The open availability of illegal pumps and motors — and the absence of law enforcement on the issue — is frustrating pool professionals across the state.
Arizona’s Pool Pump and Portable Spa Energy Efficiency
Standards took effect on Jan. 1, and require multi- or
variable-speed pumps on all residential installations with a pump
size greater than 1 horsepower. The law was modeled after Title 20,
a California code that makes similar provisions.
“From what I’m hearing at trade association meetings,
compliance is lower than 25 percent in some areas,” said Dan
Jonaitis, owner of Arizona Pool Specialists in Scottsdale,
Jonaitis said some service technicians have been making pump
replacement bids that undercut his by half, due to their
willingness to skirt the law — and the fact that, while the
code’s wording prohibits single-speed pumps and motors from
being installed, it doesn’t explicitly prohibit the sale
of those parts. Thus, many single-speed pumps and
motors still can be purchased legally from distributors.
“It’s sad to say, but when you’re trying to win a
new service account, that’s not the best time to tell the
client that the law says they have to upgrade their pump,”
Jonaitis said, “especially when your competition is telling
them they don’t really have to.”
Though awareness of the state’s new energy-efficiency
legislation continues to spread through the industry, techs report
that public outreach has been scarce, with little more than a few
debates on local television news and talk radio.
“This law’s gotten very little publicity outside our
industry,” said Rick Chafey, owner of Red Rock Pools in
Gilbert, Ariz. “I think most consumers, and techs who
don’t belong to a trade association, are just ignorant of
Still, veteran pool professionals know that ignorance of the law
isn’t a valid legal defense, which is leading some to grumble
about the state’s lack of enforcement.
“I’ve heard people saying things like, ‘Why
should I be forced to comply when these other guys
aren’t?’” Jonaitis said.
Enforcement of residential pool codes has indeed proven a tough nut
to crack, as evidenced by legislation such as Title 20, as well as
the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act — both
provisions require replacement of residential pool components, yet
compliance has improved only gradually over the past several
As for Arizona’s new law, no reports of any enforcement have
surfaced so far, and in dialogues with trade groups, some
legislators have stated that they don’t yet understand the
technical specifics of the law thoroughly enough to police it
Even so, many techs agree that improving pool energy efficiency is
a positive step for the industry as well as consumers.
“We’ve been recommending variable-speed pumps to our
clients for years because of the savings they bring,” Chafey
said. “This law just forces the competition to keep up with