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Hot tub troubles

A leading public health charity is warning of the dangers posed by contracting Legionnaires’ disease from hot tubs, spa baths and even garden hoses as the blazing summer temperatures continue.

The Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE) is raising concerns that the combination of warm weather and sitting (stagnant) water creates the perfect environment for Legionella bacteria to grow. Legionella is the cause of a potentially fatal form of pneumonia, Legionnaires’ disease, which is contracted by inhaling tiny water droplets. 

Kevin Wellman CEO of the Chartered Institute of Plumbing & Heating Engineering (CIPHE) commented, “While all man-made hot and cold water systems can provide an environment ripe for the Legionella bacteria to grow, it can thrive in places such as hot tubs, whirlpool baths, compost heaps and even garden hoses. The growing popularity in hot tubs and spa baths means that many families now have a potential source of an outbreak within their homes and gardens.”

The CIPHE is right to be alarmed. Figures from Public Health England show a seasonal rise in cases from June to October. Crucially, last year saw a huge leap in Legionnaires cases, up from a yearly average of 500 to 814.

Kevin continued, “It has become increasingly easy for families to purchase hot tubs and spa baths. What people don’t realise is that these appliances need to be correctly installed and maintained, while also being regularly cleaned and chlorinated. Harmful Legionella bacteria can incubate in as little as 2-10 days, meaning that those who let their maintenance and disinfection regime slip, could be at risk.”

“Additionally, there is no legislation covering domestic hot tub installations. With annual deaths caused by poor plumbing now outnumbering those caused by Carbon Monoxide poisoning, the general public need to be made aware of the dangers that poorly designed or maintained systems can bring.” 

If you are considering installing a hot tub or spa bath, the CIPHE advises using a professional plumbing engineer for installation. The body also stresses the huge importance in following the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning, disinfection and maintenance. 

“Due to the use of different materials in tubs and baths, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ strategy for disinfecting and maintaining systems”, warns Kevin. “It is vital that you follow your manufacturer’s instructions to the last word and are aware of all the costs involved in maintaining your product before you buy it. With yearly heating bills for some hot tubs hitting £600, consumers must not allow themselves to become victims of a temptation to cut corners and costs.”

To find a professional plumber in your area visit www.ciphe.org.uk, email info@ciphe.org.uk or phone 01708 472721.