Common Waterless Urinal Problems (& Solutions)

Something that you may be considering purchasing, probably for a commercial establishment, is a set of waterless urinals. Yes, they are of course very beneficial because they can save countless gallons of water per year, and therefore they help to preserve the world around you, as well as your bank account.

With that being said, this does not mean that waterless urinals are without their problems. What we’re here to do today is to take a look at the most common problems that you may be faced with when it comes to waterless urinals, as well as what the solutions to those problems are.

Common Waterless Urinal Problems

Problem #1: A Smelly Urinal

The first problem that you may be faced with when it comes to waterless urinals, and perhaps the most common problem, is that it smells. Yes, the unfortunate reality is that urine does smell. There may be a few different reasons why a waterless urinal can smell very bad, and what the exact solution to this problem of a smelly urinal is, will depend on the underlying cause.

Solution #1: Replace the Cartridge

Something that is important to know about waterless urinals is that they of course don’t use water, but instead have special cartridges located in the trap which are designed to displace urine and force it down the drain.

With that being said, these cartridges also serve a secondary purpose, which is deodorization. If your waterless urinal smells very bad and it is not flowing properly anymore, then chances are that the cartridge needs to be replaced.

On average, you can expect to have to replace a waterless urinal cartridge every three to six months, depending on how often it is used. Just keep in mind that specific waterless urinals will need specific cartridges, so be sure to get the right ones. Whether or not your urinal smells, these cartridges need to be replaced regularly as part of maintenance anyway.

Waterless Urinal Cartridge Exchange

Solution #2: Clean the Urinal

OK, so the most common cause of this smelly urinal is a dirty urinal. Although waterless urinals are great inventions, they do still have hygienic issues. Now, if your waterless urinal smells very strongly like urine, one thing that you can try doing is pouring a gallon of hot water down the drain. This could help to loosen up partially dried urine that is stuck on the inside of the pipes.

With that being said, this is somewhat of a risky proposition because there are some people out there who recommend not doing this. When water and urine meet, there is the potential for calcium crystals to form, which can form on the inside of the pipes, therefore causing clogs to occur.

In other words, what you’re doing here is flushing leftover urine down the drain so that it can’t smell up the place. However, this is really not something that you want to do very often. Moreover, if you do this on a regular basis, you may end up having to use some sort of drain cleaner to unclog the drain afterward.

That issue aside, you do want to clean waterless urinals on a regular basis, and if you own a commercial establishment, this means daily cleaning. However, be aware that you do not want to use regular toilet bowl cleaners on waterless urinals.

A simple general all-purpose cleaning product combined with a microfiber cloth will do just fine. You may also use antibacterial waterless urinal cleaners, which are designed to just kill the bacteria that create odors. Just remember to never use any harsh, cleaner or any coarse kind of sponge on a waterless urinal as you may damage the coating.

Waterless Urinal Cleaner

Solution #3: Clean the Surrounding Area

Men generally don’t have the best aim, and yes, urine can get everywhere. In other words, the urinal itself might not be smelly, but the surrounding area sure could be. You definitely need to clean the walls behind and the floor under the urinal on a regular basis.

Solution #4: Check for Clogs

The other reason why your urinal might be smelly is that there is a clog and the urine can no longer run down the drain. If you suspect that there is a clog in your waterless urinal, move on to the next section, as we will discuss this in greater detail.

Problem #2: A Clogged Urinal

Although clogs in urinals can occur due to a number of reasons, the solutions are generally the same no matter what. If your waterless urinal is not draining properly and even overflowing, then you will need to resort to one of the following solutions.

Solution #1: Using a Plunger

If there is any kind of debris or sediment stuck in the waterless urinal, particularly in the trap or in the pipes below the trap, then something simple that might work is using a plunger. Just like you would plunge your toilet to unclog it, so can you use a plunger on a waterless urinal. There are also special pressurized plungers that take the hard work out of it.

Solution #2: Using Hot Water

If there is a clog in the trap of the waterless urinal or in the pipes below, another solution is to flush a gallon of hot water directly down the drain. Make sure that you pour the hot water directly into the drain, because the hotter it is, the more likely it is to dislodge the clog. If this does not work, move onto the next solution.

Solution #3: Using Drain Cleaner

If the clog is very severe, you can try using a special type of drain cleaner that is approved for waterless urinals. Just make sure to follow the instructions on the drain cleaner packaging.

For more about the three solutions above, check this article.

Solution #4: Change the Cartridge

Another solution here could be to change the cartridge in the bottom of the waterless urinal. Once these cartridges become old, they become fairly ineffective at forcing waste down the drain, and there can be sediment buildups in them too. It may just be time to change that cartridge.

If All Else Fails, Call for Help…

If all else fails, the next solution would be to disconnect the waterless urinal from the wall and inspect the drains and pipes. That being said, this is no easy task and you should probably call a professional plumber to do it for you.

Problem #3: Scratches and Damage

If you made the mistake of using a coarse sponge to clean your waterless urinal, chances are that it is now scratched and that the coating is coming off.

Solution

If this is the problem that you were faced with, then the only real solution is to call a professional to reglaze the waterless urinal. If the urinal is not reglazed, it will continue to degrade, and eventually, it will need to be replaced.

Summary

There you have it people, the three main problems that waterless urinals suffer from, as well as the best solutions to those problems.