CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — The pandemic has left multitudes of buildings and businesses across the state shuttered, some for months.

As things continue slowly re-opening again, there are many things to consider safety-wise. Now, folks are being urged to consider taking another precaution.

It’s as easy as turning on your tap, or pushing a lever:

“Flush toilets at least twice so that you get that turnover within the toilet, also turn on taps and let those run for at least two minutes, and the same with showers.”

Megan Hannah, external affairs manager, West Virginia American Water

This year especially, many buildings have sat vacant for months. Companies are closed, and with most people working from home, this can cause some unforeseen problems if not addressed.

“Building flushing is important because there’s been no water turnover in those facilities for a very long time, and as a result you’ll start to see diminished water quality.”

Megan Hannah, external affairs manager, West Virginia American Water

This ‘diminished water quality’ can become a serious problem.

Officials from West Virginia American Water tell us there can be health risks associated with not flushing building pipes as well.

“Lead leaching and legionella are the two most common contaminants that you could see from water that sits stagnant for an extended period of time; it’s bacteria that will grow within pipes and within water as that water sits stagnant.” 

Megan Hannah, external affairs manager, West Virginia American Water

Which is why, Hannah says, it’s crucial to open the taps.

One thing to be mindful of, however, before flushing out a building, is the drainage capacity.

“Just one thing to keep in mind when you are flushing your pipes: ensure that the drainage areas are free of debris, kitchen sink stoppers for example, to ensure those are removed to give the water free access to flow through the drainage system.” 

Michael Staley, operations superintendent, West Virginia American Water

Doing so will ensure the building or facility does not flood or get water-logged in the process.

West Virginia American Water officials say building flushing will be especially important for schools which plan to reopen this fall, as they have been vacant—most of them—since March.

For more information about water quality and other tips, check out West Virginia American Water’s website.

For more information about the importance of building flushing, click this link.