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Swimming Pool Electricity Safety in Ontario

There's no doubt that Canadians love summer. Part of that love is spending time in the backyard and around the pool. Having a pool in your backyard is a luxury, but it also carries many responsibilities for safety and maintenance.

If you're considering getting a pool, there are crucial electrical regulations to follow during installation. For those with a pool, annual maintenance is equally important to maintain the safety of anyone in the swimming area. In this blog post, you will find critical considerations for electrical safety around pools and hot tubs and the importance of hiring a licensed electrical contractor (LEC) for these specialized services.

Overhead lines and wires create pool safety risks

One of the primary hazards to be mindful of when installing a pool or hot tub in your backyard is the proximity to overhead lines and communication wires. In older neighbourhoods, these lines often traverse through residential yards, sometimes passing directly over pools.

Ontario's Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) regulates that overhead lines that pass over pools must be 5 metres higher than the pool's edge. This height reduces the risk of contact with people on pool slides, skimmer poles, toys, and other potential dangers. If the wires carry a charge exceeding 750 volts, the clearance increases to 7.5 meters.

This is also why decorating pools with string lights that pass over the water is unsafe. Accidental contact or damage to the lights could lead to danger in the pool.

Installing a pool without planning around power lines can create serious woes. In one case, the ESA shared the experience of a new pool owner that installed their pool under hydro lines. After the final inspection, the owner was ordered to move the hydro line and pole for the pool to remain. The relocation process took well over a year and cost the homeowner $30,000. Installing the pool to code from the onset would have easily prevented this problem.

String lights over a swimming pool cause electrical safety concerns

Pool installation planning and safety compliance

It is crucial to have a well-thought-out plan to ensure electrical safety around pools and hot tubs. According to code requirements, all electrical components (pump, air conditioner, heater, outlets etc.) must be 3 metres from the pool unless blocked by a wall or permanent structure. If Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) are installed, certain exceptions may apply. It is essential to consult with a licensed electrical contractor experienced in pool installations to determine the best course of action for your specific situation.

Additionally, all of the pool’s components, including pumps, outlets, pool shells, lights, and skimmers, need ESA safety approval marks. These approval marks guarantee compliance with rigorous safety standards. If buying used or online from third-party sellers, you may acquire items without proper safety markings. We suggest purchasing products from reputable retailers, as pool installers and electricians can only install safety-marked products. 

Bonding, grounding and routine maintenance for pool electrical safety

Some swimmers have reported small electric shocks in swimming pools. The common cause of that is improper pool bonding and grounding. Bonding and grounding are critical to your pool’s electrical safety. They reduce the risk of electric shocks in swimming pools and divert electricity to the ground, away from swimmers.

To maintain a continually safe environment, you should conduct routine electrical maintenance when opening the pool each year. In particular, saltwater pools are more likely to corrode, especially around ladders. A compromised bonding system increases the risk of shock.

copper wiring is bonding the pool ladder metal to the ground

Safely decommissioning a swimming pool with professional assistance

If you are decommissioning an old pool to make way for a new one, hiring help from a LEC is best. While a buyer could remove the equipment for free, there is a risk that they may leave live electrical components behind or fail to adjust the breaker properly, compromising safety. By entrusting the decommissioning process to a LEC, you can ensure that all electrical elements are safely disconnected and removed, mitigating any potential hazards.

Getting a pool in your backyard is a surefire way to get the most out of your summer. By ensuring electrical safety around the pool throughout the installation and each year after, you can protect all users in and around the pool. If you require a pool electrical safety check or a licensed electrical contractor to support the installation of a pool or hot tub, we'd be happy to help! You can connect with us by calling 1-844-667-6937, emailing, or filling out the form below.

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Serving the Hamilton and Niagara area.