Unlike a vanity sink with a cabinet, pedestal sinks allow handicapped people in wheelchairs to access a sink to perform basic hygiene activities, such as hand washing and tooth brushing. As the name suggests, the sink is mounted on a pedestal base, allowing access under the sink and on both sides of the pedestal. Under the American with Disabilities Act, a sink must meet requirements for accessibility to be marketed as handicapped-accessible.
The ability to access a sink is of utmost importance for pedestal sinks. The bowl of the pedestal sink should be at least 27 inches from the ground level and not more than 34 inches high. This ensures that handicapable persons can reach the water and sink bowl and that there is enough clearance for their knees under the bowl. The pedestal should be set back against the wall or be thin enough so it fits between the wheels and the person's legs. The sink must be at least 6 1/2 inches deep.
Operable parts in a pedestal sink refer to the specific parts a person must use to activate the water. This includes the spout from which the water flows and the diverters that initiate the hot and cold water flow. The pedestal sink should not be so deep that the operable parts cannot be reached by the average user in a wheelchair. They should be easy to operate with one hand. No tight grasping or twisting of the wrist should be required to turn on the water in an ADA pedestal sink. The guidelines state the force required to turn on the water should be no more than 5 lbs. The types of operable parts may be lever-operated, two-handled turn-style, push-type or motion activated.
The valves and P-trap drain assembly are exposed under many pedestal style sinks. ADA pedestal sinks require these parts to be concealed within the pedestal to prevent people from hurting themselves by bumping into the parts. Pedestal sinks are specifically designed so the pedestal base fits over the drain assembly to conceal it and prevent harm. If for any reason these parts cannot fit inside the pedestal base, they should be covered with a plumbing pipe cover to ensure safe use of the sink.
To be wheelchair accessible, a sink should be installed to provide enough clearance on all sides for a wheelchair to easily navigate around. The area around the sink should be unobstructed, with at least 4 feet in front of the sink so a wheelchair can approach the sink and turn around when finished. If a sink is being installed beside another fixture, plumbing code requires that there be at least 36 inches of clearance from the closest edge of the fixture to the center of the pedestal sink. If the sink is installed next to a wall, the clearance from the wall to the center of the sink should also be 36 inches.