As businesses in counties enter the Yellow Phase of the state’s reopening plan, the Pennsylvania departments of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Health (DOH) are encouraging owners and operators of dormant buildings to flush building water systems prior to reopening. Buildings that have been closed or used less frequently for an extended period of time may experience problems with water quality due to stagnation.
In the days leading up to reopening, the following recommendations and considerations should be made, and a team of facilities staff or a water management consultant will be needed to prepare the water system. Buildings that have been closed or used less frequently should consider the following measures:
• Develop a flushing plan
– Identify where the water enters the building, all taps (faucets, shower heads, water fountains), and water-using devices (dishwashers, ice machines)
– Remove any potential cross connections, such as hoses connected to spigots, to prevent backflow into plumbing systems
- Remove aerators when possible
• Flush the entire building
– Flush cold water lines before hot water lines
– Flush the building zone by zone, beginning where the water enters the building and moving outward towards the distal ends
– Flushing time will vary based on building size; a temperature change or chlorine smell may be used as indicators that fresh water has reached all fixtures within the building
• Clean faucets, shower heads, and other fixtures
• Inspect and conduct necessary maintenance on mechanical equipment such as water heaters, boilers, storage tanks, backflow prevention devices, etc. using manufacturer’s instructions
• Consider developing an ongoing water management plan to maintain high quality water at all times
For more information on building water systems and flushing, visit the CDC website.