Certifications for Bathroom Plumbing Fixtures Explained

Have you ever wondered about the list of acronyms that sometimes, though not always, accompanies the plumbing fixture you’re shopping for? Whether you are remodeling or simply wanting to upgrade your bathroom plumbing fixtures, you’ve come to the right place. 

In this article, we’ll take a look at the most common plumbing certifications—detailing what they mean for you as the consumer as well as the product—and share our practical checklist for how to narrow down your plumbing fixtures search to quality products from reputable companies.

The purpose of plumbing certifications

bathroom plumbing fixtures certifications and codes

From assuring the quality of materials to standardizing fitting sizes, many of the regulations and codes associated with bathroom plumbing fixtures are intended to promote consumer safety, reliable access to essential plumbing services, or practices related to environmental concerns and water conservation. Certifiers typically specialize in one of the following areas:

Product materials and design

Since the late 1800’s, sanitation issues and a lack of consistent, nation-wide plumbing policies have necessitated the need for national oversight and the development of a comprehensive (and evolving) plumbing code. These certifications aim to continue providing safe and dependable plumbing services.

IAPMO R&T Certification

The International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) was founded in 1926 by a group of southern Californians concerned about incompetent plumbing practices. A decade later, the organization expanded to include a third-party research and testing agency (R&T). 

cUPC uniform plumbing coda Canda certification logo

They are the developers of the Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC): the only nationally recognized standard of specifications and guidelines for the installation and inspection of plumbing systems in the US and Canada. The Canadian Universal Plumbing Code, cUPC, is a separate mark for plumbing products sold in Canada that also meets UPC standards. The UPC is updated every 3 years, taking into account the newest technologies and latest findings of plumbers, engineers, manufacturers, environmentalists, and code officials. 

This is an important one, and especially so for more technical products like a shower valve or diverter. For easier integration into your existing plumbing system, and to avoid dealing with deficiencies in performance down the line, we suggest you err on the side of the experts and look for products that carry this certification whenever possible. 

ASSE Certification 

Provided by the American Society of Sanitary Engineering, this certification indicates compliance with ASSE standards in the areas of backflow prevention, fire protection and waterborne pathogens. This certification is particularly important for toilets and potable water supplies in the home as it aims to prevent unsanitary plumbing system designs.

Shower Head Flow Rate and Water Conservation

Purchasing a water saving shower head is one of the most efficient ways to reduce overall water consumption in your home. Paying attention to these certifications can save you money while lessening your environmental footprint at the same time.

WaterSense

WaterSense is an EPA program that certifies products for water efficiency and performance. This impressive initiative pushes companies to provide water saving alternatives that are as good as, if not better, than their standard counterparts on the market. It's a voluntary program gaining popularity for its significant environmental impact. 

water sense certification for low flow shower heads

Pro Tip: UPC certification is a prerequisite for WaterSense consideration, so this label guarantees the product meets both sets of standards.

CEC Registration

The California Energy Commission registration is specific to kitchen and bathroom plumbing fixtures sold in California to address the ongoing issues of drought and water shortage in the state. The CEC has placed various flow rate restrictions on fixtures that deliver water into the home, like bathroom faucets, kitchen faucets and shower heads (this search tool can help you find products that are CEC registered).

The industry maximum of gallons per minute (GPM) for shower heads is 2.5, meaning that two and a half gallons of water spray out of the shower head every minute, but it is capped at 1.8 GPM for California residents.

Low flow water saving shower head from the shower head store
Shop low flow shower heads from HammerHead Showers CEC registered

Water saving shower heads that comply with this standard are commonly referred to as low-flow shower heads, and are an excellent option to consider regardless of where you live. 

Amazon Climate Pledge Friendly Badge 

Amazon, as part of their commitment to The Climate Pledge and reducing their carbon emissions to net-zero by 2040, partnered with trusted third-party testing agencies to compile a list of over 50 sustainability-centered certifications specific to the Amazon store. To qualify, a product must meet at least one of these certifications. WaterSense is included on this list, making it easy to filter your search results on their platform to include only WaterSense certified shower heads and bathroom plumbing fixtures.

Water quality 

Guaranteeing access to safe, clean drinking water is an ongoing and often overlooked challenge. Thankfully, there are organizations dedicated to addressing the current and emerging concerns about the quality of municipal water:

NSF Certification

NSF is an internationally recognized testing agency whose work has helped shape public health standards since 1944. NSF certifications target a wide range of potential contaminants in drinking water including lead and copper.

NSF logo

NSF, in conjunction with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), established the NSF/ANSI 61 certification in 1988 to ensure drinking water system components do not leach harmful levels of contaminants into water. This standard covers all products that come into contact with drinking water, including pipes, faucets, and fittings.

NSF/ANSI 372 is a similar standard, but focuses specifically on low-lead content in the materials that make up the plumbing and drinking water products themselves. Whereas NSF/ANSI 61 is concerned about how much lead migrates into water, this certification seeks to eliminate lead usage in material production. 

Concerns about shower filter safety and chlorine content in municipal water supplies led to the development of the NSF/ANSI 177 standard in 2004. Shower head filters with this certification have been tested for material safety and are proven to reduce free chlorine in shower water. 

