Plumbing Codes vs. Plumbing Standards - Part 2
The name game: Plumbing standards — think of them as the code’s superhero friends
In my previous article, I discussed what a standard is and how it differs from a code — something that often confuses me as well as others. Hopefully, as a result this is now better understood and the discussion can turn to the numerous types of standards that are in the industry and appear in the code. To relate the last article to this one in a way our inner child can appreciate, if the last article was about the Avengers, then this article is about the different superheroes that make up the Avengers and their unique abilities.
It is important to note that each type of standard fills a particular role needed in the industry. As you will see, there is quite a variety in the types of standards that will be discussed and the purpose they serve.
Nationally Recognized Consensus Standard Developers
The following is a list in the 2015 Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC) Table 1701.1 of Nationally Recognized Consensus Standards Developing Organizations accredited by the American National Standards Institute.
- American Society of Mechanical Engineers
- American Welding Society
- American Water Works Association
- Canadian Standards Association
- ASTM International
- International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials
- Industry Safety Equipment Association
- National Fire Protection Association)
- NSF International
- Underwriters Laboratories
ANSI is not the promulgator of the standards, but is the certifying body of the consensus process. It promotes developing American National Standards by accrediting the procedures of standards-developing organizations. ANSI accreditation represents the procedures used by the standards body in developing American National Standards that meet the ANSI essential requirements for openness, balance, consensus and due process.
In the UPC, standards written by other organizations are listed in Table 1701.1. IAPMO has developed more than 300 industry standards, which:
- Cover innovative new plumbing products not covered by existing standards
- Are widely accepted by industry and regulators (jurisdictions)
- Are developed by industry stakeholders, facilitated by IAPMO staff
- Are approved by the IAPMO Standards Review Committee (SRC)
- Can evolve into American National Standards
The development process for IAPMO industry standards is governed by IAPMO Policy S‐001 Standards Development Process, which parallels the ANSI essential requirements for consensus standards, but allows for a much shorter standard development time (usually one to three months), thus allowing manufacturers timely access to the marketplace.
The IAPMO Standards department works with stakeholders to develop new or revise existing IAPMO industry standards to cover the exposed product. Often, new products or new technologies surge ahead far faster than consensus standards can keep pace. When no consensus standard exists, for new products or the innovative technologies applied to existing products, the development of an industry standard is essential for rapid product certification.
Industry standards provide a means for rapid product certification by offering manufacturers and product developers the opportunity to establish a standard for independent verification of product compliance that is more in tune with the timeline of the introduction of the product or innovative technology into the marketplace. Once an industry standard is accepted by the Standards Review Committee, IAPMO R&T or other third party product certifier may list products that are independently verified to be in compliance with the requirements of the new or revised industry standard.
The IAPMO Standards Review Committee (SRC) meets every month to review proposals for industry standards. SRC meetings are open to the public and all participants are given the opportunity to present their views and supporting information on the proposals discussed at these meetings. Proposals approved by the SRC are posted on the IAPMO Standards 20-day public review webpage for public comment.
IAPMO Material and Property Standards
So, what happens when a manufacturer develops a product and there is no existing standard to which it may be held? In that case, one has to be created. IAPMO material and property standards are developed to establish an acceptable quality and performance level for plumbing products in the absence of approved nationally recognized standards.
IAPMO Installation Standards
Located in Appendix I of the UPC, the installation standards were developed by IAPMO to provide specific requirements for installing various plumbing pipe and fixtures. As with all the appendices, the installation standards are only mandatory if a local jurisdiction adopts them as part of the code. In previous versions of the code, Appendix I was quite large and contained numerous standards for a variety of installations. However, in 2015 most of the information that appeared in Appendix I was removed in an effort to evaluate and update it for future use. Appendix I hosts an installation standard for PEX, but in 2018 could see an increase in the number of standards included there.
Standards Reference Other Standards
In Part 1, it was acknowledged that codes are not all-knowing and require assistance through the referencing of standards. Such understanding, that it is impossible to be the most knowledgeable entity in the industry on every conceivable area, is not limited to the code. In a similar manner, standards reference other standards. Referencing other standards allows the parent standard to build on expert guidance, specify proper requirements for parts, components or even dimensions for parts within a more intricate product, and provides reliable requirements, which in many cases, have been established through years of application in the field. For example, a parent standard may reference another standard for a test method for dimensions. Therefore, the test method does not need to be repeated in the standard; only the referenced standard test method is mentioned and collaborated. In the plumbing industry, the code references various product standards, which define the product’s performance and design.
Looking Even Closer
In an industry as diverse and complex as the plumbing industry, there is a need for a variety of types of standards to address all of the various facets that impact it. In the final part of this series of articles on standards, we will take an even closer look at standards to discuss what goes into a standard and what they consist of. Going back to the superhero analogy, we took a look at the individual superheroes of the Avengers in this article. In the next one, the topic of the day will be examining what makes a superhero a superhero.