The Virginia Graeme Baker Act:
A look back and a look ahead
In December 2013, the Federal mandates in the Virginia Graeme Baker (VGB) Act went into effect, including the requirement that
- All suction fitting assemblies or drain covers manufactured or sold comply with the applicable Standard (now ANSI/APSP-16); and
- All commercial pool and spa drains must have new VGB certified covers.
The standard also requires that manufacturers determine a life expectancy and place a permanent mark on each unit with “Life: X Years” to indicate lifespan. Many manufacturers have designated a life span of 5 years.
Others have designated longer or shorter periods. Since numerous fittings were installed in 2008 and early 2009, many have or are about to reach the end of their stated life expectancy and need to be replaced before the start of the 2014 season and subsequently again in 2019.
As with the original fittings, each replacement unit must be compatible with the existing frame and sump, and have a flow rating equal or greater than the maximum system flow. All units should be installed by an industry professional, in accordance with manufacturer instructions.
Builders and installers are strongly encouraged to contact their public and residential customers. This presents an excellent opportunity to reconnect with original customers, review the pool/spa circulation system, as well as the integrity of the existing frames.
NESPA would also like to remind all service companies opening swimming pools and spas to first check the drain cover(s) is securely fastened. If missing, broken or loose, immediate action should be taken to repair or replace. Replace only with ANSI/APSP – 16 2011 or ASME/ANSI A 112.19.8-2007VGB approved drain covers that can accommodate the proper flow rate for the pool or spa.
Remember the 2008 VGB Pool and Spa Safety Act made it mandatory for all drain covers and single main drain public pools to be equipped and retrofitted with proper entrapment prevention systems. For residential pools, CPSC staff still recommends replacing old drain covers with new compliant covers, even though it is not required under the law.
For those companies servicing or repairing pools or spas without compliant covers and with single main drains, NESPA recommends that you fully inform your customers in writing that their pool or spas does not meet VGB requirements as well as current state codes and that they understand possible risks of entrapment.
If a residential pool needs to be drained to do any service or repair, take that opportunity to replace old non-compliant drain covers with VGB approved covers and sumps. Keep in mind there are a number of options for those single drain pools and spas to be retrofitted to prevent any entrapment injuries or mishaps.