Restrooms: Plumbing-Fixture Maintenance
Sensor-activated valves are available as battery-operated, hard-wired, and hydro-, and solar-powered options. The quality of battery-operated fixtures is improving, and they might be the best application for some facilities. Operators will have to develop a battery-changing schedule to ensure occupants have functioning fixtures at all times. Managers should use fixtures that fail in the off position. In some cases, as the battery fails, the water will stay on longer. Managers never should use fixtures that fail in the on position.
Some of the older sensor-activated faucets can waste significant amounts of water, compared to manually activated faucets. But they do provide sanitary benefits that generally outweigh the additional water use.
Technicians should install in-line check valves with mixing valves. In some cases, the hot and cold water mix at the fixture. Technicians should install in-line check valves to ensure the hot-water distribution system and temperature-maintenance system operate properly. The check valves allow the water to flow only in one direction.
Many new options exist when it comes to specifying restroom fixtures. Managers should be aware of the new fixtures and technology advances so they can match the proper fixture with the organization's sustainability goals.
Winston Huff is a project manager, plumbing fire-protection designer, and sustainable coordinator with Smith Seckman Reid, a consulting engineering firm in Nashville, Tenn.