Commercial buildings across the United States have sat empty for weeks due to COVID-19 quarantine measures. When it is time to reopen these buildings, plumbing should be one of the first items addressed. Plumber Magazine has provided some advice about preparing dormant plumbing systems for use again which we've compiled for you here.
It is important to note that this guidance is for buildings that have been shut down or barely used due to COVID-19. It does not apply to buildings that have had their water systems turned off for longer periods of time.
Water systems that haven't been used for long periods of time go stagnant. Stagnant water often leads to accelerated growth of pathogens like Legionella, which can cause death when consumed. For this reason, all water systems that haven't been used or have only been sparsely used, should be flushed out prior to reopening. For potable water systems, you should open all water outlet valves, and flush all the toilets and urinals. Outlets that are the greatest distance from the service connection should flow for a minimum of 10 minutes. According to Plumber Magazine, you should also "flush all drinking water fountains, water coolers, bottle fillers, and any other operable end point device for at least five minutes.
Make sure you also flush any decorative water features or landscape irrigation systems.
Pour water down any flood drains to make sure the trap is fully restored. This will keep sewer gases from entering the building. Sanitary systems have been implicated in the spread of COVID-19 so any dry traps could lead to exposure to the virus.,
Water Treatment and Filters
Bacteria will grow on water filters if there is stagnant water so you should replace all water filters and flush the water treatment system.
Protect Your Staff
Individuals flushing out stagnant water systems are at risk. They should wear proper PPE including googles, rubber gloves, and N95 face masks.
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