FAQ – Swimming Pool Main Drains

What is swimming pool entrapment entrapment?

There are five forms of entrapment. They’re easy, yet essential to understand to “get” this whole issue.

1. Body entrapment (a section of the torso becomes entrapped).

2. Limb entrapment (an arm or leg is pulled into an open drain pipe).

3. Hair entrapment or entanglement (hair is pulled in and wrapped around the grate of the drain cover).

4. Mechanical (jewelry or part of the bather’s clothing gets caught in the drain or the grate).

5. Evisceration (the victim’s buttocks come into contact with the pool suction outlet and he or she is disemboweled.)

How can I drain my pool without a drain?

The funny thing is, drains are hardly ever used to drain a pool! How goofed up is that?! TWO big points to remember:

1. With a composite fiberglass pool, there is no need to empty your pool for general maintenance as you would with a concrete pool. But if you ever did want to drain your pool to add say, a pretty tile mermaid mosaic like we did in our pool, all you have to do is use a sump pump or open your filter plug. That’s what a pool professional would do. A sump pump is the quickest, most efficient way to drain a pool. So no, you don’t need a drain to drain your pool. The “drain” in your pool is not like the drain in your bathtub!

2. Remember—NEVER drain your pool yourself. Always consult with a pool professional. Issues involving hydrostatic pressure could really mess up your pool and deck area.

So what is a drain in a pool if it’s not like the drain in my bathtub?

A pool “drain” is actually a misnomer. A pool doesn’t drain anything. That drain is really a suction outlet. It’s sucking water out of the pool and taking it back to the filtration system, then back again to the pool. It’s like a straw. And the pump is like you. Entrapment is like when you’re sucking up that strawberry shake from Dairy Queen and nothing comes up—then you quickly discover a strawberry “entrapped” at the end. Stop sucking and the strawberry releases. Your pool requires a powerful pump to “pull” that liquid back to the pump. So why in the world would you want that “outlet” for suction inside your pool where those sweet babies of yours are swimming?

Then how do you get water to the pump without a “suction outlet?”

Good question! The water comes byway of a wonderfully, brilliant little device known as a skimmer. A skimmer is a gravity-fed product that simply collects water from the pool via gravity and simultaneously skims out leaves and gunk. It then deposits the water into a pipe that is connected to the pump. The pipe is completely unreachable by swimmers. No one ever sees the pipe that goes to the pump, which is housed deep inside the skimmer, below the crud collection basket. So there you have it. Easy breazy water collection without a bit of danger.

I had another builder tell me that if we didn’t have a drain system, our pool would not circulate properly.

This is another one of the biggest objections by pool builders for not having “bottom suction” in a pool. The scary thing is, it is the least understood. It is based on the “belief” that water becomes stagnant in the deeper areas. It is not based on science. For some awesome science on this whole concept, the must read here is the Fluent / Trilogy Pools study on pool circulation. This study clearly shows that drains not only are unnecessary, but they do not improve the circulation in a pool or enable its ability to clear contamination. Imagine that!

Aren’t dual drains safe?

Yes. For the most part. BUT, the real question is, would you rather have your loved ones swimming in a pool that is safe “for the most part” or in a pool that is 100 percent safe? Here’s the deal. Systems fail. That is why Florida requires “layers of protection.” In the event that the second drain fails, a vent line or a suction vacuum releif system will release the suction and release anyone stuck on the drain. That’s just great until the vent line gets clogged with yard clippings or rodent, or the svrs runs it’s life expectancy. (Have you ever heard of an appliance that doesn’t eventually fail?) Plus then there is the issue of the drain covers. Guess what happens to plastic in a chlorinated environment. You guessed it. Corrosion. The screws become loose eventually and the plastic gets all funky. Now you have drain(s) that have loosey-goosey covers that were supposed to be protecting you from the last 3 forms of entrapment. Yikes, and to think you didn’t even need those drains in the first place. See how frustrating this is?

I want a spa and a pool builder told me I had to have a drain in my spa in order for it to run properly. Can you build a spa without a drain?

Absolutely! In fact the spa is the most dangerous place for a drain. Because a spa is typically only 4 feet deep, where do you think all the kids like to congregate? It’s the most fun for kids to goof around in a little warm body of water, and guess what they do? Yep, they investigate the drain(s). They’re easier to get to in a spa that’s for sure!

We have built many, many pool/spa combinations with no drains. The reason a pool builder would want to use a drain is because they need to supply the pump with water and a bottom suction seems to be a great place to get it. The thought of using skimmers on a spa is foreign. We use multiple small skimmers and supply our pump the same way we do our pools—through a gravity fed system. Our spas circulate beautifully and have zero hazard.

You can have a 100% entrapment free pool. Expect your builder to understand this concept. If he/she does not, please contact someone who can assist you. There should be no more entrapment deaths.