What is WRAS and what are the regulations?

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Have you purchased new water products for your bathroom or kitchen? Or perhaps, you’re getting an Instant Boiling Water Tap fitted and came across the WRAS-approved logo or seen it in a product description and have been left wondering what it means?

Continue reading our expert guide on WRAS approval, including why it’s valuable and how water products or fittings become WRAS-approved.

What is WRAS approval?

The Water Regulations Advisory Scheme (WRAS) is a subscription-based accreditation body that certifies whether a product or fitting is compliant with the UK’s water regulations by displaying a WRAS-approved certification logo on the item.

WRAS has separated its subscriptions and approvals activities into two separate businesses, Water Regs UK and the Water Regulations Approval Scheme (WRAS).

While there is no legal obligation to have a water product WRAS-approved, it is the easiest and most effective way of demonstrating compliance. All 26 of Britain’s water suppliers are a member of WRAS.

As it is granted directly by authorities from the UK’s water suppliers, it is widely accepted across the UK and assures customers that they can buy with confidence.

Whether you’ve bought new water products for your home or are considering purchasing products for your bathroom or kitchen, if an item is marked “WRAS-approved”, it means it has undergone significant testing by an independent but accredited laboratory.

The approval system also covers non-metallic elements and materials such as tap washers and sealing device testing to ensure they are suitable for use after coming into contact with potable water.

Why does WRAS test water products?

WRAS tests the products and materials to determine whether these items alter the water’s taste, smell or colour after they come into contact.

Some low-quality products can contaminate water, resulting in cloudiness or discolouration, an unpleasant flavour or odour and toxicity. If toxic chemicals are imparted into the water, this could foster microorganisms, which can cause illnesses and diseases such as diarrhoea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid, and polio. 

WRAS only approves products once laboratories have been able to verify that the component or material does not contaminate the water in any way. WRAS certification lasts for up to five years, after which manufacturers will need to resubmit appliances for assessment.

Besides the approval scheme, WRAS also manages the Water Industry Approved Plumbers Scheme (WIAPS) – a national accreditation programme for accomplished and qualified plumbers.

If you require a plumber, the Water Regulations Advisory Scheme has an online directory of approved plumbers proven to possess the skills and training needed to undertake any water-related repair.

Why is WRAS-Approval important?

WRAS-approved products guarantee consumers that their taps, valves and other water products are compliant with England and Wales’ Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations, or the equivalent Water Byelaws in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

While WRAS-approval isn’t a legal requirement, items approved by the accreditation body undergo rigorous mechanical and water quality testing, meaning suppliers, installers, and consumers have confidence and peace of mind that their product is safe for use.

Any water fitting – whether that be an Instant Boiling Water Tap, washing machine or showerhead – showcasing a WRAS logo informs the end-user that it does not contaminate the water in any way when in use.

How does a product become WRAS-approved?

Products have to undertake a lengthy application process before becoming WRAS-approved.

Manufacturers will need to inform the accrediting body of the materials present in the product, which are then tested in a laboratory to ensure that the item does not affect the taste or smell of the water and doesn’t promote the growth of microorganisms. 

If approved, items sent for inspection will be awarded a WRAS-approval mark to verify that it is safe for use and listed on the company’s website.

Once the manufacturer receives certification, a retailer, wholesaler, or other third parties that wish to sell or market the product under another trade name must gain secondary approval.

While the approval process is extensive and costly as manufacturers are required to resubmit products every five years, as the product undergoes rigorous testing and is then marked with WRAS certification, the manufacturer’s credibility and the quality of the items are enhanced.

However, as approval is not mandatory by law, it is the responsibility of homeowners, occupiers or installers of plumbing systems, water taps and other kitchen or bathroom fittings to decide whether to use WRAS-approved products.

Where new builds are concerned, the developer is responsible for ensuring that water products are stamped with WRAS approval.
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