What is NSF Rated, what does it mean and when is it important?
NSF stands for National Sanitation Foundation. If a fitting or pipe is NSF rated it just means it has passed some standard or test procedure and is certified for use in a residential or commercial plumbing project. The problem is there are many different NSF standards and they have different applications. On our site what we try to do is let people know when a fitting is NOT NSF rated. Most of the fittings we sell are NSF rated, however, not all. What this means is if the project has to pass an inspection by a building inspector for residential or commercial building, you can't use a fitting that is not NSF rated. If the fitting is for your garden, irrigation, pond, fish or other such application, it's meaningless since there are no standards or inspections for such uses. There are a few issues with unions and valves. Many of the valves we sell are not NSF rated. The reason is getting an NSF certification is very expensive (5 figures and up) and most of the people who buy those valves are not going to need NSF rated fittings. It doesn't mean there is anything wrong with the fitting or valve, or union, etc, just that the product has not been certified by an agency. If you are working on a project that does need to pass an inspection, then be sure to use only NSF rated fittings because the inspector might make you replace them if they are not rated.
On our site all the common 90's, T's, 45's, couples, etc are almost always NSF rated. The parts you need to be aware of are the sweep 90s, manifolds, distributors, valves (ball, check, gate, etc), 4 ways, 5 ways, 6 ways, some of the wyes, some of the unions and some of the repair parts (inside pipe couples, pipe extenders, and fitting extendors.) The website usually shows when a fitting is not NSF rated. If not just ask. As you might guess, NSF rated fittings are always more expensive. That is why we offer non-NSF rated fittings for those customers that do not need the added expense for a project that will never have to pass an inspection. It's just a waste of money to put NSF rated fittings in your fish pond when you don't need to. :-)
For pipe, it gets a little more confusing. For instance our Flex pvc pipe has an NSF rating, but it's an NSF 50/51, not 60/61. NSF 60/61 is for potable (drinking) water. NSF50/51 is for most everything else. So you can probably use it for sewer or drainage, but if you have a doubt ask your local building inspector. Many of our customers have bought short samples of the pipe and taken it to their local building inspector and received a waiver or acceptance letter. You can't do that for potable water, but for drainage or sump or venting or other uses, you probably will have no problem. Rigid pipe is almost always NSF certified for drinking water (NSF 60/61) except for the purple pipe (reclaimed water) or gray (electrical conduit.)
(Also see our glossary, PVC Fittings help, Shipping Options Page and Shipping FAQ pages.
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