The Great Pool Drain Cover Recall: The Industry's Biggest Blunder Ever?

Scott Webb Headshot

Scott WebbThe recall of perhaps a million previously approved drain covers ranks with the greatest fiascoes in pool and spa industry history. When the CPSC announcement flashed across my screen, I heard the collective voice of an industry rise in a soft groan.

Most people know the rough outlines of the story: In accordance with the provisions of VGB, drain cover manufacturers trusted three labs — International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO), NSF International and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) — to certify the safety of their drain covers. It's now obvious they let us down.

It appears that IAPMO, in particular, used some shaky science to arrive at its certifications, which upon examination by the CPSC did not pass the sniff test and resulted in this somewhat disastrous drain cover do-over.

The lab seems to have conducted its suction entrapment test with a variable speed pump on low setting, which is kind of ridiculous. It seems to me that if you're looking at suction entrapment, you'd want to test the thing when there was a lot of suction, not at low-flow conditions. When this flaw in the IAPMO test method was exposed to the authorities, it triggered the whole conflagration.

While it's true that many a poolman and poolwoman will benefit from a contract to rip out a drain cover that was only recently installed and replace it with a new one, at the end of the day, this is bad press that hurts the image of the industry and heaps frustration on the poor commercial pool operator.

Scott Webb

Content Library
Dig through our best stories from the magazine, all sorted by category for easy surfing.
Read More
Content Library
Buyer's Guide
Find manufacturers and suppliers in the most extensive searchable database in the industry.
Learn More
Buyer's Guide