Water safety and Legionella

How to keep your water flowing and your household safe from Legionnaires disease.

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Keeping your drains clear and water clean

People everywhere put waste down their sinks and toilets, causing blockages to the sewage systems. It’s not only bad for the environment, it causes misery and inconvenience to lots of people through the bad smells and blocked sewers - and it costs a lot to fix it.

We all need to work together and take action to ensure cleaned water is returned safely to our rivers and seas by keeping waste out of our sinks and toilets.

By following some simple steps you can keep water flowing, our sewer system clear and avoid problems with your drains.

Tips for keeping your water clear in the kitchen

Put all of your waste in the bin and recycle where possible. This includes grease, fat, oil and food waste, which can be recycled in a food caddy or composter. To avoid food scraps going down the sinkhole, you can order a free sink strainer from Anglian Water.

Keeping it clear in the bathroom

  • Bins are the best place to get rid of all of your unflushable waste. Keep a bin nearby so no one is tempted to flush them away.
  • Wipes, sanitary items, cotton wool, floss and cotton buds should all go in the bin.
  • Use a sink strainer to stop any hair getting stuck in the plug hole, and empty into a bin.

Quick tips and tricks to keep it clear

  • Scrape your pots and pans before putting them in the sink or dishwasher, and put the scraps in the food waste caddy or bin.
  • Collect all fat, oil and grease from cooking in a sealed container and arrange for waste carriers to collect it regularly.
  • Use sink strainers to stop food and hair getting stuck in the drain, and then empty into the bin.

Legionella and water safety

Before anyone moves in to one of our homes, we make sure there's been a flush of the water system.

This is because water that has remained stagnant in the pipes for a period when the property is empty can include harmful bacteria that if released and inhaled can cause Legionnaires Disease, a potentially fatal form of pneumonia.

It is our responsibility as your landlord to take precautions to prevent Legionella bacteria being present in the water systems. However, as a customer, you also have a part to play.

What do you need to do?

Legionnaires Disease is easily preventable and by taking some simple precautions, this will help to keep you safe.

We recommend that before using tap water for the first time you complete an additional flush of the water system. We also recommend that you do this if you are returning from a period away from the property of two or more weeks, especially in the summer periods when water conditions can promote bacterial growth.

Flushing the water system

Run your taps for 5 minutes.  Hot water should be 50-60 degrees Celcius.

For all outlets in your home (sink taps, bath taps, showers and external taps) flush the hot and cold (or hot then cold for a mixer tap) for a minimum of five minutes or for a period of time necessary to draw water from the outlet at temperatures exhibited throughout the rest of the system — water from the cold tap feels cold and water from the hot tap is heated to the setting on your boiler or water heater (this should be between 50–60 degrees celsius). Please beware of scalding.

Turn on the tap gently to ensure that the flushing of water from the outlets does not create an unnecessary amount of aerosol at least no more than would be created when the outlet is operated normally. To ensure that splash back is minimised place a sponge or another material capable of absorbing some of the force of the water against the surface of the appliance.

Ensure that the outlet can be flushed safely and in a tidy manner into an appropriate drain if not plumbed for drainage

Shower safety

Where showers are fitted it is important to ensure that, where practicable, the shower head is removed in order to reduce the potential for aerosol production. Where the head is fixed use a transparent plastic bag, fastened around the shower head, with one corner pierced to allow partial discharge of water. Every 6 months clean your shower head with disinfectant and de-scaler.


Let us know

Please get in touch if:

  • A beaker containing infected water
    Your water becomes discoloured or has debris in it
  • A thermometer showing 20 degrees celsius
    Your cold water is warmer than 20 degrees celsius after you have allowed it to run for more than five minutes
  • A thermometer showing 50 degrees celsius
    You are unable to heat your hot water to 50 degrees celsius

What are the symptoms of Legionnaires Disease?

The initial symptoms are similar to flu:

  • High temperature
  • Fever/chills
  • Headache
  • Tiredness
  • Muscle pain
  • Dry cough

This can progress to diarrhoea, vomiting and delirium. The bacteria are more dangerous to susceptible groups, such as the elderly or very young, people with existing illnesses, and smokers. The illness is not contagious and you cannot contract it by drinking infected water.

If you suspect that you or a member of your household has contracted Legionnaires Disease seek immediate medical help and contact our Customer Service Centre on 0345 266 9760 so that we can take any required measures.