Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q.)

"Sometimes God calms the storm.  At other times, he calms the sailor.  And sometimes he makes us swim."  ~Author Unknown

  • How Do I Help Avoid Damage During a Hurricane or Tropical Storm?
  • Can service dogs go into public swimming pools or the pool area?
  • Is there a state rule against children in diapers going in public swimming pools?
  • Can I Put A Salt Chlorinator on My Community Pool?
  • Is a Different Pump Size That Achieves The Design Flow Rate A Like Change? 
  • Can a color or changing color underwater light be installed/operate in a public pool?
  • Does the Curb (Raised-Beam) Mud Cap (Bullnose)Tile for and Existing Public Pools have to be Non-Skid?
  • Can the Complete Gutter ledge (Lip) Be Lined with 2x6 Nonskid Tile?
  • Can Gutter Ledge (Lip) Tile Be in a Pattern of Three Different Colors (Alternating Colors)?
  • What are the new CDC guidelines for hyperchlorination to kill cryptosporidium in the presence of Cyanuric Acid (CYA) aka - stabilizer?
  • Who Can Test My Commercial Pool to Meet the Daily Testing Requirement
  • Who Can Clean My Commercial Pool
  • Do I Have To Have An ORP System on My Commercial Spa?
  • Do I Have To Have An ORP System on My Commercial Spa?
  • Do I Have To Have An Acid Feeder on My Commercial Spa?
  • Which Public Pools Are Exempt From Department of Health Inspection?


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Q: How do I minimize damage to my swimming pool during a hurricane or tropical storm?


A: Follow the storm on the National Hurricane Center (NHC) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), raise the water level, cut power to equipment, add chemicals, remove unsecured items including unsecured pool covers from deck and pool,

  • Water Level
    Do not lower the water level in the pool for three very important reasons: - Water is needed in the pool to counter-balance the pressure (called hydrostatic pressure) which will build up outside of the pool shell during a storm. During a storm, the ground around a swimming pool will become saturated with water from the rain and flooding. When water levels in the ground rise, the pressure outside or below an inground swimming pool increases. When this happens, the pool can literally pop out of the ground which will require a very high cost of repair. A filled pool will have water pressure inside the pool which will counter-balance the pressure from the water outside the pool. This will help protect your pool. - Water is needed in the pool to protect the finish or surface of the pool from getting hit with sand, trees, flying debris, etc. - If the pool is filled or overfilled as a precaution, then contaminated water will have nowhere in your pool to flow so it will run-off to another lower location. This will assist in cleanup and help keep bacteria out of your pool. 
  • Equipment 
    Do not run pool equipment - Turn off the power, at the circuit breaker, to all of your pool equipment but do not drain water from the system. The extra water will help to weigh down the equipment. - If you can, remove the motor and store it inside in a dry place to protect this "dry end" of the pump from being damaged from water (flooding). If you do not remove the motor, the you can carefully wrap the motor in a plastic with tape or rope tied tightly around it. 
  • Chemicals 
    Shock your pool. Extra chlorine should be added to the pool to prevent contamination. 
  • Loose Deck and Pool Items 
    Remove all loose items from the pool area. These items can become projectiles which can damage your house and other things. This includes patio furniture, toys, skimmer lids, automatic cleaners, and anything that is not bolted or tied down. Loose items should only be put into the pool as a last resort. If they are in the pool, they can shift during the storm and scrape against the surface of the pool. They can be ruined by the added chemicals. If they are made of metal or glass they can stain the pool or break making cleanup very costly. If your pool is vinyl or fiberglass, don't ever put anything in the pool because the vinyl liner could tear and the fiberglass could be scratched. 
  • Pool Covers
    If you have a pool cover that is held on by water tubes or some other type of weights, do not put it on. These types of covers will be easily blown off. If you have a safety cover (this cover is attached to anchors in the deck around the pool), put it on. These covers are designed to hold even in the winds of a hurricane.


