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Thread: Possible to have a 3' 8" shallow end and keep 3 steps?

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    ellsian's Avatar
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    Question Possible to have a 3' 8" shallow end and keep 3 steps?

    My PB is insisting that we can only keep 3 steps (1 of them as an oversized baja step) if we keep 3'6" as our shallow end. Supposedly, anything deeper than 3'6" would throw off the rise of the steps and force a 4th step. 3'6" is a bit too shallow for my family (we're all very tall), so we would prefer at minimum a 3'8" shallow but we definitely do not want to add an extra 4th step intruding into the pool.

    Is it really not feasible to keep 3 steps in a 3'8" of water?

    I'm at a bit of an impasse here with the PB, because I think it can be done, just add tiny bit more rise to a few steps, but I'm not sure if that would go against code and he seems very firm about it.

    Thoughts?

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    Re: Possible to have a 3' 8" shallow end and keep 3 steps?

    There should be codes for what is legal in AZ for pool steps. I didn't look it up but most likely your pool builder is correct in theory but I would try to get him to fudge and inch on each step.

    How deep is your baja shelf? You might be able to work something out if you change that depth.
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    Re: Possible to have a 3' 8" shallow end and keep 3 steps?

    I had this discussion with my PB about code and pool steps. He advised that at least in my area there is no code requiring pool steps so that wasn't an issue. Our shallow end is 3'6" however where the third step hits the water is in the slope and probably closer to 4' from the bottom of the the last step. I've walked these steps without water dozens of times and they are just fine for me. I can imagine it will be a bit trickier for little kids and old people but I didn't want a 4th step either.

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    Divin Dave's Avatar
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    Re: Possible to have a 3' 8" shallow end and keep 3 steps?

    It might be a code thing, but I wouldnt know.
    PB might also be concerned about any liability issues since the rise of the steps would differ from what is considered normal, but spreading out that extra 2 inches over 3 steps doesnt seem like a big deal to me.

    PBs are usually somewhat flexible on many things, so if he is adamant about it, then I would imagine it's either code or might feel there might some liability issue should someone down the road, and not necessarily you, trip and hurt themselves. Many a lawsuit has been filed over seemingly the most trivial thing.....
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    Re: Possible to have a 3' 8" shallow end and keep 3 steps?

    I am aware of no official building code requirement for steps. However, the International Pool and Spa Code, which I do not believe is the law anywhere, provides:

    809.5.1 Tread dimension and area.
    Treads shall have a minimum unobstructed horizontal depth of 10 inches (254 mm) and a minimum unobstructed surface area of 240 square inches (0.17 m2).

    809.5.2 Bottom riser.
    On shallow end stairs, the bottom riser height is allowed to vary to the floor. The bottom riser must not exceed 12 inches (305 mm) to the floor for the width of the walking surface.

    809.5.3 Riser height.
    Risers at the centerline shall have a uniform height not greater than 12 inches (305 mm), except the top riser, which shall be permitted to vary in height, but shall not exceed 12 inches (305 mm).

    809.5.4 Additional steps.
    In design water depths exceeding 48 inches (1219 mm), no additional steps shall be required.


    In English that means that steps shall have a uniform rise except for the bottom and top step.

    So what you want to do is ok under the International Pool and Spa code, which seriously reduces any liability potential. The International Pool and Spa code is a creation of the Assoc of Pool and Spa Professionals.

    Also you need to understand that stairs in water "act" differently than stairs not in water because of buoyancy.

    The deeper the step the more buoyant the person using them and so the rise seems less and larger rises deeper in the pool do not seem or act as difficult as larger rises that are shallower.
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    ellsian's Avatar
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    Re: Possible to have a 3' 8" shallow end and keep 3 steps?

    MWahaha, I think I found the code on it: https://www.maricopa.gov/EnvSvc/AboutUs/pdf/C6S6.pdf

    "Risers shall have a maximum
    uniform height of 12 inches, with the bottom riser height allowed to vary plus or minus
    two (2) inches from the uniform riser height. "

    Looks like I can add the + 2" to the bottom riser and be within code

    Edit: Nice, thanks guys! Going to bring this all to my PB so he won't worry about breaking code.

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    Re: Possible to have a 3' 8" shallow end and keep 3 steps?

    Actually that only applies to public swimming pools. But show it to your PB. If its OK for a public pool it should be ok for a residential pool.
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    ellsian's Avatar
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    Re: Possible to have a 3' 8" shallow end and keep 3 steps?

    Quote Originally Posted by gwegan View Post
    Actually that only applies to public swimming pools. But show it to your PB. If its OK for a public pool it should be ok for a residential pool.
    Oh, you're right. Even better

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    Re: Possible to have a 3' 8" shallow end and keep 3 steps?

    Ours is 3'6" with 3 steps and probably 3'6" only right at the base of the steps as is curved and slopes almost immediately. So the next step into the pool would be 3'8" anyway. At least for our design.

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