Owner of TermoRens AS, Thore Andreassen has extensive experience with water treatment and solutions to the legionella problem. Here are some experiences from a player with long operations in the industry!
Master plumber and HVAC engineer Thore Andreassen has worked with legionella problems since the great eruption in Stavanger in 2001. He started the company TermoRens as in 1994. The company specializes in cleaning pipe systems and heating and cooling systems to maintain good energy without downtime. In addition, they clean water pipes to remove bacteria and the right amount of water. The company produces all its products itself and today has customers all over the world. In Norway, they have large customers both on land and offshore. Thus, they have also created a separate Offshore department at Os outside Bergen.
Uncertainty and choice of method
Andreassen believes that there are many who have not familiarized themselves enough with legionella protection and understand that there is confusion about what is the best and most effective tool for preventing and fighting legionella.
– Many people do not know about the responsibility they have if an outbreak should occur and not least it is a large cost one would rather be without. Most people do not deal with the legionella problem until they have the problem themselves, in the form of outbursts or customer requests. With many players marketing themselves well, the technical manager for the facility can get many, and very different answers, says Andreassen.
Andreassen is the supplier himself, but emphasizes that he is interested in working with all the methods and has broad experience of what works, as well as the disadvantages and advantages of the various methods. – I of course deliver what is described, but give a clear message about what I think is best for the customer, he explains.
What should be avoided?
– What is required is that the owner or technical manager of the facility is aware that measures must be taken to protect against legionella outbreaks. Which measures are corrected, however, is up to the person responsible, but also a decision that should be made based on reports and analyzes, says Andreassen.
There are three systems on the market that apply when it comes to installing a permanent installation to prevent legionella outbreaks. Copper / silver, chlorine dioxide and anodic oxidation.
– After all these years, we know that hot water rinsing only helps for a short time because the bacteria are protected by biofilm or the oxidation coating they are in. UV systems can be good, but prove ineffective against legionella. They can be good for weaker organisms and in combination with other methods. The problem with UV is that in order to eliminate or neutralize a bacterium, the bacterium should be exposed to UV light for six to ten seconds at a distance of less than 60 mm. It goes without saying that with high water consumption this becomes impossible as the water passes too quickly. Another disadvantage is that they lose power when the lamps are coated with, for example, biofilm, which happens often. Also shade the track if someone comes with a shower head, pipe fittings and other things that “remove or obstruct” legionella, Andreassen believes.
What methods are effective against legionella?
As previously mentioned, the methods copper / silver, chlorine dioxide and anodic oxidation are all effective against legionella, but still very different in behavior for better or worse. Here is Andreassen’s overview:
The copper / silver method works by adding copper and silver particles directly to the water. These are heavy metals that are not broken down in the body, but some may have allergies to this. Often the particles settle in the porcelain and color this turquoise or black. – At a hospital we deliver to, we had to cut out parts of the treatment when it settled on the autoclaves in the laboratory. We make our customers aware of these issues in advance, but know that others who sell this sometimes downplay these issues. It is said that “a microscopic amount” is added, but the consumption of copper and silver shows that this is not the case. Copper / silver is both most expensive to purchase and in operation per year. A facility for a medium-sized nursing home is worth just under NOK 30,000 and approx. 80 – 100,000 in operating costs. We sell this method, but do not recommend it, says Andreassen.
Chlorine dioxide is a mixture of chlorine and hydrochloric acid. These are “gunpowder” that must be handled carefully and there are therefore strict rules for storage and handling of the chemicals. The chemicals are dosed into the main water line. There is a limit to how much you are allowed to add that can limit the effect. The method generally has a good effect and fits well on large, old buildings where you do not have an overview of all piping and blind pipes. The disadvantage is that you have to constantly add the chemicals that also lose some of their effect at higher temperatures. This method can also wear the most on the plant’s materials such as stainless steel. A facility for a medium-sized nursing home is located at approx. 200-250 000 kroner. Due to strong chemicals, replacement of gaskets and components is often required during service, which makes the method expensive. In addition, there is the consumption of chlorine dioxide per liter of water used in the building.
Anodic oxidation is a method that removes bacteria without the use of heavy metals or chemicals. The process takes place in a chamber with titanium anodes. These are not sacrificial anodes. When these are added to low current, oxygen and hydrogen are split and the bacteria are eliminated when they encounter pure oxygen. You could say they burn underwater. The process takes place inside the oxidation chamber which is mounted on the main water intake, and all the water to the building is treated. Some people think this method can destroy water heaters etc., but this is not the case. – I myself have been director of Blucher and built up their department in Norway until I started TermoRens AS in 1994, so stainless steel I know a lot about. Anodic oxidation does not change the water quality and can in no way damage any components in a sanitary system. In terms of price, this method is also the most affordable. A facility for a medium-sized nursing home is worth NOK 138-198,000. Maintenance during a year from 15-25 000 kroner and no costs for chemicals or other additives, Andreassen explains.
This is recommended for property owners and the plumber
Familiarize yourself with the problems and methods available on the market, as well as laws and regulations. There is a lot of material to be found on the internet and the National Institute of Public Health has published a guide. It is a requirement that everyone who owns a building must make risk assessments and take water samples at regular intervals to follow up.
– When it comes to water samples, only legionella culture samples apply. They are the only ones who provide answers to the right legionella level in the facility. Forget germ count samples. You can have low germ count values and high legionella values in the same plant, so these are directly misleading when it is legionella you want to find. And to those of you who do not take samples because you are afraid of finding legionella – sharpen up, Andreassen concludes.
Thore Andreassen is a master plumber and plumbing engineer and has been in the plumbing industry since 1971. He started the company TermoRens as in 1994 and is also chairman of Skien Crafts and Industry Association.