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Commercial plumbing problems – a health check for reopening businesses

Thankfully, most businesses across Australia are getting back up and running following closures triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, for those businesses hardest hit by the pandemic, the health of their plumbing may have also been affected.

Businesses and facilities who should check their plumbing prior to reopening include:

  • gyms and sporting facilities
  • schools and universities
  • retail stores and shopping centres
  • warehouses and factories
  • restaurants and cafes
  • hotels, motels, B&Bs and holiday homes

Even if your business escaped closure, give your plumbing a thorough health check before customer numbers return to full capacity.


The risk of Legionnaire’s disease

Legionnaire’s disease is one of the biggest risks businesses face as they reopen. This bacterial disease is most often contracted from contaminated water or dust. Like COVID-19, this is a respiratory disease, however, it is acquired from the environment rather than exposure to an infected person.

Some of the most common places for Legionnaire’s to thrive are:

  • evaporative air conditioners
  • shower heads
  • water fountains
  • fire sprinklers
  • spas
  • taps

Water systems that have been unused, unmanaged or unmaintained are the ideal breeding ground for Legionella bacteria.

Obviously, the very last thing any business needs as they reopen is to expose customers to another public health risk.


legionella under microscope


What should you do?

It’s essential that you run a thorough assessment of your premises to identify areas of risk. If regular cleaning and maintenance schedules have been disrupted, all plumbing within the building should be thoroughly inspected. Look out for signs of:

  • algae
  • bacterial growth such as mould
  • water leaks
  • blocked or restricted air inlets

Before you start, make sure you’re wearing suitable safety equipment to protect yourself from the risk of infection.

Alternatively, you could engage the services of a professional! Commercial plumbers will know what to look for and what to do if there is a risk of Legionella. Chiswick Plumbing specializes in plumbing services that diagnose and fix commercial plumbing issues.

The Australian Government’s Guidelines for Legionella Control can give you more information about identifying and managing this risk.

Practical advice can also be found here.


Other common plumbing problems to look out for

A host of other plumbing problems may have arisen for businesses that have been closed for some time. Fortunately, these don’t pose a serious health risk, but can still be a nuisance.


Smelly drains

It’s not uncommon to return to an unused bathroom and discover a pretty unpleasant stench. Usually, your drains will contain water that creates a seal between your bathroom and the sewer where your pipes empty.

If you’ve not turned the taps on in a while, water could’ve evaporated, leaving dry drains. This is a sure-fire way for nasty odours to find their way into your premises. An easy fix is to simply turn the taps on and recreate the seal. However, if that doesn’t work, there might be problems other than unused drains to contend with.

Keep an eye out for slow draining sinks or stagnant water in your drains. If a simple DIY cleanse doesn’t help, it might be an indication of more severely clogged pipes or damaged drains. These drains will require professional assistance.



Leaking taps and running toilets

The plumbing fixtures in your taps need water to remain pliable and effective. If water hasn’t been running through your system, these can fail when the water flows again, resulting in leaky taps.

Other causes of leaks could be excessive water pressure. Strong water pressure is great for showers but less desirable for your water bill if you’re losing water! You may have a damaged water cartridge that needs replacing.

Water constantly running into the toilet tank is another nuisance problem that can be caused by one (or multiple) issues. Usually the float, fill or flapper valve require adjustment or replacement.

Do the plumbing systems in your commercial building need to be addressed? This might be the ideal time to consider installing “touch-free” sensor taps, flushers and dispensers. What better way to provide added peace of mind for your customers and employees as you welcome them back.


Call Chiswick Plumbing!

Commercial plumbing maintenance can be overwhelming, especially for businesses that haven’t been open for a number of weeks. Call Chiswick Plumbing to discuss your needs and concerns. We provide flat-rate, upfront pricing to help take the burden off your plumbing maintenance.