Leveraging IoT to minimise legionella risk for landlords

IoT Lead at Glide Group Nazif Jahanzeb discusses the important use of technology and Internet of Things (IoT) in reducing legionella risk.

IoT Lead at Glide Group reflects on the importance of IoT in rental properties for reducing the risk of legionella | Glide Group | BTR News
IoT Lead at Glide Group reflects on the importance of IoT in rental properties for reducing the risk of legionella.

As part of a landlord’s responsibilities towards their tenants in the UK, it is their legal duty to ensure that their properties always remain safe – regardless of whether they are rented for residential or commercial use. One issue that properties can often fall prone to is the increased risk of legionella bacteria, which can cause Legionnaires’ disease, a serious pneumonia-type infection.

By Nazif Jahanzeb, IoT Lead, Glide Group

The bacteria is typically found in dirty and poorly maintained water systems – plumbing systems, air conditioning or even decorative fountains – where water is left to stand for long periods of time. According to the World Health Organisation, the bacteria live and grow in water systems at temperatures of 20 to 50 degrees Celsius, and, among other solutions, risk can be mitigated with reduced water stagnation by flushing unused taps in buildings on a weekly basis.

For landlords, failure to mitigate risk sufficiently can result in significant penalties, even if no outbreak occurs. And if they are going long periods of time with empty rooms, homes, or buildings – where water is not being flushed through regularly – they must find ways to ensure water safety within their properties. Fortunately, the solution lies in the IoT.

The role of water flow and temperature sensors

Through the use of IoT devices, landlords can effortlessly monitor their water systems across all locations, and significantly reduce the risk of legionella within their properties.

By utilising water flow & temperature sensors – two small devices placed on circulating loops at sentinel points – landlords can assess temperature and flow levels, receive automatic data to a tailored management dashboard and trigger custom alerts.

Quick to install and easily affixed to plastic, copper, or steel braided water papers, as well as offering up to five years of battery life, landlords can accurately keep track of temperature profiles over time, rather than relying on manual measurements – which can be prone to human error. Finding fault in complex systems also becomes much easier and more accurate, and the need for site visits can be significantly reduced through remote monitoring, saving both travelling time and fuel costs while benefiting environmental sustainability goals.

Importantly, regarding legionella risk, constant monitoring of temperature and flow will identify any issues such as low use of water. Once legionella risk rises, landlords are automatically notified to flush relevant systems, creating much safer environments within their properties.

Tracking and analysis

Real-time tracking of water temperature and flow clearly creates significant efficiencies for landlords with their properties. They can track whenever site visits are necessary, and they can have better visibility over water systems as a whole – easily seeing what works need to be completed and when.

However, with access to both real-time and historical data, landlords can not only make smarter decisions, but they can begin to use this data to forecast for the future. This could be anything from routine maintenance or flushing to knowing exactly how long until specific works might be needed. From there, they can begin to plan accordingly and always remain prepared.

Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, failure to mitigate legionella risk sufficiently can result in significant penalties, even if no outbreak occurs. With IoT technology deployed – which tracks and stores historical data – landlords have access to a paper trail of information that can be used as part of any compliance or regulatory checks. The technology allows them the peace of mind in knowing that their due diligence has been covered.

Creating a stable foundation

The use of IoT within properties can open a range of opportunities for landlords with regard to tenant safety and security, but also leisure. The technology can be seamlessly leveraged for numerous different uses that improve the overall user experience, minimising the risk of poor conditions where bacteria such as legionella can thrive.

However, none of this is feasible without high-speed and stable internet connectivity. With real-time monitoring, landlords must be able to check in on their properties at any moment, and that can only be achieved through super-fast Wi-Fi with minimal downtime.

With that in mind, landlords should look to focus their investments not only on IoT technology such as water flow & temperature sensors for water system monitoring, but they must also invest in fibre infrastructure that best supports the optimal use of these technologies. Only then can landlords ensure a futureproof, completely secure, safe, and enjoyable tenancy.