Certified to Compete

Aug. 27, 2014
Certifying products helps differentiate them from the competition

About the author: Mark T. Unger, CWS-VI, is technical and training manager for the Water Quality Assn. Unger can be reached at [email protected] or 630.505.0160.


Whether or not we would like to admit it, we are a competitive society. Competition surrounds us in everything we do, and we are always looking for ways to get an edge. It is involved even in simple, daily activities, such as driving your car when you are running an errand.

We’ve all been in a crowded parking lot searching for a spot when reverse lights suddenly illuminate ahead. You’re not the only one to see it, and the spot about to open becomes the most coveted one in the lot. A few questions pop into your mind: Can you get there before the car at the other end of the aisle? Will the car back out so you can sneak into the spot, or will it block you?

Your errand is over and you are headed home. You approach a red light and evaluate the situation. If there are cars waiting at the light, you count how many are in each lane and try to determine who will be faster when the light turns green. If a lane is open, you will jump over because you do not want to be held back by the car in front of you.

Whether it’s a shopping trip or a business trip, the ball field or the sales field, a golf course or a business course, we’re all looking for a competitive advantage. If you are a manufacturer, supplier or dealer of drinking water treatment systems or components, there’s a way to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace and stand out from the competition: product certification.

Product certification sets apart your products from others in the marketplace. Regulators and customers are assured that a certified drinking water treatment system or component is safe to use and performs as the literature and packaging say it will. Your customers are not just taking your word about the safety and performance of the product, but also taking comfort that it has been evaluated by an independent third party. Each certified product is evaluated for key quality and performance areas.

Materials safety ensures that the materials used to manufacture the product will not contribute contaminants to drinking water. Consumers are concerned about the quality of the materials used to make the products they use in their homes. Materials safety testing of complete systems and components ensures safe materials are used.

Chemical reduction performance measures contaminant reduction capabilities over the life and/or capacity of the product. If a consumer has a specific water quality issue, chemical reduction testing can help in selecting a system that meets specific contaminant, flow rate and capacity needs. Systems certified for health reduction claims (regulated metals, cysts, turbidity, etc.) have safety factors built in to ensure the systems provide safe water. Systems are tested either to 120% of their claimed capacity (if they have a performance indicator) or 200% of their capacity (if no performance indicator is present).  

Structural integrity ensures that products connected to a pressurized water supply will withstand at least 10 years of normal use. Testing evaluates the system or component against water hammer events (temporary pressure surges) and extended high-pressure events. The testing is difficult and exceeds the situations typically seen in the field, but it does ensure that inadequately designed systems do not achieve certification.

Product literature compliance ensures that packaging, installation manuals, data plates and product data sheets are consistent with test results, contain the information required by the applicable standard, and do not make false or misleading reduction or performance claims. The packaging and literature help consumers understand which standard the product is certified against and how it will perform against specific contaminants.

Standards & Certification Bodies

Drinking water treatment units and components can be evaluated using the following standards:

  • NSF/ANSI 42 for filters making aesthetic (taste/odor) reduction claims and filter components, or NSF/ANSI 53 for filters making health reduction claims;
  • NSF/ANSI 44 for residential water softeners and components;
  • NSF/ANSI 58 for residential reverse osmosis systems/components;
  • NSF/ANSI 55 for residential ultraviolet systems/components;
  • NSF/ANSI 58 for residential distillation systems/components; and
  • NSF/ANSI 177 for shower filtration systems.

Once a product is evaluated and deemed to meet the requirements of the applicable standard, the product, literature and packaging will be allowed to bear the certification mark of the certification body. A certification mark can set your product apart from non-certified products and gives consumers confidence when they purchase certified products. The certification mark is also an easy indicator for inspectors and regulators to recognize that a product meets the requirements of industry standards. Each certification body maintains a listing of products certified by its program that consumers, regulators and inspectors can easily access to find a certified product.

Companies interested in obtaining product certification have options when selecting a certification body. The Water Quality Assn., NSF Intl., Underwriters Laboratories and CSA Intl. are accredited by the American National Standards Institute and the Standards Council of Canada for certifying drinking water treatment units. Certifications from each body are equivalent. In fact, the products are evaluated using the same standards and are held to the same requirements, but you may find that one certifier suits your needs better than others. Contact each certification body to determine which will provide the best product certification, regulatory acceptance, customer service and project costs.

Don’t be left in the dust — contact one of the certification bodies listed above to stand out from the competition. When products and components get certified, we all win. 

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