In-ground pools should be designed to withstand the soil pressure on the sides and bottoms. They may be built of cast-in-place concrete, concrete sprayed onto a steel, reinforcing frame (gunite), vinyl liner on a structural frame, or fiberglass shell. sand or earth bottoms are generally not acceptable. Hairline cracks in concrete or fiberglass and small tears in vinyl may be repaired in most cases. Lowering the water level below the crack or tear is usually necessary. Large cracks may be serious, indicating soil movement or inadequate drainage. Professional advice should be sought.
Concrete pools should be painted every 3-5 years and re-plastered (Marcite) at 10-15 year intervals. Fiberglass may be patched, recoated, or covered with epoxy paint.
If your home has a pool, hot tub or spa, there are general requirements that should be considered to ensure the safety of the occupants. The following pages will assist you in evaluating your pool, tub or spa and associated items.
Checklist for Inspection
- Check pool sides and bottom as well as the deck for cracks, tears, heaving, patches, bulging and peeling paint.
- If there is a fence, evaluate if the gate latch is in operating condition.
- Diving boards and slides should be securely anchored.
- Check the condition of pumps and piping. Check for rust, noise and leaks.
- Check functioning of pressure gauge. It may fluctuate (flutter) during operation. Filter needs to be cleaned when pressure reading has risen 8-10 psi above clean condition.
- Check for electrical grounding system and ground fault interrupters.
- Leaks in hot tubs: underneath, near inlet and outlet connections.
- Pool should not be directly accessible from the house in most jurisdictions.
Scope of Inspection
The scope of inspection for a swimming pool is limited to reporting the type and general condition of the pool structure, surfaces, tiles, copings, decks, drains, skimmers, valves, lights, heater if present, filter tank, pressure gage, above ground piping, fences, and gates or enclosures. Inspection is limited to those items visible and accessible at the time of inspection without disassembly. Pool equipment not attached to the system at the time of inspection is not inspected.
Due to the inaccessible nature of the plumbing systems in pools, this inspection is limited to the above ground plumbing, which is readily accessible and observable at the time of this inspection. Pressure testing of the plumbing lines is not performed during this visual inspection. Pool filter canisters are not disassembled for purposes of this visual inspection. Back flush mechanisms are not tested on any filtering system. The operability and accuracy of pool heater thermostat settings, temperature controls, or timing devices cannot be fully evaluated.
Ancillary equipment such as slides, portable steps, diving boards, computer controls, chlorinators, other chemical dispensers, water ionization devices or conditioners are not inspected.
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Pools and spas should have a circulation system consisting of a pump, one or more filters, and associated plumbing. There should also be a disinfection system, usually chlorination. The disinfection may be either on-line or batch. The pool equipment should be protected from freezing or capable of being winterized (drained). Some pool chemicals react violently and poisonously with one another; they should be stored carefully so that such accidents do not occur. Filters Pump operation under pressure and can be dangerous. There should be a pressure gauge and a means of relieving excess pressure.
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Types of Filters
Membrane or cartridge type - Used for small pools, spas and hot tubs. Lowest initial cost. Cleaned by removing and washing off the accumulated fine material. Life is one to two seasons, depending on use. Becoming less popular because of the cleaning difficulty. Can remove particles down to about 20 microns.
Permanent Media; Hi-rate Sand - Consists of a tank (large, looks like a propane tank) with two openings. Tank is charged with fine white sand. If properly flushed and not allowed to get overloaded, a charge should last 4-6 years.
Sand filters are popular with commercial and home pools where it is desired to minimize the complications of keeping the filter clean. The sand is back-washed either through a filter to collect the fines (now a code requirement in most localities) or discharged to a sump or sewer (older installations). If a filter is used, it is removed, dumped, washed with a hose, and returned to the filter housing. Particle removal capability down to 12-15 microns.
Diatomaceous Earth - Becoming more popular, but have a slightly higher initial cost than sand filters. Attraction is the clarity of the water. They filter out particles down to 1-3 microns. System consists of a cartridge with the outside coated with diatomaceous earth (an organic powder). When the system needs flushing, the earth, along with the accumulated fines, are washed out together and collected in a separate filter. Some units have a vibration device that redistributes the earth, allowing the filter to operate longer without back-washing. After back-washing, a new charge of earth should be added.
The circulation system should be capable of turning over all of the water in the pool every 8 hours (semi-public pools); 12 hours (residential pools); 2 hours (wading pools); or 1 hour (spas and hot tubs).
All electrical equipment should be protected by ground fault interrupters. Modern codes also require a separate grounding system for spas and hot tubs as well as pools. Ladders, stands, etc. are usually also grounded to the same line.
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There should be no protrusions, extensions or means of entanglement that could cause submerged entrapment of a bather. No parts should cause a cutting, pinching or abrasion hazard.
Hand holds around the perimeter, at intervals no greater than 4', are needed wherever the depth exceeds 3.5'. The deck fulfills this requirement if the water level is no more than 12" below it.
If the location of the change in the bottom slope nearest the shallow end is in water over 4.5' deep, there should be a permanently attached and buoyed safety line 1'-2' on the shallow side.
Steps or a ladder are needed at the shallow end if the depth there is greater than 2'. If the length of the pool exceeds 40', steps or a ladder are required at the deep end, too. Two sets are needed if the width is over 30'.
Drains should be covered by a grating that is not easily removable by bathers.
Spas and Hot Tubs
Maximum water depth is 4'. Maximum depth of seat or bench is 2'. Steps, ladders, or recessed treads should be provided if water depth exceeds 2'. There should be a thermostat to control water temperature. Maximum temperature should not exceed 104°F.
Minimum recommended size for an outdoor pool is 16'x32'. Spas and hot tubs should have lockable covers. Good idea for pools, too. A surface skimmer system is recommended. There should be one skimmer per 2,000 sq. ft. of surface area.