Contrary to popular belief, water can become dangerous when plumbing is left in the hands of unqualified professionals who fit unsuitable products. Julie Spinks, Managing Director of the Water Regulations Advisory Scheme (WRAS), explains why it’s important for all of us to take steps to keep our water safe.
Our water supplies are among the healthiest in the world – with 99.96 per cent passing stringent standards. However, of those which do fail, nearly a third are due to problems in people’s homes.
Poor plumbing and sub-standard fittings are among the main causes of deterioration in the quality of drinking water, after it has been transferred from public water mains into private pipes and properties.
Lead, nickel, taste and odour are behind some of the failures and these are usually caused by the wrong materials and fittings being used or inadequate protection from water ‘flowing back’ into internal pipework from appliances.
There have been a number of cases recently where poor installation has allowed blue water from toilet cisterns to be delivered to drinking water taps. Also, worrying were a number of cases where lead levels were detected above drinking water standards, where ‘plumbers’ used illegal lead solder. Plumbers really should know better!
Top tip – Find a qualified plumber
Consumers should use a professionally qualified plumber. Choose one that is a member of an Approved Contractors’ Scheme, such as WaterSafe.
Members of Approved Contractors’ schemes have a recognised plumbing qualification and knowledge of the water fittings regulations.
Not all plumbing products that are sold in the UK comply with regulations designed to protect public water supplies. Many retailers believe that because consumers don’t ask about compliance that they are not interested. I take a different view – I think consumers understandably expect their retailer to do checks to make sure the products they are selling are safe and compliant. I’m glad to say consumer protection law agrees with me.
Top tip – Buy compliant products
Whenever changes are made to plumbing or when connecting appliances – like washing machines – to the water supply, consumers should only use those which comply with the water fittings regulations. One easy way to check whether a product is suitable is to look for the WRAS Approved logo on packaging.
Are the water fittings regulations and byelaws important?
Absolutely – they play an important role in protecting public health, safeguarding water supplies and promoting the efficient use of water within customers’ premises. They apply to private plumbing systems connected to public water supplies and have a specific purpose to prevent contamination of drinking water and the waste of water.
I don’t know about you but I would prefer not to worry about the details of regulations. It’s much easier to choose approved products and to employ a qualified plumber to do the work.
Top tip – Ask for help
WRAS was set up to help individuals and organisations comply with the Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations and Byelaws. If you have a question about the regulations give us a call on 0333 207 9030 or drop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org