Safety First?Appliance Installations- Part 1- Heaters

Bob Russell | December 4, 2010 in Equipment maintenance,Pool safety,Pool Service | Comments (0)


Why do smart and successful people take risks and do dumb things?

I performed a pool inspection this past summer and came across a strange and dangerous situation. Unfortunately, I see a LOT of this sort of thing.

 In May 1995, a tennis star (Vitas Gerulaitas) took a nap in an apartment that also housed the pool equipment. He was 40 years old and making a spirited comeback. What he didn’t know was that the new high-tech pool  heater had been set up incorrectly plus the vent was positioned at the air condintioning intake. The apartment filled up with carbon monoxide. Vitas never woke up. The event made international news.

When I see problem installations I report them in no uncertain terms. Usually folks are responsible and will deal with a dangerous situation, but sometimes I hear:  “…well, we’ve been doing it this way for years and haven’t had a problem before (or yet)…”

When I hear this, I do my best to sound an appropriate (and ethically responsible) alarm; but often, I must leave the Owner with the information and my urging to make things right.

My point?

Look at this picture. It’s an example of some of the things I see doing pool inspections.  That’s a 400,000 btu heater installed beneath a shingled roof and propped up with a board. It’s a fire hazard. Making matters worse, the roof weighs about 150 pounds and has nails protruding below making this heater difficult and hazardous to service properly.

In my report I pointed this out as an “incorrect installation” and “a fire hazard.” The cartaker of this very nice property informed me: “… we’ve been doing it this way for a long time…” and “…our pool service person works on the heater…”

Maybe we’ll see the charred remains of this building in the papers someday. I hope and pray no one is hurt. Here’s an excerpt from the NY Times, 1995 May 23:

Today the pool mechanic, Bartholomew Torpey, and his employer, East End Pools and Courts, also known as Recreational Concepts of Sag Harbor, were arraigned in Suffolk County Court here on charges of criminally negligent homicide. Mr. Torpey and the company pleaded not guilty.

My point? Be sure your appliances are installed in accordance with local, state and national codes as well as the manufacturer’s specifications, and hire licensed and responsible service people.  End of story. Thanks for reading.

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