Drinking water pipes – domestic installations in public and commercial facilities

Drinking water installation – drinking water pipe – house installation: what is meant?

All of these terms describe the lines and systems within a public, commercial or private building that store, transport or heat the drinking water. The decisive factor here is that the responsibility for the system changes the moment the water flows into the building – from this point on, the water supplier is no longer responsible for the quality of the water and the maintenance of the pipes and systems, but the owner, the landlord or operator. The water suppliers can only guarantee the excellent quality of the drinking water in Germany to the consumer up to the house entrance. What happens inside a building is subject to the influence of property operators and users.

Which buildings are meant?

Public buildings
Drinking water is made available “in the context of a public activity”*.
These include, for example: schools, kindergartens, sports and leisure facilities, hospitals, senior citizens’ and care facilities, cultural and educational institutions. The decisive factor is that the users are changing.

Commercial Buildings
Drinking water is made available “as part of a commercial activity”*.
These include, for example: Business premises/companies (if not owned), apartment buildings, office buildings

Some buildings or drinking water installations can therefore also be subject to both activities; these are then treated like public buildings (e.g. hotels, supermarkets or shopping centers with customer toilets).

What inspection obligations are there for drinking water installations?

Drinking water installations must be checked for legionella (“ Legionella spec .”*). For this purpose, a systemic examination must be carried out according to the Drinking Water Ordinance if the following points apply to the system (§14b*):

  • The drinking water installation is located in a public and/or commercial building
  • The drinking water installation contains a large system for heating drinking water
  • The drinking water installation contains devices (such as showers) that mist the water

frequency of examination

  • public buildings: 1x per year
  • commercial buildings: 1x every 3 years

Why clean drinking water installations?

Drinking water only remains hygienically perfect if the pipes and systems through which it flows are and remain in an equally perfect condition. Although drinking water is clean, clear and drinkable, it also contains inorganic and organic substances that can settle in heating systems, on the inner surfaces of the pipes and in fittings as biofilms, as lime or in the form of other deposits. Chemical and microbial processes can also lead to rust and corrosion. Legionella multiply particularly well in warm water (25-45°C). Legionella can use existing biofilms on the inside of pipes or in drinking water reservoirs to nest or multiply.

Drinking water installations should also be cleaned regularly! Thorough, hygienic cleaning not only reduces the risk of a massive proliferation of legionella and thus endangering consumers, it also ensures that limescale and other deposits are removed and the pipes and systems therefore have the best conditions and high quality in the long term of drinking water.

Thorough cleaning and subsequent disinfection should also always be carried out:

  • before initial start-up or restart
  • after repairs, maintenance measures
  • after changes to the lines or the systems
  • in the event of increased Legionella levels or established contamination with other potential pathogens

Special feature in hospitals and care facilities

Hospitals and care facilities treat people who are weakened by illness, surgery, injuries and other factors. They are particularly susceptible to the so-called hospital infections (hospital infections), most commonly caused by bacteria that enter or enter the body via treatment or medical devices. In Germany and the EU, Pseudomonas aeruginosa is one of the most common “hospital germs”. Pseudomonas can cause wound infections, urinary tract infections and life-threatening pneumonia or blood poisoning. It is particularly problematic that this bacterium already has one or even several resistances to common antibiotics by nature, and the trend is increasing. Studies have shown that up to 50% of all cases of Pseudomonas infections are caused by a water source. And: with increased examination frequency, pseudomonads were also increasingly detected in drinking water installations! More about this bacterium?

What can those responsible do?

  • have a risk analysis carried out for the entire drinking water system
  • Dismantle or remove unused lines and fittings
  • Regularly (once a year) thoroughly clean drinking water pipes and heating or storage systems and disinfect them if necessary
  • Sampling not only for legionella, but also for pseudomonas
  • in particularly sensitive areas: treatment of drinking water for greater hygienic safety
  • Establish and implement a water safety plan

What solutions do we have for you?

We specialize in removing deposits, biofilms and pathogens. Legionella and pseudomonads can only be permanently removed from the system if their basis of life – the biofilm – is thoroughly cleaned. We eliminate legionella and pseudomonads efficiently and sustainably with our proven multi-step flush !

Get advice from a specialist company. Contact us today!

*Source: Implementation instructions for the Ordinance on the Quality of Water for Human Use (Drinking Water Ordinance – TrinkwV), §3 3.5, as of October 6, 2020