Most of us have heard the precautions for evading the global pandemic, otherwise known as the novel coronavirus or COVID-19. We are all doing our best to wash our hands frequently, using sanitizer, staying home and practicing social distancing, and so on. But what if COVID-19 can find its way into your home through other means? What if it’s not just surfaces that are a danger?
You may not have thought about it, but what if you could get COVID-19 through your plumbing system? What then?
According to numerous research groups, such a the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the novel coronavirus cannot be found in drinking water—a tremendous relief. In other words, that means that advanced filtration and disinfection processes are doing their job.
But what’s the bad news?
How COVID-19 Can Be Transmitted Through Plumbing
COVID-19 has a lot of similarities with SARS, although the two viruses are indeed different. However, the 2003 SARS outbreak may give us some hints about how to tackle this current global pandemic. While transmission of the virus through sewage has yet to be recorded, that does not mean it can’t happen.
It is best to be careful and keep your plumbing system well-maintained. Here are some tips to follow:
-Dry piping may be a source of contamination, since COVID-19 can be present on such surfaces. Keep plumbing systems from drying out by pouring water into drains.
-Avoid any foul smells coming from pipes.
-Do not leave your septic tank uncovered.
-Continue with routine plumbing inspections.
-Make sure your toilet and shower U-traps are working properly.
-Clean your kitchens and bathrooms regularly with antiviral solutions.
-Get rid of standing water quickly.
-Avoid contact with fecal matter.
Now, why do we mention U-traps? It just so happens that in February 2020, shortly after COVID-19 started making global headlines, an apartment complex in Hong Kong needed to be evacuated because tenants that had been social distancing started coming down with the virus.
After an investigation, it is believed that the U-trap may have contributed to the spreading of the virus. The building was old, and the plumbing system hadn’t been properly maintained. Since the U-trap couldn’t act as a plug, contaminants may have risen back out from the plumbing and into the air.
While this incident still needs to be studied, it is better to be safe than sorry. Make sure your U-trap is working.
Next, let’s briefly touch on the final point from above. When you do plumbing work, even DIYing at home, you might find yourself in a nasty spot—literally and figuratively. While it’s gross to talk about it, you should be doing whatever you can to avoid coming into contact with fecal matter. Not only has COVID-19 been found in feces, human waste carries with it a bunch of other foul things. Always wash your hands and sanitize everything, especially after dealing with an overflowing toilet, for example.
COVID-19 is highly contagious, and there is still a lot of investigating going on. While research has found that COVID-19 cannot be transmitted through the water we drink, fecal-oral transmission and infection through inhalation is definitely possible—so be careful! Always stop clogs in your plumbing system before it starts and wear your gloves and mask.