With so much going on in the last year, it is not surprising that it is only now that we are starting to get requests for support in implementing the water safety plans from BS8680:2020. The water safety in a building is focused primarily on Legionella and its prevention. Fortunately, many of the myriads of other pathogens that can be found and are able to proliferate in water can be controlled by the same maxim:
“Keep the hot hot, keep the cold cold and keep it moving.”
Due to the changes in use that many buildings have undergone over the past year, water use may have diminished for a prolonged period. BSRIA’s article “Planning for water safety in buildings and workplaces” comprehensively explains the holistic considerations that building owners and managers need to make to maintain wholesome water supplies in their buildings.
Prudence dictates that the cautious approach to the “return to the workplace” would include some testing and sampling of the water in the system. Sentinel points (start, middle and end of the system) give a good range for sampling, where testing every point is cost-prohibitive. When BSRIA undertakes this service, not only are biological elements inspected but water composition is also investigated. Atypical levels of dissolved solids can be indicative of the system’s health. This is achieved by analysing the types of material in the samples. Excessive metal oxides can indicate corrosion in the system, inhibitor levels can be analysed to ensure they are correct for the system type and of course biological content can be discerned.
After a period of inactivity, it is not just domestic systems that need to be checked. Closed water systems, such as heating, may have undergone excessive corrosion or settling of sediment. Non-destructive testing methods such as ultrasonic thickness testing can give spot check indications of system integrity against installation standards, or over a period of time, the maintenance or deterioration of the system’s pipework.
Valves may need to be eased and released due to inactivity. Care should be taken when performing this as this action may instigate issues with the valves. If multiple valves show similar issues, a destructive investigation of the valve may be considered to determine the cause.
For further information on water system services such as:
- Water composition analysis
- System history review
- Visual examination of system samples
- Flow rate measurements
- Thermal Imaging
- Water safety plan