AquaStar Pool Products has voluntarily discontinued Model #LP8AVXXX of its VGBA-approved suction outlet covers for retesting purposes.

The company noted inconsistent product test results and concerns over improper installation.

Customers were advised that any outstanding product should be returned for replacement with comparable models, according to a letter to distributors dated July 28.

The action affects Model #LP8AVXXX, including frame and sump options LP8SBxxx, LP8SBVxxx and LP8SBACxxx.

The decision was made out of an “abundance of caution,” said Wade Arens, head of research, testing and technical support at San-Diego-based AquaStar.

AquaStar officials noted that no incidents have ever occurred on a pool or spa with one of their covers.

“AquaStar proudly stands behind all of our products,” said company co-founder Olaf Mjelde. “We continue to produce a full line of VGB-compliant drain covers.”

To comply with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, all suction outlet covers must meet the ASME/ANSI A112.19.8 standard. That means the products must undergo a series of tests to check for degradation (due to UV exposure), fastener corrosion, structural soundness and the potential for hair entanglement or body entrapment.

Three organizations are approved to carry out product testing and certification: the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF), Underwriters Laboratories (UL), and the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO). This also involves inspecting manufacturing plants to verify that products are being created uniformly.

However, according to some industry experts, “holes” in the standard have caused inconsistent results. For example, the type of pump used in a test can drastically affect results from lab to lab, or even at the same lab from week to week, Arens said.

“We want to be absolutely certain that we’re always going to get safe flow rates,” he said. “When we had the product retested recently, we discovered that we got variances of 20- to 40 percent depending on how high the cover was installed.”

As a result, the letter also recommended that distributors contact customers to remind them “to verify the installation elevation of this model is a minimum 3/8ths of an inch from the plaster level to the top of the cover” and “advise them that we have a free bushing kit available upon request to properly correct any installation at a lower elevation.”