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The agencies that develop plumbing product standards in the United States and Canada understood early on that to ensure easier free trade, the standards must evolve together while impacting neither consumer safety nor the expected lifespan of the product. One of the first product groups to be addressed was personal hygiene devices for water closets. These may either be factory-built devices or after-market retrofit additions.
These after-market additions made international news when many countries had shelves emptied of consumer toilet paper, prompting inventive — and often crazily inventive — people to develop out-of-standard-compliance ways to clean themselves. Necessity is often referred to as the mother of invention, and with large segments of the population quarantined at home with their families, without the confidence of brand-name tissue, it brought out some interesting behavior.
From 2009 to 2015, the Canadian Standards Association/American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ Harmonization Task Group on Plumbing Fixtures diligently worked with a broad swath of competent industry experts to ensure the creation of a document that met the criteria of a Canadian as well as an American national standard: ASME A112.4.2‐2015/CSA B45.16‐15, Personal Hygiene Devices for Water Closets.
This standard went through extensive public input and review; comments made were adequately addressed. The publication was developed by consensus, defined by CSA policy governing standardization-code of good practice for standardization as “substantial agreement. Consensus implies much more than a simple majority, but not necessarily unanimity.”
To get these many learned and often entrenched opinions to align for a document with such far-reaching implications remains a testament to the team’s willingness to make these requirements one of many steps in aligning U.S. and Canadian standards.
Apart from the significant formatting and editorial changes required to make this a cross-border harmonized regulation, additional technical changes were incorporated in this standard, which impacted third-party agency-listed products. The substantive technical changes are:
Added stainless-steel water closets (see Section 4.1) for compliance with ASME A112.19.3/CSA B45.4 and updated the requirements for plastic and ceramic water closets to comply with ASME A112.19.2/CSA B45.1 or CSA B45.5/IAPMO Z124. The addition of the stainless-steel fixtures allowed for the increased use in institutions, thereby removing the toilet paper used by inmates to block sanitary systems.
As seen with the pandemic-inspired at-home bidets, one of the missing elements in the nonharmonized standard was a backflow prevention device when a hose was hooked to the bathtub or sink tap. Including an installation requirement for atmospheric vacuum breakers on products that are not marked with the critical level (see Section 4.2) minimizes inadvertent back-siphonage through the hose.
The exact Section 4.2.2.b.ii language, “lowest point located not less than 25 mm (1 inch) above the flood level rim, when the critical level is not marked,” gives manufacturers and installers unified guidance on this often-overlooked issue.
Now, what would a bidet experience be like if you did not include the option for electrically heated water, especially in Canada? These features and components are now regulated with Canadian CSA C22.2 No. 68, Motor-Operated Appliances (Household and Commercial) or CSA C22.2 No. 64, Household Cooking and Liquid-Heating Appliances, as well as UL 1431, Standard for Personal Hygiene and Health Care Appliances. Already included in the standard is the automatic shut-off if the water temperature reaches 118 F (48 C).
The specifications for bidet sprayers in Section 4.5 required them to be out of the way of contamination in the concealed position (retractable hoses that cannot be soiled by the user) and “self-cleaning,” as it is a great idea to be able to wash the spray hose and head with water if there is accidental contact with waste. (Even though it seems intuitive, a lot of “what ifs” must be addressed by the standard.)
One of the other key performance-testing requirements includes separating how many cycles the multiple bidet sprayers must complete. From Section 5.4.1.c.ii: “The anterior (front) sprayer shall be tested for 50,000 cycles and the posterior (rear) sprayer shall be tested for 25,000 cycles.”
To give a little context, if three people share the same washroom and go three times per day (never using another outside the home washroom), then the test equivalent is 22.8 years of use. That level of durability can give the consumer serious confidence in their buying decision of a product that has been tested and certified to this standard
Those in the industry know just how much effort it takes for consumers to “enjoy the go” safely. Hours of dedicated labor by the various technical committees allow both countries to freely trade similar products. Committees of experts address new plumbing innovations every year to create product and installation standards that enable our industry to constantly “protect the health of the nations.” We invite you to lend your hard-won expertise in continuing to make plumbing products safe and practical.
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