By The executive director of IOPSA

We have issued warnings around and about non-compliance, but a main concern is the non-SANS 460 copper tubes.

Clear and indelible markings on compliant copper tube. Image supplied by © Rory Macnamara | Plumbing Africa

Clear and indelible markings on compliant copper tube. Image supplied by © Rory Macnamara | Plumbing Africa

Copper tubes are an essential element of plumbing work and cannot be compromised in any way. Unscrupulous suppliers do not care about your reputation or the quality of work you do – only about their own back pocket. Such suppliers will provide the necessary paperwork that shows the tube is compliant and price it correctly but supply no-ncompliant tubes.

Let’s make it simple:

  1. An order is placed with supplier for SANS 460 Class X size Y
  2. This goes on account or payment is made at full price
  3. The plumber goes to collect the tubes
  4. The plumber signs the acceptance or delivery note, which shows 460 Class X at full price
  5. Meanwhile the non-compliant tube is being loaded in the bakkie or vehicle
  6. With all paperwork completed, the plumber gets into the bakkie and drives off to complete the job
  7. The plumber installs the tubes and returns, believing that they have completed the job
  8. Time passes (usually short), and a complaint is received from the customer – the dreaded leak and consequential damage has occurred
  9. The plumber returns and complains to the supplier who shows the receipt that clearly states compliant tubes were supplied
  10. The plumber has no legal (or other) leg to stand on, and it is unlikely that insurance will cover the damage

Mistake made: the plumber did not check what was loaded on bakkie – in this case non-compliant copper tubes. The plumber may lose their job!

As shown in the photo, a complaint pipe carries a clear and indelible marking as follows.

  1. Manufacturer’s name – trade name or trademark
  2. States SANS 460, 22mm OD, class X, month and year of manufacture
Brendan Reynolds. Image supplied by © Rory Macnamara | Plumbing Africa

Brendan Reynolds. Image supplied by © Rory Macnamara | Plumbing Africa

Compulsory Standard SANS 460-:2011

Whilst all SABS Standards are voluntary, it may be deemed necessary for a government department to make a standard or standards compulsory. This is done through an Act of Parliament, which allows the Minister to create acts and regulations, in this case SANS 10252 parts 1 and 2 which bring in SANS 460 – Plain-ended solid drawn copper tubes for potable water. The product itself has undergone extensive testing to perform in a manner that is fit for purpose and is audited by the factory and laboratory regularly. Anything less will NOT perform as the standard requires. Common sense tells us that! The JASWIC listing will confirm the status as well.

Copper tubes come in different classes. Which one to use will depend on the application and could be influenced by environmental factors such as water, chemistry and soil conditions. If at any time you have any concerns, discuss these with the technical team at IOPSA or the manufacturer.

Annex B in the standard provides guidance on the different classes:

  1. Class 0 and 1 tubes are extra light and have a light gauge respectively. They are suitable for general use in domestic plumbing services with the following limitations:
    a. Class 0 tubes are not recommended for use with flare type compression fittings
    b. Class 0 tubes should be used only for straight line connections – not bending
    c. Class 1 tubes are such that the workman required to perform any bending work on them should be trained to do so and should be equipped with tube-bending equipment specifically designed to bend this class of tube
  2. Class 2 tubes are suitable for general use in domestic plumbing services
  3. Class 3 tubes are heavier gauge tubes than other classes, and are suitable for underground use, steam service or in any place where they are likely to be exposed to physical abuse

The standard, of which everyone should have read, details the ‘how’ and ‘where’ of tubes, fitting, fixing and applications.

Back to the beginning. The danger of using non-compliant products lies in the risk placed upon the individual, the company, the principal contractor and even the engineer – who would have specified the correct material or class. The Consumer Protection Act goes for the whole SUPPLY CHAIN, so if the plumber has not followed instructions correctly it not only impacts that plumber, but also the quality checking of those mentioned above.

Do not be fooled by unscrupulous and dishonest suppliers. Check what is, or has been, loaded onto the bakkie or vehicle, and make sure it equates to the paperwork supplied.

A proud plumber who works to create a work of art, not just connect pipes. Plumbing is technical art.