Swimming Pools

Most of the swimming pool regulations covered in the International Building Code pertain to barriers or enclosures intended to keep unsupervised children from gaining access to the pool, thus reducing the potential for accidental drowning. These barrier-related codes are below and include diagrams for clarity.

Outdoor Private Swimming Pools
An outdoor private swimming pool, including an in-ground, above-ground or on-ground pool, hot tub or spa shall be provided with a barrier, which shall comply with the following:
  1. The top of the barrier shall be at least 48 inches above finished ground level measured on the side of the barrier, which faces away from the swimming pool. The maximum vertical clearance between finished ground level and the barrier shall be 2 inches measured on the side of the barrier, which faces away from the swimming pool. Where the top of the pool structure is above finished ground level, such as an above-ground pool, the barrier shall be at finished ground level, such as the pool structure, or shall be mounted on top of the pool structure. Where the barrier is mounted on the pool structure, the opening between the top surface of the pool frame and the bottom of the barrier shall not allow passage of a 4 inch diameter sphere.
  2. Openings in the barrier shall not allow passage of a 4 inch sphere.
  3. Solid barriers shall not contain indentations or protrusions except for normal construction tolerances and tooled masonry joints.
  4. Where the barrier is composed of horizontal and vertical members and the distance between the tops of the horizontal members is less than 45 inches, the horizontal members shall be located on the swimming pool side of the fence. Spacing between the vertical members shall not exceed 1 3/4 inches in width. Decorative cutouts shall not exceed 1 3/4 inches in width.
  5. Where the barrier is composed of horizontal and vertical members and the distance between the tops of the horizontal members is 45 inches or more, spacing between vertical members shall not exceed 4 inches. Decorative cutouts shall not exceed 1 3/4 inches in width.
  6. Maximum mesh size for chain link fences shall be a 1 1/4 inch square unless the fence is provided with slats fastened at the top or the bottom which reduce the openings to not more that 1 3/4 inches (measured diagonally).
  7. Where the barrier is composed of diagonal members, such as a lattice fence, the maximum opening formed by the diagonal members shall be not more than 1 3/4 inches (measured diagonally).
    Lattice Fence Diagram
  8. Access gates shall comply with requirements of items 1 through 7, and shall be equipped to accommodate a locking device. Pedestrian access gates shall open outwards away from the pool and shall be self-closing and have a self-latching device. Gates other than pedestrian access gates shall have a self-latching device. Where the release mechanism of the self-latching device is located less than 54 inches from the bottom of the gate:
    • The release mechanism shall be located on the pool side of the gate at least 3 inches below the top of the gate; and
    • The gate and barrier shall not have an opening greater than WHAT inch within 18 inches of the release mechanism.
  9. Where a wall of a dwelling unit serves as part of the barrier, and contains a door that provides direct access to the pool, one of the following shall apply:
    • All doors with direct access to the pool through that wall shall be equipped with an alarm, which produces an audible warning when the door and its screen, if present, are opened. The alarm shall sound continuously for a minimum of 30 seconds immediately after the door is opened. The audible warning shall commence not more the 7 seconds after the door and door screen, if present, are opened and shall sound continuously for a minimum of 30 seconds. The alarm shall have a minimum sound pressure rating of 85 dBA at 10 feet and the sound of the alarm shall be distinctive from other household sounds such as smoke alarms, telephones, and door bells. The alarm shall automatically reset under all conditions. The alarm shall be equipped with manual means, such as touch pads or switches, to deactivate temporarily the alarm for a single opening from either direction. Such deactivation shall last for not more than 15 seconds. The deactivation touch pads or switches shall be located at least 54 inches above the threshold of the door.
    • All doors with direct access to the pool through that wall shall be equipped with a self-closing and self-latching device with the release mechanism located a minimum of 54 inches above the floor. Swinging doors shall open away from the pool area.
    • The pool shall be equipped with a power safety cover. Where in a closed position, the cover shall be capable of holding a weight of 485 pounds, shall not have any openings that allow passage of a 4-inch sphere and shall incorporate a system to drain standing water that collects on the cover. The cover control switch shall be permanently installed in accordance with NFPA 70 listed in Chapter 35, and be key-operated and of a spring-loaded or momentary-contact type. Where the switch is released, the operation of the cover shall stop instantly and be capable of reversing direction immediately. The switch shall be in the line of sight of the complete pool cover.
  10. Where an above-ground pool structure is used as a barrier or where the barrier is mounted on top of the pool structure, and the means of access is a fixed or removable ladder or steps, the ladder or steps shall be surrounded by a barrier which meets the requirements of items 1 through 9. A removable ladder shall not constitute an acceptable alternative to enclosure requirements.
Indoor Private Swimming Pools
All walls surrounding an indoor private swimming pool shall comply with item 9 above.

Prohibited Locations
Barriers shall be located so as to prohibit permanent structures, equipment or similar objects from being used to climb the barriers.

Exemptions
The following shall be exempt from the provisions of this section.
  • A spa or hot tub with an approved safety cover.
  • Fixtures which are drained after each use.