Many homeowners will invest in a inground swimming pool this year, figuring a one time cost could pay off in the future – not to mention, provide plenty of hours of fun. Unfortunately, many of them aren’t considering the ongoing maintenance costs. If you’re doing your research ahead of time and budgeting – good for you! You’re ahead of the curve. I’ve discovered over the years that swimming pool maintenance costs can soar, sometimes ranging as low as $1,000 annually, but sometimes exceeding $5,000 in extreme cases when bad repairs are needed.
In this article, we’re going to 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 by discussing the major maintenance processes necessary for any pool.
Major Expenses of Maintaining a 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) since this improves circulation and reduces the need for extra cleaning chemicals, as well as maintaining 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.
Weekly maintenance, as explained on the CDC website, involves vacuuming the pool floor for small debris, backwashing the filter, brushing the walls and floors to get rid of algae, and maintaining the proper chemical balance.
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 that do result 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.
The Average Annual Cost of Pool Maintenance
According to conservative estimates at Money.com, the average spent on swimming pool maintenance is about $1,000 a year, with much of the money going towards appliances like filters.
What I’ve observed, however, is that this doesn’t take into account buying new parts, such as replacing pool vacuums or pumps, which could easily increase the price tag to $2,500 or over.
Average Cost of Pool Maintenance by Category
A homeowner can determine basic maintenance costs by pricing the chemicals and equipment first to understand the base cost, minus the labor.
- Skimmer (Less than $10 for a net and pole but over $500 for an automatic pool cleaner)
- Vacuum for smaller debris (From $100-500, depending on simple vacuums versus automated)
- Filters (Replacement filter cartridges, from $15 to $100, depending on size)
- Sand Filters (Less than $20 per bag)
- Cover (Upwards of $500, protects against debris, should extent two feet beyond the top)
- 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)
Utilities for a swimming pool vary from city to city because of very different seasonal temperatures. 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 our heater sizing guide.
To keep prices down, look for variable speed pool pumps to control consumption costs.
Pool water services will also incur costs, about $100 to fill a standard pool of approximately 25,000 gallons. After the fill, continuing costs of refilling will average about $0.004 per gallon, and with additional usage fees in some states that have water scarcity.
The repair of major devices will incur much of the cost of repairs, $100-1200, depending on not only the pool part but also 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 $1000, 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, $300 to $1,700 for the DE 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
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.
If you’re thinking about a saltwater pool, saltwater chlorination systems are pricey, but could save you money on a yearly basis because you spend less on chlorine. Read our saltwater pool maintenance guide and our comparison of saltwater and chlorine pools for more information.
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.
Should You Hire a Pool Cleaning and Maintenance Service or Try DIY?
Most of these prices come from replacing parts and buying chemicals directly. If you maintain the swimming pool yourself, you could save approximately 150 percent according to CNBC’s reckoning.
What I’ve found out firsthand is that when it came to highly technical issues, make sure you 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.
While paying a pool cleaning service will not save you from the expenses of repair or replacement parts, they can perform all the following services for a monthly fee of approximately $100-200 per month. Additional charges might apply for cleaning a filthy pool, usually determined by the number of hours spent on the project.
Don’t conclude that paying for a company’s full service is more advantageous than hiring a local pool expert. The experienced contractor frequently has the technical experience that large companies don’t offer because of higher turnover rates and lower pay.
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 do come up can cause you to go over your projected costs.
By planning in advance, you can take care of your new pool and swim worry-free for years on end! Questions? Leave us a note!