Walk through enough kitchens, and you'll start to see all the ways plumbing equipment is being abused, misused or downright neglected — to the detriment of businesses' bottom lines. But sometimes all it takes to make a big impact is a small change, to items such as faucets, hoses and spray valves.
Plumbing products that use more water than necessary cost money in both water and energy, and faucets or fixtures that don't perform well absorb excess time and labor.
To choose the right products, operators must first understand how plumbing is used throughout the kitchen. These kitchen hot spots may offer opportunities for simple solutions that lead to significant savings:
- Two- and three-compartment sinks
Though some assume these faucets should have unrestricted flow to quickly fill up sinks, the sink is often being used for lighter tasks like rinsing or thawing, or water is running through a chemical dispenser. Adding a T&S Brass aerator to reduce flow rate from 7 gallons per minute (gpm) to 2.2 gpm saved one operator $4,400 on one faucet annually.
Some operators consider spray valves a one-size-fits-all product, but an array of available flow rates and spray patterns are designed to suit specific needs. If workers are drilling holes in current spray valves, it's probably time to consider a different spray pattern.
And if the spray valve's been around a while, it might be time to upgrade to a more efficient product. Older spray valves could use in excess of 4 gpm; most QSR operations need only 0.65 gpm to 1.42 gpm.
Traditional hoses or mops and buckets can be tripping hazards and don't clean as efficiently or as effectively as a compact, self-enclosed hose reel that can be mounted in a variety of accessible locations.
Audits of kitchen plumbing equipment show many handwash sinks have flow rates well above the code maximum of 2.2 gpm. Vandal-resistant aerators or flow control devices in the spout or faucet body reduce water consumption. One operator saved about $400 annually per faucet with T&S Brass 2 gpm aerators.
Dipperwells often feature a 5 gpm standard flow rate, well above what is needed. T&S Brass' standard 0.25 gpm model can save more than 1.2 million gallons of water a year for one dipperwell.
End users will often cut into pre-rinse units to install soap dispensers. Not only does this practice void the warranty, it can also cause leaks in the riser. Retrofitting the pre-rinse unit with a manufacturer-supplied tee will keep the unit functioning well.
Other areas and issues in the kitchen can also benefit from simple fixes.
- Water temperatures above code
If plumbing equipment is experiencing hot water deterioration, ceramic cartridges are a possible solution. T&S Brass' Cerama cartridges feature a lifetime warranty and no wearable parts — and have been tested up to 1 million cycles without failure.
While it may be easy to overlook an occasional leak, the EPA estimates a one-drip-per-second leak can send an extra 3,000 gallons of water down the drain every year. Fixing a leak can be as simple — and as inexpensive — as replacing an o-ring. In the case of one supermarket, repairing minor leaks in 3-compartment sink and service sink faucets saved more than $300 annually.
When it comes time for maintenance, high-quality product installations are often replaced by cheaper, lower-quality products, which can ultimately incur higher water, energy, maintenance and replacement costs. Operators should ensure repairers are selecting the correct replacement parts for their installation.