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Missing Suction Covers in Foot Well...Safety First

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I see this all the time. Missing Suction/pump return covers. If you have one that is broken or missing it is important to fix/replace ASAP. These covers provide a critically important safety feature. If you ever put your hand over a missing cover with the pump running in high speed it will suck your hand in and hurt. They were mandated years ago after a young girl got her hair sucked in and kept her under water with sad result.

The pic below is from a job I just worked on where the customer was just topping up his spa with a bit of water. Dropped his expandable garden hose in and turned the tap on. Within a split second it was sucked into the missing suction opening and made it's way from one side of the tub through the plumbing past a couple of 90 degrees elbows and a Tee fitting into the face of the pump. The impeller twisted it up 1,000 times. It actually sucked it in not from the fill end with the brass fitting but in the middle part of the hose. The brass fitting part stayed in the foot well. I can't hardly believe how many times I had to untwist the hose at the pump wet end, end before I could try and pull it back through and it was still twisted up inside the plumbing. Had to get at it by removing a second suction cover see on the right and pull it through that one first then cut it and pull it through where it got sucked in. It was a $250 mistake for the garden hose but the customer had young children using the spa and it could easily have cost a life over a $20 part and 2 minute fix.

FYI...those expandable hoses can stretch out for a mile.. or 2... lol



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5 hours ago, CanadianSpaTech said:

young girl got her hair sucked in and kept her under water with sad result.

That would be Virginia Graeme Baker, namesake of the VGB act, later renamed the pool and spa safety act, which regulates protections from entrapment and evisceration (yes, that means sucking out your intestines when you sit on a suction at the bottom of the pool) on public pools and spas, as well as new private pool and spa construction in the US. Old private pools and spas are unregulated, and usually unsafe.


Thank you @CanadianSpaTech for bringing up this important topic.  Gold star for YOU my friend.

Maybe some our other knowledgeable industry contributors, like @waterbear, @jimmythegreek, @Pool Clown, would like to add to this thread with their knowledge and experiences.

This thread, or one like it, should be a sticky in every forum.


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Only thing I will add is that ALL pool owners should upgrade their drain covers and suction inlets in pools and spas IMMEDIATELY if they have not already done so.

I am pinning this topic because it's an important one!

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  • waterbear pinned this topic
  • 2 weeks later...

WARNING: DO NOT USE SPAS OR HOT TUBS UNLESS ALL SUCTION GUARDS ARE VGB COMPLIANT AND INSTALLED TO PREVENT BODY AND HAIR ENTRAPMENT. • Risk of drowning or injury. The suction fittings in this hot tub are sized to match the specific water flow created by the pump. Should the need arise to replace the suction fittings or the pump, be sure the flow rates are compatible and the replacement cover is VGB compliant. (Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act) Never operate hot tub if the suction fittings are broken or missing. Never replace a suction fitting with one which is not VGB compliant or rated less than the flow rate marked on the original suction fitting.

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  • 2 weeks later...
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I shudder when I see single source suction on a bayonet filter. That to me is a situation waiting to be had.

VGB are now being used on single suction pump circuits. Don't like it at all, but it may have un intended consequences in flow design. I would rather see suction head split between multiple points any day.

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  • 4 months later...

Well, this discussion is enlightening.... Thanks.

We purchased ourselves a 30-year-old Crown Nemco spa, "cheap"...

So far it's been an education, but I don't quite regret it (yet!)

This safety discussion is a good 'reality check', I do appreciate the shocking descriptions, awful as they are.

Is it likely that the suction cover on this old tub is VGB compliant? When did that standard go into effect? Our drain is on the side at the base of the foot-well, so at least it can't be sat upon.

The suction plumbing has a wye near the drain, which also goes to the in-pool filter, which then takes some of the suction that the pump creates, however I don't think it's much, the filter only has a 1" pipe feeding it. 






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  • 9 months later...

Hello, I'm trying to figure out how to remove this suction cover, but no luck.  It won't budge.  I'm obviously missing something and don't want to break it.  Any ideas on how to remove this cover.  I have a bunch of mold I would like to clean from it.  Please any advise would help.  Thanks. 



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