The importance of using “approved” products

Ian Hughes, Approvals Manager at WRAS (Water Regulations Approval Scheme) explains why it is important for trades professionals to ensure they’re using approved plumbing products.

You may be surprised to hear this, but not all of the plumbing products, materials and fittings that are available to buy in the UK actually comply with the Water Fittings Regulations or Scottish Byelaws.

Any water fitting which is connected to the public water supply must be tested to demonstrate that they are of a suitable quality and standard for use, so it is illegal to install them if they don’t comply, even if it is not illegal for them to be sold. Water fittings covers a wide range of products including pipes, taps, boilers, appliances connected to the water supply such as washing machines and plumbing fittings. Plumbing products and fittings which don’t conform to the water fittings regulations/ byelaws may pose a risk to health, as they can contaminate drinking water or leak causing damage to property. Why take the risk of using untested products?

It is the responsibility of installers to ensure that they are only using compliant products and materials to avoid any issues, which could include legal action and fines, further down the line.  Using approved products is one way to ensure that products are of a suitable quality and standard, but you could also check with manufacturers to see that appropriate testing has been carried out.

This is one of the reasons that it can be so crucial for installers to be involved with new plumbing projects from the outset, or at least as early as possible. It ensures that the relevant guidance is given to customers before a product that isn’t compliant is bought. Without the right guidance, customers could buy products and fittings that aren’t compliant, meaning that they cannot be used as their installation would contravene the regulations and byelaws. This will not only delay a project, but it can also lead to unforeseen costs.

The Water Fittings Regulations, or Scottish Byelaws, set out the legal requirements for plumbing systems, including everything from design and installation to operation and maintenance. They play an important role in protecting public health and safeguarding water supplies to ensure drinking water is safe. If a non-compliant product or fitting is installed, this could lead to drinking water becoming contaminated.

But how do you know if a product or fitting is compliant with the regulations?
The best way to ensure that the products and fittings which you’re using are compliant is by checking to see if they are WRAS Approved.

WRAS Approvals is an independent UK certification body for plumbing products and materials, helping businesses and consumers choose compliant products that keep water safe. We check that all the relevant testing has been completed by a suitably accredited test laboratory. The scheme also provide installation and requirement notes to help installers. A WRAS Approval is an easy way to demonstrate that a material or fitting is of a suitable quality and standard.

Therefore, taking the time to look for products and materials which are WRAS approved should be at the top of a trades professional’s priorities. Not only will using these products help provide peace of mind that the product is reliable, but it can also help to save water and money.

Is there more than one type of WRAS Approval?
There are two types of WRAS Approval – WRAS Product Approval and WRAS Material Approval.

A WRAS Product Approval involves the whole product, such as valves, boilers and showers, undergoing mechanical and water quality testing.

This type of approval is proof that a product is of the appropriate quality and standard, provided that the fitting is installed according to any conditions given with the approval.

A WRAS Material Approval sees non-metallic materials and components, such as ‘O’ rings, undergo testing only for their effects on water quality.  This type of approval demonstrates that the non-metallic material/component complies with BS6920.

In short, fittings undergo a series of mechanical and material performance tests, whilst materials undergo water quality testing by suitably accredited laboratories.

Where can I find out if a product is WRAS Approved?
For a full list of products and materials which are WRAS Approved, please visit https://www.wrasapprovals.co.uk/approvals-directory/

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