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Barrier Codes

Prerequisites for Barrier:

  • None - can be done anytime as long as its done before the final inspection.  Its also convenient to do it before cleanup so that if they leave some installation debris around, the cleanup crew can pick it all up at once.



Before the final (pre-plaster) inspection with the City of Chandler can take place, all barrier codes for the city must be met.  The requirements are all contained in the City of Chandler Barrier Ordinance #2387.  This ordinance explains everything that a homeowner needs to do in order to insure that their pool is ready for the pre-plaster inspection.  Here are the high-level items that pertain to my situation.

Interior Barrier
Interior barriers shall be an interior fence or wall which completely surrounds the swimming pool.  The barrier cannot encroach within 20 inches of the pool's edge.    There shall be no gaps in the barrier that would allow a 4 inch sphere to pass through.  The height of the barrier shall not be less than 5 feet above the finished floor (this is the case when you install say a wrought iron fence around the immediate pool area).  If the exterior barrier and the interior barrier are the same thing (this would be the case if you have a masonry wall around the entire perimeter of your yard and you choose to use the exterior barrier as your interior barrier as well), then the barrier height must then be 6 ft in height.

All pedestrian access gates in an interior barrier shall be self-closing/self-latching and must open outward from the pool.  Gate latches shall be located no less than 54 inches above finished grade or shall otherwise be made inaccessible from the outside by small children

All exterior hinged or sliding doors leading from a dwelling unit, bedroom, garage or storage room directly into a swimming pool enclosure shall be self-closing.

  • Self-closing devices shall consist of one of the following
    • spring-loaded  hinges
    • pneumatic closures (without stops)
    • approved sliding glass door closures
  • Latching mechanism shall consist of one of the following:
    • passage lock located 54 inches above finished floor
    • double cylinder gate latch installed at any height (provide door is not required in emergency egress).
    • sliding glass door latches shall be located 54 inches above finished floor

All windows facing on a swimming pool enclosure shall be equipped with a latching device

  • Emergency escape or rescue windows shall consist of one of the following:
    • a thumb screw clamp that prevents opening the window more than 4 inches and is located no less than 54 inches above finished floor
    • a screwed-in-place wire mesh screen
    • a latching device that is a part of a horizontal sliding window located not less than 54 inches above finished floor
  • All other open-able dwelling unit or garage windows shall consist of one of the following:
    • a thumb screw-clamp that prevents opening the window more than 4 inches and is located not less than 54 inches above finished floor
    • a keyed lock that prevents opening the window more than 4 inches
    • a screwed-in-place wire mesh screen
    • a latching device that is part of a horizontal sliding window located not less than 54 inches above the finished floor.

In our subdivision, our home builder includes a 6 ft masonry wall around the entire perimeter of each lot.  Putting this masonry wall around the property is a fairly standard practice here in AZ.  We had one in the last house we lived in, when we were living in Mesa.  In the City of Chandler, this masonry wall meets the fencing requirement for pools as long as all other entry points to the backyard area are secured.  This has two advantages for the homeowner:

  1. It saves on an extra expense of having a wrought iron gate installed around the pool

  2. It looks much nicer not having to stare at an iron fence when looking out at your pool.

For an entry point to be secure, the city requires that the opening be equipped with a self-closing (spring-loaded or equivalent), self-latching door or gate.  Also, each of these entry points are required to open outwardly.  This means that if you are standing outside of the backyard area in front of the entry point in question, the door or gate must be pulled open.  This requirement insures that accidental entry by infants and small children does not occur by just leaning on the door.  

I had already taken care of the front gate earlier.  All that remained to be done were the two patio doors that opened to the backyard and the garage service door near the front gate that opened to the back.  In addition to the doors and gates, all windows that can be opened to the backyard must have latches that are at least 54" high and must have an approved locking mechanism attached.  It just so happened that our home builder installed all their window latches to meet this 54" height minimum requirement.  I didn't know if that was a de-facto home builder standard or not, but I'm glad they did that.  It saved me from having to put on window locks on each of the windows that opened to the backyard.  I hear they run about $20 a piece.

