8 Things Facility Managers Need to Do to Prepare Bathrooms for the Quarantine Rebound

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The advent of COVID-19 has largely led to a hiatus for mass public gatherings. This means that most churches, schools and convention centers around the country have been without crowds for several weeks. Some states and localities are starting to open again, but they differ on what exactly “open for business” means. According to some public health officials, large gatherings could still be restricted for weeks or months into the future. This provides the perfect opportunity for facility managers to think about making bathroom repairs that will improve the experience of any visitors who might use their facilities after the quarantine and social distancing restrictions end.

1. Replace Worn Out Bathroom Stalls

Depending on how much traffic your building gets, the stalls in your bathroom could take a beating. Most people can remember seeing phone numbers or other carvings on the walls of bathroom partitions. Many stalls have dents in them from rough use or unruly patrons. Over time, these imperfections can encourage treatment that’s even worse. If your stalls are starting to look rough, now could be the perfect time to replace them.

2. Replace Broken Stall Hardware

Bathroom stall doors have brackets that hold them onto the rest of the stall. If these break, your stall door can come unhinged and lead to some pretty embarrassing situations for your patrons. If you see that a bracket on your stall’s door or one that’s supposed to anchor the stall to the wall is coming undone, it’s a good idea to fix it. Better to make a small fix than having to replace panels or an entire stall. Locks and handles can also start to break down over years of heavy use. While not likely to be as problematic as a broken bracket on a stall door, the lack of an effective lock can make some patrons uncomfortable. Check out Jacknob.com for a great selection of bathroom stall hardware.

3. Replace Damaged Bathroom Accessories

Most public bathrooms have an array of accessories. Some of the most common are hand dryers, paper towel dispensers, soap dispensers and toilet paper dispensers. Over time, these can wear out. Traditionally, they have also required an actual touch if people wanted to use them. Broken toilet paper dispensers can lead to having a mess of paper on the floor and unhappy customers. Having toilet paper that’s not sanitary because it’s sitting on the back of the tank or in the floor is not the best way to encourage visitors to patronize your venue again. Don’t wait until disaster strikes before taking care of issues. 

Hand dryers can break over time, and they can be frustrating for guests who have to dry their hands on their pants. A good back up is a paper towel dispenser. In recent years, touchless hand towel dispensers and soap dispensers have become more common. In light of the new coronavirus and other communicable diseases, your patrons will likely appreciate these upgrades. An additional accessory that you might want to add is a machine that automatically dispenses hand sanitizer with a wave of the hand. Keeping your hands clean is one of the most prominent recommendations for avoiding illness, and an automatic hand sanitizer dispenser is a great way to help people kill the germs that might linger on their hands.

4. Update Lighting

Lights have increasingly become more efficient in recent years. Older lights used quite a bit of electricity compared to newer models. Many older buildings have longer florescent lights. Others have recessed light fixtures that required the older incandescent light bulbs. Switching over to LED light bulbs can make sense if you’ve been using older and less efficient light bulbs in your bathrooms. LED lights use up a fraction of the energy, and they’ll usually last longer. That’s a win on two fronts. New light bulbs can definitely save your facility money over the long run.

5. Replace Urinals

Replacing urinals can be a move that helps with your organization’s sustainability. Older urinals use a ton of water. Today, you have the option of using low-flow urinals or urinals that use no water whatsoever. These waterless urinals can save a great deal of water over the course of a year. One recent estimate indicated that a school with 10 urinals and 300 male students could save as many as 330,000 gallons of water per year by switching to waterless urinals. Depending upon where your facility is located, this could add up to some substantial savings when compounded year after year.

6. Fix Leaks

Even if your bathrooms use waterless urinals, you’re still bound to use lots of water. This means you’ll have pipes running to your sinks and your toilets. Given enough time, washers can wear out and the wax ring that’s supposed to seal your toilet to the floor can start to fail. This means that leaks are about to start. Over time, leaks will only get worse, and an occasional drip in a faucet might become a small stream of water in a few weeks or months. A leak around the seal of your toilet will lead to water (or other, less sanitary substances) running into the floor. This can cause a health and a slip hazard for people who enter the stall. Wasted water is wasted money for your facility, and you’ll want to take advantage of this lull in the action to fix any leaks in your facility’s bathroom.

7. Spruce Up The Walls

Bathrooms are not usually the first area of a church, school or mall that come to mind when renovations are brought up. However, these areas can influence the public’s view of your organization. Over time, the paint on bathroom walls can experience wear and become less attractive. Few public places will have visitors during the quarantine, and many people will be reluctant to visit public places once it’s lifted. Therefore, you have the perfect opportunity to order some paint and improve the aesthetics of your bathroom walls. The job of painting could have the side benefit of keeping some of your employees gainfully employed while many around the country are out of work.

8. Install Automatic Faucets

A previous recommendation dealt with bathroom accessories. This one deals directly with bathroom hardware. Installing an automatic water faucet can save some serious money for your organization. A recent study found that installing a automatic faucet with a 0.5 gpm aerator could cut water usage nearly in half. Over a period of months or years, this will definitely help your facility become more sustainable, and you’ll save money in the process.

Few people are enjoying the social distancing measures recently adopted by many state and local governments. However, the current slowdown in business does not have to be a period that completely lacks productivity. If you’re a facility manager who’s been thinking about fixing some common areas of concern in your bathrooms, now is the time to do it. Suppliers might be more willing to work with you given the current economic slowdown, and your staff won’t have to fight the crowds to complete your list of improvements.