Guidelines for New Construction and Retrofitting ADA Water Coolers
After selecting a cooler that will rough-in without major problems, there is still a good chance the installer will find some difficulties. Roughing-in any type of an ADA water cooler can be a challenge due to the compact design. The use of a shallow 1 1/4-inch trap instead of 1 1/2-inch trap and flexible water tube can make it easier. Check with your local plumbing code. Most water coolers have a rotating drain, which can assist the plumber in installing the trap in close quarters. Some drains may require the top's screw to be loosened before rotation of the drain will occur.
When retrofitting a cooler that is in an alcove, make sure that the size of the new cooler does not exceed the existing cooler within the alcove. If the cooler is too wide, you may restrict the airflow to the condensing unit. If the new unit has side handle activation, there may not be enough room to get a hand to activate the cooler. If the new unit is too deep, it may extend out from the alcove causing a safety issue and may not comply with the ADAAG.
Here are some installation tips:
- Most water coolers have small orifices inside the water-regulating valve. Always flush the main before connecting the waterline to the cooler and always install a strainer. Some manufacturers include a "wye" strainer as their standard water inlet.
- The water stream height is preset by the manufacturer during assembly, however, it should be checked after installation. ANSI/ADA requires the stream to arc a minimum of 4" above the rim of the bowl.. Make sure the condensing fan turns free. Secure any excess cords or wires.
- In schools or public facilities where vandalism may occur, make sure the water cooler is fastened to the wall properly. Some water coolers may require fastening to eliminate noise and vibrations.. Make sure the water cooler has the required airflow clearances. Otherwise, the unit may overheat and not cool the water to the pre-selected thermostat setting or to the units ARI rating.
Since the legislation was signed into law, a clear definition has been provided for the installation of water coolers that are compliant for adult accessibility. However, accessibility for children has only vaguely been addressed by the ADAAG. The final rule for children does not require knee and toe clearance below units mounted at children's heights (30 inch maximum spout height) so long as space for a parallel approach is provided. This inconsistency between adult and child access has lead states to adopt their own requirements. Texas has led the charge in addressing consistent accessibility for both children and adults. TAS, Texas Accessibility Standards, requires specific spout mounting heights along with knee and toe clearance based upon the age or the grade of the child. The unit must permit a child that is confined to a wheelchair frontal access to the water cooler, just as the adult units provide.
- TAS Ages 4 - 10 or 11 or Grades Pre-K - 5th or 6th: require a frontal approach with a spout mounting height of 32" maximum and knee clearance of 26" minimum
Several other states have also adopted their own version of the Texas Accessibility Standards and, as always, it is prudent to check your state and local codes before any installation.