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Q: Can service dogs go into public swimming pools or the pool area?
A: Service animals are allowed onto the pool deck, but not into the pool. While service dogs are generally allowed to accompany their owners anywhere the public would normally be allowed to go, they may be excluded under certain conditions, such as a threat to the health and safety of others. The Department of Health considers any animal in a public pool a public health threat.


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Q: Does the state have a rule against children in diapers going in public swimming pools?
A: Florida has no specific rule against children in diapers entering public swimming pools.  The use of swim diapers is recommended for children who are not toilet trained.


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Q: Can a salt chlorine generator be used as a primary sanitizing system on a commercial pool? 

A: There is nothing per code that says salt generators cannot be used as a primary form of sanitization. The reason we usually say Salt generators are to be secondary sanitizers is because most affordable salt generators do not meet this chlorine output requirement. If you can provide manufacturer specifications that show the specific generator you are installing meets these requirements then it could be a primary sanitization system. Per FBC 454.1: The feeders shall be capable of continuously feeding a dosage of 6 mg/L to the minimum required turnover flow rate of the filtration systems. Solution feeders shall be capable of feeding the above dosage using a 10-percent sodium hypochlorite solution, or 5-percent calcium hypochlorite solution, whichever disinfectant is to be utilized at this facility.


Q: Can a salt chlorine generator be used as a secondary sanitation system? 

A: Absolutely. Even if the salt generator does not meet the above requirements it can definitely be installed as a secondary form of sanitization.


Q: Can a salt chlorine generator be used as the sole sanitation system? 

A: If the specific system meets the requirements mentioned above it could be the sole sanitization system.


Q: What are the makes and models of currently approved salt generators approved for primary use for swimming pools? 

A: The Department of Health does not maintain updated lists of NSF (national sanitation foundation) approved equipment. There is one salt generator that is approved by the program office for use as a primary form of sanitization. However, it is very expensive and usually only seen on big pools. (Disney, water parks, large hotels, etc.). I would suggest that you do a free search on the website and download all chlorine generators with the NSF rating. It is expressed in maximum pounds per day of production.


Q: How many maximum pounds per day of production will meet the 6 mg/L feeding requirement?
A: To determine feeder sizing; take the required flow rate and / by 13.68= ppd of chlorine feeder must produce. Eg 100 gpm/ 13.68= 7.3 ppd


Q: Does the installation of a salt generator require an DH4159 application for modification? 

A: Installation of a salt generator does require the DH 4159 application for modification, and the submittal of engineered drawings. To be installed on a commercial pool any device would need to be ANSI and NSF 50 approved. And when you provide the DH4159 to install the device any manufacturer information you have should be submitted as well.


Q: Are there any additional water testing requirements?
A: Taylor kits (or any DPD1 kit) should work with basic salt generators. The only salt pools we require to have a specific test kit are the float pods that have more salt in the water than the ocean because it messes with the accuracy of the Taylor kits our inspectors use.


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Q: If a public swimming pool has a design flow rate that appears in its approved engineering plans and that design flow rate can be achieved through a different size pump than what appears in its approved engineering plans, can the different size pump be installed without new engineering/drawings and without a DOH modification application 4159 if the manufacturer's pump curve documentation achieves the design flow rate and the design flow rate is achieved when operating?
A: Yes, we consider it a like for like change if you can maintain the design flow rate.

Water Programs, Bureau of Environmental Health
Division of Disease Control and Health Protection, Florida Dept. of Health


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Q:  Can a color or changing color underwater light be installed/operate in a public pool?

A: As you are aware, manufactures produce color changing LED lights that can be programed.  When a pool is open, as determined by the pool hours posted on the pool rules signs, you can generally only operate the LED lights in the “white light” mode.  This is because colored light absorbs wave lengths differently, and some colors may not produce the required 0.5 watts equivalent per square foot.

