The Recall

Bob Russell | May 28, 2011 in Pool,Pool safety | Comments (0)

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What’s the real story?
On Friday of memorial Day weekend, the government issued a recall of the VGB and ANSI-7 approved “main drain” covers. (Remember, “main drains” are now called “suction outlets” ).
The media- as it often does- reported this story in such a way that produced some unwarranted fear among our residential pool Owners.
I spent 1/2 hour on phone that weekend with a Client who was afraid to swim in her pool and was upset that we had installed a main drain cover that was on the recall list.
She’s fine now… as is her pool and spa for bathing.
Some details and thoughts on this issue:
1) The recall has to do with concerns over accuracy of flow ratings stamped on the covers- in the rush to develop and mass produce suction outlet covers by the 2008 deadline- companies such as Hayward, Waterway and a few others used “independent testing firms” to confirm the safe maximum water flow through each cover. The new covers where then stamped with this data which is expressed in gallons per miniute (gpms).
The difficulty came when it was discovered that different testing labs were rating the same covers at different gpms. The inconsistency and confusion surrounding this issue has been attributed to a lack of national testing protocols and standards. For example:  Should a cover’s capacity rating be measured in gallons per minute (gpms) or feet per second at cover surface (fps)?
Velocity of water at the suction outlet cover is critical in preventing certain types of entrapment such as hair entanglement.
An example of new testing standards emerging is in the newly implemented “whole head of hair” test. This test uses a wig and mannequin head rather than the older “pony tail test”.
When it was discovered that suction cover outlet ratings varied significantly from testing firm to testing firm, the recall was ordered and new testing standards are being put in place.
2) Pools and Spas with dual suction points are NOT part of the recall.
3) It should be noted that the covers we have been installing since the VGB Act became law (Dec. 19, 2008) are superior to the old in many ways:
These new covers are made of better plastic (stronger, more durable); they are also better designed to protect from entrapment by hair-entanglement.
That said, by law, a service company cannot install a recalled suction outlet cover.
Other important considerations:
Statistics reveal that incidents and accidents involving a pool or spa suction outlet almost always involve: a) an improperly constructed pool or spa b) a missing or broken suction outlet cover. Data also shows that the majority of accidents involves small children.
This recall is about correcting the flow ratings that are stamped on suction outlet covers; it is also about correcting and standardizing procedures used by testing firms. Flow ratings are critical to get right- especially in commercial pools and spas employing multiple pumps; but again, a pool or spa owner should realize that these recalled covers are still superior to the old covers they replaced. It is my judgement that the reporting of this issue is a bit sensationalized.
This pool’s single floor suction outlet was “split” during a recent renovation. The third “dummy drain” was added to handle water table. New safety codes require pool companies to bring older pools up to the current standard when such work is done.
If you have any questions about the recall or obtaining a C of O, please contact us!
For further reading on this subject please visit:
Enjoy your pool!

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