As warm weather approaches, it’s time to think about opening your swimming pool for the season.
Undoubtedly, you’ve gone through this process many times
before, but recent federal legislation has changed the way
commercial pools prepare for this pool season.
In accordance with the recently enacted Virginia Graeme Baker Pool
& Spa Safety Act, public pools and spas also must now meet
requirements for installation of ANSI/ASME A112.19.8a-2008
compliant suction outlet covers. New suction outlet covers that
meet the current standard are available in a variety of shapes and
The VGBA does not require that pools be drained at any time to
become compliant with the new federal standard. The law only
requires that pools and spas be retrofitted with new, approved
suction outlet covers, which can be installed safely and
effectively while the pool is full.
Pool owners and operators first should identify the
manufacturer, size and rated flow of the facility’s existing
suction outlet and suction outlet covers. Refer to the
manufacturer’s Web site for the proper replacement covers.
Covers and frames are tested to the ANSI/ASME A112.19.8a-2008 as a
set. Mismatched covers and frames are not approved and do not meet
the intent of the VGBA.
For a sump-type suction outlet, it’s important to make
sure the frame, especially its fastening system, is in good
condition prior to replacing the cover. Using a certified
professional to determine the condition of the sump is
Also, consider using a certified diver to replace the suction
outlet cover and/or suction fittings. Once installed, they should
be checked regularly for damage or loose or missing screws, as part
of your regular pool maintenance program.
An approved suction outlet cover will have a rated-life marked
on the cover. A Certificate of Compliance is made available by the
manufacturer. Record the installation date on the certificate and
file in a conspicuous place for scheduled replacement.
Many commercial pool owners are confused about the new
requirements under the VGBA. The law does not require a
single-suction-outlet pool to be refitted with a second suction outlet to be safe. Rather, it stipulates that all
single-suction-outlet public pools, other than those with
unblockable suction outlets, must install approved safety suction
outlet covers and anti-entrapment
device systems, such as SVRS’s, to achieve
Some systems shut off the pumps and vents to atmosphere or
reverse the circulation flow when a blockage is detected.
As it stands, the quickest, most cost-effective way to retrofit a
pool may be to use an SVRS. Most can be installed and activated in
one to three hours by a trained installer.
Commercial pool owners can study all safety options by visiting
manufacturers’ Web sites. Please note, all information
presented in this summary is general in nature and not intended as
a recommendation or prescription for any specific circumstance.
Review your facility’s pools and spas, and schedule
improvements. Safety should always be at the top of the to-do list
for opening commercial facilities this season — and every