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Simulator to put waterproof products through their paces

New solutions for homeowners at risk of flooding will have an easier route to market this week after the Environment Agency and research house HR Wallingford opened a new test facility to put them through their paces.

The testing centre features two flood simulators and will evaluate flood defence products’ compliance with the British Standards Institution’s (BSI) PAS 1188 standard.

One simulator is a replica living room housed within a 818,000 litre tank equipped with wave and current generators to test products against pressure and turbulence.

The second is a smaller tank with inward-facing door, patio window and airbrick openings in its side. Products are installed against the openings and the tank filled with water to test whether any seeps out through the products.

Safety guarantee

Products which are successful will be awarded the BSI Kitemark to prove that they work and instil confidence in the householders, organisations and businesses buying them.

“Manufacturers will be able to display the Kitemark, a recognised symbol of trust,” said BSI executive director of healthcare and testing services David Ford. It is likely to take around a week to test a product.

Environment Agency policy manager for flood risk asset management Tony Andryszewski estimated the facility will run for two periods of around eight weeks each per year.

The facility can be used to test temporary defences as well as more permanent demountable ones. Any products that must be anchored to the ground will be charged a premium for damage caused to the basin of the test centre.

“Manufacturers will be able to display the Kitemark, a recognised symbol of trust.”

David Ford, BSI

The testing centre will encourage product development and make it easier for manufacturers to bring products to market, said BSI business development manager Rob Hine.

They will be able to prove that their products work, rather than just speculating, he said. They will also benefit from being able to rigorously test their products to identify weak points before going to market, said Andryszewski.

“When they’re fitted manufacturers want to know how they’re going to perform. They’ve got to be tested,” he said.

It is also thought that products bearing the Kitemark could be viewed more favourably in risk assessments, leading to reduced insurance excess and more readily available cover for property owners in flood risk areas.

Performing to the right level

The PAS 1188 standard specifies the appropriate level of performance for flood protection products, and was revised in 2009.

The revision has not lowered technical standards, but has enforced more stringent requirements on the provision of installation and maintenance advice, and product marking.

Products approved under the old standard − which was issued in 2003 − will be subject to a desktop review of their compliance.

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