WRAS Approval: What Is It, And Why Is It Important?

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What is WRAS Approval?

Whether you’re a tradesperson or a facilities manager, you’ve probably come across products bearing the WRAS seal of approval - but what exactly does WRAS Approval mean, and why is it so important?

The WRAS

The WRAS, or Water Regulations Advisory Scheme, is a subscription-based accreditation body whose membership comprises of all the UK’s 26 water suppliers. The WRAS exists to promote and ensure compliance with the Water Supply (Water Fittings Regulations) in England and Wales, and the equivalent Water Byelaws in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The WRAS also offers an approval system, which acts as a way for manufacturers to demonstrate that their products - such as taps, valves and boilers - comply with the regulations. According to the WRAS, the regulations apply to ‘any water fitting which, when installed, will carry or receive water from the public mains water supply’.

Once submitted by the manufacturer, a product will only gain approval after undergoing rigorous mechanical and water quality testing by independent laboratories. The product may also need to meet certain installation conditions in order to obtain WRAS Approval.

The approval system also covers non-metallic components and materials (such as rubber washers and gaskets), which undergo testing to ascertain their effect on the water with which they come into contact. Some materials can give the water an undesirable flavour or odour, as well as causing cloudiness or discolouration. Others can impart toxic chemicals to the water, or create conditions that allow bacteria and microbes to flourish. Approval will only be given once it has been demonstrated that the component does not contaminate the water in any way.

Once granted, WRAS Approval lasts for a maximum of five years, after which time the product will need to be resubmitted for assessment.

In addition to the approval scheme, the WRAS advises the UK’s water companies on the interpretation and implementation of the Water Fittings Regulations and acts as a representative of the UK water supply industry in matters of compliance.

The WRAS also administers the Water Industry Approved Plumbers’ Scheme, an accreditation scheme for qualified plumbers and other workers within the plumbing sector. WIAPS membership is a way for water industry professionals to demonstrate their knowledge of the Water Fittings Regulations.

About the regulations

The Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations 1999 and the equivalent Scottish and Northern Irish byelaws concern the way in which plumbing systems and water fittings are designed, installed, operated and maintained.

Their main purpose is to prevent the misuse, waste, excessive consumption and inaccurate measurement of water and, above all, to ensure that drinking water is free from contamination. The regulations play a vital role in protecting public health and ensuring that water is used efficiently and responsibly.

Failure to comply with the regulations is a criminal offence and may result in prosecution. Anyone found guilty of contravening the regulations could face fines and a criminal record.

Is WRAS Approval a legal requirement?

While all water fittings and associated materials must by law conform with the Water Supply Regulations, there is no legal requirement to obtain WRAS Approval; it is simply the easiest and most reliable way of demonstrating compliance.

It goes without saying that you should always use the highest quality products and materials that you can. Lower quality products that do not bear WRAS Approval (or that do not meet the standards of the Water Supply Regulations at all) could be faulty or unreliable, at best - at worst, they could be downright dangerous.

According to the Water Supply Regulations, it is down to the the installer to ensure that water fittings meet the criteria. WRAS Approval provides valuable peace of mind, both for you and your customers.

How do I know if a product is WRAS approved?

When a product gains WRAS Approval, the manufacturer will be issued with a WRAS certification mark, which will usually be displayed prominently on the packaging, product literature and, if applicable, on the manufacturer’s website (for example, see our stainless steel drinking fountain page).

Bear in mind that some products may need to be installed in a certain way in order to meet the conditions of their WRAS approval; a full list of the installation requirements is available on the WRAS website. If you’re not sure whether a product is WRAS-approved or not, you can also consult the WRAS Products & Materials database.