Residential pools require a building permit

Make sure your pool, fence, and gates are up to standard before swimming this summer.

With the Memorial Day weekend serving as the unofficial start of summer, many area residents with pools are ready to start the swimming season. If you’re just getting a pool, or have even had one for a while, be sure to review the requirements and laws that are in place before filling the pool.

Pool safety laws were designed to protect your family, friends, and neighbors from accidental drowning, injury, or electrocution. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are more than 3,000 deaths from drowning each year not related to boats as well as many more injuries from near-drowning incidents.

The CDC also reports that fatal drowning remains the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages 1 to 14 years.

Since 2004, the Pennsylvania statewide building code requires the following laws to be met to ensure safety related to private pools. This is in effect for all areas of Pennsylvania.

  • Anybody of water more than 24-inches deep is considered a pool and must meet required safety standards.
  • All pools must be fenced on all sides with a structure at least 48-inches high.
  • For above-ground pools—The sides of the pool, if 48 inches, may be considered the fence. A removable or locking ladder is required and it must be removed or locked when the pool is not in use.
  • For in-ground pools – All fence gates must be self-closing and latching.  A house may be used as the fourth side of the fence, but all doors leading to the pool area must have an audible warning device if no other gate or door is between the house and the pool.  A power safety cover may also be used.
  • As part of the construction of any pool, an electrical inspection is required and the National Electric Code must be met to avoid electric shock. No pool filter should be operated with an extension cord and any pumps and filtration systems must be installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • All installed in-ground and above-ground pools require a building permit.
  • Hot tubs and spas do not require fencing as long as they have a cover that complies with the ASTM F1346 standard. Covers that come from the hot tub manufacturer are in compliance with this standard. published this article in May 2012. Since the article is a good source of information, it is posted here for Greenfield Township residents with minor alterations for local information.

48″ Barrier is the key to the requirement

  • If the pool is able to hole 24″ of water and the walls are less then 48″ high, it must have a fence.
  • If the pool is 48″ high and has removable steps, it would not need a fence.
  • If the pool is over 48″ high, then the ladder must be locked or removable and the fence is not required.
  • If you build a deck with stairs to a pool that is over 48″ high, then there must be a self-closing and self-latching gate with the latch over 54″ above the walking surface.

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