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Typical arrangement of sensor-operated urinals in a row without partitions

A urinal (US: /ˈjʊərənəl/, UK: /jʊəˈrnəl/)[1] is a sanitary plumbing fixture for urination only. Urinals are often provided in public toilets for male users in Western countries (less so in Muslim countries). They are usually used in a standing position. Urinals can be with manual flushing, automatic flushing, or without flushing, as is the case for waterless urinals. They can be arranged as single sanitary fixtures (with or without privacy walls) or in a trough design without privacy walls. Urinals designed for females ("female urinals") also exist but are rare. It is possible for females to use male urinals with a female urination device.[2]

The term "urinal" may also apply to a small building or other structure containing such fixtures. It can also refer to a small container in which urine can be collected for medical analysis, or for use where access to toilet facilities is not possible, such as in small aircraft, during extended stakeouts, or for the bedridden.

Description

A urinal (US: /ˈjʊərənəl/, UK: /jʊəˈrnəl/)[1] is a sanitary plumbing fixture for urination only. Urinals are often provided in public toilets for male users in Western countries (less so in Muslim countries). They are usually used in a standing position. Urinals can be with manual flushing, automatic flushing, or without flushing, as is the case for waterless urinals. They can be arranged as single sanitary fixtures (with or without privacy walls) or in a trough design without privacy walls. Urinals designed for females ("female urinals") also exist but are rare. It is possible for females to use male urinals with a female urination device.[2]

The term "urinal" may also apply to a small building or other structure containing such fixtures. It can also refer to a small container in which urine can be collected for medical analysis, or for use where access to toilet facilities is not possible, such as in small aircraft, during extended stakeouts, or for the bedridden.

Urinals with flushing

Most public urinals incorporate a water flushing system to rinse urine from the bowl of the device, to prevent foul odors. The flush can be triggered by one of several methods:

Manual handles

This type of flush might be regarded as standard in the United States. Each urinal is equipped with a button or short lever to activate the flush, with users expected to operate it as they leave. Such a directly controlled system is the most efficient, provided that patrons remember to use it. This is far from certain, however, often because of fear of touching the handle, which is located too high to kick.[3] Urinals with foot-activated flushing systems are sometimes found in high-traffic areas; these systems have a button set into the floor or a pedal on the wall at ankle height. The Most public urinals incorporate a water flushing system to rinse urine from the bowl of the device, to prevent foul odors. The flush can be triggered by one of several methods:

Manual handles

This type of flush might be regarded as s

This type of flush might be regarded as standard in the United States. Each urinal is equipped with a button or short lever to activate the flush, with users expected to operate it as they leave. Such a directly controlled system is the most efficient, provided that patrons remember to use it. This is far from certain, however, often because of fear of touching the handle, which is located too high to kick.[3] Urinals with foot-activated flushing systems are sometimes found in high-traffic areas; these systems have a button set into the floor or a pedal on the wall at ankle height. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that flush valves be mounted no higher than 44 inches (110 cm) AFF (above the finished floor). Additionally, the urinal is to be mounted no higher than 17 inches (43 cm) AFF, and to have a rim that is tapered and elongated and protrudes at least 14 inches (36 cm) from the wall. This enables users in wheelchairs to straddle the lip of the urinal and urinate without having to "arc" the flow of urine upwards.

Some urinals are equipped with water-saving "dual-flush" handles, which use

Some urinals are equipped with water-saving "dual-flush" handles, which use half as much water when pushed upwards, and operate a standard full flush when pressed downwards. The handles are often color-coded green to alert users to this feature.

In Germany, the United Kingdom, France, the Republic of Ireland, Hong Kong and some parts of Sweden and Finland, manual flush handles are unusual. Instead, the traditional system is a timed flush that operates automatically at regular intervals. Groups of up to ten or more urinals will be connected to a single overhead cistern, which contains the timing mechanism. A constant drip-feed of water slowly fills the cistern until a tipping point is reached, when the valve opens (or a siphon begins to drain the cistern), and all the urinals in the group are flushed. Electronic controllers performing the same function are also used.

