Sinks & Faucets

Types: Foodservice sinks are classified by function. There are sinks designed specifically for handwashing; use at bars; filling and draining mop buckets; food preparation; use in conjunction with cooking equipment (such as braising pans); pot and pan washing; and for washing all other items. For food safety purposes, operators should install NSF-rated sinks wherever possible. These must be manufactured with radius seams, coved corners and integrally welded drainboards for most effective sanitation. Non-NSF units typically have un-ground welds and detachable drainboards, which offer places for dirt and grime to gather.

Semi-automatic “power sinks” use high-powered jets of water to clean items such as pots and pans, rotisserie spits, utensils and even hood filters and oven parts with minimal scrubbing, thereby saving on labor.

Various faucet styles exist for specific sinks. Three-compartment sinks feature swiveling faucets that can reach each compartment and allow staff to move them aside during washing. Many hand sinks feature gooseneck faucets, which give staff plenty of room to clean their hands without coming into contact with either the basin or the faucet itself. Faucets used to fill drinking glasses must comply with NSF Standard 61, which sets standards for the plumbing and dispensing of drinking-water.

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. One-handle faucets are used almost exclusively in conjunction with kettles, braising pans, Chinese ranges and other water-using equipment. Units with no handles, or 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 eliminate the possible transfer of dirt and germs that occurs when multiple staff members touch handles before and after washing their hands, thereby offering food safety benefits.

– Capacities/Footprints: Local health codes govern the size of kitchen (skullery) 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″ 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 sink units can include up to four compartments: a disposer cone, pot washer, racks and shelves, a side splash and drain trough. Sinks featuring anything but a straight-line design may not fit through an operation’s door in one piece. In such a case, they 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 gals. per minute.

Faucets are often classified by how much water flows through them per minute. Though the exact amount varies among the faucets used for different applications, low-flow units generally dispense about 2 gals. of water per minute, while other faucets can put out 10 gals. per minute or more.

– 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 that 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.

Faucets, since they are plumbing components, are typically made of brass, then covered by chrome for appearance.

– Optional Features: Fit a warewashing sink with a waste trough to prevent food from running down and possibly clogging the drain. Sink designs can accommodate undercounter warewashers. Swiveling faucets come in various heights and lengths that allow operators to place different types of wares into a basin easily. Oversized faucet handles allow staff to turn the water on and off with their wrists. Sinks with knee or foot pedals perform similar functions.

Mobile handwashing sink carts are useful for kitchens with limited space, or where a free water line is not readily available, such as outdoor cooking stations.

Faucets can be installed with aerators. These attachments introduce air into the stream of water, thereby reducing the water flow and saving money.

Pre-rinse spray arms work well with warewashing sinks to remove food particles from pots, pans and tableware before staff place these items into a sink’s washing basin or a warewashing machine.

Warewashing sinks can also be equipped with disposers to grind food waste and prevent clogs, and pulper systems that reduce the volume of food and non-food waste.

– New Features/Technology: Manufacturers now offer a variety of sinks with antimicrobial coating to slow the growth of bacteria, mold and mildew that may cause stains, odors and degradation of wash surfaces. Similarly, faucets and pre-rinse arms are also available with antimicrobial coating. Some handwashing sinks automatically track employee hand sanitation for HACCP-compliance documentation. New on the market are faucet attachments with reduced water pressure to reduce splashing and prevent airborne bacteria from contaminating the water.

– Purchasing Guidelines: As a rule of thumb, kitchens should be equipped with one hand sink for every five employees; one hand sink for every 300-sq.-ft. of facility space; and one hand sink for each prep and cooking area. Disposers and pulpers work well with sinks for washing pots and dishes. Explore the use of low-flow options for faucets and related sink attachments when applicable.

– Maintenance Requirements: Frequent cleaning and sanitizing of sinks is necessary to avoid rust and corrosion. Use only mild soap and water or non-abrasive cleansers to clean stainless-steel sinks, since abrasive cleansers will scratch and dull surfaces. After cleaning, rinse and wipe dry sinks.

Operators should immediately address a leaky faucet or a sink’s leaky plumbing. A small leak can consume literally tens of thousands of gallons of water per year.

– Food Safety & 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 handwashingor warewashing. Handwashing sinks should be readily accessible and very visible.

Fast Fact


Small faucet leaks can consume tens of thousands of gallons of water per year. Such leaks can often be fixed with a $1 washer that saves operators hundreds of dollars or more in water and water-heating bills.


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