While shopping for new bathroom products, you might have noticed a label that states they are “WRAS Approved”. Any fitting that receives water from, and returns water to, the mains supply must be proven to not negatively alter the water that it cycles back into the system. This entails a few different issues: the fitting must not waste water or consume an unnecessary amount, as well as not causing any contamination to the public supply. In addition, the manufacturing quality and materials used should meet certain standards to ensure that this is maintained. To ensure customers can buy with confidence and that their plumbing fittings are safe, the Water Regulations Advisory Scheme (WRAS) grants approval to products only after they pass extensive testing. Each country in the UK has its own specific set of rules, but if a product is WRAS Approved it will likely be safe for use everywhere. While the WRAS is not the only approval scheme for bathroom fittings, it is the most highly regarded.
There are two types of WRAS approval: WRAS Product Approval and WRAS Material Approval. Product Approval tests entire products such as boilers, showers and valves to ensure that they comply with all the necessary regulations. These tests are intended to simulate the sort of day to day use that products will be subjected to after they are installed. Material Approval is focused solely on testing non-metallic components such as rubber sheets and O rings to ensure they don't impact water quality. As the vast majority of metals used in plumbing are safe, this testing is used to confirm that the other components will not contaminate the water supply.
The Water Regulations Advisory Scheme is in effect throughout the United Kingdom. National parliaments are responsible for overseeing water usage, meaning there are slight differences between the regulations in each UK country. It's important to ensure that your plumbing is compliant with the law in your specific region.
WRAS specifications are usually in effect between a property's boundary and the point where it discharges. Buying WRAS Approved products also means that your property's plumbing will be compliant with all the most recent legal requirements in the UK and helps keep the water supply safe for everyone. The WRAS ensures that regulations are followed at every stage of product development, from design and manufacture to installation and maintenance. If a property uses a private water supply instead of a public supplier, WRAS Approved products aren't necessary but are still recommended due to undergoing extensive testing.
Whichever products you choose for your home, it's always worth hiring a registered plumber, particularly one listed by the Approved Plumber Scheme. A reputable plumber should be familiar with all the most recent regulations and will install your items properly. There's no point buying WRAS Approved products, only for your water supply to be contaminated by a shoddy plumber using unsuitable parts. As an added benefit, registered plumbers will issue you a certificate stating that you have hired an approved plumber and offering you some added protection in the event that inadequate plumbing work is discovered on your property later. In addition, it's usually a good idea to inform your water supplier if you're having extensive work, just in case anything unusual arises.
Choosing WRAS Approved products means your new plumbing will fulfil the strict requirements of modern day regulations. However, it's important to note that being WRAS Approved doesn't mean that a product is suitable for every situation. Check the product details closely to be sure that it can perform the specific task you have in mind and that you meet the necessary requirements before installing them.
You can find out whether or not a product is WRAS Approved by checking the online database at the Water Regulations Advisory Scheme website. This database is free to use and will help you verify whether or not a product is WRAS Approved, as well as offering a comprehensive list of recommended plumbers who you can hire to install your new purchases. The website is also home to an extensive resources section for consumers that will help you decide which items to add to your property and how to address some common issues you might face.