We take it for granted that in most developed countries, our water is safe, clean, and abundant. The comfort of having hot water whenever we need it is an expected thing in modern homes, but have you ever considered the health of the water that comes you’re your hot water system? Contamination is a serious threat to your hot water system’s health. Because of the heating process, hot water systems may contain more dissolved metals, minerals, and harmful bacteria.
Copper pipes are widely used in residential plumbing systems. However, when water is left standing in pipes for a lengthy period, it can become contaminated with metals such as copper and, in some cases, lead.
Lead is a tasteless, colorless, and odorless metal that may pass through water unnoticed. Lead contamination is a danger to the safety of drinking water. Adults who consume excessive lead levels are at a higher risk of stroke, cancer, impaired memory, kidney disease, and high blood pressure.
Lead can also be obtained from corroded metal faucets containing lead particles and impurities.
Bacterial Growth in Water Heaters
Hot water systems, if not heated to the right temperature, can be the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. This happens when hot water is left unutilized and static for long periods or if the water heater is turned off for an extended length of time. Bacterial growth can also occur if the heater’s thermostat is set too low. If you notice that your hot water isn’t quite hot enough or it runs out sporadically, consider hiring a plumber to undertake a hot water system repair in your home, there may be something wrong with the settings that can be a quick fix, or perhaps it’s time for a replacement.
Bacteria accumulating in the water heater might potentially emit a sewage or rotten egg odor. The flavor and smell can be extremely unpleasant.
In situations where the hot water tank is not hot enough or that the water has been left statis for a long period of time, there is a chance that more hazardous bacteria will be present in your water system. For example, legionella is one of the most common pathogens discovered in a household hot water system.
Legionella bacteria are naturally found in freshwater habitats such as streams and lakes. However, when these bacteria thrive and spread in hot water tanks and heaters, it can represent a health danger.
Legionella-infected water can spread in droplets tiny enough for people to breathe in. When persons breathe in small droplets of water, they can contract Pontiac fever or Legionnaires’ disease.
Ways to Reduce Hot Water System Contamination
Water contains impurities, so it must be filtered and disinfected by water utilities. However, as water passes through your water heater tanks and faucet, it can accumulate contaminants and bacteria again. To protect your family’s safety and health, you can follow the following recommendations for reducing the risk of hot water system contamination.
- Flush your plumbing system
Flushing your plumbing system is the easiest and fastest technique to eliminate bacterial and lead contamination. You can save water by flushing the plumbing system if the water has been unused for a long period of time such as a few weeks whilst you went on holiday or if you are buying a house that has been vacant for a while.
You flush your system because there may be areas in the pipes where water has accumulated. The temperature of the water is not consistently controlled in these areas, so bacteria may thrive. It should take about 15 minutes to flush your hot water system.
Begin by turning on your bathroom’s hot water faucets. Then turn on the hot water faucets in the bathtub, shower, and sink. Finally, switch on all remaining hot water fixtures. Don’t forget to include your cold water fixtures but only flush them for 5 minutes. This will ensure that all contaminated water is flushed out of your home’s pipes and water system.
- Clean and Disinfect all Hot Water Fixtures and Appliances
All hot water fixtures should be cleaned and disinfected regularly to eliminate dirt, debris, bacteria, and other contaminants. Clean the faucet aerators and showerheads if dirt has accumulated to help prevent germs from forming within the fixtures.
To eliminate the build-up, you may need to remove the showerhead and hose and soak them in a cleaning solution and disinfectants. Cleaning procedures should be followed as directed by the manufacturer.
You can repeat the procedure with the rest of your hot water fixtures. Spray the cleaning solution if you cannot remove the fixtures and sit for a few minutes to enhance the disinfectant’s efficacy.
- Adjust the Water Heater to the Recommended Water Temperature
Adjusting the thermostat of your home’s water heater to an optimum level can help inhibit the development of bacteria such as legionella. When your water heater is installed, your plumber will set the thermostat to a minimum temperature of 60°C. This inhibits bacterial growth in hot water tanks.
However, some hot water systems will have a maximum water temperature set of 50° Celsius when it comes out of the tap. This temperature is warm enough for a bath or shower but not hot enough to scald.
Higher water temperatures eliminate many harmful bacteria, but they also increase the risk of scalding. To avoid scalding, use thermostatic valves to regulate cold and hot water in your shower or faucet.
- Have Regular Servicing and Maintenance
Regular maintenance and servicing of your hot water system can increase the longevity of the life of your hot water system.
Licensed plumbers work to meet the standards of government-mandated safety, water quality, technical parameters, and other guidelines which are there to keep you safe.