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Designing bully-proof restrooms

Moen Commercial aerators
Moen Commercial aerators are removable only with a special plastic tool to ensure vandals donÆt take them off with wrenches or their fingers.
Moen Commercial faucet handles
Moen Commercial faucet handles are attached with Torx-head screws that can be removed only with a Torx-head wrench, a tool most vandals are unlikely to have.
Moen Commercial showerhead
A set screw connects the Moen Commercial showerhead with the shower arm, preventing vandals from taking off the showerhead with a wrench.
Moen Commercial flush valve
The top cap of the Moen Commercial flush valve is assembled with a recessed set screw to make it more difficult to remove.

January, 2014

Specifying vandal-resistant plumbing helps your project stand up to challenging school environments.

By Jeffrey Lee

In Tom KeatingÆs opinion, too many school restrooms are a disgrace. The Ph.D. and coordinator of Project CLEAN (Citizens, Learners, and Educators Against Neglect) saw it with both his son, who used the nurseÆs bathroom because there were no doors on the stalls of his high schoolÆs toilets, and his daughter, who didnÆt have sanitary products or disposal receptacles in her middle school bathroom.

ôFor those students and many thousands of others, what you find is students are starved for good, clean restrooms,ö Keating says. The problem, he adds, is that a small proportion of studentsÆ vandalism and graffiti ruin the bathrooms for everyone else. And when the other students see that no one is interested in helping them solve the issue, they give up.

But it doesnÆt have to be this way. School administrators, facilities managers, students, and even building designers and engineers can all play a role in helping clean up school restrooms.

On one hand, Keating says, school officials must help instill a sense of respect in studentsùnot just respect for the restrooms and for each other, but for the custodial and nutrition staff members who clean up after students. On the other hand, he suggests, schools should invest in heavy-duty products that stand up to vandalism, graffiti, and harsh student usage throughout the year.

ôThe key is, make these restrooms so they are effective for the possibility that some of your kids will be good citizensùand the reality that 2 to 10 percent are going to vandalize,ö Keating says.

Having a functional and durable restroom is important not just for studentsÆ health and their ability to concentrate, notes Conrad Haller, project manager for Moen Commercial. ItÆs also a sensible financial decision to reduce maintenance and water costs. Engineers and architects can help school districts minimize these costs by specifying plumbing products that resist common types of vandalism.

If a student steals a faucet handle or an aerator, for instance, facilities managers have to keep ordering replacement parts and maintenance staff must spend more time servicing the plumbing. Moen Commercial addresses these challenges by offering vandal-resistant features in its faucets, showerheads, and flush valves.

Moen CommercialÆs faucet handles are the most obvious example. Rather than using a standard Phillips-head screw to attach the handles, Moen Commercial faucets use a star-shaped Torx-head screw that requires a special tool to remove. ôThe first line of defense is to not make it a standard tool,ö Haller explains.

Moen Commercial aerators, showerheads, and flush valves employ similar strategies. Showerheads and flush valves utilize a simple set screw that keeps vandals from disassembling them with only a wrench. Moen Commercial aerators can be removed only with a specific round, plastic tool that keys into the bottom of the aerator.

While itÆs important for engineers and designers to specify these vandal-resistant features, school restrooms can also benefit from Moen productsÆ heavy-duty construction, Haller says. Moen faucets must meet above-code requirements in drop tests, in which a weight is dropped onto the faucet to test impact resistance. Features such as all-metal construction and locking tabs on the faucet cartridge, which keep handles from overtorquing, ensure that Moen faucets maintain not only their functionality, but also their appearance and intended state.

Even if you graduated years ago, you can still play a role in cleaning up school bathrooms. Make sure to include vandal-proof features in your plumbing specs to give your designs an extra line of defense against vandalism.