A peek inside many new buildings, as well as an increasing percentage of existing ones, will prove the presence of touch-free fixtures in restrooms. Building service contractors can reap the benefits of reducing cross-contamination while increasing worker productivity and, in some cases, saving money and product by installing touch-free restroom fixtures. Touch-free systems — including dispensers, faucets and auto-flush toilets — are easy to install and maintain if the correct procedures are followed.

Part of maintenance is making sure all equipment is functioning properly. In order for touch-free products to work, the expensive infrared sensors that respond to motion or light to operate the system must be clean. Non-corrosive cleaners and microfiber cloths can be used to wipe the sensors daily, and the sensors should be checked regularly for build-up or residue that might block them.

Some units, such as faucets or toilets, often do not require any adjustments once they are in place because the factory setting is sufficient. However, they are usually adjustable for restrooms with very high or only intermittent use. Other units come with auto-flush settings. Some sensors, including those for urinals, may need some adjustments for sensitivity, as the urinal need not flush if someone walks by. Fine tuning soap and towel dispensers allows the customer to adjust how much and how frequently product is dispensed.

Batteries are another big maintenance issue. Most touch-free fixtures include a battery that periodically needs to be replaced, whether it’s after a matter of months or several years. Janitors need to be aware of how long a battery has been in place, and watchful for any slowing or stoppage of mechanism. It’s a good idea to change toilet fixture batteries on a regular basis, which could be quarterly, annually or every two years, depending on usage. A battery replacement log should be kept by maintenance personnel. While some units have alarms to warn of a weak battery, many do not, so monitoring usage and efficiencies helps managers stay on top of replacements.

When cleaning touch-free fixtures, it’s important to use a cloth or flatmop and mild disinfectant to wipe down their surfaces. Units should also be checked for clogging and taken apart and cleaned at least monthly.

As the popularity of touch-free fixtures continues to be driven by public health concerns, BSCs that keep them working ensure a happy customer.

Excerpted from the January 2006 issue of Sanitary Maintenance, the April 2006 issue of Housekeeping Solutions and the February 2007 issue of Contracting Profits.