Step 1: Prevention

The drinking water installation in buildings requires special attention. A microbiological contamination of the drinking water by legionellae and other pathogens due to planning errors and improper operation can occur.

Hycleen – In four steps for optimal drinking water hygiene

In order to ensure a high drinking water quality to the dispensing point in the property, a rethinking of drinking water distribution is required. Until a few years ago the distribution of drinking water was regarded as maintenance-free, new installation concepts and measures are becoming increasingly necessary during use. These promote the drinking water quality in the installation in a preventive manner and thus ensure a high level of drinking water hygiene. The following approaches are to be observed for all objects in planning, installation and usage.

Measure 1: Use of unused section free piping systems

Basically, a pipe system always carries the risk of contamination, since the drinking water comes into intensive contact with its surfaces. Unused installation sections often lead to long periods of stagnation of drinking water and offer an ideal habitat for bacteria. Such sections should be cut off as soon as possible, blocked and unused taps must be blocked and emptied.

Bacteria can reproduce very well in unused-sections - that is, in cavities filled with water that hardly ever get rinsed through. They should therefore be avoided. Unused-sections are found particularly in connections of pipe installation systems and sealing points of fittings.

Measure 2: Ensure the right water temperature
Hycleen - Risk areasLegionellae multiply particularly strongly in the range between 25 °C and 50 °C

The water temperature is of great importance for the propagation of bacteria in a drinking water installation. Cold water must have temperatures below 20 °C so that the risk of contamination is low.

The hot water temperature, however, should always be above 50 °C. Legionellae proliferate particularly strongly in the temperature range between 25 and 50 °C. The growth rate reaches its maximum at 37 °C, where the number of legionella is doubled within three hours.

Measure 3: Hot water distribution / Hydraulic adjustment
Hycleen - Hot water distribution / Hydraulic adjustment

Thanks to the fact that the issue of energy efficiency is increasingly anchored in the awareness of the general public and of all those involved in the building, the generation of hot water is receiving much more attention than before. Only in the installation of the hot water distribution itself are there still great gaps in knowledge. For reasons of comfort, all dispensing points are usually supplied with hot water, although this would not be necessary for usage.

In order to meet high comfort requirements, the circulation in the hot water distribution is also planned, but it often fails to pay attention to it during operation. This is a major mistake, since a high DHW temperature is crucial for a high drinking water quality throughout the entire hot water installation. This must always be above 50 °C.

If there are several circulation strands in a building, a hydraulic adjustment must be carried out. Otherwise, the water only flows through lines which have the least pressure loss. This leads to a smaller volume flow and unfavourable temperatures in the more distant circulation lines.

The aim of the hydraulic adjustment is that the hot water can circulate in all pipes with the correct volume flow and the optimum temperature.

Measure 4: Regular flushing of all dispensing points

If water stagnates over a longer period of time, bacteria can multiply in it - and this exponentially - until a dangerous concentration is reached. As a simple measure of drinking water hygiene, regular flushing of all dispensing points is recommended. A complete volume exchange in the drinking water distribution (cold and hot water) should be carried out within three days. The aim of this measure is to flush bacteria from the drinking water installation and to keep the bacteria concentration at a health-safe level. 

Measure 5: Limestone protection to prevent limestone formation
Hycleen - View into a calcified pipeView into a calcified pipe

Water composition also plays an important role in drinking water hygiene. Hard drinking water often leads to severe limestone formation and thus creates ideal conditions for microbiological growth. For medium to hard water it is advisable to schedule a limescale protection at the entrance to the domestic water installation.

With old pipe installation systems made of galvanized steel, today's drinking water quality often leads to corrosion. The addition of protective layer-forming excipients should nevertheless be reduced to a minimum since these also promote the growth of bacteria and biofilm.

Biofilm is basically formed on all materials that are in contact with drinking water. Care should be taken that this cannot spread due to nutrients, temperatures and stagnation. This applies to both the cold and the hot water areas.

Hycleen

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