Pseudomonas in hot water heater?

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    • #276922
      Avatar photoMasterPlumbers

        My daughter and I have had a skin rash for 3 months and a culture was postivie for pseudomonas bacteria. Around the time the rash started, we’d had the aquastat replaced on our hot water heater and the temperature turned all the way down to the minimum (approximately 120 degrees). I’ve begun wondering if there could be bacteria growing in the hot water tank since we can’t seem to get rid of the rash. We drink our water and have not been ill, so I do not think there is a problem with the well. Is it possible for bacteria like pseudomonas to grow in a hot water heater and, if so, how can it be eradicated? Is there a recommended temperature that would kill it? Thanks very much.

      • #295032
        Avatar photoHarold Kestenholz

          It can grow at 107F which is the bottom tank temperature of a 120F water heater.

          The low water temperature helps prevent scalds and inmproves combustion efficiency, however, it also promotes growth of various organisms. Move the water temperature up and use a quality tempering valve to lower the outlet temperature.

        • #295033
          Avatar photonicktheplumber

            Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a pathogenic (causes disease in humans) bacterium. It is a common pathogen in hospitals, especially in things like whirlpool tubs, where it can cause problems for patients in the physical therapy department, especially patients who are being treated for decubius ulcers and burns. It is an ubiquitous (i.e. is found everywhere) organism, but in plumbing fixtures it seems to be found most often in the drains of tubs. For this reason most hospitals follow a protocol of cleaning their tubs and sterilizing the drains and traps with an antiseptic agent, and they monitor their plumbing fixtures by culturing swabs taken from the drains and tub walls.

            Your WATER supply, however, ought to be bacteriologically pure. If you are able to culture Pseudomonas, E. coli, or other pathogens from your water supply, you have a problem. Contact your municipal water supplier. If you have a well, have that tested. It is possible that your water heater is contaminated. You can have that tested. If so, sterilize it (drain it, refill it, and turn up the heat for a while). You might consider installing a UV germicidal filter.


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