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Efficient, Cost-Effective Plumbing Upgrades

I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is, efficient and cost-effective plumbing upgrades.

The push for water conservation in restrooms within institutional and commercial facilities is creating pressure on managers to address problems related to plumbing components and systems. One key decision is whether to repair existing plumbing fixtures in an attempt to address water-conservation demands or to replace plumbing systems to achieve this goal.

Replacing water closets and urinals is an expensive renovation project. Some older facilities that present problems related to compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, must renovate toilet rooms and update all piping rough-ins and plumbing fixtures. In these cases, renovation also presents an excellent opportunity to install low-flow fixtures that use 1.28 gallons per flush, or gpf, as well as one-eighth gpf urinals.

Facilities that have old fixtures but that are not required to conduct accessibility upgrades still might qualify for a fixture-exchange program from a local utility. These programs help facilities offset the cost of retrofitting old fixtures with new, low-flow fixtures.

Prior to such a renovation would be an opportune time to install several waterless urinals as a way to test if they are suitable with the maintenance staff. If they are suitable, managers can choose to specify them in the fixture upgrade. One inexpensive approach is to change standard flush-meter-type valves or tank-type valves to dual-flush fixtures. When installed, workers will have to adjust them to make sure there is enough water flowing through the fixtures during low-flush situations, which works best with manually operated fixtures.


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