Sixty-One Flavors of Pipes and Fittings

I always feel drawn by those aisles of plumbing fixtures and connectors in my local hardware store. There are so many neat little gadgets to connect in a million different configurations. I joined the Water Quality Assn. (WQA) team in 2009 and have come to realize that there are many unanswered questions about the certification process. This article provides an example of questions dealers commonly ask about NSF/ANSI Standard 61, focusing primarily on Sections 4, 8 and 9.

The focus of Section 4 is pipes and pipe-related products. This section is used to certify pipes, fittings, couplings, flexible or rigid tubing, hoses, riser tubes, dip tubes, drop tubes, well casings and well screens.

Section 8 covers mechanical devices and components that contact drinking water or drinking water treatment chemicals. For example, chemical feeders, water pumps, gas injection pumps, disinfection generators, submersible wire, switches and sensors and valves can be covered by Section 8.

Section 9 also covers mechanical devices, but specifically endpoint devices, intended for installation in the last liter of a distribution system. Faucets, for example, are endpoint devices, as are drinking fountains, water coolers, refrigerator ice makers and water dispensers and kitchen side sprayers.

The following are example questions dealers typically have.

“Let’s talk about a flexible plumbing connector that is included with a faucet kit I sell. Section 4 covers flexible tubing and it covers fittings and couplings. So, Section 4, right?”
While tubing and connectors can be certified to Section 4, it sounds like the intended use of your flexible connector is for a faucet. That would put it in Section 9. Flexible tubing connectors are specifically mentioned in Section 9.1.1.

“You mentioned valves are covered by Section 8. I also have a supply stop; that’s like a valve, right?”
Tricky question. The intended use of supply stops and endpoint control valves is for installation in the last liter of a water system. Therefore, they fall under Section 9 as endpoint devices.

“I sell corporation stops intended for use in a building distribution system. They are not intended for use in the last liter of water, so they must fall under Section 8 with the other valves?”
Correct. Section 8 also covers other in-line devices intended for building distribution systems. In addition to your corporate stops, Section 8 also covers compression fittings, expansion tanks, meters, meter couplings, meter stops, pressure regulators, pressure tanks, service saddles, strainers and even valves and valve-related fittings.

“Hold on—you said that fittings were covered under Section 4. Now you’re telling me Section 8. And you mentioned Section 9 earlier.”
Fittings and connectors can arguably fall into any of the three sections. The important thing to consider is their intended use. Valve-related connectors are often certified to Section 8 with the valves, especially if packaged together with a valve kit. Likewise, while faucet-related connectors can be certified to Section 9 with the faucet, Section 4 covers general pipe fittings and couplings. The most important distinction between Section 4 and 8 versus Section 9 is whether or not your fittings are intended to be sold as part of an endpoint device. This would indicate certification to Section 9 rather than Sections 4 or 8.

“I once saw a softener certified to NSF/ANSI 61. Isn’t Standard 61 a component standard?
Section 8 can cover point-of-entry drinking water treatment systems including water softeners, iron filters, whole-house filters and whole-house ultraviolet systems. Keep in mind that if you decide to use this option, Section 10 of Standard 61 specifically requires that you declare that the product is certified for material safety only.

“I also sell bathroom fixtures. What section covers showerheads?”
Showerheads are exempted.

“Can refrigerator filters be covered under Section 9 along with the refrigerator ice makers and water dispensers?”
A refrigerator filter is a point-of-use (POU) drinking water treatment device and therefore cannot be covered under NSF/ANSI Standard 61. The ice maker and water distributors, on the other hand, do not treat the water and therefore can be covered. Likewise, faucet-mount filters are also not covered by Standard 61 because they are POU treatment devices.

It can be confusing deciding what section of NSF/ANSI Standard 61 covers your product, or if it is covered at all in the standard; but your certifier can help you navigate the labyrinth of options. The trick is to pick the best option to serve the needs of your customers and the intended use of your product.

Eric Yeggy is a product certification supervisor for the WQA’s Gold Seal Certification Program in Lisle, Ill. Yeggy can be reached at 630.505.0160 x539 or by e-mail at eyeggy@wqa.org.

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