by Eric, Technical Support for FlexPVC.com a division of PVC Distributors LLC, Pahrump, Nevada
NSF - National Sanitation Foundation
Which pvc pipes and flexible pvc pipes and parts do we sell have an NSF and why or why not?
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, (including those we import from China) 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 extenders.) 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. All the rigid pvc pipe we sell (except for the furniture grade pipe, the purple pipe (reclaimed water) or gray (electrical conduit) ) is NSF61 rated. Our Flexible pvc pipe has an NSF51 rating. Generally NSF51 is considered safe for delivery and processing of liquids (wine, beer, milk, etc) during production, however the category our flexible pvc pipe has the rating for is swimming pools. It would pass an NSF51 certification for food if submitted but since 90% of the people using the product are using it for non-food applications it's not worth the money ($$$,$$$) to get a such a certification. The flexible pvc pipe can not get an NSF61 rating because if water sits in the pipe overnight, it will pickup a plastic taste and in order to get an NSF61 rating, it can't alter the taste (that's one of the criteria.)
Some people have used it for sewer or drainage. 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.