floors or individual rooms) due to facility size. The purpose is to replace all water inside the piping with fresh water.
    • Remove all aerators screen on all fixtures before flushing. Clean or replace aerator screens once clean to get rid of scale deposits. deposits.
    • Disinfect and clean shower heads.
  1. Drain decorative fountain, hot tubs, and pools completely.
    • Follow any recommended manufacturer or contractor guidelines for cleaning
    • Ensure that the water features are free from visible slime or biofilm before replacing water.
    • After refilling water makes sure that the disinfectant (such as chlorine) is at the correct level.
  1. Cooling towers, chillers, heat exchangers and associated piping should be completely drained.
    • Follow manufacturer’s guidelines and follow industry best practice.
    • Ensure that the tower and water basins are free of visible slime or biofilm before use.
  1. Ice machines, coffee maker, soda machines, water filters and other similar device should be drained and flushed.
    • Flush, clean and disinfect these according to manufacturer’s specification.
  1. Disinfect inlet lines and install new filers prior to startup.
  1. For those with water pump system, check electrical wiring and equipment for signs of damage prior to startup. Flush water accumulated inside the storage tank and pressure tank.
  1. Document flushing schedules. Routine flushing may mitigate necessity of disinfecting the potable water system.


  1. Developing a Water Management Program to Reduce Legionella Growth and Spread in Buildings: A Practical Guide to Implementing Industry Standards June 5, 2017. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services CDC https://www.cdc.gov/legionella/wmp/toolkit/index.html
  2. Emergency Disinfection of Small Water Systems, Publication 331-242 revised 2/17/2020, Washington State Department of Health https://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/Pubs/331-242.pdf
  3. Guidance for Building Water System, updated April 22, 2020, CDC. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/building-water-system.html

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