Pool Inspection Checklist

Written by Michael Dean
January 18, 2024

inspecting a swimming pool

Just as it is necessary to get a professional home inspection done before buying a house, it’s equally as important to get a professional swimming pool inspection done if that house has an inground pool. Unfortunately, as exciting as pools are, you could be unknowingly inheriting some problems you won’t want to deal with when purchasing a home with a pool. So, before jumping the gun and purchasing a new house with a pool, you want to ensure the pool is structurally sound and that all systems function correctly.

In this article, I will explain the pool inspection process and provide a checklist of everything an inspector should check to ensure the pool is in good condition.

Main Takeaways

  • Not all home inspectors can conduct a pool inspection, as they must be specifically qualified.
  • Your pool inspector should look for the following: pool safety features, physical condition of the pool, condition of pool equipment and systems, additional design and convenience features, and equipment infrastructure and yard conditions.

Can My Home Inspector Conduct a Pool Inspection Too?

While some home inspectors will offer pool inspection as part of the home inspection, you should be careful. It’s important to be aware that not all home inspectors are qualified to conduct a full pool inspection. In fact, I highly recommend contacting a specialized pool inspection specialist for the job. After all, it is very important to know what you are getting yourself into, especially if you are purchasing a new property. Don’t hesitate to ask if you’re unsure of your home inspector’s qualifications.

If your home inspector is not a certified pool inspector or you want a second opinion, you can hire a specially trained pool inspector who only inspects pools. While this will probably be a little more expensive, it will be worth the additional peace of mind.

How Home Inspectors Can Get Certified to Inspect a Pool

A qualified home inspector should have taken a training course and successfully completed it. The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors offers a free class for home inspectors to learn how to inspect home pools and spas properly.

The comprehensive course teaches home inspectors what to look at when conducting a pool inspection. It also explains how the components work and how to tell if they are functioning correctly. The course describes proper water chemistry, including what chemicals should and shouldn’t be present in the water and the appropriate amounts of each.

Along with the electrical components and chemistry, the course also teaches inspectors how to identify any safety issues that may be present in the pool and the area surrounding the pool.

After completing the course, home inspectors take an exam and must receive a passing score before being certified. If your home inspector has completed the course successfully, they should have received an official Certificate of Completion that they can show you upon request.

How to Find the Pool Inspection Regulations In Your Area

The guidelines for how a pool inspection must be done and who can carry out a pool inspection will vary depending on your state and county. So, knowing your local pool inspection regulations is imperative, as you should stay legally compliant when purchasing a new pool. But how do you find your local regulations? Trust me, I know better than anyone how frustrating it can be to dig through local regulations. These can be hard to navigate, to say the least. Here are some tips for finding the pool inspection regulations in your area.

  • Contact your local chapter of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). They can also refer you to an experienced pool inspector in your area.
  • Check with your local municipality or HOA for information on your pool building, permit, and safety requirements. You can then make sure the pool in question fits the bill.
  • Google “Your State” + Swimming Pool Regulations. This should bring up the local safety and build requirements for pools in your state. Keep in mind that in some states, these regulations will differ by county or municipality.

Checklist: What Your Pool Inspector Should Be Looking For

While we all hope a home inspector is honest about checking everything in and around your pool, educating yourself about what a thorough residential pool inspection should involve doesn’t hurt. Here is a complete list of what your inspector should check when performing a proper pool inspection.

These are the areas a complete professional pool inspection needs to address:

  • Pool Safety Features
  • Physical Condition of Pool
  • Condition of Equipment and Pool Operating Systems
  • Additional Design and Convenience Features
  • Equipment Infrastructure and Yard Conditions

Pool Safety Features

Pool safety features include things like perimeter fences around the pool area (with appropriate latching and locks), pool alarms, safety glass, and safety covers. When you consider buying a house with a preexisting inground pool, you should research the required safety features for the area you’re considering buying your new home. Many municipalities will also require pool owners to have a pool life ring in close proximity to the pool area.

