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Industry Standards and Codes

With the ongoing drought impacting Texas and other southwestern states, the ANSI/APSP/ICC-13 2017 American National Standard for Water Conservation Efficiency in Pools, Spas, Portable Spas and Swim Spas is becoming more important. This standard covers methods and technologies to increase the efficient use and conservation of water for residential and public recreational pools, spas, portable spas and swim spas equipped with a filtration circulation system. This standard applies to both new and existing facilities. Access a free, read-only version of the ANSI/APSP/ICC-13 Standard here.

Find a full list of Pool & Hot Tub Alliance (PHTA) industry standards here.

Public Swimming Pools and Spas

The Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Environmental Health Program, Local Health Departments, Local Code Enforcement Offices and other governmental jurisdictions help to provide safety and sanitation of public swimming pools and spas in Texas.   Recently, the DSHS issued NEW Public Pool & Spa Rules that went into effect on January 1, 2021:

  • For all DSHS public pool swimming pool and spa information, click here
  • For DSHS Artificial Swimming Lagoon information, click here

RAIL License

In Texas, all service and maintenance of electrical equipment for swimming pools and spas require an electrical license. Unless someone is a Master Electrician or working under the license and direct supervision of the Master Electrician, a Residential Appliance Installer License (RAIL) is required by the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulation (TDLR) to perform electrical work that is limited to residential appliance installation, including residential pool-related electrical installation and maintenance. The installer license took effect March 1, 2008, and for pool and spa service professionals, this is the license one must obtain in order to perform swimming pool and spa service work that includes replacing pumps, underwater lights, motors and heaters. TDLR enforces this licensure requirement and fines can and do occur for those who are not properly licensed.

The NFPA Standards Council approved updates to the 2023 National Electrical Code (NEC) related to pools on April 10, 2023. On September 1, 2023, the 2023 edition of the National Electrical Code went into effect. This means: Any non-exempt electrical work started on or after September 1, 2023, must be installed in accordance with the 2023 NEC. To clarify: the "start" of electrical work is the day the electrician begins installing electrical materials or equipment within the residential or commercial building structure. Inside the corporate limits of a municipality, electricians must abide by city permitting requirements and adhere to any local code amendments.

A few of the changes to the 2023 NEC include: 

  • The definition of "pool" in the NEC now explicitly excludes bodies of water such as lagoons and surf parks, even if they contain a swimming area. (Lagoons and surf parks are covered by Article 682 of the NEC.)
  • In addition to unencapsulated steel structural reinforcing steel, steel structural welded wire or copper grid can be used for perimeter bonding on conductive paved areas not more than 6 inches below finished grade as long as they are listed for corrosion resistance and mechanical performance. This listing requirement will take effect on January 1, 2025.
  • The code language on unpaved portions of perimeter surfaces has been clarified.
  • Nonconductive portions of perimeter surfaces that are separated from the earth or raised on non-conductive supports and meet code requirements will not require equipotential bonding.

Additional information on the NEC can be found on the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance (PHTA) website here.

If you are already RAIL licensed, please remember that you are required to know the changes to the new edition of the NEC and how the changes affect your work. One item that is in the 2020 NEC and the 2018 ISPSC is that all repairs should be brought up to the code that is in effect when the repair is made. Example: Whenever a pump or motor is replaced, it should be connected to a circuit that is protected by a GFCI. It is recommended that if you are doing a pump replacement, please include the GFCI in your estimate; it is required that the pump or other repaired or replaced equipment be installed only on a CFCI circuit. With the RAIL license, one is able to replace a breaker with a GFCI breaker – as long as it is not in the main breaker panel. GFCIs are required for pumps, 120v underwater lights, and heaters.

  • January 8, 2019 TDLR Guidance on Residential Appliance Installers Authorized Scope of Work and Service – Pool-Related Electrical Devices

    The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) hereby provides additional scope of work and service guidance to political subdivisions, residential appliance installer license (RAIL) holders, and related stakeholders regarding pool and spa work settings.  Holders of a RAIL license may:

    • Install, uninstall, or replace pool-related electrical devices including underwater lights, ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI), pumps, motors, heaters, automation systems, and related equipment on the “load-side” of the control-center while maintaining National Electrical Code compliance. However, if the system requires a new or upgraded “line-circuit,” only a licensed electrical contractor with a designated master electrician may offer to perform that work.
    • Install or add pool-related electrical devices to an existing pool that do not require an increase in amperage or access to a main breaker panel. For example, a RAIL holder may install salt systems, a time clock or similar automation equipment, a variable speed motor, or ultraviolet or ozone equipment.
    • Install, uninstall, or replace pool-related electrical devices that use direct or alternating current.

    In addition, a residential appliance dealer or manufacturer, or a person authorized by a dealer or manufacturer, may perform maintenance and repair of a pool-related electrical device. However, maintenance and repair may be performed using only components of the same type and ampacity as the original components.[1]

    The above services and work scope, if performed by a RAIL holder as outlined, would be in accordance with TDLR requirements and may be deemed eligible for applicable governmental, vendor, or manufacturer rebates sought by consumers.

    [1] See Texas Occupations Code § 1305.003(a)(22).

  • Details on how to obtain the license, renew, and other details can be found here.
  • Program News and Updates can be found here.
  • Kevin Tucker provides a RAIL Preparatory Workshop for those who are planning to apply and sit for the exam that an applicant must pass to become a RAIL holder. Class information can be found here.
  • Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation
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