Also, one of the problems we have noted is that the white light mode on changing LED lights is not as bright as the standard LED light (fewer diodes used).  So even on “white mode” you may not be achieving the 0.5 watts / square foot. To use only color changing LED lights, you would need to have the manufacture provide the lumens output for the white color.  Otherwise the pool would be permitted for dawn to dusk for as long as the pool exists and can never have night usage; unless overhead lighting of 15-foot candles per square foot is provided.

Our suggestion has been to install standard white LED light(s) to meeting the underwater lighting and then to also install any colored or color changing light in addition to these.  This would allow you to have night swimming at a future date if desired.  It also provides a safer pool by ensuring that the white light is bright enough so that the pool can clearly been seen and if anyone fell in the pool; they would be easily detectable.

I have attached a picture of the time setup for a pool that uses both standard white LED lights and color changing LED lights.  In this case they are using smaller Globrite LED lights for the color light visual effects.  Some swimming pools constructed on the beach are required to have only lights in the RED LIGHT only mode during turtle nesting / hatching seasons. The light combo works well to satisfy both regulatory agencies.

If a pool operator wants to install changing colored lights, that would be allowed with a proviso that the lights must remain on the “white color” and that the 0.5 Watt/ Sq. Ft rule is met when the pool is legally open.  Some facilities may want to turn on the colored lights for visual effects after the pool is closed and gates are locked to prevent access to the pool area.  If these requirements are met, I don’t see that the department could stop an owner from using colored LED lights in this manner."


Water Programs, Bureau of Environmental Health, 

Division of Disease Control and Health Protection, Florida Dept. of Health

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Q: Vertical mud cap (bullnose) tile on the exterior and interior of a curb (raised beam): When a curb (raised beam) is present around an existing public swimming pool, is the mud cap (bullnose) portion of the vertical tile (the 3/4" curve) on either the exterior or interior of that curb (raised beam) required to be non-skid when resurfacing the public swimming pool?  The FBC 2017 code does not seem to specifically reference tile used for a curb (raised beam) portion of the deck.
A: "When you are resurfacing a pool/spa the only areas the building department/health department require you to place the slip resistant bullnose tile is in the step areas. We highly recommend and have no issues with you replacing the mud cap (bullnose) portion of the vertical tile (the 3/4" curve) on either the exterior or interior of that curb (raised beam) with slip resistant tile but do not enforce this if it was not present before the resurfacing. The section of the modification/repair/alteration section of the Florida Building Code 454.1 only addresses three places that would potentially require existing tiles to be replaced with current code compliant tiles. Those are the tile step markings, the slope break marking, and the depth and NO DIVING markings."

SOURCE
Water Programs, Bureau of Environmental Health,
Division of Disease Control and Health Protection, Florida Dept. of Health

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Q: Can the complete gutterledge be lined with 2x6 nonskid tile?  Meaning, can both the horizontal surface and vertical surface of the gutterline tile be nonskid?
A: "Nothing to prevent it in code so no problem on our end."

Q: For waterline tile, does a slip resistant horizontal surface have to be installed during a resurface?  Or only on new construction?
A: You are correct, we are not requiring this Slip-resistant tile on existing perimeter gutters.  Even though it is a safer alternative.

Q: When we resurface a pool next week we have to put slip resistant (on the horizontal part) tile on the gutter ledge but we do not have to out slip resistant (on the horizontal part) tile on the waterline tile correct?


A: Only need the slip resistant tile on the steps (including gutter along step area as it it the top step), swim outs, and benches of existing permitted pools.   You do not have to put it on the entire perimeter of the gutter lip unless it’s new construction.  So on a resurfacing or renovation it is not a requirement but if you would like to install it we support the choice as it was added to the requirements for new construction for safety purposes.

SOURCE
Water Programs, Bureau of Environmental Health
Division of Disease Control and Health Protection, Florida Dept. of Health

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Q: A client wants gutterline tile in a pattern of three different colors...she wants 6x6 bullnose tile in cobalt, then teal, sapphire, then cobalt, teal, etc....Is non-uniform color ok by FBC/64E-9?
A: "I do not think there is anything prohibiting this variation of color in the code, I verified with my colleagues in the central office and they all concur."

