urinals on the market today use a cartridge that contains a liquid barrier seal to pre-
vent the escape of odors and sewer gases. Other models feature cartridge-less de-
signs that use a liquid barrier seal in the urinal’s trap. A third type uses a self-sealing
mechanical waste valve trap that does not require a liquid barrier seal. U.S. plumbing
codes currently prohibit these self-sealing mechanical trap designs.
The Energy Policy Act (EPAct) of 1992 established the maximum allowable flush
volume for all urinals sold in the United States starting in 1994 as 1.0 gallons per flush
gpf ). Many urinals in facilities nationwide were installed prior to 1994, and thus flush
higher than the 1.0 gpf standard, often between 1.5 and 3.5 gpf.
To address efficiency and advances in flushing urinal technology, the U.S. Environ-
mental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) WaterSense® program published a specification to
label water-efficient, high-performing flushing urinals. WaterSense labeled flushing
are independently certified to use 0.5 gpf or less, while still achieving equal
or superior performance in removing liquid waste.
Operation, Maintenance, and User Education
For optimum urinal efficiency, consider the following tips specific to flushing urinals
and non-water urinals.
At least annually, inspect diaphragm or piston valves and replace any worn parts.
If replacing valve inserts, make sure the replacements are consistent with the
valve manufacturer’s specifications, including the rated flush volume. If replacing
the entire valve, make sure it has a rated flush volume consistent with manufac-
turer specifications for the existing urinal fixture.
Annually check and adjust automatic sensors, if installed, to ensure they are op-
erating properly to avoid double or phantom flushing.
Flushing urinals equipped with automatic flush sensors often will have an over-
ride switch, allowing maintenance personnel to manually activate the flush.
Activating the override switch may release a larger volume of water than is typi-
cal for the standard flush. Train cleaning and maintenance personnel on how to
effectively clean and maintain urinals with automatic flush sensors to ensure that
the urinal is returned to its intended flush volume after maintenance operations
Train users to report continuously flushing, leaking, or otherwise improperly
operating urinals to the appropriate personnel.
If non-water urinals are selected for the facility, regularly clean and replace the seal
cartridges or other materials as specified by the manufacturer and follow all other
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) WaterSense program. WaterSense Labeled Urinals.