Sinks and Faucets

Types: Foodservice sinks are classified by function. There are sinks designed specifically for washing hands, using at bars, filling and draining mop buckets, preparing food, using in conjunction with cooking equipment (such as braising pans), and washing pots, pans and all other items. Semiautomatic power sinks use high-powered jets of water to clean such items as pots and pans, rotisserie spits, utensils and even hood filters and oven parts with minimal scrubbing, thereby saving on labor.

Commercial faucets generally come in two sizes — ½ inch and ¾ inch. A ½-inch supply is more common, and these faucets are available in a variety of configurations, such as backsplash mount, deck mount and adjustable wall mount. Deck-mounted faucets are attached through a hole in the rim of the sink, while backsplash-mounted faucets are installed at a 90-degree angle. A ¾-inch supply is traditionally used for greater volume needs, such as filling pots and kettles. Operators can choose from faucets with one, two or, in the case of hands-free sinks, no handles. Two-handle faucets are the most common among handwashing and warewashing sinks in food preparation and production areas. Single-handle faucets are used almost exclusively in conjunction with kettles, braising pans, Chinese ranges and other water-using equipment. Units with no handles — hands-free faucets — rely on electronic motion detectors or levers that can be activated with an individual's foot or knee to dispense water for handwashing. These faucets offer food safety benefits by eliminating the possible transfer of dirt and germs that occurs when multiple staff members touch handles before and after washing their hands.

Capacities/Footprints: Local health codes govern the size of kitchen (scullery) sinks, including the number and size of bowls, water levels, backsplash heights and drainboard sizes. Minimum pot sink bowls should be 20" x 20" with at least a 12-inch water level and should have at least three compartments (wash, rinse, sanitize) and two drainboards. These are typically installed in a straight-line design, but operators can order different configurations, such as L-shaped and U-shaped sinks. In addition, customized sinks can include such compartments as disposer cones, pot washers, racks and shelves, side splashes and drain troughs. A sink featuring anything but a straight-line design may not fit through an operation's door in one piece. In such a case, the sink must be brought into a kitchen in pieces and then welded into a single unit. Power sinks pump water through the soak bowl at a rate of 300 to 400 gallons per minute.

Commercial faucets install on 8-inch centers, 4-inch centers or in a single hole, depending on the sink and the application. Sizes are either ½-inch or ¾-inch inlet, depending on the water supply and flow requirement. Adaptor and inlets vary, which can accommodate other sizes. There are also different categories, such as sink faucets, lavatory faucets for washing hands or service-sink faucets, which feature vacuum breakers to prevent backflow and pail hooks for filling buckets. Faucet spouts are either a swivel type or rigid, meaning that they do not swivel and stay in a fixed position. These are available in a variety of options, including single, double-jointed, gooseneck and spout-end control valves used for wok-style ranges and pot fillers.

Standard Features: Sinks usually are made of stainless steel for durability and easy cleaning. The steel can be type 430, which has a 16 percent chrome content, or thicker, more durable type 304, which contains 8 percent nickel. Sink components include a backsplash, compartments or bowls, a drainboard, front roll rim, legs and fittings. Bowls may be fabricated or deep drawn. In some instances, sinks are mounted on a wall, but they are typically supported by legs fitted with adjustable bullet feet for a level setting. In addition, most sinks can be ordered with braced legs that prevent wobbling.

New Features/Technology/Options: Sinks with antimicrobial coatings slow down the growth of bacteria, mold and mildew that may cause stains, odors and degradation of wash surfaces. Warewashing sinks should be fitted with waste troughs to prevent food from running down and possibly clogging drains. Sink designs can accommodate undercounter warewashers. Mobile handwashing sink carts are useful for kitchens with limited space, or where free water lines are not readily available, such as in outdoor cooking stations.

There are a few optional features that can be ordered for faucets, depending most of the time on the environments in which they will be used. For example, in hospitals, ADA-compliant wrist blades can replace standard levers to allow faucets to be turned on more easily without hands touching the levers. Additionally, knee or foot pedals can be substituted for hands-free use. Spray assemblies for prerinse faucets are available in high- or low-flow models. More operations are moving toward the low-flow systems, which provide high velocity at low volume. This can cut down substantially on water and sewer costs. Adding a low-flow aerator to faucets introduces air into the stream of water and ceramic cartridges, thereby reducing water flow and saving money.

Purchasing Guidelines: Purchasing guidelines vary by state. For example, in California, Assembly Bill 1953 (ab1953), which went into effect Jan. 1, 2010, requires plumbing products intended for potable water to contain a weighted average lead content below 0.25 percent for all waterway components.

As a rule of thumb, kitchens should be equipped with one hand sink for every five employees; one hand sink for every 300-square-feet of facility space, and one hand sink for each prep and cooking area. Another practical approach some designers apply is that anywhere you stand in the kitchen, you want to be able to see a hand sink.

Maintenance Requirements: Frequent cleaning and sanitizing of sinks is necessary to avoid rust and corrosion. Only mild soap and water or non-abrasive cleansers should be used to clean stainless steel sinks, since abrasive cleansers will scratch and dull their surfaces. After cleaning, sinks should be rinsed and wiped dry.

Even a slow faucet drip can be costly over time. Manufacturers offer parts kits to repair problems. Stem gaskets or O-rings need replacement over time. A simple wipe down using a soft cloth and a non-abrasive cleanser should keep faucets looking new.

Food Safety and Sanitation Essentials: When used properly, sinks wash dirt and other contaminants from food before preparation. Handwashing sinks help staff comply with HACCP guidelines in foodservice kitchens, and help prevent the spread of foodborne illnesses. Sinks designated for food preparation should not be used for handwashing or warewashing. Handwashing sinks should be readily accessible and very visible.

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