Legionnaires' disease

Legionnaires' disease is a form of pneumonia.

Where it can be found

Legionella bacteria are found in the natural environment and may contaminate and grow in water systems, including domestic hot and cold water systems.

Legionella bacteria should not grow when -

  • the hot water in the boiler or water cylinder is above 60 degrees Celsius
  • cold water is stored cold, such asbelow 20 degrees Celsius
  • the water is circulated by regular use

How to avoid Legionnaires' disease

You cannot get Legionnaires’ disease from drinking water.  You can catch Legionnaires' disease by inhaling small droplets of water suspended in the air, which contain the bacteria. The bacteria have to be in very small droplets like spray from a shower or spray taps. 

In domestic properties the risk of Legionnaires' disease is rated as low risk but people over the age of 45, smokers and heavy drinkers, those suffering from chronic respiratory or kidney disease, people whose immune system is impaired and those suffering from long term illness may be more prone to catching it.

How to help protect yourself and your family

You can help to keep yourself and your family safe by -

  • notifying us if your boiler or hot water tank is not working properly
  • not adjusting the temperature settings on your boiler or hot water system. The hot water should be set to heat up to 60 degrees Celsius
  • contacting us if you find any debris or discoloration in the water
  • flushing through showers and taps for two minutes when they have not been used for more than one week
  • keeping all shower heads and taps clean and free from a build-up of limescale, mould or algae growth. 
  • flushing toilets with the lid down following a period of non-use
  • draining hosepipes after use and keeping out of direct sunlight
  • keeping spas and hot tubs clean, free from debris and checking and cleaning the filters. Change the water before use if it is not used often

For further information visit the Health and Safety Executive website