Selecting and Installing a Pool Lift

Experts discuss how to select and   install pool and spa lifts to meet the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Last   year, the Americans with Disabilities Act was codified   to spell out exactly what requirements public pools and spas need to meet in   order to become compliant with the law.

The act applies to all public pools, new and existing. This includes nearly   all commercial pools and spas, with the primary exception being apartment and   condominium pools, which are governed by the Fair Housing Act, and registered   landmarks. pools must come into compliance by March 15, 2012.

The ADA mandates that most vessels have at least one primary form of access —   for pools, a lift or sloped entry; for spas, a lift, transfer wall or   transfer system. Pools measuring more than 300 perimeter feet must have a   second means of access, which can include a lift, ramp, transfer wall,   transfer system or stairs. (There are a few exceptions, noted in the ADA   standard. Click here for a link to the law.)

For many, adding a lift will be the simplest way to comply. Read on to find   out how to best select and install these products on existing commercial   pools and spas to make them ADA-compliant.

Menu of options
When helping the client select a lift, the decision should be guided by   budget and how the unit will be used. Property owners can choose between   three basic models: portable, removable and permanent. Lifts can be fueled by   water or a battery and each has its benefits and drawbacks.

Portable   lifts can be wheeled to various locations. When in use, the unit is steadied   by a system of brakes and weights to counter the user’s mass. There is no   installation other than minor assembly, which makes these models the quickest   and easiest to get going. They are, however, the most expensive to purchase,   and they weigh several hundred pounds, so it takes a fairly strong person to   move one alone.

Removable lifts can be pulled out of a sleeve embedded in the deck. This   allows some versatility, as the chair can be moved out of the way when   operators know it will not be used; or it can be taken to another sleeve for   use at a different spot in the pool or a different vessel altogether.

“If you have swim competitions, for instance, you’re not going to want   something permanently mounted in the deck and in the way,” says Craig Sears,   owner of Sears Pool Management Consultants Inc. in Sandy Springs, Ga. “You   may have a referee who needs to be walking up and down the deck.”

A cap covers the sleeve and sits flush with the deck so it doesn’t present an   obstruction.

By contrast, a permanent lift stays in place once it’s set, often attached to   an anchor buried in the deck. This is most appealing when the unit will be   used often or if the client is trying to save money, as they are the least   expensive.

However, both removable and permanent lifts require installation of an anchor   or sleeve in the deck, which adds cost. “On paver decks, you have to pour   quite a substantial concrete ballast,” says Alvaro Mendoza, president of   Commercial Energy Specialists in Jupiter, Fla. “It wouldn’t just be an   anchor, it would be almost a concrete substructure. That does bring the cost   a lot closer.”

Each power-source option also has its own benefits and drawbacks. For those   who want a portable model, there is no choice — it must be battery-powered.   When considering a removable or permanent unit, facilities owners must weigh   the choices.

Water-powered lifts rely on hydraulic pressure to move the chair up and down.   Some like the reliability — all that must be maintained is proper water   pressure, and there is no threat of batteries dying. This may also be the   choice for those who prefer to keep electricity away from the pool whenever   possible.

However, getting water to these lifts requires either running a garden hose   across the deck or installing permanent lines. A booster pump may also be   added to maintain the needed level of pressure. Historically, many owners   have opted for the hose, but some advise against it, citing a tripping   hazard. “Here, the health department doesn’t allow obstructions on the pool   deck, so you couldn’t just run a hose across the deck,” Mendoza says. Some   codes also require that excess water released from these systems be piped   away from the pool, he adds.

Battery-powered lifts run off a 24-volt, rechargeable unit that manufacturers   say will last four to five years with proper maintenance. They don’t require   as much drilling into the existing deck — however, some professionals would   rather keep electricity away from the water, and others don’t like the idea   of having the battery die.

When it comes to installation, portable lifts, as expected, are the most   simple. The product is basically pre-assembled by the manufacturer, and the   contractor only needs to set the brake and place the counter weights to   steady the unit.

Installing either type of lift takes more time, but it isn’t difficult for   those who have experience with other products attached to the deck, like   starting platforms and ladders. The main requirement is knowing how to embed   the anchor or sleeve into the concrete.

The anchor or sleeve must be positioned so that the chair will clear the   coping or gutter — manufacturers can advise on exact placement. Also, the   deck should be at least 4 inches thick, to provide proper support and   accommodate the anchors, which are generally that long. “Otherwise, it’s   really not enough to stabilize the lift,” says Richard Pentoney, Florida   distribution representative for Aqua Creek Products in Missoula, Mont.

(If the deck measures less than 4 inches thick, use the guidelines   outlined here.)

There are two ways to set anchors and sleeves: dual epoxy or cement. Be sure   to consult the manufacturer’s instructions to see if one is more appropriate   than the other.

To follow the epoxy method, core drill a hole just large enough for the anchor   or sleeve to slip through while maintaining the tightest fit possible. “You   can’t use epoxy if you’re making a 2-inch hole for a 1-1/2-inch anchor,”   Pentoney says. “That’s too much space. It needs to be a tight fit for the   epoxy to hold.”

Stop drilling as soon as the bit has gone through the concrete. Otherwise,   the drill may damage plumbing lines hidden beneath the deck.

Be sure the hole is plumb. Put some epoxy in the hole and on the anchor.   Place the anchor in the hole, ensuring it is level with the deck. Pentoney   likes to place a bolt inside the anchor to help handle it and push it all the   way down. Hold it in place for a few seconds, allowing the epoxy to begin   hardening.

Once the material is applied, there is a limited window of time to complete installing   the anchor before the epoxy sets. In Pentoney’s area, installers generally   have about eight minutes.

Cemented   in place
Others prefer to concrete the anchor or sleeve into place. To do this, drill   the hole so it’s a few inches larger in diameter than the anchor or sleeve.   “The [sleeves I install] are usually about 2 inches in diameter,” says   Richard Robert, president of Knorr Systems in Santa Ana, Calif. “You have to   drill about a 6- or 7-inch hole to get the [sleeve] to set properly.”

The hole may need to be flared out at the bottom to accommodate a flange at   the bottom of the sleeve or anchor and provide a thicker footing. “Imagine a   side view of an old school bell,” Robert says. “That’s basically what you’re   trying to duplicate. It provides for a more secure base of concrete going in   to secure this little anchor.”

When installing a battery-powered lift, it’s also important at this stage to   address bonding in states and municipalities that require it. (Even if not   required by law, it’s a good idea.) This can prove tricky. “It’s a bit of an   unknown when you dig or cut through the deck where you’re going to find part   of the bonding around the pool to pick up on,” Sears says. “That could be a   challenge.”

If a piece of rebar can’t be located, the contractor must find something else   to bond to, such as a screen enclosure or metal water pipe.

Fasten the bonding wire to the rebar or rod, then set the anchor in place   making sure it is absolutely plumb. Otherwise, the lift will tip to one side.

Then, backfill around the anchor with concrete or epoxy grout. “Obviously the   anchor has to be plumb,” says John Caden, director of pool lifts for   manufacturer S.R. Smith, based in Canby, Ore. “It can’t be slanted or the   lift will be slanted.”

With the anchor in place, begin assembling the lift according to the   manufacturer’s instructions.

Source: Rebecca Robledo- Pool and Spa News | 4.15.2011

Leave a Reply