Keeping up with plumbing maintenance needs can be a daunting and unrelenting cycle, particularly in large or busy facilities where faucets are subject to heavy wear and tear.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. A few simple steps can help facilities get the most life from their faucets.
Reducing the constant churn of faucet repair and replacement starts at the beginning, with selecting the right fixtures for the job, and continues through proper installation to ongoing maintenance.
A: The most significant factor influencing fixture life is initial quality.
Durable fixtures that are designed to withstand the heavy use and occasional abuse they’ll be subjected to in high-traffic environments are more likely to last, both reducing periodic maintenance needs and extending the time between faucet replacements.
A: The first basic choice is between manual and sensor faucets. Sensor faucets are the most commonly preferred option in restrooms and other public spaces because of their clean, hands-free operations.
But some facilities, notably schools, may prefer a manual faucet that’s less likely to tempt users into vandalism, like trying to scratch away the sensor eye. In those environments, a metering faucet may be a good choice because the faucet can’t be turned on and left to run.
For facilities selecting sensor faucets, choose between above-deck and below-deck configurations. Below-deck options hide the electronics and provide a more compact presence; above-deck versions allow easier access to batteries for replacement.
Consider a hydrogenerator or hardwire option to eliminate periodic battery changes, further reducing maintenance needs.
Think also about planning for the future as much as possible. Anticipating potential changes will make future updates or replacements less likely — or at least less frequent.
Are the fixtures ADA-compliant? Do they meet (or exceed) current sustainability goals? Have you selected faucets that allow for retrofitting of aerators or other devices that may become available in the future?
Choose, for example, a faucet with vandal-resistant aerators to avoid malicious or misguided removal of aerators, keeping water flow in check right from the beginning.
A: With routine maintenance, a high-quality manual faucet can last about 20 years, and sensor faucets have about a 10-year lifespan.
A: For manual faucets, routinely flush aerators to remove any debris that has accumulated and replace cartridges if they start to fail. Cut down on maintenance by choosing ceramic cartridges with a lifetime warranty.
Sensor faucets will need regular battery changes if they are battery-operated and require the debris filter to be cleaned periodically.
Incorporating these basic processes into your regular maintenance schedule can extend the functional life of the faucet significantly.
A: In manual faucets, ensure the selected cartridge is appropriate for the application. If the water in the area is sandy or silty, it’s best to use compression cartridges. In all other cases, ceramic cartridges are the preferred choice for their long-lasting performance.
For sensor faucets, installers should ensure the sensor range is adjusted properly to provide expected, reliable function for users.
Installers and maintenance personnel also need to be aware whether the sensor faucet has an auto-purge function and if it is on. If so, the faucet will run for 30 seconds after a period of inactivity — often 12 hours — in order to prevent stagnation in the water lines. If facility managers do not know about this feature, they may assume a faulty faucet.
Some sensor faucets may also enter a “sleep mode” to conserve battery life if they are not used for a period of time. If this happens, holding your hands in front of the sensor beam for about 1.5 seconds will reactivate it. Again, facility maintenance personnel should be made aware of this feature so they don’t assume a problem with the faucet.
A: Always follow the preventive maintenance guidelines set by the manufacturer and monitor for leaks to prevent unnecessary water waste.
Find helpful step-by-step guides for repairing or updating T&S products in our library of how-to videos.