There were a couple of companies I was considering for the barrier work.  I didn't even solicit them.  Early on during the pool building project, I received some flyers in the mail for pool barrier work.  They must have gotten my name from one of the other subs.  One company, called Slide-Right, sent a brochure saying they could do each patio door for $285.  What?! - just for a door closing mechanism?  A few weeks later, I received another flyer in the mail from a competing company called Pool Doors Inc.  Their patio door mechanisms were $250 a piece.  At that point, I figured that the going rate for these mechanisms was about the same and that they weren't trying to rip me off.  Well, at least the first statement was true ...

I decided to go with Pool Doors Inc. because of the price.  I had actually made an appointment with them even before Doug was finished with the BBQ painting work to have them come in the day after Doug was done.  This was a slow week at work and I wanted to knock out as many of the remaining miscellaneous work items as possible.

Wednesday, December 11, 2002 - 10:20am
The service technician from Pool Doors Inc arrived just after 10am on Wednesday.  The first thing he did was come in to inspect the two patio doors.  After a few minutes, he came to tell me that the color of the door pulley mechanisms were the wrong color.  When I called them earlier in the week to make the appointment, I told them the patio door was white without really checking it.  It turned out the doors were really tan in color.  The service tech said that they actually carried a tan colored door pulley mechanisms that would better match the patio doors, but that he only brought the white ones today.  It was my mistake.  He suggested that I go ahead and install the white ones today so that I could pass inspection, then, when they were back in the neighborhood the next time, he could bring the tan colored ones and swap 'em out.  I agreed and he headed back out to his truck to start assembling the pulley mechanisms.

The pulley/canister mechanism is attached to the rear of the sliding patio door.  The canister contains a weight inside of it, which slides up and down along the length of the cylindrical canister.  A wire is attached to the top of the weight on one end and connected to the frame of the door on the other.  As you slide the door open, the weight inside the canister gets pulled up to the top. When you release the door, the weight slides back down the canister, pulling the door close through a pulley system using the wire attached to the door frame.

After the pulleys were partially assembled, he came back to the house and drilled holes into the door frames just above the original handle location.  By code, the new handle for the spring loaded patio door were required to be installed 54" above the ground.  The picture to the right shows the new patio door handle.


Next, he drilled holes in the top of the frames for each patio door.  These holes are used to attach a screw that will anchor the pulley mechanism.  You can see the wire screwed into the frame which is used to automatically pull the door close through the use of a counter-weight inside the cylinder.


The end of the wire is screwed into the frame of the door, then fed along the track at the top along the complete length of the sliding door.  The canister is attached to the back of the sliding door where the other end of the wire attaches to a weight which slides up and down inside the cylinder.  You can see the finished door in the picture below to the right.


The only other entry point to the pool area was the garage service door which open just behind the front gate.  There were two things that needed to be done there to meet code: 1) replace the default hinges with spring loaded ones so that the door would automatically close from an open position. 2) Move the door knob higher so that it clears the 54" height requirement.


Fortunately for the technician, the deadbolt on the door, which was installed above the door knob, just happened to clear the 54" height requirement.  It also happened that the cutout for the doorknob and the deadbolt were exactly the same size.  By exchanging the two mechanisms, he was able to meet the height clearance requirement without having to drill any extra holes.


The front gate that had been installed a few weeks earlier already had springs installed when the door was hung.  You can see the spring mechanism on the front gate below.


I had insured that all the windows that could be opened and were entry points to the backyard all cleared the 54" height requirement, so beyond that, all that was left was to insure that the clearance under the front gate was no more than 4" high.  To measure I used a little rubber 4" basketball that my son gave me.  Here's the clearance of the gate before I backfilled the ground.


I took some loose dirt that was still piled up in the front yard and shoveled it over the area under the gate.  I backfilled enough so that the clearance was less than 3" in height.  With the 4" ball in the picture below, you can see that I'm well within the height clearance now.


That wraps up the work needed to meet the barrier codes.  Pool Side Inc. needs to come out later to swap out the canisters to match the tan color of the doors, but as is, I have everything I need to pass the final (pre-plaster) inspection.

Well, I'm headed for the 7th inning stretch.  Next up, I have the cleaning crew coming in to haul away the trash left over by the dozen or so subs that have come through over the last 4 months.  Included in this cleanup process is draining the filthy water that has built up over that time and scraping the interior of the pool clean to get it ready for the final interior work.

Problems with the Barrier Phase / Things I would have done differently:

  • Didn't realize that the color of my sliding door was tan and not white.  The Pool Doors Inc technician now has to come back out to swap the pulley canister mechanism to match the color of the sliding door.


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