Q: A client of ours is adamant..to install waterline and gutterline tile with three alternating colors: green (teal), cobalt blue, colonial blue (light blue)...Is this permitted?
A: If it’s a new pool it must be slip resistant on the horizontal gutter lip but other than that I don’t think this is a code violation.  I believe they can do any style they choose.

SOURCE
Water Programs, Bureau of Environmental Health
Division of Disease Control and Health Protection, Florida Dept. of Health

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Q: What are the new CDC guidelines for hyperchlorination to kill cryptosporidium in the presence of Cyanuric Acid (CYA) aka - stabilizer?
A: https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/pdf/hyperchlorination-to-kill-crypto-when-chlorine-stabilizer-is-in-the-water.pdf is a link to the CDC web site that deals with the new guidelines for hyperchlorination to kill cryptosporidium in the presence of Cyanuric Acid (CYA) aka - stabilizer...Note that the CDC is recommending a CYA level of no more than 15 ppm for the shocking and removal of crypto.  This is a substantial change from previous guidelines that back by science has determined much lower levels of CYA should be present in high risk bathing facilities. It should be mentioned that you should always consult with your local Health Department or jurisdictions body for their regulations.  This link is a CDC recommendation only and does not supersede local regulations..When designing, maintaining or recommending changes to existing sanitation systems; it might be best to move away from Tri-Chlor feeders to other forms of approved disinfectants.

SOURCE:
Water Programs, Bureau of Environmental Health
Division of Disease Control and Health Protection, Florida Dept. of Health

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Q:  Who Can Test My Commercial Pool to Meet the Daily Testing Requirement
A: Testing the water and recording it for the daily logs can be done by anyone. It could be done by the nice lady that swims laps every day, someone who lives in the community, a board member or the on-site maintenance person. No certification is required. However, if the person finds that the water chemistry is out of compliance the person should get in touch with the person maintaining the pool (cleaning, taking care of the equipment, etc.) and have them come out and add chemicals to the pool to ensure chlorine and pH levels are where they should be.  
F.A.C. 64E-9 PUBLIC SWIMMING POOLS AND BATHING PLACES
64E-9.004 Operational Requirements.
(10) The keeping of a daily record of information regarding pool operation, using form DH 921, Monthly Swimming Pool Report, 3/98, shall be the responsibility of the pool owner or operator. The completed report shall reflect manually conducted pool water tests for pH and disinfectant levels at least once every 24 hours, and weekly testing for cyanuric acid when chlorinated isocyanurates are used at spas and pools, and shall be retained at the pool and made available to the department upon request. Any able person can test the pool water and record it in the report.

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Q: Who Can Clean My Commercial Pool
A: If a person is the owner listed on the operating permit, that person can clean and add chemicals to the pool without needing certification.  If a person is the employee of an entity listed on the operating permit as the owner, that person can clean and add chemicals to the pool without needing certification.  If a person is the employee of a management company who manages the property owned by another entity, that person must be certified to clean or add chemicals to the pool.  Any other person including volunteers, "pool guys," "pool companies," etc., must be certified to clean and add chemicals to the pool.
FAC 64E-9 PUBLIC SWIMMING POOLS AND BATHING PLACES64E-9.018 Public Pool Service Technician Certification. An individual who services a public pool by maintaining the cleanliness, water quality and chemical balance of public pools shall be certified. To be certified an individual must demonstrate knowledge of public pools. Examples of such knowledge include: pool cleaning, general pool maintenance, make-up water supply, bacteriological, chemical and physical quality of water and water purification, testing, treatment, and disinfection procedures.
(5) This requirement does not apply to a person or the direct employee of a person permitted as a public pool operator under Section 514.031, F.S. Further, persons licensed under Section 489.105(3)(j), (k), or (l), F.S., shall be deemed certified.

