Pennsylvania American Water Recommends Flushing Pipes to Maintain Water Quality

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Pennsylvania American Water remains committed to keeping our customers informed as we continue to deliver, clean, safe and reliable water and wastewater services to you during the COVID-19 public health emergency. In light of the Commonwealth’s announced plans for phased reopening, the company encourages building owners and operators to adopt a proactive approach that includes flushing stagnant water from facility pipes.

As buildings reopen, businesses, school districts and property management teams will begin the process of restarting building systems that have been dormant for a significant amount of time. Extended periods of inactivity can cause lead leaching or legionella growth in a building’s water system, and taking proper steps can help minimize potential exposure to both of these contaminants. Proper reopening procedures will help in making sure water systems and equipment are in working order and in maintaining water quality.

Pennsylvania American Water encourages building owners and operators whose facilities have been closed to adopt a proactive approach that includes proper flushing procedures, assuring the presence of disinfectant residuals, adjustment of hot water temperature, and proper maintenance of building plumbing and heating/cooling systems. Proper flushing of plumbing before reoccupying these buildings is essential to maintain water quality and should be performed biweekly while the building is closed, if possible, and again the weekend before opening.

Consistent with EPA and industry guidance, Pennsylvania American Water recommends the flushing of pipes to maintain water quality, including:

  • Toilets: Flush at least twice (this will help to move fresh water through the plumbing)
  • Faucets: Run at full flow for at least 2 minutes
  • Showers: Run at full flow for at least 2 minutes
  • Other Appliances/Apparatus: We recommend flushing other appliances and apparatus thoroughly, at full flow, bringing fresh water into the system. Preferably run the water until you are able to smell the chlorine in the water. If you have an appliance, such as a refrigerator or ice maker that has a filter, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for replacing water filters upon completion of flushing.

For additional information on flushing, see American Water’s fact sheet; the Environmental Protection Agency’s Flushing Best Practices; the Center for Disease Control web page; or the American Water Works Association.