Aerators aren’t the only way for bacteria from the air can make it into your water supply.
“People tend to be able to identify where they’ve installed aerators, but are more likely to overlook places where air gets into the system unintentionally,” explains Larry. “For example, the P-trap is an open-air item, which means it has the ability to grow bacteria in it.”
Loose or aging spouts can also let air into your water stream, as can the base of a faucet that is not sealed. “As you walk through to evaluate your facility, look for wear and tear on your spouts,” recommends Mike. “If you have a jiggling spout, then air is getting in there.” In enclosed spouts, such as with electronic faucets, these issues aren’t as common. But on manual faucets, there are a number of touch points used on a regular basis. “Over time,” Mike says, “even with a fixed spout, people will touch it and the faucet will loosen.”
Keep Water Moving
Generally speaking, water should be kept moving as much as possible. That’s because where water sits, bacteria can grow. Identify locations in your facility where water might be stagnant but not visible because it’s below a drain or behind a casing. Examples include the drain catch, P trap, handheld showers, service faucets, or even ice machines.
Service Sink Faucets
If you have a service sink faucet that is used only periodically, chances are you may have stagnant water there.
“If there’s crossover in your water system, where the hot side is crossing over into the cold water supply” says Mike, “that warm water can get into the rest of your water supply and cause a problem.”
Ensure that, even if a service sink faucet isn’t used regularly, that it’s not sitting stagnant. This can be done by checking to make sure you have good integral check stops installed either on the faucet cartridge or on the supply line and working. Run the water frequently to empty out the line, this can be included on a preventative maintenance schedule.
“You don’t see it as much in schools,” says Larry, “but in health clubs, assisted living facilities, and other multi-housing you find a lot of handheld showers. When you’re done using a handheld shower, if you don’t lower the head down into the tub and allow it to drain, then it creates standing water in the hose.”
Our manufacturer partner Chicago Faucet has just launched a self-draining shower hose, pictured below, which ensures that there’s no water left in the riser going up to the shower head. This is a significant improvement for reducing the growth of microbes in hand-held showers.
Floor Drains and Wet Traps
Have you ever walked into a public restroom and smelled that something is off in the air? Larry says, “if you look around, you can usually see a floor drain or a wet trap, and what you have is a venting issue.”
Floor drains are useful for janitorial staff when cleaning restrooms, however water can sit in a trap below the floor where it starts to sour. Wet traps allow the vent gasses to come back into the restroom.
“Using the right drain sealing option will stop air from floating back into the environment,” says Larry. It’s important to use the right product, however. What you don’t want to do is stop the water from flowing down. There are chemical and mechanical options that will allow water to flow normally, but keep the sewer odors from coming back up into the restroom.
In certain types of ice machines, “over time, as the ice melts, water gets stagnant and can create the environment for bacteria including Legionella, to grow” explains Chris. “The Legionella stays in the ice when it freezes again, and then when the ice thaws out in your drink it becomes active.”
But don’t panic, you don’t have to give up the ice machine. It just means you need to identify the right filtration solution for your model. More on this in the Water Filtration feature in this series.
Some healthcare facilities are also working to address the issue of toilet bloom, which occurs whenever a toilet is flushed. Because of the flushing pressure, a microscopic bloom is blown into the air, carrying with it a certain amount of bacteria or contaminants that may then contaminate other surfaces in the restroom.
Most toilet bloom is preventable with toilet lids. When you're getting ready to flush the toilet, close the toilet lid to minimize the amount of contaminants sprayed into the air. “If you want to eliminate toilet bloom altogether, there’s a toilet seat with a lip that goes around it,” says Larry. “This allows you to encapsulate the rim of the toilet when you flush.”
If you have any questions, or want help identifying the right solutions for your exact needs, call 1-800-336-8900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to talk remotely with one of our technical sales consultants.
Check out the rest of this award winning series: Best Practices for Anti-Microbial Plumbing