If you have an in-ground pool, you most likely have some amount of pool deck equipment. Pool deck equipment is anything that is attached to your pool deck. The most common types of pool deck equipment are handrails, ladders, diving boards, and water slides. Since 2012, all public swimming pools are also required to have ADA compliant pool lifts.
How You Get Into Your Pool
Every pool, inground or above ground, has to have a means of entry. For most in-ground pools, there will be multiple places to enter the pool. Many residential in-ground pools have either built-in steps or a sloped entryway. While the steps are not technically pool deck equipment, because they are built into the structure of the pool, handrails are deck equipment. Most handrails will be attached to the floor of the pool and to the deck with some kind of wedge anchor or a bolt system that can tighten over the handrail. It is crucial to inspect where the handrail is anchored to the pool and the deck regularly and tighten it if necessary. This can avoid serious injury if a handrail comes loose while someone is using it.
Another common means of entry into residential pools is a pool ladder. A pool ladder is attached to the deck of the pool and hangs over the edge of the pool and down into it for a few feet, usually in a deeper part of the pool. The most common type of pool ladder is secured to the deck on one end and the wall of the pool on the other end. It will have a handrail and a few steps below the water level. Regular inspections should ensure a tight connection to the deck and the pool wall.
Another type of ladder or steps is necessary if there is no mechanism for attaching the ladder to the deck. Drop-in ladders or steps rest on the floor of the pool and have extensions that rest on the pool deck to hold the unit in place.
When it comes to swimming pool fun, nothing compares to the thrill of jumping into a pool from a diving board or another type of platform. However, diving boards used incorrectly can cause serious injuries and even death, so safety should be a top priority with any diving platform. Most new residential swimming pool installations do not include diving boards, mostly for safety reasons.
There are three main concerns when it comes to safe diving board use. First, a diving board should only be installed where a pool is deep enough for safe diving. Second, the board must be in good condition with no serious wear or damage. Finally, swimmers should follow safe diving practices to avoid injury.
Diving Board Safety
The first issue is with the pool. To safely dive, a pool needs to be deep, at least 11.5 feet. A diving pool has a shallow end, a deep end, and a steep slope connecting the two. To have a large enough deep end, a diving pool needs to be at least 40 feet long. Most residential pools are not that large, but if you are intent on diving, that’s what you need.
The second issue is the board itself. Boards used to be springy. Today, most boards are much stiffer to avoid injuries and lawsuits. Check the board regularly to ensure that the non-skid coating is intact and fully functional. A slick diving board is a recipe for disaster. Also inspect the board regularly for cracks. If a board has any cracks, discontinue use immediately until a new board is installed.
Finally, divers need to use safe diving practices. Unless you have an extremely deep pool, you should never dive downwards. Instead, steer up. In other words, dive forward, not downward, and then immediately shift your trajectory upwards toward the surface of the water.
Much of the fun of a diving board can be had with a less dangerous piece of equipment, a water slide. The depth necessary to safely use a slide varies greatly depending on the size of those using the slide and the type of slide. Most slides come with manufacturer instructions on how deep the pool should be. For swimmers under 48 inches, and with a slide that ends within 3 inches of the water, 2 to 3 feet of water is usually sufficient. 3.5 to 4 feet is necessary for taller swimmers. For slides that are steeper, don’t slow you down, or have a drop of 6 inches or more from the slide edge to the pool, you need the same depth as for diving, 11.5 feet.
Due to improvements in water slide technology, slides are safer and easier to install than ever before. Slides that are not too fast are also a safer alternative to diving boards and require less water depth. For all of these reasons, water slides have been gaining in popularity.
Like a diving board, a waterslide is only safe when it is correctly installed. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. In addition, it is essential to inspect the slide regularly for any looseness or damage to the part of the slide that connects to the pool deck. If you notice any damage, stop using the slide until the damage is fixed.
Swimming Pool Lifts
A newer addition to many swimming pools is a swimming pool lift. This technology allows swimmers of all abilities to enjoy a pool. While there are a variety of designs for pool lifts, they all follow the same general parts. A pool lift will have a seat that stands out of the water on which a swimmer who is unable to enter the pool by steps or a ladder can sit or be placed. The lift then moves the seat into the water, where the swimmer can get off and enjoy the pool.
Swimming pool lifts have been required by law in all public swimming pools since 2012. They are a part of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which regulates equal access to all sorts of public spaces. While the requirement does not apply to private pools, the availability of pool lifts has been a great benefit for some pool owners. If you or a loved one are unable to enter a pool by steps or a ladder, a lift will make an otherwise inaccessible pool available to everyone.
Installation of Pool Deck Equipment
It is crucial, when installing any pool deck equipment, to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and completely. Incorrectly installed pool deck equipment can pose a serious hazard to swimmers. It is also vitally important to inspect pool deck equipment on a regular basis to ensure there is no damage to the equipment. If you follow these simple guidelines, you should be able to enjoy your equipment for years.
Of course, with such a strong necessity for proper installation, not all pool owners may be comfortable installing their own equipment. If installing your own equipment feels a bit daunting, don’t hesitate to contact The Pool Butler. We’ll be happy to consult on the best equipment for your pool and to take care of the installation. We’re also available to inspect existing equipment and make repairs if necessary. So if you want a great addition to your pool, don’t let installation and maintenance scare you away. The Pool Butler is here to help!