How can algae develop in water coolers?

By: Esteb Rueda

During the working day, people are often in a rush to get things done. That is why many times they don't notice the sanitary condition of the water coolers standing in the corner. It's a sad fact of office life but it is possible for scum to develop in water coolers, even in the most upscale offices. This may come as a bit surprise, but water coolers can soon find themselves in desperate need of cleaning if left unchecked.

It is biologically possible for algae to form in what may appear to be very clean conditions. It is because water coolers, just like any outdoor pond, are points of standing water and that is a primary spawning ground for algae and other scum. The algae spores can be airborne and enter through a faulty air filter or via the pipes leading into water coolers system. Droplets of water lingering on the spigot can be a source of contamination and algae spores may also be unwanted passengers on the new water bottles, quickly transferring themselves to the interior reservoirs once installed. It is in the dark recesses where the problem grows steadily larger. Many forms of algae are not even noticeable during their growth, and can quietly proliferate. When the algae are visibly noticeable it means that the water may be contaminated to the point where it may have to be disposed of quickly for health reasons.

Algae contamination is a problem that can linger if not addressed quickly. Maintenance crews need to be on the alert for any possible signs of algae beginning to form in the water coolers. If algae are detected then they have to be eliminated from the water coolers and the operative word is NOW! The contaminated water cooler first has to be rinsed out; a hose is the best method because of the high water pressure, which can loosen any algae clinging on to the sides of the water coolers. A bleach solution should then be put into the interior reservoirs and a thorough scrubbing must be applied. A final rinsing is then needed to get rid of any lingering algae and also the bleach residue.

Water coolers are often taken for granted as part of the office furniture, but these fixtures have to be routinely inspected for any traces of algae. Periodic inspections, particularly at the time when a new bottle is installed, ought to be conducted. A very simple precaution is to be extra careful when putting the new water bottle into place. Using rubber gloves can cut down on the accidental transfer of algae spores into the office water supply.

Health is the primary reason why special care has to be taken to keep the water and the surrounding area sanitary. Algae contains pathogens that when ingested can cause a person to get very sick. It would be more than embarrassing if health officials were called to inspect the water dispenser and find it contaminated with algae and scum. That's the kind of negative publicity no company ever wants to have happen, and prevention is the best way to avoid it.

So with this information in mind, it is crucial that you keep on top of the maintenance of your firms water coolers to prevent the unwanted spread of algae.

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