Relative to the structural design of swimming pools, which codes and standards apply?

All fifty states adopt the International Building Code (IBC) as their model code. IBC is published by the International Codes Council. Most states also have a “state specific” code, as well as some cities. Within IBC, Reference Standards are used. These Reference Standards are material-specific or use-specific, typically written by industry organizations. So, the code methodology for swimming pools can be summarized as follows: 

1.     Model Code (IBC)

     a.     State Code

          i.    City Code

     b.    Reference Standards

          i.    Loading: American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE 7) 

         ii.    Concrete: American Concrete Institute

1.     ACI 318: Building Code Requirements for Structural Concrete

2.     ACI 350: Code Requirements for Environmental Engineering Concrete Structures

3.     ACI 350.1: Tightness Testing of Environmental Engineering Concrete Structures

4.     ACI 350.3: Seismic Design of Liquid-Containing Concrete Structures

5.     ACI 350.4: Design Considerations for Environmental Engineering Concrete Structures 

The International Building Code (IBC), all editions, includes swimming pools within the definitions chapter and in Section 3109 of the “Special Construction” chapter. A swimming pool is defined in IBC as “Any structure intended for swimming, recreational bathing or wading that contains water over 24 inches in depth.” Section 3109 deals solely with enclosures and safety. 

Because IBC references Swimming Pools, all pools must be designed to comply with IBC. Therefore, all pools must comply with ACI 318. ACI 318 is primarily a “life-safety” code with minimum durability and serviceability requirements. This code is used to design pool shell thicknesses and reinforcing. ACI 318 states “For special structures, such as …tanks…, provisions of this code shall govern where applicable.” The commentary of this section refers to ACI 350 for “…Special emphasis is placed on structural design that minimizes the possibility of cracking…” While not specifically required in the design of pools, ACI 350 is a recommended standard for durability and serviceability. 

ASCE set forth the loading criteria for all structures. This is used to determine the soil pressure, groundwater, etc. against the walls and slabs of pools. So, the methodology for the structural design of pools within ACI is as follows: 

1.     (Required) Loading: American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE 7)

2.     (Required) ACI 318: Building Code Requirements for Structural Concrete

     a.     (Option) ACI 350: Code Requirements for Environmental Engineering Concrete Structures 

There is a new code available this year, the 2012 International Swimming Pool Code (ISPC), published by International Codes Council. No state has adopted this code yet. ISPC references ACI 318 as the standard. So, the structural design of pools is still the same.

 

 

Leave a Reply