swimming pool maintenance costs

How Much Work is Involved in Maintaining a Swimming Pool/Spa? SuperMoney’s Swimming Pool Maintenance Cost Guide

SuperMoney’s Swimming Pool Maintenance Cost Guide provides a deep dive into the expenses involved in keeping your pool clean and in good repair. See the table at the end of the guide for a complete swimming pool maintenance cost guide.

Anyone who has owned a pool or spa will tell you that it isn’t a “set it and forget it” type of deal – unless they are going for the swamp look. While ownership can bring entertainment and great fun, it also takes an investment of time, money, and energy.

Shane Barger is the owner of Expert Pools and says his company gets thousands of service calls for pools and spas each summer. Half the calls they receive are due to mismanaged chemicals that end up breaking filters, pumps, and heaters.

Barger says the majority of people can avoid problems they are facing by practicing proper preventative care.

So, how much work is involved in proper pool/spa maintenance? Here is the breakdown, including regular and periodic maintenance tasks as well as common repairs.

Regular pool/spa maintenance tasks

The following tasks need to be done regularly to maintain your swimming pool or spa. Homeadvisor estimates that these tasks require four to eight hours per week.

You can hire a pool company to help, which typically costs between $75 and $100 per hour, or you can do it all yourself.

You can hire a pool company to help, which typically costs between $75 and $100 per hour, or you can do it all yourself.maintenance tasks cost guide for a swimming pool

Skim

Using a fine mesh net attached to a pole, remove any debris that have made their way into your pool or spa. Do this a few times per week. Even if you hire someone for weekly maintenance, you will still want to help out with this task in between service visits. A net usually runs $10 to $20.

Empty skimmer baskets

Every few days the strainer baskets in a pool should be emptied.

Brush

The walls of a pool and the tile at the waterline both acquire buildup over time. Some pool types, namely concrete and vinyl, are more prone to algae growth than others, due to their porous surfaces. To remove it, you’ll need to brush the walls once per week.

Pro tip: Do this before vacuuming.

The type of brush you’ll need will vary based on your pool type. Concrete walls lined with plaster will need a brush with stiff bristles, while fiberglass, tile, and vinyl pools will need a brush with soft bristles. These usually cost between $10 and $20.

Vacuum

Vacuuming should be performed to collect the particles that sink to the bottom of a pool. An automatic vacuum will run an average of $400 and will take care of this task on its own.

You can also opt for a manual vacuum that costs about $20, in which case you will need to vacuum at least once per week by hand.

Run filters

A pool or spa filter should run every day. Thankfully, many have timers you can set. A good rule of thumb is to run the filter one hour for every 10 degrees of the temperature outside (i.e. 60 degrees=six hours, 100 degrees=10 hours)

Manage water level

Evaporation and splashing cause the water level in a pool or spa to go down, so you’ll need to keep an eye on the level and refill it when needed. You can damage the pool pump if the water level drops below the intake tubes for the skimmer basket.

Check pool pump

The pump is key to a healthy pool and spa, so it should be checked regularly to ensure it is functioning properly. Inspect it at least once per week.

PH management

Pools and spas should maintain a pH level of seven. A home testing kit (usually about $15) can be used to test pH, and then chemicals can be added to neutralize it.

Muriatic acid ($7-$8 per gallon) is often used to lower pH, while soda ash ($1.20 per gallon) is often used to raise it.

Chlorine

In a pool or spa sanitized directly by chlorine, you will need to monitor and manage the levels of the chemical on a daily basis. The test kit mentioned above will test for chlorine, too.

Chlorine costs from $60 to $70 for a 25-pound container of 3-inch chlorine tablets or about $7.70 for two gallons of liquid chlorine, according to Home Advisor. You will also need to shock the pool or spa by adding a larger amount of chlorine about twice per month.

A salt water sanitation system will require less maintenance, but you still need to check chlorine levels weekly.

Here’s a quick overview of the costs you can expect with chlorine and salt water sanitation systems:

A chlorine pool costs $300 to $800 per year and $3,000 to $8,000 over a period of 10 years.

A salt water pool costs $70 to $100 per year and $700 to $1,000 over a period of 10 years.

Now you know the basics of ongoing, regular pool maintenance. Next, we’ll list the maintenance tasks that are required less frequently.

Periodic pool/spa maintenance tasks

These are maintenance tasks that will need to be done seasonally, once every few years, or even after a decade or two passes. The amount of maintenance you can expect will vary depending on the pool type you choose.

Clean filters

The filters in pools and spas need to be cleaned out. The cleaning process will depend on the type of filter you have.

  • Cartridge filters: Remove them and spray them with water. Clean once every two to six weeks, depending on the amount of dirt and pressureswimming pool maintenance guide collage that builds up.
  • Sand filters: Backwash them and treat them with a chemical. Clean once every one to four weeks when the pressure reaches five to 10 PSI.
  • Diatomaceous earth (DE) filters: Backwash them and add additional DE. Clean once every one to three months when the filter builds up five to 10 PSI of pressure.
  • Filter cleaners should be used in spas to help keep the filter clean.

