As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of our customers may have temporarily closed businesses, churches, school buildings, or a vacation rental/home. Water that is held in unused pipes while the buildings are closed can become stagnant, and since stagnant water is a potential health risk and can impact water quality, it is necessary to systematically flush your plumbing.
These instructions will help by providing a systematic approach on how to do a complete flush.
Thorough flushing includes operating all sink, tub, shower, and toilet fixtures. Safety equipment, such as eye washes, safety showers, and fire sprinkler systems may also require assessment and necessary maintenance.
Water features inside and outside buildings, hot tubs/spas, and cooling towers also can require attention. Please keep this information available when you start the process of reopening once it is safe to do so.
NOTE: Some buildings have water treatment systems and all those treatment devices need to be cleaned, flushed and maintained as part of the starting up process.
After flushing, your water filters need to be replaced. If you have any point of entry water treatment system such as a water softener or filter, please refer to the instruction manual for replacement of the filter.
Please complete the following steps in the order set out below. Finish each step completely before moving on to the next step.
- Flush ALL cold-water taps for at least 5 minutes
Begin the cold-water flushing, open ALL of the cold-water fixtures, flush each toilet at least one time. Run all cold-water fixtures for at least five minutes. Shut water off after five minutes. This does include the water in your refrigerator water dispenser.
Flushing should begin at the water service entrance and proceed through the building to the end points of the plumbing system in the building(s). Depending on flow and pressure you may need to increase the flushing time to ensure all the stagnant water has been flushed.
- Flush ALL hot water taps for 15 minutes
Once the cold-water lines have been flushed begin the hot water flushing procedure by opening the hot water taps in your bathroom(s). Open ALL hot water taps including lavatory (sink) fixtures, hot water bath fixtures, and any other hot water fixtures, such as kitchens, wet bars, etc.
Run these hot water fixtures for at least 15 minutes. Shut water off after 15 minutes. Depending on the size of the hot water tank you may need to flush longer to ensure the water in the tank has drained and fresh water has refilled the tank. These steps should be effective at removing contaminants from the water heater. However, for information on draining and cleaning the water heater please consult the manufacturer.
- Flush ALL remaining Appliances and Faucets
Open any remaining fixtures such as hose bibs, external faucets or fixtures not used for drinking for at least five minutes to finish the plumbing system flushing. Take additional steps to remove water from other appliances. This includes:
• Ice Makers • Dishwashers • Washing Machines • Humidifiers • CPAP Machines
• Oral, Medical or Health Care Devices • Baby Formula • Water Filters • Water Softeners • Filters, point of use and whole house
Remove ice from ice maker bin and discard 2 additional batches of ice. Run empty dishwasher and washing machine once on rinse cycle.
- Ongoing flushes
Periodic flushing is important to improve the water quality. Full building ongoing flushes proceed the same as the initial flush except water tanks do not need to be drained and hot water flushing times are the same as cold water flushing times.
It is a good idea during this flushing time if you have chlorinated water to measure chlorine residual.
Discoloration may occur during flushing; this is expected and not a health issue. Any lingering smell, which is expected, is not a health issue. During the initial flushing, it is a good concept to wear protective respiratory equipment.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has very detailed information on reactivating plumbing systems after dormant conditions on its website at the link below: