Regulations: Bidet toilet or bidet seats

The coronavirus has generated a greater importance for personal hygiene. Along with the government guidance to wash your hands more regularly, consumers are thinking about other ways bacteria spreads. The panic buying of toilet rolls at the start of the pandemic has also made people rethink what to do if they ran out!

The bidet is nothing new, they have been around a long time. In Portugal and Italy they are mandatory for new bathrooms. In Asia and the Middle East they are very common. They are a very hygienic effective way to wash and cleanse the bodies’ private parts after using the toilet – more effective than toilet paper.

This article is to advise installers and consumers before they rush out and buy products, that some items might not be approved for the UK market if they are not Water Regulations compliant as well as the benefits to you.

There are very strict rules on what is termed ‘backflow prevention’ and of course any ablution sanitaryware is high risk. Toilets and bidets are classed as category 5, the highest risk of cross contamination to a water supply as stated within the Water Regulations.

A WC / bidet or bidet toilet seat can be a space saving item. Traditionally the separate bidet was installed as an additional sanitaryware fitment and now with the extended use of the existing WC or replacing it with a modern bidet toilet or seat you get that space saving at varying cost and comfort.

Bidet toilet seats are relatively simple to install! They replace the existing toilet seat once removed, with one that has a water supply connected to the existing cold water feed via a flexible tube, a cut in ‘T’ piece and isolation valve. This must be Regulation/byelaw 4 approved and therefore comply with the Water Regulations. You can check this on the WRAS Products and Materials Directory or KIWA water Tech and NSF Wales websites search engines by simply putting in either the code or name of the product found in the manufacturers’ instructions. These are also online.

You will also need to check the toilet bowl shape if it’s a seat only exchange. Toilets vary in shape and size, so getting the new seat to sit properly onto the rim without too much overhang or insufficient support is important.

You will find that backflow for many types is protected from within the design. Typical air gaps listed are AB, AD on an electrically operated seats. Always check before purchase or installing one of these products, as there are so many makes and models that come from abroad via internet sales that may not be approved in the UK. Check compliance You must not supply a bidet toilet/seat via grey water. Grey water is recycled water and may cause skin allergies or disease.

Some instructions state the seat comes with a 1.5m cable and a 3 pin plug on the end. This isn’t allowed within a UK bathroom. The Building Regulations ‘Part P’ state no sockets are permitted within 3 metres of an edge of a bath or shower. Remember water and electricity don’t mix!

The seat/toilet has a heater built into it and therefore will also require an electrician to provide an appropriate 230V/RCD protected power supply. This is via a separate supply, protected by a RCD circuit. If fitting is retrospective, then the difficult part of the work might well be the provision of a safe power supply. Not a simple DIY job as some instructions make out. There are strict electrical regulations around power supplies in a bathroom. For obvious reasons these products have you sat on the power. If the WC is close to the bath or shower, then the risk of electric shock increases. This type of work must be done by a competent registered electrician as the work is notifiable.

You may want to consider the cheaper versions. They are manual, cold water, non-electric soft close seats. I repeat here that you must check compliance with Regulation/Byelaw 4 approvals. These may not give the comfort of either warm air drying or warm water dispersal onto you as they are just cold water sprays (I hear you gasp!), which has to be a key comfort factor for use or meeting a consumer’s expectations.

The advantages with this sanitaryware equipment is obvious. If we compare this to a traditional standalone ascending spray bidet, then the installation time and material is a lot less. There’s no need for separate balanced water supplies, a header tank and waste pipe discharge connections. As there is no hot water connection, there is one less backflow consideration to the installer.

Due to their higher hygiene standards, there will be less toilet paper required but be prepared that any guest might not be so keen on the idea!

Above all, remember that if you are the installer you are legally responsible for the installation.

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