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Q: Can I Have A Chlorine Tablet Feeder on My Commercial Spa?
A: If the chlorine tablet is a "stabilized" tablet also known as a trichlor tablet then no.  Florida Administrative Code F.A.C. 64E-9.008 Supervision and Safety. (10) General Equipment Maintenance for Safety – (e) Disinfection and pH adjustment shall be maintained as added to the pool recirculation flow using automatic feeders meeting the requirement of NSF/ANSI Standard 50-2012. All chemicals shall be fed into the return line after the pump, heater and filters, unless the feeder was designed by the manufacturer and approved by the NSF to feed to the collector tank or to the suction side of the pump. Feeding chlorinated isocyanurates* disinfectant is prohibited in spas, wading pools and interactive water features. Dual or multiuse feeders can be used if approved for and feeding an acceptable rate of alternate disinfectant. Where pH adjustment feeders are not present on these three types of pools that were required to replace chlorinated isocyanurates feeders, pH adjustment feeders shall be installed. Exception: spa pools of 100 square feet or less with original department approval to be built without a pH adjustment feeder.
NOTE: *isocyanurates are stabilized chlorine tablets.  Stabilized means it contains cyanuric acid in the tab which acts as a chlorine-preserver.  Trichlor tablets are stabilized chlorine tablets.  

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Q: Do I Have To Have An ORP System on My Commercial Spa?
A: Maybe.  All spas built after 1998 they are required to have an ORP system.  Spas built before 1998 are not required to have an ORP system

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Q: Do I Have To Have An Acid Feeder on My Commercial Spa?
A: Maybe.  Spas with a bromine erosion feeder do not require an acid feeder.  Spas with a liquid chlorine (sodium hypochlorite) feeder require an acid feeder.

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Q: If a condominium has 29 living units is the property exempt? If exempt, what needs to be done in addition to the resurface? If exempt, does the surface color have to be compliant with the wet and dry reflective values?
A: Since the pool was already approved for an exemption in 1994 they just need to reapply for an exemption.  As long as they still qualify they do not need a permit, nor are they inspected by us.  They are only required to maintain proper water chemistry and reapply for exemption every  5 years.  The application can be found here http://www.floridahealth.gov/environmental-health/swimming-pools/_documents/dh4065of.rtf ...They are required to inform residents of their exemption status as well.

514.0115 Exemptions from supervision or regulation; variances.— (1) Private pools and water therapy facilities connected with facilities connected with hospitals, medical doctors’ offices, and licensed physical therapy establishments shall be exempt from supervision under this chapter. (2)(a) Pools serving no more than 32 condominium or cooperative units which are not operated as a public lodging establishment shall be exempt from supervision under this chapter, except for water quality. (b) Pools serving condominium or cooperative associations of more than 32 units and whose recorded documents prohibit the rental or sublease of the units for periods of less than 60 days are exempt from supervision under this chapter, except that the condominium or cooperative owner or association must file applications with the department and obtain construction plans approval and receive an initial operating permit. The department shall inspect the swimming pools at such places annually, at the fee set forth in s. 514.033(3), or upon request by a unit owner, to determine compliance with department rules relating to water quality and lifesaving equipment. The department may not require compliance with rules relating to swimming pool lifeguard standards. 64E-9.0035 Exemptions. (1) A person seeking an initial exemption, or an existing facility claiming an exemption from department regulation pursuant to the provisions of Section 514.0115, F.S., shall submit an application and supportive documentation to the department, as described below. (a) Applicants for an exemption pursuant to Section 514.0115(2)(a) or (2)(b), F.S., shall submit either a completed form DH 4065, Application for a Swimming Pool Exemption Status – 32 Units or Less, 03/98, or a completed form DH 1704, Application for a Swimming Pool Exemption Status More Than 32 Units, 03/98, both of which are hereby incorporated by reference. Copies of these forms are available at http://www.flrules.org/Gateway/reference.asp?No=Ref-06894 and, http://www.flrules.org/Gateway/reference.asp?No=Ref-06895. (b) For purposes of determining exemption status, the term condominium shall be as defined in Chapter 718, F.S., and the term cooperative shall be as defined in Chapter 719, F.S. Applicants shall provide either the recorded declaration of condominium or the recorded cooperative documents and any additional documents which establish the criteria set forth in Section 514.0115(2)(a) or (2)(b), F.S. (2) Beginning July 1, 2010, exemptions shall be renewed by July 1, every five years. Applicants seeking renewal, who have no changes to the pool or ownership, shall only submit the application form. If swimming pool related or ownership changes have been made, this information shall be submitted along with the application form. (3) A person who received an exemption shall contact the department if the conditions upon which the exemption was granted change so as to eliminate the exemption status. Under such circumstances, the pool shall comply with the provisions of this chapter and Chapter 514, F.S. (4) An exemption from department rules does not exempt the pool from other federal, state, and local requirements.

