PEP Tech

The VGB Act was Updated in May and the Compliance Clock is Ticking!

The APSP-16 Drain Cover Standard reference in the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act was revised, receiving ANSI approval on August 18, 2017. In May of this year it was approved by U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission as the official successor standard to ANSI/APSP-16 2011. Which is the same standard as ASME/ANSI A112.19.8 - 2007, only with a different name - legally they mean the same thing.

The deadline for compliance is November 24, 2020

Relax, this deadline is different from the one in 2008, which was retroactive. This new deadline only applies to drain cover manufacturers, and Registered Design Professionals that certify custom, large area grating, the type typically used in water parks, lazy rivers, and other high-flow applications

Currently certified products can be manufactured until the 2020 deadline. After that, only those certified to the new 2017 version are allowed - begging the question - what about existing inventory, and previously installed drain covers?

Section 1.1.2 of the standard says; "SOFA components that were manufactured or installed before the effective date of this standard [APSP-16 2017], and that meet APSP-16 2011, shall be considered in compliance with this standard."

SOFA is the acronym for Suction Outlet Fitting Assembly. This term was introduced to better describe the fact that compliant "drain covers" involve more than just the cover. They consist of all components, including the cover/grate, mud frame or sump bucket, fasteners, riser rings, support braces, internal baffles and anything else supplied and required by the manufacturer's instructions.

Once APSP-16 2017 certified covers begin to hit the market, you will find they come with far more detailed instructions that installers must carefully read and follow. This is a very important point. ALWAYS follow manufacturer's instructions and ALWAYS use ALL required parts, including supplied riser rings and internal baffles. These provide very important safety features. Failing to follow installation and maintenance instructions is the reason suction entrapments continue to happen on pools and spas with "VGB" drains

Another big change is the removal of Figure 2 policy that permitted sump depths based on 1 times the suction pipe diameter. For smaller pipes sizes, such as 1 and 2 inches, Figure 2 sumps only needed to be a few inches deep, while the test hair is 16-inches long, meaning most of hair can go into the pipe opening.

Shallow sump depth are still allowed by APSP-16 2017 version, even zero depth sumps, but manufacturers will now need to have them tested instead of relying on Figure 2. This change will also impact state and local codes, which can be more restrictive than federal law, but not less restrictive. Local jurisdiction that allow Figure 2 sumps will be preempted by the revised VGB Act beginning November 24, 2020.


Steve Barnes is the Director of Science and Compliance for AquaStar Pool Products. He is the Chairperson for the APSP-16 Drain Cover Standard Writing