As you know I try to stay abreast of the goings on in our industry. Like when a competitor launches a new product or a testing lab introduces a new standard. I am particularly interested if these events are in any way linked.
Last year I was aware of a manufacturer that launched a new HGI series designed to compete in the high-efficiency/high-capacity market. The series offered two units, one certified at 75 gpm and one at 100 gpm.
As a self-proclaimed watchdog I like to review new products to make sure that the claims made by a manufacturer about the performance of their units can actually be verified by a third party.
Since this manufacturer went with NSF International as their third party testing and certification lab, it’s easy to verify the manufacturers’ claims because NSF posts certifications online at their NSF Product and Services Listing site.
What is noteworthy about this particular manufacturer’s listing is that it shows certifications to ASME A112.14.3, CSA B481 and a standard you may not have seen before, SE 15741.
What is SE 15741?
It is an NSF Special Engineered Specification. This one is titled, “Testing of Large Capacity Grease Interceptors Using an Accelerated Protocol.”
What is the purpose of this specification?
According to the document, “The purpose of this Special Engineered document is to evaluate the capacity of grease interceptors above the minimum capacity requirements found in ASME A112.14.3 using an accelerated test protocol.”
The accelerated protocol consists of two phases. In phase one, the unit is tested up to its breakdown point or a maximum of 15 increments whichever is less. That means that if the unit has not reached its breakdown point by the 15th increment then phase one is to be stopped. In phase two, the increments are accelerated by adding lard “directly through the lid in quantities specified by the manufacturer” between increments followed by a regular incremental test. This is to be done until breakdown or a maximum of another 15 increments.
Please understand that ASME A112.14.3 does not allow an accelerated protocol for testing grease interceptors. The standard requires an interceptor to be tested incrementally until the unit reaches its maximum grease retention capacity, which is established at the increment preceding two successive increments in which either the average efficiency is less than 90 percent or the incremental efficiency is less than 80 percent. The standard does not allow any lard to be introduced directly into the interceptor through the lid nor does it allow for fixing any set number of increments in determining the units’ efficiency and capacity.
Stop and consider what the implications of this accelerated protocol are.
First, every drop of lard that is introduced into the grease interceptor through the lid is added at 100 percent efficiency. This automatically skews the efficiency results rendering them invalid for certification purposes.
Second, the accelerated protocol sets arbitrary limits on the number of test increments at 15 for both phases. Since the ASME standard requires two successive increments in which either the average efficiency is less than 90 percent or the incremental efficiency is less than 80 percent, stopping the test at the 15th increment during either phase, potentially eliminates the possibility of having two successive increments to base the final results on.
Finally, since the manufacturer gets to decide how much grease to add to the interceptor directly through the lid, the amounts can change or vary depending on how the test results are being reported allowing the manufacturer to manipulate the test to get more favorable results.
The accelerated protocol established in NSF SE 15741 is not an acceptable modification of the ASME A112.14.3 standard and it should not be relied upon for accurately reporting the efficiency and capacity of a HGI.
Furthermore, SE 15741 is not an approved standard in the UPC, IPC, NSPC, NPCC, nor any state or local plumbing codes.
We always recommend that you ask to see a manufacturer’s actual test report, including the incremental test results so that you can verify the claims of performance the manufacturer makes. And, if you see something you don’t understand or that doesn’t make sense, hold the manufacturer and the testing lab accountable.