Drinking Fountain Regulations and Code

Drinking Fountains Decoded

Drinking fountains are a nice amenity and sometimes essential features in office buildings. However, the evolution of the Plumbing Code has instituted some parameters that Building Owners may not be aware of and can affect your building renovations and improvements.

Did you know………………….
– in the 2010 Plumbing Code, drinking fountains were not required in B occupancy buildings
– by 2013, the Plumbing Code does require drinking fountains in B occupancy building
– the 2013 Code has been not enforced and/or informally understood (because it was not listed anywhere in the code) that if there was not a drinking fountain in a building, you did not have to install one. If there was a drinking fountain, it needed to be made compliant
– and that the break area sink and or water cooler was considered equal facilitation
– that the 2016 Plumbing Code now requires drinking fountains in B occupancy buildings and that the code mandates a high/low drinking fountain configuration and that the break area sink and or water cooler is NOT considered equal facilitation

You always need to check your local jurisdiction’s building code for nuances. For example, the 2016 San Francisco Building Code only requires a bottle filler in new construction and with major plumbing changes (adding or relocating restrooms, etc.) Further, San Francisco highly encourages bottle fillers so they will accept a filler/low combo in lieu of a high/low drinking fountain.
But there are conflicts. The bottle filler/low combo meets the California code for low; however, the California Code does not have requirements for the bottle filler. San Francisco Code says the bottle filler must meet the requirements for the high drinking fountain code meaning the spout must be 38-43”.  This is physically impossible for a combo unit to meet the filler and low requirements. San Francisco DBI is aware of this and informally claims that if the sensor, not the spout of the bottle filler is between 38-43”, then the intent of the code is met.
Consequently, this is why most bottle filler/low units do not meet ADA code although they may claim, and appear to, without a clear understanding of the overlapping code requirements.
Although this may seem complicated, Revel Architecture & Deign has solutions. Talk to us to learn more.