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Water hygiene in your home

Having clean water in your home is vital for your health and wellbeing. Most household water systems contain some bacteria and other organisms which do not cause any problems. If the bacteria have the right conditions to multiply they can cause people to become ill. 

You can find out more below or by reading our water hygiene leaflet (PDF 317KB).

What is Legionnaire’s disease?

Legionnaire’s disease is a form of pneumonia, caused by legionella bacteria. It is quite rare with only 400-500 cases reported in the UK each year.

Anyone can catch it, but most sufferers tend to be over 50 years old. People with a weak immune system, an underlying condition or those who smoke, are at greater risk.

How do people get it?

The disease comes from breathing in bacteria contained in small droplets of water, for example spray from a shower or taps. It isn’t spread directly from person to person and you can’t get it from drinking water.

How can you prevent it?

Legionella bacteria can be found in most water systems, but doesn’t usually cause any problems. Here’s how you can help to keep bacteria numbers low and prevent disease:

  • If you are going to be away from your home for a week or more, make sure you run your taps when you get home, this will help to flush out excess bacteria
  • Keep all showerheads and taps clean and free from the build-up of limescale.
  • Make sure any taps that are not normally used (such as outside toilets and taps) are flushed regularly
  • Keep hot water at a minimum temperature of 50°C but beware of the risk of scalding
  • Report any concerns to us on 0800 131 3348 (0300 123 3511 from your mobile). 

Visit the NHS UK website for more information about Legionnaires’ disease.