Florida Builder Encourages Colleagues To Stop Using Main Drains

Several new devices have come to  market recently to deal with the very serious problem of entrapment. Some were mechanical, some were electromechanical. Some were drain covers configured to prevent entrapment. Some worked. Some did not. Irv Chazen, owner of Custom Pools, a Miami-Dade County based company, knew that the recall of those pool drain covers was inevitable. Uniform standards for testing those drain covers had never been established. The provisions contained within the Virginia Graeme Baker Act did not provide a complete solution to the suction entrapment problem. Drowning and other serious injuries result when the suction in the pool floor drain causes a person to become suctioned and held to the pool floor drain, making disengagement extremely difficult, if not impossible.

The positive solution for the prevention of entrapment in swimming pools is quite simple: Eliminate the swimming pool floor drain. Pool water can be filtered and recycled without a pool floor drain. The skimmer fixture makes this possible. The suction portion within the skimmer fixture is recessed down into the bottom of the fixture housing and is further protected by a strainer basket located within the skimmer fixture housing. This configuration makes access to the suction intake at the base of the skimmer housing almost impossible for a child to reach. This unique method of constructing pools without floor suction drains, as a positive method of entrapment prevention, has received the enthusiastic endorsement of building officials and inspectors in building departments in all municipalities in all of the South Florida markets where Custom Pools builds swimming pools.

Pools with suction type automatic cleaners should have their pool floor drain valves closed. The adjustments required to make the suction type automatic pool cleaners work properly are made by adjusting the skimmer and pool cleaner line valves. After about 20 years or so, when it becomes necessary to have the pool refinished, Irv’s company brings a separate sump pump to drain all of the water out of the pool. Should heavy rains cause a pool to need draining in the interim, simply open the waste line valve to lower the pool water level while the pump is operating, then close the waste line valve when the pool water reaches the proper level. With no suction drain in the pool floor, the possibility of a person becoming main drain suction entrapped is completely eliminated.

Chazen believes that eventually, all residential swimming pools will be constructed in this manner. His advice to pool owners with open floor suction drains, is to turn the pool pump off while the pool is being used. Then, turn the pool pump back on after the last person exits the pool. Never allow a child to remain in a pool without the constant, watchful eye of an adult. For the past 46 years, Custom Pools has always given the matter of safety in swimming pools, their top priority.

Marilyn Schwitzer is an Executive Advisor for the Associated Swimming Pool Industries of Florida (ASPI).

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