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In a historic move that is expected to cause widespread reverberations throughout the pool and spa industry, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has recalled approximately one million drain covers from at least eight manufacturers.

“The recalled drain covers were incorrectly rated to handle the flow of water … which could pose a possible entrapment hazard,” said a press release from the agency.

The move primarily affects kiddie pools, wading pools and inground spas, as well as single-drain pools that do not have an unblockable drain, gravity feed system or drain covers installed before Dec. 19, 2008.

In cases where retrofits or replacements are necessary, manufacturers will pay for parts and labor, said Scott Wolfson, CPSC public affairs director. Affected manufacturers are establishing which service companies are approved to carry out the work, he added.

CPSC has advised that public pools and spas needing a replacement or retrofit be closed down. “We know this is a very difficult message to share with the public as we roll into Memorial Day weekend,” Wolfson said, acknowledging the opening of peak season for many public pools. “But better to address this now than in the middle of the swim season when a child was hurt on one of these recalled drains.”

The agency also hopes to maintain the nation’s recent track record when it comes to child entrapments. “There is a zero death rate for children in recent years related to drain entrapments,” Wolfson said. “We want to keep it that way.”

The CPSC launched an investigation earlier this year to determine whether the testing methods used to approve drain covers were sufficient to determine the safety of the product. All covers are required to comply with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, which went into effect in December 2008.

The investigation began after officials with one testing laboratory, NSF International, launched a complaint against fellow lab IAPMO regarding testing methodology. NSF claimed it had retested covers approved by IAPMO and found that the products did not perform as rated. CPSC was directed to look into the allegations.

Drain-cover models from the following manufacturers are part of what CPSC has said is a voluntary recall: A&A Manufacturing, AquaStar Pool Products, Color Match Pool Fittings, Custom Molded Products, Hayward Pool Products, Pentair Water Pool and Spa, Rising Dragon Plastics and Waterway Plastics. Click here for a partial list of recalled models.

Wolfson said some manufacturers already have the parts necessary to make retrofits or replacements. Others are still ramping up production. He admitted getting those parts and the labor necessary to install them will be major hurdles, especially since most facilities have been working full time just to get ready for the new season.

Interested parties also can check with manufacturers’ Websites to find the affected drain-cover models. Those with a recalled cover are told to contact the manufacturer to receive a replacement or retrofit.

CPSC has set up a Drain Cover Recall Hotline at 866.478.3521 and a dedicated Web page www.apsp.org/draincoverrecall.