Water safety

We want to make sure you know how to maintain water safety in your home

We’ve prepared essential information about Legionnaires’ disease, how we can support you if you experience issues with water, and what are the steps you can take to maintain best water quality in your home. 

  • Legionnaires’ disease

    Legionnaires’ disease is a lung infection you can catch by inhaling droplets of water from things like air conditioning or hot tubs. It’s not common but can be very serious. You can catch it if you breathe in tiny droplets of water containing bacteria that cause the infection. 

    You can catch it from things like:

    • Air conditioning systems.
    • Spa pools and hot tubs.
    • Showers, taps and toilets.

    You cannot usually get it from: 

    • Drinking water containing the bacteria.
    • Other people with the infection places like ponds, lakes and rivers.

    What are the symptoms? 

    Symptoms can start any time from 2 to 19 days after exposure to the initial infection. However, six to seven days is the most common time between getting the infection. 

    First phase usually lasts one to two days, in which you experience flu-like symptoms, such as mild headaches and muscle pain. This is followed by more severe symptoms like: high temperature (fever), more severe muscle pain, chills, tiredness, changes in mental state, such as confusion.

    When bacteria infect the lungs, symptoms of pneumonia may develop, such as persistent cough, shortness of breath, or chest pains. 

    If you’re unsure if you have Legionnaires’ disease, get advice call on 111 or call 999 if you think you require an ambulance.

  • Keeping your water system safe

    Domestic water systems

    Domestic water systems, like the one in your home are very low risk and contain a relatively low volume of water which is replaced with wholesome water, from the main, during everyday use. Things done in the home can affect the water quality and even encourage bacteria growth.

    Legionella bacteria will thrive in water that is between 20 to 45ÂșC, where there are impurities in the water and where it is allowed to stagnate therefore you must avoid these conditions. It is essential that you use all taps and outlets at least once every week, keep the hot water temperature at 60ÂșC, and all taps and showers are clean.

For Living

What to do if your water looks unusual

Please visit United Utilities website to find out more about water discoloration and what to do if your water appears discoloured, cloudy or has small particles in it.

  • New resident, new home
  • Hot and cold water systems
  • Showers
  • Immersion heater safety alert

    When you move into your new home, you may find the water system drained off to protect it from frost, it may also be just turned off at the stop tap, please follow the instructions below before using your water. Locate the main stop tap, usually in your kitchen or bathroom. To prevent flooding, make sure that all taps are turned off by turning clockwise until it stops.

    The following also applies if you have been on holiday for over a week or the property has been left unoccupied for extended periods:

    • Open kitchen and bathroom windows, slowly turn on the stop tap, you will hear the water flow into the pipework, have a quick look around to make sure that there are no obvious leaks before opening the taps.


    • If there are no leaks, turn all taps on slowly, flush the WC. When flushing taps and other outlets, open slowly and take care not to cause splashing or release of spray droplets to the atmosphere.


    • If there is a shower fitted, lower the shower head and place into a carrier bag, make a hole in the base of the bag as this will stop splashing during flushing. Then slowly turn on the shower.


    • Allow the taps and shower to run for 5 minutes, which will ensure that your system is full of fresh water from the mains. Your water system will now be ready for use.

    If you have a domestic hot water cylinder in your home, make sure that the thermostat is set at 60ÂșC. Don’t reduce this setting or the setting of your boiler thermostat, as bacteria can multiply at lower temperatures.  

    If you have a combination boiler or multi-point water heater, make sure that the thermostat is set to deliver hot water at 60ÂșC, don’t reduce the hot water thermostat setting. Legionella is killed at 60ÂșC, so take care with hot water as scalds can occur at these temperatures.

    If you are away from home for long periods (for example holidays or hospital stays over 7 days), the water in your system can worsen if unused.

    When you return home, heat up your system to the normal operating temperature, open each tap and run for at least five minutes. Cold taps should be flushed until the water runs cold.

    Tap spouts on your bath, basin and sink may become contaminated from external sources. Clean tap spouts by wiping with a household descaling solution. If the tap is heavily scaled or contaminated, this can be done using a nylon brush.

    If you have a shower fitted with a flexible hose, make sure that a hose retaining ring is fitted to prevent the shower head falling into your bath water. 

    Refrain from using rubber push-on shower hoses on your bath taps- if the water company turn off the water supply in an emergency, the contents of your bath may be siphoned back into the mains causing contamination.

    Limescale can provide a habitat for bacteria to grow, so it is essential that you keep your shower head and spray taps clean. Clean your shower head and tap spouts regularly using a nylon brush then soaking in a household descaling solution.

    If your water is heated by an immersion heater, look out for warning signs that there may be a problem: 

    • Excessively hot water coming out of the hot water taps
    • Excessive noise or ‘burbling’ from the hot water cylinder
    • Hot water coming out of certain cold-water taps
    • Steam/moisture in the roof space

    If you have any concerns regarding any of the above, please contact us.