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Article Date: 30th September 2019

Uponor UK Investigates How to Prevent Legionella Build Up in a Plumbing System

How To Prevent Legionella - MLC Pipe - Smart Ends

Uponor Legionella

With over 814 legionella incidents in 2018, it is becoming vitally important that a solution is proposed to prevent this life-threatening disease from forming. Uponor has highlighted how selecting the right pipework and fittings can have a major impact in reducing the likelihood of legionella occurring.

Unfortunately, this is a topic which keeps arising within the media and has potentially catastrophic consequences. According to the government, there were over 814 Legionella related incidents in 2018. More recently, it was reported that 14 people contracted the respiratory disorder at a Bournemouth Spa, whilst in a shopping development in Barrow over 180 people were said to be experiencing legionella symptoms.

These numbers are staggering and indicates the need for a solution to be adopted within plumbing systems. Before we look at the solution, it is important to understand the cause of legionella.

How does Legionella grow?

Legionella bacteria predominately breeds in any stagnant water between 25°C to 45°C, including plumbing systems. With the capacity for the number of bacteria to double every eight hours, it is imperative that those designing and specifying water systems are aware of the risk of Legionella, something that is of particular importance in healthcare facilities where those utilising and consuming water are already vulnerable.

Another factor to consider is the build-up of dead legs - quite simply pipework that is no longer in use - within hospitals or older buildings which have undergone repairs over time. Dead legs are a primary cause of stagnant water, which is the perfect breeding ground for legionella.

How to prevent Legionella

1. Switch from traditional copper piping to MLC (multi-layer composite) pipe or PEX (polyethylene) - this reduces the risk of calcification on the internal wall of the pipe which can harbour bacterial growth, and ensures a smoother internal surface to enable better water flow on the network and this prevent the build-up of Legionella.

2. Ensure you have the right pipework and jointing methods for the job. Specifying the correct pipe size will ensure that the water in the building is regularly exchanged and does not have the chance to stagnate. What is more, selecting a connection method that seals on the inside bore of the pipe will greatly reduce the risk of legionella developing via bacteria in small crevices. The quick and easy Shrink-Fit and S-Press Plus solution are examples of such methods.

3. Products such as Smart Ends are available to further safeguard against dead legs and the consequent threat of Legionella. Smart Ends are tap elbow plumbing fitting which eradicate dead legs from plumbing systems, replacing traditional T-piece plumbing systems, whilst also requiring less fittings and improving flow rate. They can be implemented within a loop installation, which flushes out the whole local pipe network every time any water outlet on the system is opened.

4. Adopt a loop installation method as this is probably the most effective way of preventing legionella from occurring in a healthcare or commercial building. Essentially this method flushes water throughout a system every time a water outlet is used. It requires fewer fittings, reduces pressure loss and increases speed of hot water delivery, whilst eliminating dead legs and enabling the use of a consistent pipe size throughout the whole loop.

Before conducting your next project, why not speak to Uponor first. We can guide you on selecting the right pipework solution to prevent legionella and are on hand to provide full project take offs and accurate material lists. Uponor also offers onsite installation training with installers before a project to ensure no problems arise.

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