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How to Evaluate if Your Building’s Restrooms are ADA Compliant

by Patti Althoff - Siwicki | Oct 23, 2019 | Facility Assessment, Facility Manager | 0 Comments

how to evaluate if your bathrooms are ada compliant

Are the restrooms in your building ADA compliant? The ADA Act was enacted by Congress in 1990 to help eliminate discrimination against those with disabilities in employment, access to public services, telecommunications and public accommodations, which includes restrooms. If your building was built after 1990, there’s a good chance it’s already ADA accessible. However, the Act was amended in 2008 and the new and updated clauses when into effect in 2009. If you have not reviewed the changes, there may be a chance that your building bathrooms are not ADA compliant. 

Understanding the Goal of an ADA Compliant Bathroom

The goal of an ADA compliant bathroom is to provide individuals with disabilities a place to use the bathroom and wash and dry their hands easily. This means having sinks that are accessible from a seated position and bathroom stalls that are large enough to accommodate a wheelchair with at least one toilet that can be accessed by an individual in a wheelchair or with limited mobility and easily flushed. In other words, if an individual with a disability needs to use the restroom, the restroom must not hinder their movements or prevent them from relieving themselves as conveniently as possible. Thankfully, the ADA Act offers specific guidelines for contractors who are installing ADA compliant bathroom and/or upgrading existing bathrooms to meet the ADA requirements.

ADA Bathroom Requirements Commercial Buildings

The ADA is fairly strict on the measurements that constitute a compliant bathroom. ADA compliant fixtures typically have to be anywhere from 29 to 48 inches from the floor, and rotating space or empty space available for turning a wheelchair must be at least 60 inches.

1. Main Area Rotational Space Requirements

When we talk about rotational space, we are talking about the space between the stalls and the sink or under the sink if the counter is high enough to accommodate knees or legs in a seated position. The ADA requires at least 60 inches in diameter. This is considered large enough to allow a wheelchair to make a 180-degree turn. The 60 inches can encompass space that is under the sink or a fixture if the fixture or sink if it is high enough to accommodate the legs of a seated individual.

2. Must Contain Grab Bars

An ADA compliant bathroom must contain a grab bar or safety bar in the ADA compliant bathroom stall. If showers or bathing areas are also located in the bathroom, ADA compliant grab bars must be located in those areas as well as any other area in the bathroom where an individual may need to lift themselves from a seated position. The ADA further states that grab bars must be 1.25 to 1.5 inches in diameter and must be installed between 34 and 38 inches above the floor. They must also have round edges and be anchored securely, usually to wall studs, at both ends. ADA grab bars cannot contain any open ends, and there must be at least 1.5 inches of clearance between the wall and the handrail of the grab bar.

  • Sidewall Grab Bars Around Toilets – 42 inches long and no more than 12 inches from the rear wall.
  • Back Wall Grab Bars Around Toilets – 36 inches long no more than 12 inches from the sidewall.
  • Roll-In Shower Stall Without Seat – Grab bars on all walls with a 6-inch maximum clearance from adjoining walls
  • Roll-In Shower Stall with Seat – Grab bars on all walls except the seat wall with a maximum clearance of 6 inches from adjoining walls.
  • Commercial Bathtub Grab Bars with Fixed Seats – Two grab bars on the back wall and grab bar on the front wall
  • Commercial Bathtubs with Removable Seats – 2 grab bars on the back wall, 1 grab bar on the front wall and 1 small grab bar on the seat wall.

3. ADA Compliant Sinks/Lavatories

ADA compliant sinks/lavatories must be installed with a minimum clearance of 17 inches from the rear wall. The clearance between the floor and bottom of the sink apron must be a minimum of 29 inches, and the sink must not be installed with a height greater than 34 inches. If the sink is installed inside a countertop, the edge of the sink must not be more than 2 inches from the leading edge of the counter.

4. ADA Compliant Toilet Access

ADA compliant toilet stalls must have sufficient space in front of the toilet or to the side of the toilet to accommodate a wheelchair. The stall must have a width of at least 60 inches, and the height of the toilet seat must be between 17 and 19 inches with the toilet control/flush handle located on the open side of the toilet and not be installed with a height of more than 44 inches above the floor.

5. ADA Compliant Hand Dryers

ADA compliant bathrooms must contain at least one hand dryer that is activated by motion or another type of touch-free device. The sensors or activation buttons must not be more than 48 inches above the floor or less than 38 inches above the floor, and the hand dryer must be positioned in order to allow for right and left-handed access.

How to Know if Your Bathroom is ADA Compliant

It’s important to understand that every commercial building must have an ADA compliant bathroom, not just buildings built after 1990. This means that even if your building was built before 1990 and hasn’t undergone any significant renovations, you must still have an ADA compliant bathroom that is accessible to those with disabilities.

To determine if your bathroom is ADA compliant, you can walk through your bathroom and take a look around. Some items may be obvious, like if all your toilets have handles on the wall side, your bathroom is not ADA compliant. Other things may not be readily obvious, and you may need the help of a professional plumber to determine if your bathroom is ADA compliant.

  • Was your building built after 1990?
  • Have you performed any bathroom renovations for ADA compliant since 1990?
  • Do you have at least one bathroom stall with 60 inches of clearance?
  • Is your hand dryer at the appropriate height with a motion sensor?
  • Does your ADA complaint stall have a toilet that has a handle on the open, non-wall side?
  • Does your bathroom have ADA compliant grab bars in the appropriate locations and heights?
  • Is there 60 inches of clearance in your bathroom to allow an individual in a wheelchair to make a 180 degree turn?

ADA Commercial Bathroom Compliance with Althoff Serving Chicago

Looking around your commercial building’s bathroom may not tell if you are completely ADA compliant. Thankfully, our professional plumbers in Chicago can examine your bathrooms to determine if they are ADA compliant. If you do need bathroom upgrades in order to meet ADA regulations, we can tell you the types of upgrades you need and also perform them. This includes installing ADA compliant toilets and sinks. If you need additional contractors to bring your bathrooms up to code, we can work with other contractors in order to ensure your bathrooms are completely compliant with the ADA Act of 1990.

To learn more about our commercial plumbing services in Chicago and to schedule a repair, installation or upgrade, give us a call at 800-225-2443.

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