Flushing Guidance for Re-opening Low or No Occupancy Buildings
LITTLE ROCK – When building water systems are not used, there is a potential for both microbial and chemical health risks, such as Legionella, in the system. Since many businesses and school buildings have been closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we recommend utilizing the following guidance offered by the Arkansas Department of Health before your building returns to normal use.
- The building’s plumbing should be occasionally flushed during periods of reduced use and thoroughly flushed before full re-occupancy. Begin at the meter or point of entry into the building. Flush all fixtures, including all showerheads. Flush outwards as you go through the building, starting at the bottom floor and working up. It is recommended that you flush each of those fixtures for 10 minutes.
- Consider draining any storage tanks, such as water heaters and softeners, to ensure turnover using manufacturer protocols for routine maintenance. Check for sediment that may have collected during the stagnation period.
- Particles can be released during flushing and may clog aerators, filters, showerheads, and other mechanical equipment. You may need to remove these before flushing or clean them after flushing.
- Continue flushing until there is fresh water throughout the building. Flushing from the point of entry out to the ends of the plumbing system can ensure fresh water is in place. The presence of chlorine in the cold-water supply is also an indication that fresh water has entered the system. A chlorine residual test, measured at the furthermost outlet, will show whether chlorine is present. Swimming pool supply stores may be able to provide inexpensive chlorine test kits.
- Ice machines should be cleaned using manufacturer protocols. After flushing, at least three batches should be dumped to waste before allowing the public to utilize ice.
Do not be surprised if the water is discolored or becomes discolored when the taps are opened. This is due to the pressure of the water scouring the iron and manganese from the inside of the pipes and should be expected when water sits unused in pipes for a while.
Also, if you notice an odor coming from drains, this is because p-traps have gone dry during the non-use of the building. The odor will subside once the traps are filled with water.
By completing these steps, your water system should be back in proper order and ready for use. If you encounter any water quality issues after you have completed these steps, please contact the CAW Water Quality Department at 501-210-4914.
Thank you for your diligence to ensure you and your customers enjoy the safest, highest-quality water possible in your facility.
Thank you ,
Central Arkansas Water