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Thread: Help navigating Maintence Code when not opening the pool for the season

  1. Back To Top    #1

    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Fairfax, VA

    Help navigating Maintence Code when not opening the pool for the season

    I am a fairly new owner of a home with a pool and need some help navigating local ordinances regarding a pool when it is not "open" for the season.

    The issue:
    I received a notice about a violation of Virginia Maintenance Code 303.1 and I need to understand what the code requires for compliance. The notice sites "Swimming pools shall be maintained in a clean and sanitary condition, and in good repair." It is not completely clear what this means for someone who chooses not to open a pool for the swim season as I have chosen to do. How can one guarantee that their pool is being “maintained in a clean and sanitary condition, and in good repair” while also not bringing the pool operational for the season?

    The circumstances:
    I purchased a home with an existing in-ground swimming pool. When I took ownership of the house, the pool was basically empty and had an external pump running periodically to keep the pool drained. (I understand from my recent reading that there are concerns with a pool becoming buoyant when kept empty. For the sake of focus, lets pick up that discussion another time.) So, the pool is drained and is meticulously pumped free of water. As a matter of fact, the dry pool has been enjoyed by my sons who might periodically skateboard in it. As far as safety is concerned, I believed I was doing the right thing by removing the opportunity for drowning (no water = no drowning) and greatly reducing the opportunity for mosquitoes and other water borne nasties.

    My wife and I purchased the house with the not-fully-functional pool realizing that there was some risk but we took stock of what it might take to fix the pool, made plans to budget for it and save up the monies needed. When purchasing the house, we dreamed of the day when we might enjoy the pool with friends and family. In the intervening time, we have had some family/health issues that have put a major strain on our budget. This has forced us to push out any fixes or alterations on the pool. Given the notice I received, I am trying to determine what is the requirement and what do I minimally need to do to come into compliance. To be clear, I want to maintain a safe property but, at the same time, I would like to be cautious on the monies spent on the pool when we are now at the cusp of determining if health/budget issues will force us to not open the pool for an extended time or, potentially, get rid of it all together.

    More Background:
    A stated before, I am new to owning and maintain a pool and am still learning the differences between personal preference, best practices, and requirements. Upon first notice, I met with the inspector and he indicated that I need to bring my fence gates up to code. They needed to auto latch at 6 inches out from open, etc. This seemed somewhat irrelevant given that I maintained a padlock on the gates at all times but, nevertheless, I spent the next few weekends making changes to my gates and latches to comply with what he directed. I notified the inspector that I made the fixes and upon re-inspection he noted via voicemail (I was not present when he came by) that I needed a cover on my pool. I had previously surmised that the cover was to ensure drowning risk was greatly reduced. Given that I maintain a completely empty pool which is completely enclosed in my private yard, I did not fully understand what he was directing me to. As such, I thought the cover must be related to appearance or keeping stray yard debris from collecting in the pool. I looked around the pool supplies I acquired with the house and applied the cover I had. I then notified the inspector that I had applied the cover. He phoned back and stated that he appreciated my attempts but that it did not comply with the requirements for a cover and that I needed to educate myself on the requirements. Apparently what I have is a called a leaf cover.

    At this time, I thought it best for me to read up on the requirements for residential pools. I headed to my trusty browser and started right into my county requirements and figured I would work my way backwards from the details of my county requirements to the state and national level. This led me to the following:

    As it turns out, everything I was finding were related to the requirements for constructing a pool and getting it inspected after construction. Searching more I found this PDF of Virginia Maintenance Code 303.1 ( that states the code but contains no guidance on what is required to comply. Is compliance left for the inspector and the home owner to negotiate? Is it solely the discretion of the inspector?

    Complicating matters, I suspect it is one of my neighbors who is filing complaints with the county. For no good reason, there seems to be some animosity between my neighbor’s family and mine. In the past, they have made gestures like this through other avenues that amount to nothing more than passive aggressive ways of poking us in the eye. I mention this because I think it is important to understand that I am going to have to PROVE my compliance to the county not just this once but probably on an ongoing basis if my neighbor continues to operate in this manner.

    What I have considered:
    Before choosing a course of action, I want to understand my options. Thus I am reaching out to informed people like you to gather information and ideas. As far as I can see, I have the following options:

    Option 1: Fill the pool with water and add a plastic cover with water bag weights. This is what one of my neighbors (not the one complaining) does in the off season but is this sufficient to comply? It appears to be the most economical rout at ~$200 for cover and weights. Personally, I would MUCH prefer not to go this route as it seems to INCREASE the potential of drowning and definitely increases the opportunity for mosquitoes.

    Option 2: Have a custom safety cover made and install it. This appears to run between $500 and $1,000. If I get a model that is opaque enough it would seem to block the view and might placate the complaints. In light of Virginia Maintenance Code 303.1, is it sufficient to cover the pool year-round and not open it?

    Option 3: Buck up and have the pool fixed and opened for the season. At this time, I am not certain we have the monies on hand to bring the pool into operation and run it through the season.

    Option 4: Buck up and have the pool removed. I had hoped to one day still be able to bring the pool operational and would prefer to not be forced into this route.

    Are there options I am missing? What would you recommend to a person in my situation?

    Thanks for taking the time to read my post and share your wisdom.
    in-ground pool
    gunite construction
    unknown age

  2. Back To Top    #2
    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Tucson, AZ

    Re: Help navigating Maintence Code when not opening the pool for the season

    Welcome to TFP!

    I think the original violation was that they consider the empty pool a safety hazard. Much more dangerous to fall into an empty pool. And thus you need a cover you can walk on. Some have built platforms out of wood to cover the hole. But you need to verify with the inspector what he requires.

    What is preventing the pool from being operational? Might be cheaper and easier than you think to get it up and running.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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  3. Back To Top    #3
    Mod Squad kimkats's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Tallahassee, FL

    Re: Help navigating Maintence Code when not opening the pool for the season

    I know that around here the MOST expensive option would be to fill it in with dirt oddly enough.

    I would go down to the inspection office or at least call them and set up a meeting there OR at your house (best place so all can see what you are working with). I would make sure the head of the department is there. Butter them up with fresh cookies and cold drinks. Tell them about your short term money issues and your long term plans. Tell them what you have already tried AND your concerns about the cover over water that will be sitting covered with the summer sun. It will turn into a swamp under the cover.

    Document everything! Who you talked to and when. What was said? Do a follow up email to with who, when, where, what is printed out.

    Good luck and let us know what you find out as we can use this as a learning experience for others.

    TFP Moderator 33x52 round AG 25,600 gals Sand Filter 1.5hp Pump - 2 Speed, SLAM, Pool School, Recommended Levels, Recommended Chemicals, Pool Math, Chlorine/CYA Chart, TF-100 Test Kit

  4. Back To Top    #4

    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Sacramento, CA

    Re: Help navigating Maintence Code when not opening the pool for the season

    Kim's got some good advice. You want him to come out and explain what he needs. You don't need his boss just yet and don't ask for the head of the department. But cold drinks and a willingness to listen. Ask for suggestions. What do other people do in my situation. An empty pool is a either a safety hazard or a skateboard park depending on ones view of life.

    Ask him if he can meet first thing in the morning. Then is the best time, they are not harried for time and they will slow down and explain.

    If this doesn't work then call and ask for the boss -- but be aware the boss probably already knows about you.
    22k gallon IG pebblefina, Jandy 1.5 HP VS, Jandy CV Cartridge filter, Fafco solar panels, Polaris 360 supply side cleaner, waterfall

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