This system does not require any action from its users, but it is was

This system does not require any action from its users, but it is wasteful of water when toilets are used irregularly. However, in these countries users are so used to the automatic system, that attempts to install manual flushes to save water are generally unsuccessful. Users ignore them not through deliberate laziness or fear of infection, but because activating the flush is not habitual.[citation needed]

To help reduce water usage when public toilets are closed, some public toilets with timed flushing use an electric water valve connected to the room's light switch. When the building is in active use during the day and the lights are on, the timed flush operates normally. At night when the building is closed, the lights are turned off and the flushing action stops.

This is an older method of water-saving automatic flushing, which only operates when the public toilet has been used. A push-button switch is mounted in the door frame, and triggers the flush valve for all urinals every time the door is opened. While it cannot detect the use of individual urinals, it provides reasonable flushing action without wasting excessive amounts of water when the urinals are not being used. This method requires a spring-operated automatic door closer, since the flush mechanism only operates when the door opens.

Alternatively, a flushing system connected to the door can count the number of users, a

Alternatively, a flushing system connected to the door can count the number of users, and operate when the number of door opening events reaches a certain value. At night, the door never opens, so flushing never occurs.

Electronic automatic flushes solve the problems of previous approaches, and are common in new installations. A passive infrared sensor identifies when the urinal has been used, by detecting when someone has stood in front of it and moved away, and then activates the flush. There usually is also a small override button, to allow optional manual flushing.

Automatic flush facilities can be retrofitted to existing systems. The handle-operated valves of a manual system can be replaced with a suitably designed self-contained electronic valve, often battery-powered to avoid the need to add cables. Older timed-flush installations may add a device that regulates the water flow to the cistern according to the overall activity detected in the room. This does not provide true per-fixture automatic flushing, but is simple and cheap to add because only one device is required for the whole system.

To prevent false-triggering of the automatic flush, most infrared detectors require that a presence be detected for at least five seconds,[citation needed] such as when a person is standing in front of it. This prevents a whole line of automatic flush units from triggering in succession if someone just walks past them. The automatic flush mechanism also typ

Automatic flush facilities can be retrofitted to existing systems. The handle-operated valves of a manual system can be replaced with a suitably designed self-contained electronic valve, often battery-powered to avoid the need to add cables. Older timed-flush installations may add a device that regulates the water flow to the cistern according to the overall activity detected in the room. This does not provide true per-fixture automatic flushing, but is simple and cheap to add because only one device is required for the whole system.

To prevent false-triggering of the automatic flush, most infrared detectors require that a presence be detected for at least five seconds,[citation needed] such as when a person is standing in front of it. This prevents a whole line of automatic flush units from triggering in succession if someone just walks past them. The automatic flush mechanism also typically waits for the presence to go out of sensor range before flushing. This reduces water usage, compared to a sensor that would trigger a continuous flushing action the whole time that a presence is detected.

Since about the 1990s urinals have been available on the market that use no water at all. These are called waterless urinals or flushless urinals.

The first waterless urinal was developed at the end of the 19th century by the German-Austrian Wilhelm Beetz u

The first waterless urinal was developed at the end of the 19th century by the German-Austrian Wilhelm Beetz using an oil-based syphon with a liquid that he called Urinol.[citation needed]

Waterless urinals can save between 15,000 and 45,000 US gallons (57,000 and 170,000 l) of water per urinal per year, depending on the amount of water used in the water-flushed urinal for comparison purposes, and the number of uses per day. For example, these numbers assume that the urinal would be used between 40 and 120 times per business day.[4]

Waterless urinals allow the collection of undiluted pure urine which can be used as a fertilizer.[5]

Models of waterless urinals introduced by the Waterless Company in 1991[6] and others in 2001 by Falcon Waterfree Technologies and Sloan Valve Company, as well as Duravit, use a trap insert filled with a sealant liquid instead of water. The lighter-than-water sealant floats on top of the urine collected in the U-bend, preventing odors from being released into the air. The cartridge and sealant must be periodically replaced.

