A Guide to Installing and Maintaining Waterless Urinals.

Waterless urinals that do away with the flushing mechanism, are being adopted globally to save gallons of water wasted in bathrooms everyday. Although they’ve been around for several decades, only recently are they being installed to end concerns of water scarcity and waterborne diseases that are common in traditional toilets. The apprehension towards installing and maintaining waterless urinals comes from the lack of knowledge possessed by the trained cleaning staff and even the management in this regard.

While these urinals prove to be quite an economical and environmentally sustainable choice in the long run, they require regular upkeep and deep cleaning once in 2-3 weeks carried out with a careful selection of cleaning solutions that help avoid odour and microscopic cracks on the urinal surface. It is known that mechanical urinals have spillover liquid on the ground and walls that emit a foul odour. Through this blog, we intend to educate readers on the functioning of waterless urinals and the right techniques to clean and maintain them.

How do they work?
The urinal entry/top of the urinal; is where the urine flows in from. The top of the urinal consists of trap access, which helps the urine seep into the chambers/traps of the urinal where the urine, gasses and the sealant liquid is gathered in a U-shaped chamber that helps the urine odour from seeping out of the traps and only needs to be changed in 2-4 years, depending on traffic to the urinal. The U-shaped chambers then allow the urine to spill over the centre tube and pass down the drain.

What are the most common kinds of waterless urinals?
There are three types of waterless urinals, here are the following:

1. Sealant based urinal
Sealant based urinal consists of a trap that is made up of oil. The sealant prevents the urine from overflowing and the odour from being released in the bathroom.

2. Microbiological Systems
A microbiological system consists of replaceable cartridges which trap the urine in a U-shape bend. The microbes within the urinal then break down the urine into odourless components. The urinal requires regular servicing and special cleaning products.

3. Valve Barrier Systems
Valve Barrier Systems includes cartridges similar to the liquid barrier but only have one-way valves. The valve opens to allow the urine to pass through and close quickly; these urinals are not as effective as sealant based waterless urinals.

What are the pros and cons of installing a waterless urinal?
In all things, there are pros and cons, the same applies to a waterless urinal.
Some of the benefits of installing a waterless urinal are below:

The urinal doesn’t require water.
The urinal is eco-friendly and prevents gallons of water from being wasted every day. It is designed to dry out between uses to avoid the release of any contamination.

Low maintenance.
Another pro of a waterless urinal is that it hardly requires maintenance, as the urinal doesn’t require repairs, nor does it overflow or clog.

Pocket and environment friendly, as the urinal requires no water to flush, it doesn’t require water to maintain either.

Needless to say, operating these urinals comes with its own drawbacks such as:

Unacceptable by today’s society:
Waterless Urinals are highly unlikely to be accepted by the community as they doubt its efficiency and question whether it is hygienic in nature.

Expensive installation/repair.
Repairing and installing the urinal requires a considerable amount of money to install or repair.

Insufficient knowledge on cleaning the urinal
Waterless urinals do not require water to be cleaned as water can harm the chambers/traps of the urinals.

With proper training and the right cleaning solutions, urinals can help us save a lot in the long run as it doesn’t require as much maintenance and is an eco-friendly device that saves gallons of your water from being wasted every day.

Why should we install waterless urinals when we have traditional ones?
Waterless urinals will help 80% of the population of India that struggles for water and help in the sanitary issues faced by schools, public areas, corporate offices, and government facilities. This system can revolutionise India’s urban public toilet system with minimal effort. The durability and low maintenance cost make it a success in a nation with limited access to toilets and water.

Can you convert a normal urinal into a waterless urinal?
Yes, you can convert a urinal into a waterless urinal through the installation of retrofit systems but the process is delicate and expensive. Here’s how they work:

The replaceable cartridge contains a chemical block that dispenses harmless microbial spores.
When the urine touches the block, it carries the spores into the waste pipe. The spores are activated by the urine and become live micro-organisms (microbes).
Enzymes are created to break down the urine.
The enzymes feed on the content and multiply to create a surrounding that breaks down urine.
The trap of the urinal then turns into an odourless fluid seal, which blocks the smells from the drain to enter the washroom.

Retrofits can be installed, even if the urinals are used. The following steps are required to replace the retrofit system on a used urinal:

Clear the urinal waste pipes.
Replace the urinal waste outlet.
Replace the trap or u-bend if heavily used.
Investigate for leaks and tighten if necessary.

While retrofit systems can convert a normal urinal into a waterless one, many brands like Organica Biotech provide a combination of products that can be used to convert any urinal into a waterless urinal. Flush free Urinal and Urinal Drain Cleaner are combination products that does not require any large and costly changes to the physical urinal units.

So, the answer comes down to how are we supposed to maintain a waterless urinal?
A waterless urinal only requires a non-abrasive cleaner to wipe the insides, and the outsides of the urinal as extra water and abrasive cleaners can damage the internal cartridge system/trap of the urinal. If the cartridge/trap of the urinal is damaged, the urinal will release the odour of the urine in the washroom area, creating an unbearable washroom to use.

Here are some things to keep in mind to maintain a waterless urinal:

Regular cleaning:
Most waterless urinals are crafted from customary porcelain or high-performance composite materials, which requires regular cleaning. The cleaners would have to wipe down urinals from the outside and inside with a soft cloth and use a non-abrasive natural waterless urinal cleaner. The urinal is not supposed to be cleaned with bristled brushes or harsh chemicals as both can cause scratches and other damage to the unit’s surface.

Do not use brushes, towels or abrasive cleaners.
It’s really important that the interior of the waterless urinal bowls isn’t scrubbed as doing this can damage the super-smooth surface and cause microscopic cracks in which odour-causing bacteria can live.

Never put water down a waterless urinal
Another problem is that when water is poured down a waterless urinal, it damages the urinal as when water and urine meet, the calcium in the water reacts with the uric acid in the urine and creates limescale deposits that block pipes.

Using the correct cleaning products.
Using the correct cleaning product is the most important step of maintaining a waterless urinal, products that attack the main source of the odour built-up and have a controlled pH level are highly suggested for such urinals. OB Care professional Flush Free Urinal Spray for example have zero toxic chemicals, protect against indoor pollution and are made of natural plant-based ingredients.

Installing and maintaining a waterless urinal is quite simple with the right products, training and mindset. Treat your urinal well and experience an odour-free washroom!