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Money Watch: Restroom Maintenance

I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is, controlling restroom maintenance costs.

In this age of cost cutting, maintenance and engineering managers are taking a closer look at all aspects of operations, including restrooms. They are examining maintenance, cleaning, energy use, and even supplies to reduce costs without curtailing service. Many managers have been successful by incorporating basic yet often overlooked features.

Sometimes, even the simplest design change can result in major reductions in maintenance costs over the life of a restroom. For example, installing isolation valves on every fixture and faucet will have minimal impact on first costs, but it will have a major impact on operations and maintenance costs. Without enough isolation valves, entire restrooms frequently must be shut down when one component needs replacing, disrupting operations and putting pressure on maintenance personnel to quickly resolve the issue.

Most restrooms are designed with one floor drain. But it is difficult to design and build restroom floors with enough slope to one drain. Installing multiple floor drains and adequately sloped floors can reduce cleaning time.

Stacked restrooms are common in multi-floor facilities. Stacking allows common water supply and waste lines to be installed, reducing costs. If restrooms are stacked, install suspended ceiling tiles to allow easy access to water supply and waste lines.

Every restroom cluster on each floor should include dedicated storage space for equipment and supplies. Too often, one location must serve an entire building. That means workers must haul supplies from that location to individual restrooms as needed, increasing labor costs.

Finally, the types of finishes in restrooms will affect maintenance requirements. For example, installing a vinyl wall covering where it will be exposed to water regularly will result in shorter service life and more frequent replacement. Ceramic tile can be four or five times more expensive than vinyl, but it is not subject to deterioration from exposure to water and typically will not require replacement until it is time to renovate the entire restroom.


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