As the industry and its consumers respond to the recent drain-cover recall, the standard governing safety of the product is undergoing changes and switching venues.

The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act mandates that drains installed after Dec. 19, 2008, comply with ASME A112.19.8. Some believe language in this standard led to confusion over testing procedures and, ultimately, the recall.

While the standard is reworked, new products are being developed, so third-party testing laboratories must know how to proceed.

“Manufacturers with products in development got caught in this question of ‘What do we do with what we’re designing now?’” said Steve Barnes, head of the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals’ Technical Committee and a member of the drain-cover standard committee.

To bridge the gap, the labs follow supplemental testing criteria handed down by the Consumer Product Safety Commission during the investigation that eventually led to the recall. CPSC required manufacturers to retest with drains and sumps mounted in a floor, rather than attached to the end of a pipe, as had been done by some laboratories. Pumps had to achieve a vacuum level typically found in the real world, where some labs had been using variable-speed pumps set at low rpms. Finally, the blocking element used to simulate a human during a body entrapment had to measure 18-by-23 inches, where labs had been using various sizes.

Since the recall, testing labs have been instructed to follow these criteria and provide more information in their reports. “Now we have to see photographs of the test equipment and what is the pump’s vacuum level when [the drain is] blocked. That has to go into the report with a signed affidavit that it’s accurate,” said Barnes, who is also product manager, safety and compliance for Pentair Water Pool and Spa in Sanford, N.C. “Before, the test lab would say, ‘OK, section one of the standard, pass/fail. Section two,pass/fail.’”

The standard-writing committee has been fine-tuning the language for some months, and is near completion. However, it’s not quite the same group as before. Officials with ASME — the American Society of Mechanical Engineers — said the organization has decided to withdraw its drain-cover standard, deeming APSP a more appropriate organization because of its specialization in pool and spa technology. APSP holds the same accreditation as a standards-writing organization as ASME.

At first, APSP and testing lab IAPMO — the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials — had formed a partnership to take over. But IAPMO recently pulled out.

APSP is expected to become secretariat and replace the ASME standard with its own ANSI/APSP-16, which the association has been working on for several months as ASME continues the process of withdrawing its standard.

CPSC, which must name a successor standard in the Pool and Spa Safety Act, has yet to say whether APSP-16 will replace the ASME standard. The agency has not set a timetable to make the determination, said CPSC spokesman Scott Wolfson.

The APSP-16 committee essentially picked up where the ASME group left off. It is comprised largely of the same individuals, but has expanded to include professionals from more diverse backgrounds, such as public health officials and water park operators.

It also used the ASME text as a foundation, and is refining the language to, among other things, incorporate the CPSC-mandated testing parameters. To eliminate the chance of misinterpretation, the committee may even dictate specific, non-industry-related parts and equipment, such as pulleys, to be used in testing.

The committee expects to have a draft ready for comment by the end of this month.