Q: So if they apply and are granted an exemption and we resurface the pool, we do not have to install deck depth markers, waterline depth markers, VGBA mitigation for their direct suction, or VGBA compliant grates according to the DOH?  The surface color does not have to have a minimum dry and wet reflective value?
A: You are correct.  I would highly recommend, at minimum, depth markers at the shallow, middle, and deep end, as well as the SLV and VGB grates.  You may want to remind them that the owners of the properties will need to be notified they are not permitted and could be costly to the HOA in regards to liability.  Pool and spa owners applying for an exemption from state oversight; should contact their local health department to ensure county ordinance requirements are met. Multiple counties in the Tampa Bay region (for example Pinellas and Sarasota) operate programs though county ordinance and each county ordinance may differ in requirements set by the board of county commissioners.

Q: Does this mean any Condominium can opt out of DOH oversight as long as they change their documents to prohibit the rental or sublease of the units for periods of less than 60 days?  Why wouldn't all Condominiums do that? F.S. 514.0115 Exemptions from supervision or regulation; variances.— (b) Pools serving condominium or cooperative associations of more than 32 units and whose recorded documents prohibit the rental or sublease of the units for periods of less than 60 days are exempt from supervision under this chapter, except that the condominium or cooperative owner or association must file applications with the department and obtain construction plans approval and receive an initial operating permit.
A: For condominiums that are eligible for exemption if the property were not located in Pinellas County once an application was submitted and approved they would be exempt from state oversite by the Health Department. However, Pinellas County Code CH 66 supersedes any exemption status stating that any body of water meeting the definition of a “public pool” (A public pool per FS 514 is one that serves 5 or more living units) will be held to the standards of FAC 64E-9 which also refers to FBC 454.1. Because of this, applying for exemption doesn’t really do much in this county. For smaller pools I think it lowers their annual permit fees by approximately $25.

Pinellas County Code
Chaoter 66 Health and Sanitation
Article II - Health Permits
Sec. 66-39. - Inspections and permits.
(d) Any conflicts between the other provisions of this Code and the F.S. ch. 514 and the Florida Administrative Code 64E-9 shall be resolved in favor of this Code. Compliance with all provisions and any future amendments thereto is required hereby as if said provisions were herein set forth in full. However, pools not to be used for and expressly prohibiting diving may be of any width and length.

As for the condo exemption, any facility that legally qualifies for an exemption based on FS 514 and/or 64E-9 fac may apply. Note that the exemption is required to be renewed biannual. If any of the conditions change, related to rentals, the exemption is voided and the owner is required to bring the pool into the current code in effect. Also note that a pool exempt from DOH inspections is still not exempt from all applicable sections of 454.1 FBC

SOURCE:
Environmental Health Services
Florida Health Department Hillsborough County

Florida Department of Health Pinellas
Division of Disease Control and Health Protection

Water Programs, Bureau of Environmental Health
Division of Disease Control and Health Protection, Florida Dept. of Health