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Understanding Water Treatment Certifications

Family cooking together

If you wear a fitness tracker and check your stats regularly, you’re probably familiar with the satisfaction of hitting your daily numbers. Seeing the number of steps you’ve walked, miles ran, heart rate achieved, and calories burned at the end of each day is motivation enough to try it again tomorrow, to keep pumping your stats higher and higher.

Imagine if there was a fitness tracker for your brain. Something that didn’t count steps, but amounts of time you spent focused on a task or how many decisions you made on a Monday morning before work? That kind of data might get a little overwhelming.

When it comes to your family, the number of choices you make throughout the day can be astronomical, whether it be deciding what to make the kids for breakfast before school or figuring out if you have time to cram in a hardware store run after work to grab some supplies for that project you’ve been meaning to do. To put things into perspective, a 2007 study revealed that, on average, people make more than 221 decisions per day just related to food. You can imagine where things go from there.

Making the initial decision to treat your home’s water is an excellent example of getting hit with the reality of decision paralysis.  Whether you already have ideas about what’s wrong with your home’s water or only have an end goal, knowing which product to choose can be challenging. It’s even harder to be sure that the product you’ve decided on is doing what it’s been advertised to do. So, how should a person start thinking about finding the best water treatment system?

Deciding on Certified

If you’re set on making sure you’ve made the right choice in water treatment equipment for your family, paying attention to third-party certifications being promoted is an excellent place to begin.

Water treatment certification organizations exist to ensure that the manufacturer's performance claims are accurate and that the equipment is working as it should. These organizations perform a series of tests to verify manufacturer claims and, if the tests are passed, place a certification stamp on the unit, qualifying it as equipment that meets the certifying body’s standards. This gives consumers a little extra confidence in the piece of equipment that they’ve chosen, knowing that it meets the standards of a national certifying body.

You have likely seen one of these certification stamps before on other appliances that you own to reinforce their legitimacy. The three primary certification bodies used in the water treatment industry are the Water Quality Association (WQA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the International Association of Plumbing and Manufacturing Officials (IAPMO). All three of these independent organizations have a specific set of testing standards for certifying different product types. Knowing some of these standards can help you determine if the equipment you’re researching meets your and your family's expectations.

NSF/ANSI StandardsNSF Logo

The National Science Foundation, an organization dating back to the 1950s, is a certification body that works with many different industries and product types. In the water treatment industry, the NSF has several strict standards of testing equipment. Some of these include:

  • NSF/ANSI 42: Aesthetic Effects
    This standard evaluates qualities in water unrelated to health, such as things that affect the taste or smell of water.

    The International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) has tested and certified our InterFlo drinking water filter for NSF/ANSI 42 and NSF/ANSI 53 standards for Health Effects. 
  • NSF/ANSI 44: Water Softeners
    This standard evaluates the effectiveness of water softeners, including how much hardness is reduced, the softener's material safety, and the equipment's efficiency.

    WaterCare has several water softeners tested and certified for NSF/ANSI 44 by the Water Quality Association (WQA). These include CareSoft Elite, CareSoft Pro, CareSoft Elite Cabinet, and CareSoft Pro Cabinet.
  • NSF/ANSI 53: Health Effects
    This standard examines the amount of health-related contaminants that the equipment reduces for water filters. 

    IAPMO has tested the ONE Contaminant Reduction System for removing lead, cysts, and PFOA/PFOS chemicals. It is certified for the NSF/ANSI 53 standard.
  • NSF/ANSI 58: Reverse Osmosis
    This standard is specifically for reverse osmosis units and sets a baseline for efficiency, safety, and contaminant reduction.

    The UltroWater RO drinking water system is tested and certified for the NSF/ANSI 58 standard.
  • NSF/ANSI 401: Emerging Contaminants
    Emerging contaminants are believed to cause health problems but do not have enough evidence to prove so. This standard sets a cap on acceptable levels of these contaminants.

WQA StandardsGold Seal

The Water Quality Association’s Gold Seal Certification Program operates similarly to the NSF standards. Their stamp is widely respected, and their regular audits of certified equipment ensure that criteria are still met, even years after the certification was awarded. Some of their certifications include the following:

  • WQA S-100:  Applies to cation exchange water softeners for household, commercial, and portable use.

  • WQA S-200: Applies to water filters for residential and commercial use.
  • WQA S-300: Applies to reverse osmosis filters (point-of-use installations).
  • WQA S-400: Applies to distillation drinking water systems (point-of-use installations).

IAPMO CertificationIAPMO Logo

The International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials is a laboratory that examines water treatment products and uses a combination of NSF and WQA standards. They also have some unique standards that it uses to test and validate against.

Buying Certified

The most significant benefit to buying certified is knowing that you’ve made the right choice for your family. Many water contaminants can’t be seen, smelled, or tasted, so having third-party testing that proves these unwanted materials are truly removed from your system helps build trust in that product. The certification bodies listed above exist only on the reputability of their names. Their certification stamp is an endorsement for a piece of water treatment equipment, meaning that you can trust it will do what it says it does.

If you want to invest in your home’s water, look for these certification stamps. Or, better yet, get help making those tricky decisions and find a local WaterCare dealer who can help. A WaterCare water expert will walk you through testing your water and finding the perfect equipment to suit your needs. Our WaterCare line of treatment equipment includes several industry certifications to back up the quality of our products.