Unblockable Drain Cover Information

Unblockable Drain Information
for Pool / Spa Owners & Operators

Interpretation of Unblockable Drain in VGB Act 

On September 28, 2011, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted to interpret the definition of an unblockable pool or spa drain based on the size of the drain opening and not the size of the drain cover used over the sump.  This is an important decision for pool owners and operators to be aware of, as CPSC continues to implement the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (VGB Act). 

On April 6, 2010, the Commission approved the interpretation of the VGB Act’s definition of “unblockable drain” to include the installation of an unblockable drain cover over a small, blockable, drain suction outlet; thus eliminating the requirement of a secondary means of entrapment protection, such as a safety vacuum release system (SVRS) or providing a dual main drain on the pool with a minimum center-to-center distance of 36 inches. The vote of the Commission revoked the 2010 interpretation and re-established the interpretation described above, where a SVRS is required on single main drains that are blockable.

It is important for pool owners and operators to understand that CPSC is not saying that unblockable sized drain covers should be removed if they were installed on small single main drain sumps.  Rather, the Commission is directing pool and spa operators to add a second way of entrapment protection, such as a SVRS or providing a dual main drain on the pool with a minimum center-to-center distance of 36 inches. 

Again, this message only affects public pools and spas that use CPSC's 2010 interpretation to install an unblockable sized drain cover over a blockable sized single main drain, without adding a back-up system or device. 

Steps for Pool Owner or Operator

Step One - Determine if this Applies to Your Pool or Spa

Interpretation only applies to those pools and spas that are using oversized drain covers on existing drain sumps. Operators can find out if this applies to them by checking the paperwork that should have come with the installation of the new drain cover.  If operators are still unsure, please contact our office at 614-645-6448 and we will be happy to help you.
Step Two - Decide on a Solution
If this does apply to your pool or spa, there are two options:
1) Install a Safety Vacuum Release Switch (SVRS), which is designed to release the vacuum on the system. This is a  feature that further protects swimmers from getting stuck on the drain.
2) Install a second “main” drain at the pool bottom. This option can be costly and often requires digging up the bottom of the pool.
Step Three - Get Approval
Operators must contact Ohio Department of Health 614-466-1390 for approval to install either method.
The Commission has set a compliance date of May 28, 2012 to allow pools time to comply.  

Please write to [email protected] or call Columbus Public Health at 614-645-6448 if you have any questions.

More Information 

VGB Act and Pool Safety - Consumer Product Safety Commission

Water Protection - Columbus Public Health