Urinals – Size Really Does Matter

In some areas of life it’s all about your reach… this shouldn’t be one of them… especially given the fact that it’s a touchy subject that most people either don’t, or don’t want to, think about.  I’ll do my best to maintain some decorum. Here goes (please forgive me):

At a recent commercial office fit-out, I really had to go. I mean my teeth were swimming.  If you’ve ever been on a commercial interior renovation job site, the existing (and often new) bathrooms are not maintained until just before the tenant moves in.  There’s a reason contractors carry toilet paper in their jobsite gang box – that’s because there isn’t any around.  Often a country fair Porta-Potty is cleaner than the pre-move in bathrooms that the trades use during construction.  Tenants cringe too when they walk around their uncompleted space and peek into the bathroom.  The porcelain palace could use some scrubbing bubbles.

Luckily, though, the general contractor saw the pain on my face and advised me one urinal on the second floor had just been installed.  Now with relief in sight, I walked into the men’s room, unzipped to do my business and while standing up against the urinal, I noticed something just wasn’t so American Standard.  Either I grew taller or the urinal was so low it could have been installed for kids.  I don’t mean to brag, but had I had a cup of coffee and rested it on top of porcelain, I could have peed into it.  The drain below the rim was practically touching the floor.

The general contractor assured me the urinal was low to meet ADA code. But this seemed too low for a professional office. When I consulted with the architect, the project team received the following email:

“There is a concern regarding the mounting height of the urinals in the two Men’s Rooms as being too low for practical use by non-handicapped persons. I am told that the rim height is currently at 11” A.F.F .(Above Finished Floor)  – This can be as high as 17” A.F.F. and meet accessibility requirements. Please verify and visit the potential to raise the urinals to the max. allowable height.  Thanks.” 

The wall was opened up, plumbing was raised and the rim is now at 17″.

ADA Code 605.2 states that toilets in businesses must meet certain accessibility criteria under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Central to toilet accessibility are height requirements so the facilities remain accessible to people in wheelchairs or with other mobility-based disabilities. Men’s room urinals must have rims no higher than 17 inches from the floor for ease in use by wheelchair users or others with mobility-based disabilities. Rims higher than 17 inches make access difficult or impossible for those positioned lower to the ground than people who are able to walk. While not ideal, a 17″ rim height is certainly more comfortable than the minimum 11″ height.

So a plea to the design and construction team for commercial office fit-outs, please install the rim at the maximum 17” or specify a taller urinal so we don’t have to aim for our ankles to hit the spot or feel like we’re doing our business in a Chuck E. Cheese bathroom for kids.

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