As state and local public health officials begin to ease restrictions, and outline what businesses can reopen, we wanted to share with you some necessary water information and precautions.
Although water has been flowing continuously through the City of Asheville’s water system, private plumbing lines at local businesses closed during the Stay Home, Stay Safe Order may experience stagnant water issues, due to lack of use.
When water sits in plumbing for an extended period of time, the disinfectant (chlorine residual) will dissipate. Under these conditions, there is a potential for taste and odor issues. Bacterial biofilms, such as Legionella, can also grow in water heaters. Flushing removes these contaminants out of the plumbing system and brings fresh water in. The fresh water will have the needed chlorine residual to keep the biofilms from growing. Therefore, businesses reopening should take these steps and follow the guidance from the CDC. The link is provided below:
- Flush water lines thoroughly before any business reopens.
- Stagnant water could cause taste, odor, and potential health issues. It’s important to run cold water for several minutes before drinking or using it for anything, including to prepare food/ beverages.
- It will likely also be necessary to drain and refill the hot water tank.
- How long should you flush the lines? It depends on the length of your pipes, but as a general rule, you should notice the water getting colder, and looking and smelling fresher after flushing. This could take 5-10 minutes in a small business or up to an hour for a larger plumbing system. However, times will vary depending on private plumbing systems.
- Odor is a good guide. Run the water through all sink, tub, shower and toilet fixtures until you notice a difference in temperature and smell.
- For guidance from the CDC, visit CDC.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/building-water-system.
Businesses who are reopening after being closed for COVID-19 can also find information on the City of Asheville, including these two links: Flushing Guidance and Frequently Asked Questions.
The cost of flushing plumbing lines should be minimal. Anyone with questions can call Customer Service at 828-251-1122. Buncombe County Environmental Health can also provide guidance. Contact them at 828-250-5016 or firstname.lastname@example.org.