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Part 2: Cleanliness, Maintenance Need To Be Top Restroom Priorities
By James Piper, P.E.
July 2013 -
Plumbing & Restrooms
Two areas that have a big effect on the perception of facilities are restroom cleanliness and restroom maintenance.
Cleanliness, or the lack of it, is the number one complaint concerning restrooms. While cleaning schedules should be matched to the use of the facility, many cleanliness issues can be traced back to the design of the restroom itself.
Too many facility designs ignore the implications of that design on cleaning requirements. To be effective, all elements of the restroom must be considered, from the ceiling to the floor, including fixtures, surfaces, and finishes. Every design decision made must consider its impact on cleaning labor and materials, for a restroom that is difficult to clean won't be clean.
For example, fixtures such as waste containers and paper and soap dispensers should be positioned to minimize cleaning requirements. Soap dispensers positioned over counters rather than sink bowls tend to leave material on the counters, which increases both cleaning efforts and frequency.
Even something as simple as selecting the right colors and finishes can reduce cleaning requirements. Light color countertops are better at hiding water stains than dark countertops. Similarly, surfaces and fixtures with a high polish finish show dirt and stains more readily than satin or dull finished ones. Medium to dark color ceramic floor tile will require less frequent cleaning. Selecting larger size floor tile will reduce the frequency and the difficulty of cleaning grout.
Restroom floors should have a positive slant towards multiple floor drains to ease the task of cleaning the floor. Fixtures, partitions, and trash cans that are attached to the walls or ceiling rather than the floor also reduce cleaning requirements.
Don't forget the custodial closet. Closets should be conveniently located within individual restrooms or within one of a cluster of restrooms. Wet closets must include the necessary plumbing systems, including a boxed-in floor drain to contain spills. Other equipment installed in the closet should be selected to match the specific cleaning requirements of that restroom or restrooms. Closets also should be properly sized in order to store an adequate supply of consumables for the restroom.
While cleaning is the most significant maintenance cost, there are other issues that should be addressed during the design phase that will have a major impact on maintenance costs. One of the biggest complaints of maintenance crews is the lack of isolation valves on restroom fixtures. Without isolation valves, a problem with one fixture takes the entire restroom out of service. Each fixture must be installed with its own isolation valve.
During the selection process, particularly for fixtures and their controls, attention must be paid to the maintenance requirements of different options. While the rated service life of the fixtures may be very similar, the actual service life of individual components, such as seals, may differ widely. And the time and ease of getting to components that must be periodically replaced also varies widely from unit to unit. Components should be evaluated in part on how difficult it will be to maintain them.
Selecting dispensers for consumable supplies that are adequately sized for the level of use in a particular restroom will reduce the number of times that dispensers must be re-supplied, reducing maintenance costs. Touchless controls on these devices will limit the quantity of product dispensed, which also reduces the frequency with which they must be refilled.
Even something as simple as selecting the right lighting fixture can impact maintenance costs. A well-designed lighting fixture will require no special tools or disassembly of the fixture in order to replace the fixture's light sources. Similarly, the fixtures should be selected in part based on the cost of the lamps that they require.
Part 1: Restroom Design Choices Can Greatly Influence Image Of Facilities
Part 3: Restroom Hygiene, Restroom Lighting Can Be Managed Without Spending A Lot Of Money
Part 4: Showcase: Restroom Products