Codes & Regulations for Swimming Pools

There are many swimming pool codes and regulations.
••• swimming pool image by apeschi from

Many people make plans to install a swimming pool for enjoyment as well as improving the value of their property. Hotels, inns, and bed and breakfasts also provide swimming pools as a courtesy to their guests and as an attraction for business. There are many codes and regulations that must be considered when planning a pool installation.

Federal Codes and Regulations

Title 16, Chapter II of the Code of Federal Regulations is one example of federal codes and regulations pertaining to swimming pools. This chapter covers all consumer product safety codes, including swimming pool slides (Part 1207). Aspects of these codes require each element of the slide to be structurally sound, with no edges that will cut flesh. All steps, ladders, and ramps with an angle of 15 degrees or greater from plumb line must have treads instead of rungs, and treads must be slip-resistant. Other regulations fall under plumbing and electrical codes that are administered according to the International Building Code (IBC).

One important update to federal codes and regulations for swimming pools was the result of a drowning accident. The Virginia Graeme Baker Act, signed into law in 2008, was written to prevent children from being trapped by the suction of pool drains. This law (U.S. Code 8001, Title 15) requires the installation of grates over all drains, as well as the installation of an emergency shut-off safety valve that activates when a drain is blocked.

State Codes and Regulations for Public Pools

Swimming pool codes and regulations vary among individual states, although all states rely on established building codes from the IBC as well as Uniform Plumbing and Electrical Codes and safety and health codes. The Southern Nevada Pool Code mandates that all public swimming pools, spas, wading pools, and water features must comply with the health district rules and regulations. Electrical features must conform to the National Electrical Code, which mandates that pool and spa lighting must illuminate the entire bottom and volume of the water as well as the deck surfaces. All breaker panels must use a minimum number 10 AWG copper wire feeder with a minimum of a 30-amp breaker and insulated ground wire. Plumbing lines must be of an approved type L copper or a schedule 40 PVC type and must pressure test at 20 PSI for 15 minutes during inspection.

Residential Swimming Pool Codes and Regulations

The state of Arizona is typical of many states pertaining to pool safety and design. Arizona State Law 36-1681 covers all aspects of residential pool enclosures. Any pool (defined as a body of water of at least 18 inches of depth and 8 feet of width that is intended for swimming) must be enclosed by a wall, fence, or barrier of a minimum 5 feet in height and must not have any opening greater than 4 inches of spherical clearance to prevent a child’s head from becoming trapped in the opening. Chain link or wire mesh fences cannot have a mesh size exceeding 1-3/4 inch measured horizontally. Gates must be self-latching and self-closing, and the latch must be at least 54 inches from the ground level. Any part of the residence that is part of the enclosure must be separated from the pool by a wall or barrier of at least 4 feet in height, and there must be a motorized safety cover on the pool that is activated by a key switch.

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