Public pool operators aren’t the only ones wondering what the Pool and Spa Safety Act may mean for their facilities. Hot tub manufacturers and retailers are waiting to see how portable spas will be affected.
The law states that beginning Dec. 19, 2008, manufacturers can
only sell drain covers that meet ASME/ANSI A112.19.8 –
2007. Manufacturers have developed outlets that meet the
structural requirements of the standard, but there are issues about
the allowed flow through the outlets.
One area, in particular, is problematic. To pass the
hair-entanglement test, hot tub drains would have to be down-rated
to 75 gallons per minute rather than the approximately 150- to 200
gpm required to properly operate most units.
As of press time, industry representatives were slated to make a
presentation to the ASME/ANSI A112.19.8 – 2007
Standards Writing Committee on Jan. 12, proposing a wording change
that would make allowances for hot-tub drains.
“We have asked them to have the test labs test these
appliances … as they’re actually built because nobody
can modify it, and a builder won’t install it wrong,”
said Steve Barnes, chairman of the APSP Technical Committee and product manager,
safety and compliance, at Pentair Pool Products. “It’s a
APSP and spa manufacturers also hope to amend the standard to
allow dual drains to be placed on separate planes in lieu of the
required 3-foot separation because portable spas rarely have that
much room in the foot well.
Changing the standard could take several months. In the
meantime, APSP has made a few requests of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety
Commission to tide the industry over.
First, the association has asked for a confirmation letter
stating that drains made prior to Dec. 19 can continue to be sold,
even if they don’t meet the ASME/ANSI standard. A similar
stance recently was taken by the agency regarding the toy industry
and another law.
APSP also made a proposal to address portable spas produced
between Dec. 19, 2008, and June 19, 2009. The association asked
that CPSC allow the current outlet designs to continue being
installed on portable spas as long as the spa is tested by a
nationally recognized laboratory and the outlets conform to certain
requirements. The criteria state that the outlets comply with the
structural requirements of the ASME/ANSI standard; that there be at
least two per pump; that they be either spaced at least 3 feet
apart, on multiple planes, or backed with a safety vacuum release
system, suction-limiting vent or other similar system.
Some manufacturers believe that factory-made hot tubs are a
wholly different product than inground spas because they are
produced in a controlled environment and regularly tested by
independent laboratories. Therefore, they contend that these
products should not fall under the ASME/ANSI standard. Because
there are no records of an entrapment occurring in a portable spa,
APSP officials said the industry is hoping that CPSC will
For now, hot tub professionals are waiting to find out what to
do next, and many feel that their hands are tied behind their
“I don’t have any idea how it’s going to work
itself out, other than the fact that we cannot sell any hot tub
drain covers at all,” said Raymond Thibault, general manager
Spa & Pool Parts Inc., a Tucson, Ariz.-based distributor.
“The fact that we’re in one of the worst recessions
we’ve seen in a long time … that’s just not very
“But I have to think that something’s going to get
worked out. Something will happen in short order. I just
don’t know how it’s going to manifest