Water Coolers

July 7, 2009

The things you need to know before renting or buying a water cooler…

What is a Water Cooler?

Simply put, water coolers (or watercoolers) dispense cool water. Generally they are available in bottle-less and bottled water cooler guises. The former is hooked up to your water supply while bottled water coolers require large bottles of water to operate.WaterCooler

Water coolers are quite often wall mounted and plumbed into the water supply with a refrigerator unit to cool the water and a connection to the waste water system to remove unused water. These ‘plumbed in water coolers’, ‘water fountains’ or ‘drinking fountains’ incorporate a small tank that holds chilled water so that it is instantly available – ‘on tap’ for the user. Water is released at the press of a button and delivered in a stream that arches up enabling the user to drink from the top of the fountain stream. These units usually dispense water directly with no filtering or purification.

More popular in countries where it is not safe or common to drink water straight from the tap are the free standing units delivering chilled or hot water from a large bottle of filtered, purified or natural spring water. The large bottles are placed spout down into the dispenser.

The bottles are inserted upside down into the dispenser with a probe puncturing the cap of the bottle allowing the water to flow into the cooler’s internal tank. A wide variety of coolers are available in various different sizes and vary from table to floor mounted units. Normally, the bottled water is delivered on a regularly basis with a simple agreement via a specialist supplier who collects the empties and replaces with full bottles.

A cup dispenser is usually mounted to the side of the unit for housing disposable plastic or paper cups and other useful accessories are normally available. Bottle sizes vary from dispenser to dispenser but usually go up to 5 gallon bottles in the US and 18.9 litres elsewhere. While most of these units incorporate a refrigeration unit to chill the water, they are not normally able to handle much waste, offering just a small reservoir to catch minor spills. When the water bottle is empty it is simply lifted off the top of the dispenser and replaced with a new bottle. The seal on the bottles automatically seals when removed to prevent leakage of any excess water still in the bottle.WaterFountain

Gravity fed systems such as these have an inbuilt mechanism to dispense water in a controlled manner. Some have a second dispenser that delivers either room temperature or hot water for making tea, coffee or other hot beverages. The hot water is stored in a similar reservoir to the chilled and is heated via a heating element. A safety valve is usually incorporated to save from burns or scalding from accidental spillage.

Table top and kitchen worktop units are also available utilising readily available five litre water bottles from supermarkets.

Do you need a commercial bottled water cooler for your office?

In a large number of countries having a watercooler in your office enables compliance with employment law. Because employers must provide employees with a supply of high quality drinking water in the office, renting or buying a water cooler is a cost-effective way of complying with the law. Five consumers, customers or employees or more and the water cooler will pay for itself over buying bottled water.

The well-being of your employees and the image of your business will improve with a water cooler. You could just drink the tap (faucet) water but it doesn’t always taste great and could contain all sorts of contaminants. Renting or buying a water cooler for the office offers your customers and employees natural, filtered or purified and better tasting chilled water. The built in hygienic filtering system will help destroy bacteria and purify the water.

Water coolers are a significant asset to the image of businesses and offer a convenient option for providing visitors with a glass of cool, great tasting, chilled and filtered water.

The main types of water cooler

There are a wide range of water coolers to choose from, those that are connected to the mains water supply and are equipped with a sophisticated filtering system to eliminate impurities and chlorine, and bottled water coolers that dispense natural spring or filtered water into the home and office. Bottled water coolers can be placed anywhere and are not dependent on plumbing with bottle sizes ranging from 5 to 20 litres in size. Both systems offer a range of cold, hot and even sparkling water.

A plumbed in water cooler is available to rent or buy and doesn’t have any supply or storage problems and enables you to enjoy water that is purified and softened by a filtration system. Maintenance and filter changes are carried out regularly within the monthly fixed cost which makes it ideal if you don’t want any additional work.

Bottled water coolers are more flexible and are held in high regard by employees because they provide natural spring water in the office – the closest thing to mineral water. Ideal for businesses wanting to locate their water coolers wherever they choose without the need for a nearby water supply – offices, reception, kitchen or even the bathroom.

These coolers are normally available without a fixed contract and you are able to order as much or as little water as you require but always remember to allow for more consumption during the hot summer months and less during the winter.

Your supplier will normally stay in regular contact to ensure that you have a regular and efficient supply before you run out.

Water coolers – your choice!

What sort of questions should you ask before making a decision?…

• How many people in your office will use the water cooler?

• Do you have the connection facilities for a mains water cooler?

• How much room do you have to store your bottled water?

• What is the price and energy rating of the unit.

• What type of water do you want in your office – purified, filtered, spring, mineral or other?

• What filters are used and is the water of a guaranteed quality?

• What additional information on quality and service is available?

Special attention should be given to the hygiene features of the water cooler contract. Have the water cooler on trial before you sign any agreement. Understand how your employees use the water cooler and if they feel it provides good quality water. Check that your water coolers uses activated carbon filters in addition to an anti-bacterial system like UV filtration.

Your water cooler supplier must be able to guarantee a regular, punctual shipping service and ensure that under the terms of the contract they are responsible for keeping the system clean and in good working order. Check with them on their response times. Although water coolers provide a great source of clean, pure drinking water, essential to our health, periodic cleaning of the water cooler is essential to ensure the health and safety of everyone who uses the cooler.

Some tips for keeping your cooler clean and healthy.

• Clean the cooler every time you change the bottle or every six weeks at least.

• Scrub the interior surface of the water cooler reservoir with a mild bleach solution and let stand for up to 5 minutes.

• Rinse the reservoir at least 4 times with clean water.

• Remove the drip tray, wash with a mild detergent and rinse thoroughly.

• Wash hands or use gloves before installing a new bottle of water.

• Wipe the top and neck of the bottle with a mild bleach solution.

• Check to make sure that the expiry date of the bottle is still current, remove cap and place on unit.

Follow these simple instructions and your water cooler will remain free of bacteria and provide years of healthy service. Under normal circumstances your supplier will carry out the above as part of their normal service. If they don’t offer, ask!  Most will provide the essential sanitation services.

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Consumer Focus Scotland said 23 out of 87 samples from water cooler dispensers in Edinburgh and the Lothian and Borders region showed bacterial contamination. Coolers in leisure centres, offices, care homes and schools were among those to fail the tests because of bacterial contamination with the potential to cause illness. In 14 samples, scientists found […]