Last but not least:

CSA Certification 

Canadian Standards Association certifies products for Canada, the U.S. and Europe. With over 100 years of experience and 3000 published codes and standards spanning 12 areas of focus, their mark is one of the most highly recognizable in markets across the world.

canadian standards association plumbing certification

Plumbing is 1 of 15 product categories covered by the association, with products tested to IAPMO, UPC, ASSE, CEC, WaterSense, and NSF standards—this one dips into all of the areas of specialty listed above and is hands down the certifier with the broadest range of expertise.

Are any of these certifications required?

No, and you will find that many products do not carry them. The reason? Obtaining these certifications is often a very costly and time-consuming process—creating a barrier to entry for small businesses and giving an advantage to the national brands. In fact, these certifications and their logos are so unfamiliar that many consumers often mistake them for brand logos when trying to identify their fixtures! 

But don’t worry, while these certifications are a useful starting point, they are not the only way to determine whether or not that shower head in your cart is a wise investment. Read on to discover our insider tips for selecting plumbing fixtures: 

Plumbing fixtures shopping guide

selecting bathroom plumbing fixtures that are all metal

We understand that shopping for necessary household items shouldn’t feel like piecing together a puzzle, but the overwhelming amount of choices often makes this the case. Here, we’ve rounded up several simple but effective decision-making criteria to help you move through that list of “maybes” with more ease and confidence:

Made from durable materials

Ditching plastic and opting for all metal bathroom plumbing fixtures puts less strain on the environment (and your wallet) in more ways than one. Fixtures made from high-quality metals, like stainless steel and brass, are designed to last for years—as opposed to plastic that is far less resistant to breaks, cracks and leaks and requires frequent replacement. These metals are also considered to be infinitely recyclable, whereas plastics max out at 2-3 life cycles.  

Includes a product warranty 

A warranty means several important things—the company stands behind the quality of their product, prioritizes the satisfaction of their customers, and you have a direct line to help if you ever run into issues with your bathroom plumbing fixture.

No warranty and less-than-stellar customer service reviews might save you money up front, but can easily lead to a nightmare scenario that ultimately leaves you footing the bill for companies that don't hold themselves accountable for faulty or short-lived products.

Improves on industry standards

There are certain standards you should be able to count on: like ½-inch NPT (National Pipe Tapered Thread) fittings that make universal shower heads, threaded pipes and plumbing connections, well…universal. But even though this is the standard fitting size in North America, you'll find that cutting corners has become increasingly more commonplace:

Fortunately, there are companies that don't just follow the rules, they take quality and functionality a step further with extensive R&D and superior materials. It’s the attention to detail that sets these companies and their products apart—details that make all the difference between an average bathroom plumbing fixture that simply gets the job done vs an investment that elevates your shower experience (and even the value of your home!).

Our top recommendation for bathroom plumbing fixtures

The Shower Head Store was founded on our commitment to shaking up the way shower heads and accessories are typically done: filling the gap between cheap plastic shower heads and prohibitively expensive name brands. From shower hoses to shower holder brackets, you won’t ever have to guess if our products are made of metal or made to look like metal—the answer is ALWAYS metal. But we didn't stop there...

Here are just a few of the ways we are changing the game and setting a new standard for bathroom plumbing fixtures: 

Non-toxic, hygienic silicone tubing 

Most companies are using EPDM, a synthetic rubber, or PVC inside of their shower hoses. Our shower hoses are made with a hygienic silicone inner tube: a trusted and safe material that prevents biofilm buildup. All of our handheld shower heads come with a 72” hose, a full foot longer than the industry standard.

3 spray handheld all metal shower head from the shower head store
Shop Handheld Shower Heads with detachable hose

Our Extra Long 108” Metal Shower Hose makes hard to reach spots a thing of the past, and is especially popular with pups and little ones! 

Extra long metal shower hose from the shower head store
Shop Extra Long All Metal Shower Hose

An adjustable shower arm that actually works

If you’ve ever wanted to raise or lower your shower head in seconds, but felt dissuaded by one too many reviews about adjustable shower arms that droop and sag under the weight of the shower head—this one’s for you.

adjustable shower arm from the shower head store
Shop All Metal Adjustable Shower Arm from HammerHead Showers

We’ve replaced those gears that easily strip in 1-2 uses with the deepest locking gears on the market, and upgraded from the flimsy wing nuts used by other brands to ergonomic cross-shopped knobs that give you maximum tightening power. 

Still not convinced? Check out what happens when we put our adjustable shower arm to the ultimate test:

The adjustable shower arm fits all shower head types, including rain and handheld shower heads. Like the rest of our accessories, our shower arm extension is All Metal—making this a permanent solution to your adjustment needs. 

Leak-free shower arm

All Metal Shower arm with NPT threading from HammerHead Showers
Shop All Metal 7" Shower Arm from HammerHead Showers

Our All Metal 7 Inch Shower Arm not only passes the 1/2" NPT thread gauge test with flying colors (you'd be surprised how many products don't measure up—from big box stores and online retailers alike), but scores even more points with these features:

  • Both the shower arm pipe and the flange are more than double the thickness in millimeters compared to other shower arms on the market 
  • We've included a set screw so that you can tighten the flange down to the shower arm—no more loose, free-spinning flanges that are an eye sore and can let water into the wall!

 

Thoughtful design is the cornerstone of our product development from start to industrial grade finishes. Because when you do it right the first time, everybody wins. 

The Shower Head Store difference

All of our products are backed by our Limited Lifetime Warranty and live customer support—yes, your questions will always be answered by a person! Visit our store today and explore our full line of durable, dependable products: we guarantee your shower will never be the same.

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