When it comes to the subject of safety things get very sober and serious for me. This post will have a more serious tone than my usual blogs.
What you should know: In the last 25 years there have been several important changes that have greatly impacted the safe use of residential and commercial pools and spas.
Here are some of the critical questions you should know the answers to:
- When hiring a design/build or service firm in Connecticut, ask, “…are you and your employees licensed to do this work?”
- Building a new pool or spa in Connecticut requires a license.
- Servicing any pool or spa in Connecticut requires a license.
The license is an easy way for any homeowner to filter out unlicensed contractors. I believe that any contractor willing to cut corners on licensing is likely do so in other matters.
Data bases that any homeowner can check (if they know where to look) continue to show that there are more companies building and servicing pools in Connecticut than there are valid license-holders. This issue is not just about creating a level playing field for businesses- its about ensuring that YOU can locate legitimate contractors to work on your property.
The next two items are related:
- When hiring a design/build or service firm in Connecticut, ask, “…is your firm insured?” Also…
- “Where do your employees come from? Are they background checked? Trained?”
Homeowners today are very protective about their home and family- they want to know who is coming onto the property- if they are trained, safe and skilled to do what you have hired them to do.
We want to see familiar faces week in and week out. We want a familiar voice answering when we call for service.
Some firms have a strong safety program where employees are taught how to spot a potential problem and know what to do about it. Does yours?
The following checklist is of a more technical nature and includes items YOU should be aware of before hiring a service provider, or before using a swimming pool or spa:
- Suction Outlet Covers: Floor and wall drain covers must be code compliant (i.e. “anti-entrapment”). Is this spa suction outlet code compliant? No.
Spa pictured above was built prior to 2003 and is fitted with an approved anti-entrapment cover. This is a code-compliant cover. Question: Can other “layers of protection” be added? Yes!
- SVRS Or, Vacuum Release System- A vacuum release system is an additional layer of safety that became law in 2005 for new swimming pools or spas. Vacuum release units vary in shape and size but are all designed to sense a sudden spike in vacuum and either turn off the pump or open a valve which allows air into the suction line- breaking the vacuum. SVRS systems are designed to free anything or anyone that has made a seal on a suction port.
Entrapment comes in multiple forms: hair, physical, mechanical, etc.
An older pool with a single active floor suction outlet must employ a compliant suction outlet cover. In addition, we recommend an SVRS which offers an additional layer of protection and covers most of the entrapment-prevention bases.
Pools built after 2003-2004 are required to divide suction points into (2) and these must be (3) feet apart. Between the dual suction points in more recent building code and code-compliant covers we’ve virtually eliminated the need for an SVRS. In fact the recent codes allows for an SVRS as an option. That said, if you have an older pool with single point of suction, we recommend you either renovate your suction points or employ the SVRS layers of protection. Every pool must have a code-compliant cover.
Check List Summary For Hiring A Build or Service Firm:
- Does the firm Owner and employees hold valid licenses?
- Is the firm insured?
- Are employees background checked?
Technical Safety Checklist:
- Are employees trained to recognize inadequate suction entrapment protection?
- Are all suction outlet cover(s) code compliant?
- Should I consider adding an SVRS?
- Are my pool/spa lights and 110VAC outlets protected by a GFCI?
- Are my gates self-closing and self-latching?
- Are there gaps in the pool area fence larger than 4”?
- If home is part of the pool/spa barrier, are doors alarmed? Can tone be heard anywhere in the house with normal noise (e.g. vacuum cleaner?)
- Are the circulating, filtration and heating systems operating safely and maintaining sanitary, crystal-clear water?
Again, this is not an exhaustive list. If you have concerns or questions about your pool or spa after reading this blog post, we recommend you contact your pool professional and get your questioned answered! Safety is nothing to guess at.