Take Precautions When Reopening a Business After a Prolonged Shutdown

If your business has been closed for an extended period during the COVID-19 crisis, you’re probably excited about reopening and getting back to work. Roto-Rooter Plumbing & Water Cleanup has some helpful precautions for you to take that will keep your employees and customers safe. These tips apply to most any business but are especially relevant to restaurants and hotels/motels where members of the general public are likely to use and consume the water on the premises.

Beware of Stagnant Water

Water that has been resting inside pipes, appliances, or plumbing fixtures is no longer fresh and should not be consumed or used for cleaning or cooking. Water gradually loses chlorination, allowing harmful organisms to grow. This includes pathogens like tuberculous mycobacteria and Legionella, which is responsible for Legionnaires Disease. Roto-Rooter recommends that all cold and hot water lines be flushed for an extended period to ensure that all impurities are out of each systems and only fresh, potable water remains. But it’s not just a matter of running the faucets for a little while, there’s an order of operations that needs to be followed to ensure maximum effectiveness. An experienced commercial plumber will be familiar with the processes if your maintenance staff isn’t.

There are similar risks for hotels and motels. Shower heads that haven’t seen recent use may contain Legionella bacteria. Hot tubs that haven’t been properly maintained may also support Legionella, which can be spread through water jets. Even decorative fountains could present a risk since bacteria can grow in warm areas and splashing can spread Legionella. If the building has a cooling tower, it must be inspected and probably disinfected, or it too can spread and spray Legionella and other organisms.

We recommend that you check your municipal water utility’s website for guidance that may be unique to your city or county, but the Centers for Disease Control has a page dedicated to the eight steps that every business should take before reopening: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/building-water-system.html

Besides bacteria, you should also be concerned about other water chemistry. Particularly if you have lead pipes or any lead in older plumbing fixtures. The longer water sits still inside lead pipes, the greater the risk of it leeching into the water and creating exposure risk to anyone who consumes it.

If you and your staff are unable to complete all the steps suggested by the CDC, contact your local Roto-Rooter plumber. They will be familiar with the process so that you can safely reopen your business without worry.

Inspect the Water Heater

Your water heater contains a lot of water. Was the water heater operational during the closure? Is the temperature high enough to kill pathogens (140° F) but does it also have a mixing valve to bring the temperature down to 120° Fahrenheit as it flows to sinks, tubs and showers to prevent scalding? These are but a few things you’ll need to consider. Once again, an experienced plumber will know how to inspect the water heater to reduce risk.

Is Water Damage Present?

Water damage that occurred during the shutdown, thanks to a leak or backup, could put your staff and customers at risk. Water soaked carpeting and furniture represent a danger and should be removed by a qualified water damage cleanup company that can extract water, dry out the building and prepare it for reconstruction or put back. Contact your local Roto-Rooter to see if this service is available in your area.

Look for Mold

Wherever there is dampness and high moisture, mold is sure to grow. Mold will grow on all kinds of surfaces and can present a health risk to employees and customers. It could even be present in your HVAC system and could begin spreading airborne spores as soon as you turn on the air conditioning. The CDC recommends operating the HVAC system for at least 48-72 hours before occupants return to work in the building. If odors are still present, contact a mold remediation company and/or an experienced heating and air company. Roto-Rooter has a staff of trained professionals who are Applied Microbial Remediation Technician (AMRT) certified to perform mold remediation and other water cleanup services in compliance with industry standards. For guidance on dealing with mold, please refer to the EPA’s mold guidelines.

We’re here to Help

Roto-Rooter has remained in operation since the pandemic began. We have recognized expertise in plumbing and drain cleaning.  Visit our website to learn more or call us to schedule service at 1-800-GET-ROTO.

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