Required safety measures vary from town to town, so check with the local township for your location’s exact information. While the home inspector should be familiar with the local laws, it is still essential for you to educate yourself. For example, in California, any pool more than 18 inches deep must have a fence surrounding the entire pool.

Never assume the previous owner followed required safety measures without checking them out yourself. Before closing on the house, ensure all necessary safety features are present. Then, the seller should remedy the problem or take it off the final purchase price so you can fix it yourself.

Physical Condition of Pool

While some issues are easy to see, some structural deterioration or damage is more subtle and harder to detect. Your inspector should check the pool finish to ensure the interior appears uniform, smooth, and free of stains, streaks, or other types of discoloration. Some staining is typical and easy to remedy, but other types of staining are harder and more expensive to remove.

Likewise, older pool finishes may have some small cracks due to aging. This is normal, but ensuring these are not signs of more serious underlying structural problems is essential. Examining the tile along the waterline for cracks and chips is a good check for those problems. Also, your inspector should check the grout between the tiles to ensure the tile is entirely surrounded and hasn’t deteriorated with use.

The pool deck also requires examination. Look at the color and condition of the decking material. Note the decking position to ensure it’s correctly pitched, so splash-out is moved away from the pool and directed towards proper drainage areas.

Check if the decking is even or if it is lifting in areas. Lifting can be a sign of more significant problems and may require a partial or complete replacement of decking material, which can be very costly.

Condition of Equipment and Pool Operating Systems

Your pool inspector should also ensure the pool operates as smoothly and efficiently as possible. They will turn on and run all the systems involved in operating the pool. Listen to make sure things sound as they should and check for potential mechanical issues that may cause operating systems to fail.

Your inspector will also pay close attention to the pump and water filtration systems, as they are critical to pool operation and can be expensive to repair. Additionally, the lighting system should be checked to ensure it works. If there is a pool heater, your inspector will also turn it on to ensure it is functioning.

Additional Design and Convenience Features

If you can’t use them, there’s no point in paying for convenience and luxury features in your pool. While things like automatic pool covers, diving boards, decorative lighting/water features, and advanced sanitizing technology may not be crucial to your pool’s proper functioning, you should expect to get what you pay for.

Make sure you’re aware of any extra features that your pool is supposed to come with and ensure they’re working and ask them to be discounted off the price if they’re not.

Equipment Infrastructure and Yard Conditions

Besides the equipment that actually runs the pool, there is also equipment that helps run other equipment. Things like plumbing lines, electrical cables, and breakers are all necessary to run the pool equipment. You want to make sure there are no leaky lines or damaged wires. You also want to make sure breakers are correctly labeled. This infrastructure may seem minor, but replacing or repairing electrical and plumbing work can be VERY expensive, so ensuring your pool inspector checks this is important.

In addition to equipment, consider the layout of the yard area. Will rainwater drain properly or end up overflowing into your pool? Do you have enough room to store safety equipment without cluttering the deck? Are surrounding surfaces slip-resistant, or are there slip and fall hazards?

These are also important considerations because not only do you want your new yard to be visually appealing, but you also want to be able to enjoy everything safely with family and friends.

Here’s my friend Craig Wooster walking through all the checklist items I explained above.

Get My Free Pool Inspection Checklist

Download my free, printable pool inspection checklist to help you hit all your inspection points.

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Average Pool Inspection Costs

Pool inspections can widely vary in cost depending on a number of factors, including your region, the size of your pool, and the age of the pool. On average, pool owners spend between $125 to $250 for a pool inspection, but keep in mind if you have a larger or older pool, this can cost a lot more. Check out my article on average pool inspection costs for more.

Inspect It Before You Buy It

A home with a built-in swimming pool certainly has its appeal, but it’s important to know what you’re getting before you close on your new home. Your new yard should be an oasis where you can unwind and enjoy time with friends and family. You don’t want it to turn into a massive headache.

Having a professional pool inspector do an in-depth inspection of the pool and surrounding area will give you peace of mind. Knowing everything is working correctly or being aware of any issues your new pool may have will allow you to plan accordingly and get a fair purchase price for your new home.

Questions? Shoot me a message, and I’ll be glad to help.

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