The majority of homeowners are ignorant about what UK water regulations say, despite being aware of the risks in using non-compliant products.
A survey of 2,000 households by independent certification body, The Water Regulations Approval Scheme (Wras), revealed that only 15% of respondents were familiar with the Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations, which is a drop from 21% in the 2021 survey.
The regulations impose a legal duty on everyone to use suitable water fittings when connected to public water supplies. Anything from pipes, fittings, taps, showers, washing machines, dishwashers, to coffee machines, boilers and toilets, all need to comply.
These findings are in stark contrast to respondents’ awareness of the risks associated with faulty plumbing products. Almost all (94%) said they acknowledged the potential property damage that could result from the use of faulty pluming. The survey also showed that 73% were aware of the potential health risks posed by untested plumbing products, where the use of non-metallic materials in water fittings could contaminate drinking water.
The survey concluded that these results highlight that a large proportion of UK households need better information about whether plumbing products have been tested in order to make better purchasing decisions.
Interestingly, the survey also showed that just under two-thirds (62%) of homeowners knew that products connected to the public water supply must undergo testing to ensure they meet the necessary standards.
There is still confusion, however, according to Wras, about whose responsibility it is for checking the compliance of plumbing products. Only a quarter of respondents correctly identified that it is the homeowner or landlord that is responsible.
Wras also pointed out that while consumers might assume that all products sold have been successfully tested, this is not always the case, highlighting how important it is for anyone buying plumbing products to check compliance.
Wras added that it believes manufacturers should always be clear about whether their products have successfully passed mandatory conformity tests.
Wras approval manager Ian Hughes added that looking for the Wras logo is one way to be sure a product is compliant. He said: “The Wras approved product logo gives customers assurance that the products have been independently certified to demonstrate compliance with the regulations.”
Tom Reynolds, chief executive of the Bathroom Manufacturers Association, also confirms that it is not illegal as such to import non-compliant products. He also highlights that there is a loophole in the system as there is no UK point-of-entry checking of product compliance. So unbranded products or products from lesser-known companies can enter the UK even if they are not compliant with the water regulations. He also points out that testing by third-party bodies such as Wras is not compulsory.
Reynolds said that point-of-entry testing is an issue that the BMA is pursuing with the Government’s Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS). He added that products from BMA member companies are compliant with the regulations.