I have several memories of my first visit to Boston’s Fenway Park with the most vivid of them being that first glimpse of the field itself. It was the mid 70’s, Rico Petrocelli hit a homerun, and the hotdogs were fantastic. One more thing from that trip stuck to my brain. The men’s room had a trough to urinate in. It was a long stainless steel trough with water constantly running through and no flushers. Warp speed to early 2000 and I see that my boys get a kick out of the automatic flush systems that we see in many public bathrooms. In both cases above the user does not flush but the receptacles do.
No flush urinals of a different kind are now a modern day option. No flush here indicates that there is no water hooked up to the toilet itself. The urinals from the two major manufactures of waterless urinals (Falcon Waterfree Technologies and Waterless No Flush Urinals) work on the same principal. A special, lighter than water, liquid sealant sits on top of urine in a trap. Additional urine will run through the trap, under the sealant, and then out the drain.
The traps for no flush urinals are removable and must be replaced periodically. They are secured in place to prevent tampering and it’s recommended that they be changed every 6,000-7,000 uses. The liquid sealant must also be replenished as needed, which can be up to a few times a month, depending on usage. Other maintenance for this type of toilet is minimal due to the fact that there are no moving parts to wear out or water hook-ups to eventually leak.
The number one benefit to using waterless urinals is simply that they save water. Older urinals can use as much as 3 gallons per flush (gpf) although it is more common to see units that use 1 gpf. Either way, using 0 gpf will save both water and money. Waterless urinals, which are comparable in cost to traditional urinals, are also cheaper to install in new construction. For one, it can take as little as 15-20 minutes to install a new unit from a new rough-in. Also consider the materials and labor savings from not having to run a waterline. The no flush urinals can easily be retrofitted to replace existing fixtures and easily fit the existing flange because the fixture size is the same.
There are also potential sanitary benefits to having flushless urinals. Nothing has to be touched and although we see that feature in many modern urinals it is always a good thing. In addition, the absence of water can act as a deterrent to mold and germs. There is one possible drawback that deserves to be mentioned here. Some poorly designed or poorly placed (to low or to high) waterless urinals can create a splash back effect. That in itself is not good but it would also then tend to make users stand further away. Like any golfer can tell you, an increase in distance will lead to a decrease in accuracy.
Flushless urinals are an option. They can make solid economic sense for high traffic bathrooms and good environmental sense for anywhere that they are installed.
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