The United Kingdom has some of the safest water in the world – and that is no accident. Homes, places of work and public buildings in Great Britain have a legal duty to provide clean, high-quality water. And it is WRAS approval which ensures the correct standards are met.
In 1999, the Water Supply Regulations came into force. Since then, any water fitting which connects to the public water main must pass stringent tests. It cannot cause waste, misuse, undue consumption, or contamination. Fittings and products which conform are given WRAS approval.
Pretty straightforward so far. When you buy fittings for bathrooms, kitchens, plumbing parts or pipe repair solutions, you should make sure that the products you are purchasing have WRAS approval. It guarantees that the water in your house will remain uncontaminated once it is drawn from the public main.
But just because you should, it does not mean you have to. There are situations and installations where using WRAS approved products, although highly advisable, is not legally required. This can sometimes lead to confusion and complications, some of which we will attempt to cut through.
Firstly, gaining WRAS approval is a voluntary; companies do not have to submit their products if they do not wish to. While this restricts their appeal and the places in which they can be installed, a business may choose to forego the lengthy process of gaining accreditation if they wish to rush their products onto the market.
If they are manufacturing a product that is unlikely to be directly connected to a public water main, then they may see WRAS approval as unnecessary. Goods designed for use in private households such as taps, pipes, valves, cisterns, boilers, and showers do not legally require the approval, so why go through the additional hassle of gaining it?
With no legal requirement for WRAS approval inside private dwellings, a household can happily carry out installations and repairs using products which do not have certification. Most professional plumbers, bathroom installers and other contractors would advise against this, however.
It is easy to see why – while the repair of a leaking copper pipe in your bathroom might not require a WRAS approved solution, why wouldn’t you want to guarantee that the materials you are exposing your family’s drinking water to is safe?
When a private domestic property is forging a connection to the public water supply, then WRAS approved products must be used to draw the water. If you have built an extension or a new property that is going to be taking water directly from the public supply line, no water company will hook your newbuild up unless the materials you are using are WRAS approved.
There is no such ambiguity when it comes to fixtures and fittings in buildings such as hotels, schools, hospitals, bars, restaurants, shopping centres and other leisure facilities. Any facility which is open to and serves the public must use WRAS approved products throughout to guarantee that their water supplies are not harmful.
The most reassuring aspect of WRAS approval is that it undergoes frequent reassessment to continually improve water standards. The regulations are getting stricter to tie in with growing environmental concerns.
No WRAS approved product can rest on its laurels either. WRAS approval only lasts for five years, after which products must be submitted for retesting by independent laboratories if they wish to keep their accreditation.
All of which contributes towards Britain’s drinking water being of the highest possible standard. When you buy and install WRAS approved products, you are keeping yourself and your families safe.