Guernsey Water takes great care in collecting and treating rainwater in order to turn it into fresh, clean drinking water for customers. However, once this water is pumped into your home, it is important that it stays at the highest possible quality.
In this section you can find out how to keep your water in the best possible condition throughout the house through tap hygiene, using dishwashers and washing machines, using water filters, locating your stop tap, and preparing for the winter.
It is important that taps which are used for drinking water are kept clean. While the water coming to your tap is safe, many bacteria can live in the kitchen and some can grow both on the outside of the tap and inside the lip of the spout. These bacteria are not visible to the naked eye, but the tap can become contaminated from food or items washed in the sink.
For this reason, you should never allow food or anything that could potentially contain bacteria to come into contact with the end of the tap.
When Guernsey Water scientists carry out water samples from customer kitchen taps, they always sterilise the tap as best they can in order to get an accurate reading of the quality of the water leaving the tap.
A few tips to remember:
- Regularly clean household taps thoroughly using a mild household disinfectant, ensuring that you wash inside the spout
- After cleaning the tap, run it for a few moments to remove any remaining disinfectant
- Don't leave the dishcloth on the tap to dry
Most dishwashers and washing machines are connected directly to the mains water supply but are sometimes not plumbed in correctly. All connections should include a single check valve (also known as a non-return valve) so that water within the flexible hoses or the dishwasher/washing machine itself cannot return to the mains supply and reach the kitchen tap. If it does, you may experience rubber or plastic tastes and odours in your tap water.
Also, flexible hoses can deteriorate over time and release traces of chemicals that can cause odd tastes and odours that are particularly noticeable with hot drinks. Fitting non-return valves will prevent this problem.
The quality of tap water in Guernsey is very high and is subject to strict testing and monitoring (see Water Quality). It is perfectly safe and healthy to drink. However, some people prefer to use filters to remove the slight traces of chlorine from drinking water. These filters can either be plumbed in to the mains supply or be separate, such as jug filters. With all types of filter, you should always follow the manufacturer's instructions for installation and use.
Jug filters are designed to be small and portable and filter the water into a plastic container. The water they produce should be treated like any food and used as soon as possible. It is best stored in a refrigerator and should be discarded after 24 hours as the water may become contaminated by bacteria.
These filters normally have a filter cartridge that needs to be replaced from time to time - it is vital that this is done, otherwise the cartridge may become damaged or split, resulting in bacteria filtered by the cartridge seeping back into the water.
It is a good idea to know where your internal stop tap/stopcock is and that it works effectively. It can usually be found on the pipework under the kitchen sink, in a downstairs bathroom or cloakroom, or in a cellar if your property has one.
If you get a leak or burst pipe inside your property you will need to turn off the internal stop tap to prevent any flooding or damage.
When winter brings colder temperatures, properties can suffer from frozen and cracked pipes.
Following these tips will help you avoid problems:
- Fix any dripping taps or overflows, as a gentle trickle of water can freeze and block the pipe
- Check that your internal stop tap/stopcock is working by opening and closing it
- Ensure that pipes in cold and draughty areas like roof spaces, outbuildings and garages are well insulated
- Use waterproof insulation on all pipes exposed to the elements and ensure all lagging is kept dry. Wet lagging is useless
- Remember to insulate any outside taps, or turn them off at the internal stop tap and leave the outside tap open to drain it
- Ensure that your central heating system is serviced regularly
- Keep your plumber's contact details handy in case of an emergency
- Ensure that any storage tank in the roof space is adequately insulated around the sides and on the cover
- Don't put any insulation underneath the storage tank - warm air from below will help prevent the water freezing
For more information on this, please download our Winter Care Sheet.