Waterless urinals may also use an outlet system that traps the odor, pr

Waterless urinals may also use an outlet system that traps the odor, preventing the smell often present in toilet blocks.[citation needed] Another method to eliminate odor was introduced by Caroma, which installed a deodorizing block in their waterless urinal that was activated during use.[citation needed]

Odor control in waterless urinals is also achieved with simple one-way valves which are manufactured as a flat rubber tube (the tube opens when urine flows through) or with two silicone "curtain" pieces. The former is used in the waterless urinals by the company Keramag[7] in Germany (model Centaurus) and the latter is marketed by the company Addicom in South Africa who called it the EcoSmellStop device.[8]

Waterless urinals can be installed in high-traffic facilities, and in situations where providing a water supply may be difficult or where water conservation is desired.

Waterless urinals have become rather common in Germany since about 2009

Waterless urinals have become rather common in Germany since about 2009 and can be found at restaurants, cinemas, highway rest stops, train stations and so forth. It was estimated in 2009 that there are about 6 million urinals in Germany, and about 100,000 of those were of the waterless type in that year.[9]

Due to high-level water restrictions during about 2005-2008 the city council of Brisbane, Australia mandated conversion to waterless urinals. Flush urinals are nowadays rarely seen in Brisbane.[citation needed]

The drain pipes from waterless urinals need to be installed correctly in terms of diameter, slope and pipe materials in order to prevent buildup of struvite ("urine stone") and calcium phosphate precipitates in the pipes, which would cause blockages and could require expensive repairs.[5] Also, the undiluted urine is corrosive to metals (except for stainless steel), which is why plastic pipes are generally preferred for urine drain pipes.[5]

Most waterless urinals do not prevent odorous staining on the surface of the urinals, and periodic clea

Most waterless urinals do not prevent odorous staining on the surface of the urinals, and periodic cleaning of the fixture and its surrounds is still required. When maintained according to manufacturers' recommendations, well-designed waterless urinals do not emit any more odors than flushed urinals do. However, some odor-trapping devices work better than others in the longer term. Regular, thorough maintenance of the respective odor control device is needed for all types of waterless urinals, as per the manufacturer's recommendation.

US federal law has mandated no more than one gallon per flush since 1994, and the EPA estimates that the average urinal is flushed 20 times per day, which gives an average water use of 7,300 US gallons (28,000 l) per year.[10] Mechanical traps are not allowed by US building codes[citation needed] but are allowed in many other countries.

Plumbers' unions initially opposed waterless urinals, c

Plumbers' unions initially opposed waterless urinals, citing concerns about health and safety, which have been debunked by scientists who have studied the devices. Facing opposition to their attempts to have the devices allowed in plumbing codes, manufacturers devised a compromise. The Uniform Plumbing Code was modified to allow waterless urinals to be installed, provided that unneeded water lines were nevertheless run to the back of the urinals.[11] This allows conventional water-flushing urinals to be retrofitted later, if waterless models were judged to be unsatisfactory over time.

In March 2006, the Associated Press reported that the plumbers' union in Philadelphia had become upset because developer Liberty Property Trust had decided to use waterless urinals in the Comcast Center. Many in the union believed that this would lead to less work for them. The developer cited saving the city 1,600,000 US gallons (6,100,000 l) of water per year as its deciding factor.[12]

In February 2010, the headquarters of the California EPA removed waterless urinals that were installed in 2003 due to "hundreds of complaints", including odors and splashed urine on the floors.[13] Officials blamed the failure of the project on incompatibility with the building's existing plumbing systems.[14]

Waterless urinals used in British McDonald's restaurants

  • Waterless urinals in Switzerland

  • Waterless urinal in California

  • Waterless urinal for women at a station in Frankfurt, Germany

  • "Urine stone" deposits on plumbing components of a waterless urinal in the Netherlands

  • Street urinals

    "Urine stone" deposits on plumbing components of a waterless urinal in the Netherlands

    Street urinals