Water Cooler Bacteria Symptoms

A poorly maintained water cooler can harbor bacteria that can negatively affect the health of your family or employees.

Although the water you put in your water cooler can carry traces of bacteria, it’s usually not the main problem.

Some components inside the water cooler, such as rubber seals that prevent leaks, are usually the breeding grounds for these microorganisms.

The most common bacteria found in water coolers include Pseudomonas Aeruginosa and Legionella.

These bacteria thrive in the appliance and contaminate the water leading to severe headaches, diarrhea, and fever, among other illnesses.

In this post, we discuss the water cooler bacteria symptoms.

What Types of Bacteria Can You Find in Tap Water?

Water coolers can harbor high levels of bacteria if not regularly cleaned. The most common bacteria in water coolers include:

  • Legionella
  • Pseudomonas Aeruginosa


Legionella is one of those bacteria living in water and has a reputation. And like any other bacteria, you wouldn’t want to come across it anywhere.

The bacteria cause various diseases in humans, including Legionnaires disease. It can be found in water coolers, ponds, rivers, streams, and plumbing systems.

Although legionella lives in water, it’s only dangerous when airborne. This means that you’ll most likely not get sick even if you drink water with the bacteria.

However, you

 Should be worried if you inhale the same water – while in the shower or through an air conditioning unit.

The pathogen targets the lungs causing inflammation.

Older persons, smokers, and individuals with weak immune systems are the most susceptible to this bacteria. It also causes milder illnesses resembling flu and Pontiac fever.

Symptoms of Legionella

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting

Pseudomonas Aeruginosa

If you’ve noticed a musty or earthy smell coming from your drinking water, chances are, the water has pseudomonas.

Pseudomonas Aeruginosa is a bacteria that can be found in water, soil, or plants. It requires very little nutrition to survive.

The bacteria is usually found in bottled water, water taps, and water coolers. It thrives well in warmer temperatures and will form in places like Jacuzzis, showers, and baths.

To know whether you have Pseudomonas Aeruginosa, test your water regularly. The bacteria are good at forming biofilms and interfere with the water’s color, taste, and smell if in high numbers.

It can be very hard to remove, which is why eliminating it requires a 2-step process. First, you need to disinfect your water cooler.

Next, scrub the water cooler as the bacteria like attaching themselves to surfaces hence hard to flush out.

Symptoms of Pseudomonas Aeruginosa

  • Bad taste and odor in drinking water
  • Ear and eye infections

How Do You know that Your Water Cooler Has Bacteria?

Regular testing of your drinking water by an independent company with zero involvement with the maintenance of drinking water outlets like water coolers will ascertain whether your water has bacteria.

Additionally, if you fail to clean your water cooler regularly, you’ll most likely see bacteria in the water in the form of algae.

How to Maintain a Water Cooler to Prevent Bacteria

If you follow the basic sanitation rules of your water cooler, you shouldn’t experience the growth of mold, mildew, or bacteria in the unit.

These rules include:

  • Sanitize your water cooler every 3 to 6 months.
  • Spray the dispensing taps at least once per week with an appropriate sanitizing agent.
  • Clean the drip tray and the outside areas of the unit on a regular basis.
  • Always store your bottles in a clean, cool, and dark environment.
  • Replace your water cooler filters every 6 months.
  • Always check on the machine to ensure that it’s functioning as expected.


A water cooler can become a breeding ground for bacteria if poorly maintained. And should your water get contaminated with bacteria, it’ll not only become unappetizing but also pose a health risk.

To prevent bacteria from your water cooler, clean it every time you change the water bottle. You must also wipe down the unit’s exterior daily to remove any fingerprints, grease, and oils.

Also, do not place anything other than water (juices, soda, etc.) in the reservoir, as this can make bacteria grow in the internal parts of the water cooler.

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