Recently, on a manufacturer warranty call, I stumbled upon something interesting. The call was for a 2hp pump motor, and the bearings were obviously no longer any good. But this wasn’t a pool or a spa — this was a waterfall at a private condominium complex.

We found that the existing pump was not bonded, as well as a GFI that was not up to code. No biggie; that can be fixed. I then turned my attention to the “pool” of the waterfall, probably only 8 inches deep. What I saw shocked me! The out-of-compliance main drain cover was held down by a ROCK.

Needless to say, we loaded the truck back up and contacted the manufacturer’s warranty coordinator, complex management and the maintenance guy for the complex. I explained in an email (with pictures) that the main drain, a 2-inch line that was the only suction port for the vessel, was not VGB-compliant. The maintenance man said that VGB only covers pools and spas and that if I drop off the pump, he would do the repair himself! I have not found anything stating that the law covers fountains or waterfalls, but am completely uncomfortable performing the repair. 

I received excellent support from the manufacturer, saying this was turned over to its attorneys and they would send a letter as well.

I don’t understand why the law does not include all waterfeatures with a main drain and a pool pump. 

My advice to other techs who run into a similar situation is to err on the side of caution and call manufacturers or reps to find answers to questions. If you’re not sure if the application is safe, take pictures, shut it down and leave. Make sure to notify the management and any other parties involved. 

Bill Pierucci

Certified Pool Operator/President

Northwest Pools

Conroe, Texas