Over-backwashing DE or sand filters can lead to algae problems, so be mindful not to over do it. Also, it’s best not to backwash within 12 hours of chemically servicing the water.

Closing a pool

When the swimming season comes to an end, there are steps required to close up the pool. The process will be more involved for those living in an area with freezing temperatures.

Steps can include:

  • Balancing the water chemistry
  • Removing everything from the pool (wall fittings, skimmer baskets, etc.)
  • Cleaning the pool
  • Lowering the water level
  • Draining equipment (pump, filter, etc.)
  • Lubricating the pump
  • Winterizing plumbing (plugs, ice compensators)
  • Adding algaecide and chlorine floaters
  • Covering the pool

Opening a pool

Each year when swim season comes back around, there will be a list of tasks to re-open the pool.

These can include:

  • Removing the pool cover
  • Removing winter plugs/ice compensators
  • Reinstalling pool equipment
  • Refilling the pool
  • Setting up the pump and filter
  • Cleaning the pool
  • Shocking the water
  • Balancing the chemicals

Note: Spas are typically used year-around, so they won’t need to be opened or closed.

Replacing liners or resurfacing concrete

Your original pool construction will only last so long before it needs replacing. The type of pool you choose will determine how long it lasts and how much the replacement costs.

If you pick a concrete/gunite pool, it will require acid washing every three to five years ($500/wash) and resurfacing/retiling every 10 to 15 years ($10,000).

A pool with a vinyl liner will require replacement of the liner every five to 12 years ($4,000).

Fiberglass pools are estimated to last 20 to 30 years with no liner replacement or resurfacing requirements. Some sources say you may need to refinish the gel coat after 10 years ($6,000).

Learn more about the types of pools that are available

Draining, cleaning, and refilling spas

A spa should be completely drained, cleaned, and refilled once every three to four months. Once empty, wash the interior (household cleaners can damage some spa interiors, but vinegar or baking soda are safe bets).

Then, check a few jets to see if they have calcium or mineral buildup. If they do, remove all of the jets, clean them, and then put them back. Lastly, refill the spa with fresh water and balance it with chemicals.

Care for spa exterior

If you have an above-ground spa with a wood exterior, oil it twice per year to keep it in good condition.

Wash spa cover

If you have a covered spa, it is good practice to remove the cover once per month and give it a thorough cleaning. For vinyl covers, the outside should be sprayed down and washed with a mild soap and soft sponge.

The inside should just be sprayed with water and wiped clean with a rag.

Maintain spa pillows

Many spas have pillows above so you can rest your head. Remove these each time you drain the spa and clean them with a mild soap and water solution using a soft cloth.

That’s it for periodic maintenance. Next, we’ll look at some of the common repairs you may have to make to your pool or spa.

Common repairs

We all know things don’t always go according to plan. A pool or spa and its equipment will require extra maintenance at times. These are the most common repairs.

Leaks

Check for a leak, if you notice your water level substantially decreasing. You can do so by filling up a bucket three-quarters of the way and marking the water level on the inside. Then, place it in your pool so it’s floating, and mark the water level on the outside.

Check after about three days. If the water loss in the bucket and outside of the bucket are the same, there is no leak. If they are different, there is a leak. Repairing leaks typically require a professional.

A vinyl pool will need a patch, which will cost about $200. A fiberglass pool will require a repair to the liner, which costs about $300. Lastly, a concrete pool will have to be drained and sanded, which can cost from $800 to $1,500.

Filter replacement

If your filter gets past the point of no return, you will need to replace it to ensure your pool or spa stays clear and clean. Cartridge filters cost from $15 to $75, sand filters range from $150 to $500, and DE filters cost between $600 and $700.

Pump replacement

A pool or spa pump has the most moving parts of any other piece of pool equipment and can break down over time. It should regularly be inspected to ensure proper functioning. If you identify a problem, and it isn’t fixable, the total cost will range from $185 to $350.

And those are the basics of pool maintenance. Here’s a quick list of the maintenance expenses to keep on hand.

The payoff is a sparkling clean pool or spa

As you can see, owning a pool or spa does involve work. However, you don’t have to do it all alone. Many people turn to pool service companies to manage the bulk of the maintenance.

As experienced professionals, they can ensure your pool or spa is in good shape, spot problems early, and advise you when you need to take action.

But what about the costs? While the cost of regular pool and spa care is affordable, repairs and some of the periodic maintenance tasks can get expensive.

Utilizing financing solutions, such as those offered by a number of online personal loan companies, is a great way to cover the costs quickly and affordably. SuperMoney’s loan offer engine let’s you see what rates you prequalify for without hurting your credit.

Through solutions like this, maintenance becomes more manageable, making pool and spa ownership a realistic possibility for more homeowners.

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