A hand flushing a toilet

Contributed by Waterless Co.

With commercial buildings opening around North America, there are many things (beyond effective cleaning) that building managers and cleaning professionals should do to make sure these facilities are safe and healthy.

One that is often overlooked is water.

"When buildings are closed for a prolonged period, water in the [plumbing] lines becomes stagnant," says Klaus Reichardt, CEO, and Founder of Waterless Co. Inc. "This means that bacteria and corrosion can develop, which can be harmful to building users if consumed."

To help prevent this, Reichardt says there is one thing managers and cleaning professionals need to know first: removing sediment from water in the building is not the responsibility of the water utility company. 

"The utility company delivers clean, treated water," he says. "But once it is delivered, their role is complete."

So, what needs to be done to make the water safe to consume? Among the steps Reichardt suggests are the following:

- Remove aerators from all faucets and run cold water (at high volume) for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, repeat using hot water. Clean and replace aerators after both steps are completed.

- Flush all toilets at least once. If the water is discolored, flush again until the water is clear. Do the same for water-using urinals.

- With waterless urinals, there is nothing to flush. They do not need any special attention.

- Each drinking water fountain should be run for at least five minutes.

- Dispose of ice in refrigerators, clean the containers, and then discard two batches of ice. The third batch should be safe to use.

- If water features such as fountains were turned off during the hiatus, rinse fountains thoroughly before operating; check filtering systems to ensure they are clean and free of debris.

If problems still exist after all of this work, then it's time to call the utility company, says Reichardt.

"But they will want to see [that] all of these steps have been completed first," he says.