4 FM quick reads on plumbing
1. Plumbing Upgrades
I’m Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today’s topic is, plumbing upgrades.
Plumbing upgrades offer managers an opportunity to deliver a host of benefits to their organizations, but determining the best time for an plumbing-systems upgrade can be challenging.
Among the factors managers must consider in making the decision on when to begin an upgrade are the plumbing components’ age, previous system upgrades, and the severity of use.
Generally, the older the plumbing system is, the more an upgrade will benefit its operational efficiency. If a building is 35 years old, the amount of deferred maintenance, including the need for replacement with more modern fixtures and piping, probably has grown to the point where operational costs are much higher than those for more modern fixtures.
Areas of particular concern include: toilets that use up to four times more water per flush than newer models; taps that discharge water at twice the standard rate; urinals that use too much water; and high leak rates.
Plumbing systems in facilities with high traffic levels experience more cycling per day, and as a result components wear out more quickly. These high-volume sites can benefit substantially from upgrades, even if they are only a few years old. Older plumbing systems located in high-traffic areas clearly have the most to gain from upgrades.
Examples of upgrades that can deliver large savings in operating costs are:
• converting from high gallons-per-flush toilets to newer, more efficient flush valves
• converting from manual flush valves to automatic, sensor-operated models
• upgrading to waterless urinals
• converting to paper-saving dispensers
• converting from paper drying to air drying
• upgrading soap dispensers to reduce clogging
• upgrading faucets with lower-flow, hands-free designs.
Finally, managers must ensure compliance with regulatory mandates, including those in the Americans with Disabilities Act and building codes, and those enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
2. Water conservation and plumbing
I’m Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today’s topic is, plumbing systems and water conservation.
Many maintenance and engineering managers face the difficult balancing act of reducing water use and meeting occupant needs and preferences for consumption. Managers might be motivated to reduce their facilities’ water use for several reasons, such as minimizing water and sewage costs, a sense of environmental responsibility, and pursuing an accredited certification, such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
How can managers strike a balance? One viable option managers have implemented over the past few years involves the installation of waterless urinals. These urinals greatly reduce a building’s water and sewage requirements. Compared to 1.0 gallons per flush urinals, these fixtures use no water.
Installing or retrofitting restrooms with waterless urinals is relatively straightforward and simple. Most waterless urinals attach to the wall, similar to traditional urinals. The only difference is installers do not need to connect these urinals to existing water lines.
When retrofitting traditional urinals, installers must cap the water-supply lines. Depending on the valves on a building’s water lines, this might require draining part of or the entire building. In retrofitting waterless urinals, the only plumbing connection is at the existing gravity drain.
Before beginning a retrofit with waterless urinals, managers must consider several factors:
• The piping has adequate drain slope; 1/4 inch per foot typically is recommended
• Installers must use suitable piping materials.
• Existing piping is cleaned with a power snake.
• Installers must follow the manufacture’s instructions.
Maintaining waterless urinals is not much more difficult than maintaining conventional urinals. As with traditional urinals, housekeepers should clean and disinfect waterless urinals daily. In high-traffic areas, cleaning should occur more frequently.
Depending on the manufacturer of the liquid-sealant cartridge, replacement might depend on elapsed time or the number of flushes. It can range from three months to six months or 1,500 uses to 7,000 uses.
For urinals without cartridges, housekeepers should perform a bi-weekly flush out, which entails purging the urinal with 1 gallon of water to force out remaining liquid sealant and waste.
The next step involves using a recommended cleaning agent. A worker should pour 2 more gallons of water into the urinal drain to clean the piping. The final step is to replace the liquid sealant. Dry-type cartridges do not require replacement, but workers should remove them regularly and flush any sediment.
One benefit of liquid-seal waterless urinals is they contain no mechanical devices, meaning workers do not need to repair or replace flush valves. While managers will not need to worry about stocking valve bodies or components such as diaphragms, they will need to stock sealant and cartridges.
In the end, a manager’s decision must help the organization strike a balance between reducing water use and costs and meeting occupant needs and preferences.
4. Plumbing System Upgrades
I’m Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today’s topic is, plumbing system upgrades
The efficient operation and effective maintenance of plumbing systems do more than just provide a reliable water supply for facility operations. They also are essential for conserving water and minimizing costs tied to repair time and spare parts.
But maintenance only goes so far. At some point, components and entire systems reach the end of their service lives. How can managers determine the best time to stop devoting resources to maintaining existing fixtures and components and upgrade to new fixtures?
The answer lies in a manager’s ability to compile and analyze historical data on maintenance activity.
This does not mean managers have to track issues with individual toilets or minor arteries supporting those fixtures. Instead, they can divide a building into logical sectors, whether based on floors, wings or utility corridors.
They will need to track labor hours, labor costs, and non-labor and contractor costs for all related activities occurring in those sectors. Managers also need to track individual incidences, where some kind of response was required, to be able to track their frequencies and recurrences.
Over time, a manager might notice certain areas suffer a disproportionate amount of failures. Further investigation might identify the causes of those failures.
Are they the result of poor construction or design, or are occupants or maintenance technicians doing or not doing things to cause the failures? The answers to these kinds of questions might trigger changes in behavior, resulting in fewer problems.
The point of the date-gathering effort is to identify and remedy possible causes before investing in a new system, if only to avoid an untimely repeat of the same symptoms.