March 24, 2009 - Contact FacilitiesNet Editorial Staff »
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.