With a new certification standard in place and swim season coming, the Consumer Product Safety Commission is instituting strict new drain cover testing procedures.

CPSC also now has its own pool-specific testing lab in an effort to prevent the problems that led to last year’s massive recall.

In February, CPSC requested the presence of all testing labs to go over drain cover certification procedures specified under the federal Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act. The meeting was to evaluate the protocols specified in ANSI/APSP 16 2011, adopted last September. It is the successor to ASME/ANSI A112.19.8 2007, which was blamed in part for the drain recover recall because it allowed for too much interpretation. Testing inconsistencies led to the recall, which happened just before Memorial Day weekend, the traditional opening day of swimming.

To eliminate such inconsistencies with ANSI/APSP 16, testing labs will conduct a series of round robin testing. Under a pilot program, the four testing agencies — NSF International, UL, IAPMO and QAI Laboratories — as well as CPSC are conducting hair and entrapments tests on one suction outlet fitting assembly, said Kathleen Reilly, CPSC public affairs specialist. CPSC now has a new 63,000-square-foot testing facility in Rockville, Md., that includes a dedicated space for testing pool-related products.

When data is complete, “the intent is for test labs to then present the round robin testing results to the group for review,” said Anna Schmitt-Reichert, director of corporate communications at NSF International.

After review, any agreed-upon revisions to the standard would require approval from CPSC and the American National Standards Institute.

The goal is to “make sure that the [APSP-16] standard is clear, and that we say what we mean and mean what we say, so we don’t go through another round of confusion like we saw before,” said Steve Barnes, safety and compliance manager at Pentair Water Commercial Pool and Aquatics.

Barnes, who’s also a member of the APSP-16 committee and chairman of the APSP Technical Committee, does not expect any changes to testing to directly impact pool operators. “There is no discussion on changing the requirements of the standard,” he said.

What is under discussion are revisions  to ensure consistency of results among testing labs. Barnes joined approximately 20 other individuals representing approved testing facilities, CPSC, and other involved parties at a February meeting to look at hair and entrapment tests used to determine if a suction outlet fitting assembly can be VGB certified.

Barnes expects the process to be complete this year. Once that happens, if there are revisions to testing procedures, drain covers will have to meet the standard based on the revised testing to be VGB-approved. Products are generally set to undergo certification renewal on an annual basis.

Barring a change to the product or standard, that’s generally a simple matter. Manufacturers are likely to have between one and two years to meet a revised standard, Barnes added.

The new aquatic lab at CPSC will allow the agency to review other products, and officials say SVRSs will be next.