Hitting the mark in product compliance

By Ramiro Mata, CSA Group

Most plumbing engineers are expected to wear a wide variety of hats when designing plumbing systems. More often than not, their responsibilities overlap into engineering disciplines such as mechanical, civil, process, fire protection and chemical engineering. Plumbing engineers typically understand the need to design systems that meet local codes, but many are unfamiliar with the compliance process.

Product compliance is not a subject that is typically taught at universities and colleges and is often learned “on the job.” But CSA Group (CSA), one of the leading plumbing products standards developers and product certification bodies in North America, is making great strides in educating industry and Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJs) with their “Navigating the Product Certification Maze” training course.

This course has been presented to over 2,500 manufacturers, engineers, building officials, inspectors, contractors and architects, and is available to any organization that has an interest in learning more about product certification. The course covers the testing and certification process, the stakeholders involved, the role of third-party certification bodies, the meaning of the different certification marks, how codes and standards work together, and how to identify counterfeit certification marks. CSA was invited to present this course at the ASPE 2015 Technical Symposium.

CSA’s goal is to educate industry and AHJs about product certification and the process that manufacturers go through to get their products certified. CSA’s Cleveland, Ohio-based U.S. Mark Awareness Team regularly exhibits at a variety of conferences, tradeshows and other events, including ICC conferences and chapter meetings. The team supports clients by participating in code revision hearings and handling product certification issues that may arise with AHJs and specifiers. They also have been successful in dispelling the myth that the CSA mark is only used for products and equipment installed in Canada.

CSA develops consensus-based standards for a wide variety of products, including plumbing, but its roots date back to 1919 when it published its first standard, “Specification for Steel Railway Bridges,” to establish minimum safety standards for railway bridges in Canada. CSA is now a global organization with over 37 offices in 14 countries, 10 of which are in the U.S., offering standards-based solutions, including testing and certification in many different market sectors including electrical, gas, and plumbing.

For those plumbing engineers who are or may become involved in designing systems for collecting and treating rainwater, CSA is jointly developing the “CSA/ICC B805 Rainwater Harvesting Systems” standard with the International Code Council (ICC). The standard is being developed in accordance with both American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and Standards Council of Canada (SCC) accreditation requirements for use throughout North America. The standard addresses the design and performance of rainwater harvesting systems, water shortages, storm water management and water quality. Rainwater systems touch many parts of a building, including structural, roofing, gutters and plumbing, and the standard will assist code officials in developing guidelines that will work with existing building codes for commercial and residential applications. The standard is expected to be published in late 2016.

As well as ICC, CSA collaborates with other industry Standards Development Organizations (SDOs) to harmonize plumbing standards throughout North America. Some examples include:

ASSE 1016-2011/ASME A112.1016-2011/CSA B125.16-11 - Performance Requirements for Automatic Compensating Valves for Individual Showers and Tub/Shower combinations.

ASSE 1037-2015/ASME A112.1037-2015/CSA B125.37-15 - Performance Requirements for Pressurized Flushing Devices for Plumbing Fixtures.

ASME A112.4.2-2015/CSA B45.16-15 - Personal Hygiene Devices for Water Closets.

ASSE 1002-2015/ASME A112.1002-2015/CSA B125.12-15 – Performance Requirements for Anti-Siphon Fill Valves.

ASME A112.181/CSA B125.1 – Plumbing Supply Fittings.

North of the border, CSA is leading the effort to integrate low lead requirements in Canadian plumbing standards and is working with regulators to ensure that products bound for Canada meet the same requirements as those in the U.S. Regulators and legislators plan to approach the issue through the national system of plumbing codes that can be adopted and enforced provincially/territorially through one recognized network of plumbing and health inspectors.

Several new editions of existing standards for the Canadian plumbing market are currently under development and slated for publication in the summer of 2016. These include:

B137.0 – Definitions General Requirement and Methods for Testing Thermoplastic Pressure Piping.

B137.5 – Crosslinked PEX Tubing for Pressure Applications.

B137.8 – Polybutylene Piping Systems for Pressure Applications.

B137.10 – Crosslinked Polyethylene/Aluminum/Crosslinked Polyethylene Composite Pressure Pipe Applications.

B137.11 - Polypropylene Pipe and Fittings for Pressure Applications.

As an ANSI-accredited certification body, CSA evaluates products not only to CSA standards, but standards published by other SDOs, including ASTM, ASSE, and NSF. CSA’s C/US marks are among the most widely recognized and accepted marks in North America for plumbing and plumbing products ranging from commercial faucets, grease interceptors, backflow preventers, piping, pumps, flushometers, to residential fixtures and fittings. CSA’s laboratories in Cleveland, OH, Toronto, Canada, Guangzhou, China, and Milan, Italy are positioned to serve the needs of its clients worldwide. CSA is also an approved independent third-party product certifying body by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and can certify qualifying products to the EPA WaterSense program.

Engaging with the plumbing industry and government is key to staying abreast of new technologies, market trends and upcoming regulations, and CSA does so by establishing Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) with key professional associations such as ASPE, and actively participates with trade associations such as Plumbing Manufacturers International (PMI), Canadian Institute of Plumbing and Heating Contractors (CIPH) and PVC Pipe Association. In order to encourage sharing of ideas and information for the plumbing engineering community, CSA has agreed to share its online collaborative “Communities of Interest” tool with ASPE members.

More and more counterfeit plumbing products are entering the North American market and CSA has adopted a zero tolerance policy toward counterfeits and the misuse of its certification marks. CSA’s Global Brand Protection Team works closely with law enforcement, customs, consumer groups, retailers, importers, suppliers, manufacturers and installers to help combat counterfeit products and counterfeit certification marks. As safety is the number one priority, CSA also coordinates with manufacturers and regulatory authorities on Safety Alerts and Product Recalls.

Product compliance is complex and often misunderstood, and CSA is involved in all stages of the process, from developing and updating standards, providing testing and certification services to global clients, and educating the industry and AHJs, all of which goes a long way to help make the world a safer place.

For more information on CSA’s “Navigating the Product Certification Maze” training course, the exclusive ASPE Communities of Interest collaborative site, counterfeit CSA certification marks, standards development or any of the programs, please contact CSA.

Ramiro Mata is a mechanical engineer based at CSA Group’s Cleveland office. He has over 10 years of experience in product certification and testing and is a member of the ASME, ASPE, ASME A112 Plumbing and Materials Committee, and IAPMO Product Standards Committee. He can be contacted at ramiro.mata@csagroup.org.

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