Are my pool drain covers safe?

Drain of a pool, seen through the water from above.

Written by Javier Payan

That is a question that nobody can answer without a throughout test and evaluation.
In my experience most pool drain cover systems fall short of being safe according to the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act or VGBA. A federal bill that was passed in 2007. The VGBA sets forth specific requirements adhere to Suction Entrapment Avoidance Standards.

Some key points are:

  • Installing VGBA compliant Drain Covers.
  • Drain covers have an expiration date, usually 3-5 years because the plastic can degrade from the pool chemicals and the sun’s UV rays.
  • Drain covers must meet sump depth requirements.
  • The sump depth is the space between the bottom of the drain cover and suction pipe under the drain cover
  • The sump depth must be one and a half times the inside diameter of the pipe to be compliant.
  • Drain covers should be a dual drain system.

That means two drain covers, equally balanced on the same line, and they must be separated by at least 36 inches. The drain covers must also be rated at a higher flow rate than the pump’s maximum flow rate.

These are just a few very simple things that need to be verified.

In order for any responsible person to say yes or no to the question of drain cover safety, testing must be done by a qualified and properly licensed person.

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