Boil Order Alert: What To Do

What is a Boil Order Alert?

Although it is not common, your water district may occasionally issue a BOIL ORDER ALERT. The most common reason is a main break in the water delivery system caused by area construction or aging infrastructure. The result of this type of breach is the introduction of sediment and organic material into the water supply that may or may not include bacteria or other contaminants. Because the water managers can no longer ensure the quality of the water coming into your home, they issue a BOIL ORDER. Other reasons for such an advisory are varied and much more rare but include contamination of the water supply at the source (river, lake, aquifer, well, etc.) that cannot be immediately addressed by the water districts’ standard treatment procedure. This can be caused by area flooding or other natural or manmade disasters.

What to Do in the Event of a Boil Order

Regardless of the cause, ALL BOIL ORDERS SHOULD BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY. They typically last 48 hours or less, but it is important to follow instructions issued by the Water District until after the “all clear” is issued. All water used for drinking, cooking, making juice, washing fruits and vegetables, – even brushing your teeth should be brought to a rolling boil and boiled for a minimum of 2 full minutes. The sanitized water can then be cooled and placed in clean containers and refrigerated for use as needed. A good tip is to add a small pinch of salt when the water is cooling to remove the “flat” taste of boiled water (unless you are on a restricted sodium diet).

Unless otherwise advised by the Water District, it is fine for healthy children (over 2), teens and adults to wash and bathe in water from the tap during the BOIL ORDER. The very young, the very old and those with compromised immune systems should avoid all contact with untreated water until the order is lifted. Also remember your pets, while they typically have stronger immune systems then humans, letting them drink untreated water could be harmful, so give them the boiled water with the rest of the family.

What if I have a Culligan System?

Some of our customers think that they are protected from contaminated water by the Culligan equipment installed in their home or business. This is most likely NOT the case. The only Culligan product that ensures safe water during a boil order is our bottled water. Equipment such as Culligan Softeners, Iron Clears, sediment filters, pre filters and the like are specifically tailored to condition the “normal” water coming into your home (or business) as tested at the initial consultation and at subsequent service visits. That equipment was not selected or designed to “protect” against the unknown and variable contaminants that cause your Water District to issue a BOIL ORDER.

The same can be said for your drinking water system. If you have a Culligan Drinking water system, it was chosen to provide healthy water for you based on the water you typically receive from your municipal water district or well – it is designed to handle fluctuations in the water quality from your source but the impact of a potentially major contamination cannot be foreseen. DURING A BOIL ORDER, DO NOT USE YOUR DRINKING WATER SYSTEM.

Step-By-Step Actions During a Boil Order

Next are some simple actions you should take to protect you and your Culligan Equipment during a boil order.

For Softeners, pre-filters, Iron Clears, and other Automatic and Manual Filtration Systems installed after your main water inlet or pressure regulator.

When the BOIL ORDER is issued you should, as soon as possible, engage the bypass mechanism (see How To Bypass Your Softener). This can vary depending on equipment and installation. Please refer to the Owner’s Manual for your equipment or if you are a Culligan Mid Missouri customer, give us a call. We will look up the installed equipment on your account and help you. If you do not bypass the system, the water could be contaminated. Softeners and other automatic filtration systems will need to be sanitized – it is best to contact us to check over your equipment and sanitize your system. For manual filter systems, all filters should be replaced and the filter housing should be sanitized. After the BOIL ORDER is lifted, it is advisable to flush your water lines by opening all the faucets you have used during the event and allow water to flow for 5 minutes – BEFORE YOU PUT YOUR EQUIPMENT BACK IN SERVICE.

For Drinking Water Systems

As soon as the Boil Order Alert is issued, locate the water shut off valve closest to the supply line and turn it 90 degrees so it is perpendicular to the plastic line. As long as you do this right away, you can safely use the water remaining in your storage tank. After the BOIL ORDER has been lifted, you should clear the line your system is connected to BEFORE turning the supply line back on. To do this turn, the tap (faucet) on directly after the supply connection (typically your regular kitchen faucet) and allow it to flow for 5 minutes BEFORE turning the supply line shut off valve back to the parallel (on) position.

If you did not turn off the supply as soon as the order was issued or if you are not sure if water was produced AFTER the BOIL ORDER went into effect.

DO NOT take any chances – turn off the supply valve as above AND turn off the shut off valve on top of the storage tank to prevent accidental usage for the duration of the alert. Once the BOIL ORDER has been lifted, all the filters and the reverse osmosis membrane will need to be replace AND the filter manifold and storage tank will need to be sanitized. You can follow the directions in your owners manual or call your “Culligan Man” and we will get you back in service right away.

Remember, for the health and safety of your family, TAKE EVERY BOIL ORDER SERIOUSLY. Follow the instructions given by your water district and bypass or shut off your Culligan equipment. When the order is lifted, flush your water lines BEFORE you put your equipment back in service. If you have any questions or concerns CALL YOUR “CULLIGAN MAN.” We are here to help.