‘[There is] a guidance document called Local Order Number 11, 2003, and that stipulates that the landlord or the owner of the building has a responsibility to clean their tanks and the water distribution networks, but it doesn’t say how often,’ Day explains. His personal recommendation is to clean it every six months. Day acknowledges that some places, such as schools and hotels, are keen to do this even more often – around every three months – yet there are also landlords who don’t clean their tanks at all. ‘There are so many buildings in Dubai, even with the best will in the world, [it’s] very difficult to get around and inspect every single one, and catch errant landlords who don’t clean their tanks. Generally tanks in the five-star, four-star properties are being done because they follow the guidance rules. [But some hotels with fewer stars] are not being cleaned as regularly, and if it is done, it’s done on an ad-hoc basis,’ Day states.
As well as layers of slime, sludge and alarmingly high levels of bacteria (of which, Day explains, he often ‘can’t even identify a cause’), things found in water tanks range from the sinister to the bizarre. ‘Probably the worst [thing we find are] dead birds, and that’s quite stomach-churning because when you find one in a tank it’s typically just the skeletal remains and a lot of feathers, that’s quite bad, and, of course, the water smells terrible. We find smaller creatures, insects, occasionally rats, small snakes, lizards and geckos,’ he says, adding that they’ve been to buildings years after they’ve been built and found evidence of construction debris in the tanks – suggesting they have never been cleaned before, ever.
‘We’ve found construction workers’ boots, even plastic bags with chicken biryani floating around inside...’ he trails off, and I’m grateful. But next the questions are turned around, and Day asks me when my tank was last cleaned in the villa I have been living in for almost five years. ‘I, erm, I’m not sure...’ He announces that in all likelihood, it has never been cleaned, as I would have noticed the men working on it. ‘Do you clean your teeth?’ ‘Yes’ ‘ Wash your hair?’ ‘Yes’ ‘Wash your vegetables?’ ‘Yes’ ‘Wash your children?’ ‘I don’t actually have any.’ ‘And that’s probably a good reason not to,’ he surmises, with surprising force. I feel awkward. And with a shiver, I wish furiously that hadn’t had a shower this morning. If reading this has made you feel a similar sense of dread about that bath you were planning tonight, you know what you need to do. I, for one, will be relieved if the worst I’ve got to contend with is a biryani.
Smashing Cleaning Services do a free initial inspection. Tank cleaning and pipeline disinfecting starts from Dhs500. For more information visit www.smashingclean.com or call 050 759 0496.