Many homeowners will invest in an inground swimming pool this year, thinking a one-time cost could pay off in the future as it will provide plenty of hours of fun. Unfortunately, many don’t consider the ongoing maintenance costs. Over the years, I’ve discovered that swimming pool maintenance costs can soar. The costs can range as low as $1,000 annually, but sometimes exceed $5,000 in extreme cases when more extensive repairs are needed.
In this article, I will review:
- The most common maintenance costs incurred by a standard size swimming pool
- The price of materials and pool equipment
- Taking a DIY approach vs. paying for pools services
Let’s get started with the total average annual cost. Also, if you’re building a new swimming pool, make sure to check out my inground pool cost analysis as well.
The Average Annual Cost of Pool Maintenance
The average spent on swimming pool maintenance is about $1,000 a year. Much of the money goes towards appliances like filters.
However, I’ve observed that this doesn’t consider buying new parts, such as pool vacuums or pumps, which could quickly increase the price tag to over $2,500 annually.
Average Cost of Pool Maintenance by Category
A homeowner can determine basic maintenance costs by first pricing the chemicals and equipment to understand the base cost minus the labor.
- Skimmer (From $30-200, depending on the kit you buy)
- Telescopic pole and net (Less than $10 for cheapest models)
- Vacuum for smaller debris (From $100-500, depending on simple vacuums versus automated)
- Filters (Replacement filter cartridges are $15 to $100 depending on size, and for sand filters, replacement sand is less than $20 per bag; DE is more expensive)
- Cover (Upwards of $500, protects against debris, should extent two feet beyond the top)
- Pool brush to clean the surfaces ($15 to $45)
- Chlorine ($75 for 25 pounds of tablets, or $5-10 by the gallon)
- Muriatic acid (Alters pH, less than $10 per gallon)
- Soda ash for acid reduction (Less than $10 per container)
- Testing kit for chlorine, bromine, alkalinity, and acidity (Less than $20 for the kit, or about $10 for replacement solvents)
- Algaecide (Around $20-$50 per gallon of algaecide depending on the brand)
- Pool shock ($25-$50 for a pool shock)
- Stabilizer ($20 for a 5-pound bag)
- Pool clarifier ($30 for 1 quart)
Utilities for a swimming pool vary from city to city because of very different seasonal temperatures. Generally, expect to pay $1,460 per year for a water temperature of approximately 80° degrees. Price is also affected by whether you set up a gas/electric line for the heater or use a heat pump. You can figure out the details for your specific setup with my heater sizing guide.
Look for variable speed pool pumps to control consumption costs to keep prices down.
A pool in your backyard will increase your water bill as well. When you initially fill up a pool, it will cost around $100 to fill a standard pool of approximately 25,000 gallons (or more if you live in a state with water scarcity). Once you have filled it up, you will have little reason to use more water unless you have a leak. If you live in a hotter and drier climate, you may experience more evaporation than in other states. Expect to pay an extra $10+ a month to top up your pool water with normal evaporation.
The repair of major appliances will incur much of the cost of repairs, costing between $100 to $1,200, depending on the pool part and the city of residence.
The most common repair issues include:
- Major rips or cracks in the liner or cement – Up to $2,500
- Smaller liner rips – Less than $250
- Brand new liner – Up to $4,000
- Problems with the filter pump – $50 to $1,000, depending on whether repairing or replacing the motor
- Water heater – Less than $500 to repair or over $3,000 to replace
- Pool filters, replacements for the cartridge, sand, or diatomaceous earth variety, expect to pay $300 to $1,700 depending on the filter
- Plumbing obstructions – As little as $100 or well over $7,000
- Pool cover replacement – As low as $100 or up to $6,000
- Pool heater or heating tubes – Up to $300 for leaks, clogs, rust, or overheating issues
Pool Opening and Closing Costs
Most people do not use their pools year-round. As the colder months come around, you will also need to think about the costs of closing the pool for the winter. To close the pool properly, you need to make sure the water is chemically balanced, cleaned, and partially drained. Once that’s done, you will also need to cover the pool.
