3 Restroom Complaints and How to Prevent Them
Odors. Cleanliness. Supplies. These are among the most common complaints that facility managers receive pertaining to their restrooms. What can be done to address them? In new facilities, the restroom design should be focused on measures to avoid these issues. In existing facilities, facility managers can take steps to minimize their impact on operations. Here’s a close look at ways to prevent these common complaints.
1. Preventing Odors
It has been said that odors in a restroom are the result of the lack of cleaning and that a properly cleaned restroom will have no odor issues. While that may be true in many cases, it is not always true. In some instances, restrooms may be on a suitable cleaning schedule using the correct equipment and cleaning supplies, and still odor is an issue. In these cases, it is important for facility managers to identify the source of the odor that occupants are complaining about before making any changes to their cleaning schedules or activities.
Dry traps are another common source of odor that leads to complaints about restrooms. Traps are designed to hold a small volume of water to prevent sewer gasses from entering a space from the drain/waste system. While urinal and water closet traps rarely go dry, floor drains do. Even with the wet mopping of flooring, there may not be sufficient water entering the drain to recharge the trap. Make it a practice to have cleaning personnel add one gallon of water to each floor drain every time the restroom is cleaned.
Inadequate ventilation is also a frequent cause of restroom odors. Even with clean and well-maintained restrooms, complaint-generating odors will build up unless there is a constant flow of ventilation air. Restroom exhaust fans generally are ignored when it comes to maintenance, unless someone reports that they are not operating. But even if the fan is running, it may not be moving sufficient air to do the job. Exhaust systems can be undersized. Dust, dirt, and lint can easily clog vent ducts and vent covers, restricting the flow of air. At least once each month, restroom exhaust systems should be inspected and cleaned as necessary. If cleaning does not solve the problem, have the maintenance department determine the flow rate for the exhaust system and see if it measures up recommended rates.
2. Keep It Clean
Cleanliness is one of those subjective measures that cannot be easily quantified. It may be that the restroom really is dirty, or it may be that the restroom is clean and sanitary but just creates the impression of not being clean. If you are receiving general complaints about cleanliness, follow up to determine exactly what people are complaining about. There are many causes and perceptions that can lead occupants to complain that the restroom is not clean.
If there is visible dirt on the floors and other surfaces, adjustments will have to be made to cleaning frequencies, methods, or both. Perhaps the level of use of the restroom is higher than anticipated when the cleaning schedule was established. Maybe the quality of the cleaning product or equipment is too low to do the job well enough to prevent complaints. It could even be that cleaning personnel are making mistakes in performing their duties. Talk to those who are performing the tasks and get their opinions on what is going wrong. It may be necessary to upgrade the existing cleaning products or even to invest in new cleaning equipment such as steam cleaners.
The proper placement of equipment in the restroom will help with traffic flow, particularly in high use facilities, and will also assist facility managers in avoiding cleanliness complaints. For example, placing paper towel dispensers and electric hand dryers in a direct line between the sinks and the restroom exit speeds traffic flow and limits the quantity of water that drips onto the floor.
3. Don’t Run Out of Supplies
If lack of cleanliness is the most common complaint, then running out of supplies is a close second. Occupant frustration peaks when they find soap, tissue, or paper towel dispensers empty. The cause can be as simple as lack of attention to detail or improper scheduling of service.
Keeping adequate supplies in the restroom also means that facility managers should set up a system where product is stored in reasonable amounts close by. If cleaning personnel must spend time traveling to a distant location to get those supplies, time and money will be wasted. Supplies that are difficult to obtain won’t be.
All restrooms should be inspected on a regular basis for things like cleanliness. That inspection should go beyond appearances. Each fixture, from sinks to water closets, should be tested for proper operation. Any leaks or valves that fail to properly should be noted and work orders generated. By taking these actions, facility managers can help to ensure that the health and safety of building occupants and visitors is maintained at a high level. Equally important, they will find that the number of complaints that they receive will be significantly reduced.