Due to the warm, tropical climate that Florida is known for, many homes have swimming pools in their backyard. You'll also notice that many pools have enclosures around them, leading people to wonder if pool enclosures are required in Florida. We've researched this to explain whether or not they're required and why.
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According to the Florida Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act, any pool in Florida has to be equipped with one of four safety features to pass inspection:
- A pool enclosure
- A pool cover
- Exit alarms on any door leading to the pool
- Self-closing and latching device on any door leading to the pool
While a pool enclosure isn't required as long as you have one of the other safety features, many opt for one because of not only safety but the environment and wildlife found in Florida as well. In this article, we'll take a more in-depth look at the reasons behind pool enclosures and the pros and cons of having one. Continue reading to learn more.
Why Are Pool Enclosures Necessary In Florida?
There are several reasons why pool enclosures are necessary. The largest reason is for safety, but other reasons include wildlife and climate. Let's take a closer look at each reason to better understand why many people who live in Florida choose to have pool enclosures instead of other safety features.
The reason that the Florida Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act was enacted is ultimately for safety. Florida is mostly surrounded by oceans and has a large number of lakes. The warm climate also leads many people to have swimming pools. As a result, drowning is a leading cause of death for both children and elderly adults.
The high number of drowning deaths called for lawmakers to create regulations regarding swimming pool safety to reduce the number of child and elderly deaths that occur in swimming pools. In addition to pool enclosures being one of the four options for safety features, there were also regulations placed on the size and placement of the enclosure.
If you opt for a pool enclosure (or barrier) instead of one of the other safety features, your enclosure must meet ALL of the following criteria:
- The enclosure must be at least 4 feet high on all sides.
- You must have an enclosure around your pool that is separate from any other enclosure surrounding your yard or home.
- The enclosure can't have any gaps for children to crawl through or any way for children to climb over.
- There should be enough room between the pool and the enclosure that they wouldn't immediately fall into the pool if someone were to get through the barrier.
- Gates and doors to the enclosure must open outward, be self-closing, and self-latching.
Climate And Wildlife
The climate and diverse wildlife in Florida are other reasons why a pool enclosure is a good idea. Florida has long periods of intense sunlight, and if pools are fully enclosed with a roof over them, the roof provides added protection from sunlight and heat depending on what it is made of.
Florida is also home to many water-loving animals, including alligators, snakes, birds, and mosquitoes. Enclosures that go around and fully cover the pool help to keep dangerous wildlife out. Water is also a breeding ground for mosquitoes, which can carry diseases. Enclosures are necessary to keep them out as well.
Advantages And Disadvantages Of Pool Enclosures
Now that we've discussed all of the safety reasons for having a pool enclosure, as well as regulations that have to be followed, let's explore more pros of having a pool enclosure. We'll also look at the cons so that you are well-informed if you're still on the fence about a pool enclosure.
Most Florida homeowners argue that the pros of pool enclosures outweigh the cons. Here is a list of all the pros of pool enclosures:
- Offers security from both wildlife and other people
- Extends both swim time and the life of your pool
- It makes pool maintenance easier by keeping out dirt and debris
- Offers Protection from sunlight and rain
There are a few cons that make people hesitant to install a pool enclosure, including:
- Cooler pool water depending on the material that is used
- Space and landscaping limitations
Homeowners with small backyards or gardening enthusiasts may find that pool enclosures take up too much space in their yard or limit the amount of landscaping they can have. But the biggest cause of hesitation is that pool enclosures can be costly. More information regarding cost will come later in the article.
What Are Pool Enclosures Made Of?
Since the law doesn't regulate exactly what material a pool enclosure should be made of, something as simple as a fence is acceptable as long as it meets ALL of the regulations. This means that if a fence is used, it must be at least 4 feet high, the gate must open outward, and it can't be made out of chain links or anything else that someone could climb over easily. Most fences that surround pools will be made of wood.
While fences are effective at keeping people and wildlife out and offering privacy, they don't have as many benefits as having a fully enclosed pool. A pool that is fully enclosed will have a barrier on the sides as well as the roof. Most full pool enclosures will closely resemble a greenhouse, and they serve a similar purpose as well.
Common materials used for full pool enclosures are glass and polycarbonate, although sometimes screens are used. The frame is usually made of aluminum or wood. Some full enclosures can even be opened and closed at the top and offer more options for landscaping due to acting similar to a greenhouse. Essentially, you can turn an outdoor pool into an "indoor" pool with full enclosures.
Why Do Pools In Florida Have Glass Enclosures?
Glass is one of the most popular materials to use for pool enclosures. Not only does glass offer more benefits than fencing, but it is also more durable than screened enclosures and does a better job of keeping out bugs and wildlife. Florida is also susceptible to hurricanes, and glass can withstand high winds and rain better than other materials.
Many people choose glass enclosures because glass is also better at trapping heat. By choosing a glass enclosure, your pool water will warm up faster and stay warmer for longer, extending how long you can swim without having to use a heater. For those that love gardening but don't have the space, your glass enclosure can double as a greenhouse and enable you to create a relaxing outdoor space.
How Tall Is A Pool Enclosure?
Pool enclosures can be installed at different heights. The height of the pool enclosure is a matter of personal preference and budget. Low enclosures serve the purpose of covering your pool, but they are usually only about 3 feet tall.
Due to being considered a pool covering instead of an enclosure, they don't have to be the required 4 feet tall that an enclosure would have to be. But low enclosures still satisfy one of the safety options outlined in the Safety Act because they are typically the ones that can be opened to provide more room to swim and closed back when the pool isn't in use.
Mid-height and high enclosures are more popular options because they provide more space inside the enclosure and don't feel as closed in. Mid-height enclosures are usually anywhere from 8 to 12 feet tall, while high enclosures tend to be 12 feet or higher. High enclosures are ideal for people who want an outdoor living space in their pool area.
How Long Do Pool Enclosures Last?
Pool enclosures can last anywhere from 10 to 20 years. The lifespan of your pool enclosure depends on the materials and quality of the materials that it is made of. Proper maintenance is also necessary for your pool enclosure to last for a long time.
How Much Does A Pool Enclosure Cost?
Pool enclosures can cost anywhere from $5,000 to more than $70,000. Several factors determine the cost, including:
- The amount of square footage that will be covered
- How tall the enclosure is
- What material it will be made of
- Special features such as being retractable or equipped with alarms
See More: How Much Does A Sunroom Cost?
We hope this guide helped to better your understanding of why pool enclosures are necessary for Florida. Your pool has to have either an enclosure or another approved safety feature as required by Florida law. Enclosures are the safety option that many people choose due to all the added benefits that they provide. Thanks for reading!