Besides the usual chemicals, you will need to purchase the following items to close your pool properly:
- Air pillow – $10-$20 per pillow
- Winter pool cover – $50 to $200+
- Winterizing chemical kit – $30-$50
- Antifreeze – $10-$20
Additional Costs for Extra Maintenance
Winterizing costs not only involves installing a cover, but also shocking the water, lowering the water levels, cleaning the area, backwashing the filter, clearing water lines, and opening or closing the cover.
Reassembling filtering systems, retesting, and refilling can cost upwards of $250. Above-ground units tend to be easier and less expensive to clean. Saltwater maintenance requires buying salt (evaporated, granulated, food quality, NON-iodized salt), a salt cell, and extra chemicals like zinc for the chlorination process.
Finally, extras like diving boards can cost hundreds of dollars, up to $1,000 depending on function, as can LED lights when priced by the bulb.
Additional Maintenance Costs for Saltwater Pools
A big reason why chlorine pools are generally more popular than saltwater pools is that the latter has a much higher up-front cost. To get a saltwater pool, you need to purchase a saltwater generator. Expect to pay around $2,000 for the generator itself.
However, once you purchase the saltwater generator, saltwater pools are cheaper to run than traditional chlorine pools. This is because salt is much cheaper than chlorine. Salt can cost around $15 per 40-pound bag of pure pool grade salt. And once you put the initial salt in your pool, you will not need to replenish it often as salt does not dissipate.
Additional Costs for Indoor Pools
It is generally cheaper to maintain an indoor pool than an outdoor pool. Indoor pools are not exposed to elements that cause the chemical balance to alter. However, you will need to purchase a dehumidifying system to help maintain your indoor pool. Expect to pay $1,000 for a budget option and upwards of $20,000 for an industrial-grade dehumidifier.
Since indoor pools are open year-round, you should also expect to pay a higher yearly electricity bill.
Need Some Maintenance Help?
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Should You Hire a Pool Cleaning and Maintenance Service or Try DIY?
Maintaining and looking after your swimming pool by yourself is the cheaper and more budget-friendly option, but a more convenient route would be to hire a professional. While paying a pool cleaning service will not save you from the expenses of repair or replacement parts themselves, the professionals can perform any maintenance and cleaning services for a monthly fee. Average pool cleaning service prices are roughly $100-$200 per month.
You can save approximately 150% by opting to maintain the swimming pool yourself. However, I’ve learned firsthand that when it comes to highly technical issues, the best option is to work with a specialist pool service company in your area that can quickly identify the issue. I’ve seen too many horror stories of pool owners trying to fix complex issues themselves and only creating more damage.
Final Tips: How to Maintain Your Pool
I’ve found that you can break down swimming pool maintenance tasks according to three phases: daily, weekly, and monthly maintenance.
Daily maintenance involves skimming the debris (mainly outdoor pools, where twigs and leaves fall inside). This improves circulation, reduces the need for extra cleaning chemicals, and maintains the proper pool water levels.
Evaporation gets rid of water every day. If you also have a small leak, you will have to refill that loss constantly. Generally, you want to refill one inch (or 25mm) per hour. Buying a pool cover can help with both issues.
The pH level of a pool should range between 7.2 – 7.6 for chlorine to work. I’ve found that maintaining these levels and testing your water chemistry frequently will help prevent bacterial infections resulting from algae buildup. Muriatic acid can help with this issue.
The pool’s filtering system runs 24 hours a day to prevent algae development. In addition to shocking with chlorine (which should be between 1-3ppm), maintenance also involves testing for calcium hardness, total alkalinity, and bromine levels (3-5ppm), oxidizer, and stabilizer.
Monthly maintenance involves cleaning various pool parts, lubricating fillings, searching for leaks or cracks, chemically cleaning the filter, and testing water quality.
If you’re looking to build a swimming pool soon or already have one, you well know the importance of staying on budget. Not anticipating maintenance costs and repairs that come up can cause you to go over your projected costs.
By planning, you can take care of your new pool and swim worry-free for years on end! Questions? Leave me a note!