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Safety updates for pools and hot tubs • Code File, December 2018


December 11, 2018
By David Pilon


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December 11, 2018 – The 2015 CE Code saw a number of changes to Section 68: Pools, Tubs, Spas. The 2018 CE Code also added a few more changes, but you might just wonder, what is really new with pools from the past few years?

Well, as inspectors, some of the most important issues we have to address include a pool’s proximity to electrical equipment, the equipotential bonding of the equipment (along with non-electrical equipment, such as diving boards, ladders and fences) and the locations of overhead and underground conductors.

A common concern is the proximity of conductors to pools, tubs and spas. Often, the installer or owner of a new pool has not done the necessary research on where their underground or overhead service conductors are located. In numerous instances, we have had to force the relocation of hot tubs because they had been situated directly under an overhead service conductor. In a couple of other cases, it was actually easier to relocate the conductors instead.

Equipotential bonding is also a very important requirement when installing a permanent or in-ground pool, The reinforcing steel, ladders, diving supports and fences within 1.5 m of the pool must be bonded together and to the non-current carrying parts of any electrical equipment. This will ensure the pool and the equipment are at a substantially equal potential to all other equipment within that 1.5-m range, so as to reduce or eliminate any touch or step potential from transient voltages, lightning strikes or other issues that could impose a fault on metallic equipment.

Ground fault interruption (GFI) protection was added to the CE Code in 2015 for luminaires installed below or within 3 m of the pool surface. Specifically, the standards or supports for the luminaires cannot be located within 3 m of the pool unless the luminaires are GFI protected. (The standards may also be required to be connected to the equipotential bonding of the pool steel, as they are non-current-carrying metallic parts of electrical equipment.)

Another change that came into effect in 2015 was a requirement for pumps for storable swimming pools to be supplied by receptacles located not less than 1.5 m and not more than 7.5 m from the pool; and for those located within 3 m of the pool and not suitably separated to be GFI protected. The concern here is about how portable and storable equipment is not subject to permits or inspections in a number of jurisdictions. Safety education is very important on behalf of each authority-having jurisdiction (AHJ) and in conjunction with pool suppliers. Handouts and instructions are key.

In 2018’s CE Code, for hydro-massage bathtubs designed to operate with more than one circuit, the outlets must be located under the tub, 300 mm above the floor and unreachable for the tub’s occupant(s). These outlets are also required to be GFI protected, accessible and labelled to indicate they do not feed any other equipment. Further, if the tub is located in a dwelling unit, both circuits must also be arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) protected.

There is nothing like relaxing in a hot tub, but be sure the installation is safe, so leaving the tub is not your last trip!


David Pilon is currently the training co-ordinator for Electrical Inspectors and has been an electrical inspector with SaskPower since 2000. He is also the vice-chair of the Canadian Certified Electrical Inspector (CCEI) committee of the International Association of Electrical Inspectors (IAEI), Canadian Section. David can be reached at dpilon@saskpower.com.

This article originally appeared in the December 2018 issue of Electrical Business Magazine.