The U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission has certain safety barrier guidelines that are highly recommended for inground pool fencing.
The top of a swimming pool barrier such as a fence must be at least 48 inches above grade, measured on the side of the barrier that faces away from the swimming pool, or on the outside of the fence. The maximum vertical clearance between the finished ground level and the bottom of the fence shall be 4 inches.
When a solid fence barrier wall is used, there should be nothing protruding on either side that could be used to get a toehold or grab onto the fence. Any decorative cutouts on a solid pool fence cannot exceed 1 ¾” in width.
When using a slat fence, composed of vertical and horizontal rails, the distance between the tops of the horizontal rails should be more than 45 inches, and spacing between vertical rails should not exceed 4 inches.
When using a chain link fence, the maximum mesh size should not exceed 1 ¼” square. For a lattice fence, composed of diagonal rails the maximum opening formed by the diagonals shall not exceed 1 ¾” inches in width.
All of these, and more would be BOCA certified for a swimming pool. The word BOCA stands for (Building Officials and Code Administrators) and when purchasing a fence those are the guidelines that are pretty standard for the National Building Code. Before building a new pool fence, always check with your local building inspector to see what specific pool fencing codes there are in your particular area, or work with a qualified fencing contractor in your area.
Most building and zoning departments go beyond the 48" fence height guideline, and may require taller fences. The Delgard Aluminum Pool Fence that we show on our website is approved for inground swimming pools and is pool code compliant. 54" tall panels and gates can reach a total height of 58" above grade.
Both the both the Guardian Doria and Guardian Elba models make an excellent choice for a DIY pool fence project. Modular panels make installation easy. Just dig post holes and fill with concrete to set the 2" alloy posts every 6 ft. We are happy to help guide you through fence selection, pricing and installation planning. Call us at 800-983-7665.
Fences and Gates
The access gates have to also meet certain specifications for a swimming pool. Gates in a swimming pool fence must open outwards, away from the pool area and should be self-closing and with a self-latching device. If the latching device is less than 54 inches from the bottom of the gate, the latch should be located on the pool side of the gate, just below the top of the gate. Also, the gate should have no openings greater than ½ inch within 18" of the latch, and any spacing between the posts on either side of the gate should be less than 4".
Inspectors are very particular about gates being sturdy and safe. They may also have restrictions on gate placement, and restrict the number of gates that you can have (usually two). Our aluminum fencing uses the patented self-closing hinges pioneered by Delgard and includes the Magna Latch system. Magna Latch pool fence latches and hidden, self-closing hinges are preferred by inspectors, and are perfectly sized and balanced for our 36" wide fence gates.
3-sided Fences vs. 4-sided Fences
Check with your local building inspector to find out what is code in your particular area in regards to the 3 sided vs the 4 sided fence requirements. Most backyards are fenced with a 3 sided fence, connected to the house. The back of the house is considered by many localities to be the fourth side of the fence.
A 4-sided fence is considered to be much safer than a 3-sided fence and house surrounding the pool. Perimeter pool fence kits can be purchased for as little as $2000, and you and a helper can install it in just 1-2 days.
Usually, the back of the house has a door that provides access to the pool area, so security measures should be taken. All doors which gain access to the pool area should have an audible alarm when the door is opened. The 85 decibel alarm should be different from the other household alarms like smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Door alarms are also usually required to have an automatic reset button with a pass through button for adults to use.
We do stock code certified pool door alarms on our website, of course. In some cases, inspectors in some areas will require gate alarms, and even alarms on windows. I recall one Florida customer that was buying 7 door and gate alarms, to satisfy his pool inspection requirements.
New on the books, are laws that require back doors with direct access to the pool area to be self-closing and self-latching. This means regular doors and sliding glass doors must have automatic closing mechanisms. A regular, swinging door also needs to open away from the pool area, or into the house - similar to a pool gate.
Automatic Cover instead of a Fence
Not so common anymore, but in some rural areas, you can install an automatic pool cover, in lieu of a fence. Check with your local building inspector if automatic power safety covers can be installed and act as the safety pool barrier. This cover must conform to the ASTM safety standards and hold a minimum weight of 485 lbs. You'll also have to keep rain water automatically pumped off, make prompt repairs when necessary, and be able to manually close the cover, in the event of electrical or mechanical failure. You may also be required to have door alarms or some partial fencing. Again, check with your local building inspectors.
Automatic pool covers are a great additional layer of protection for inground pools, even when a fence has to be installed, if you're interested in more information, see this recent blog post I wrote.
Secondary Pool Safety Fencing
Joining 2 sides of fence with your property with the aluminum or a mesh safety fence is great idea and would save you quite a bit of money. You would want to check with your local building inspector or maybe go on your town’s website. Local building codes are usually listed online and that can answer what is allowed in regards to partially fencing in the swimming pool or backyard area. Now that my kids are older, I may be taking a down a section of my vinyl fencing around my swimming pool and using our mesh safety fence to isolate the swimming pool and attach the safety fence to my house.
Passing your Pool Fence Safety Inspection
Once water is added to your inground swimming pool, the pool must be enclosed by a fence. In some areas, they require a temporary fence during construction. This temporary fence must be a minimum of 4ft high and must adequately prevent access to the swimming pool area. It has to remain in place throughout the period of the installation and until the permanent enclosure is installed. You can rent enough temporary fencing to do the job.
In most states you have up to 90 days to have the permanent fence installed, but it's best to install the fence as soon as possible. Check with your local building inspector to find out what the code is in your area.
SPP Pool Expert