Swimming Pool Maintenance Takes Time & Money

Even in Arizona, you may not use a swimming pool very much in the winter time.  But if you’re considering adding a pool to your home, winter is the slow season for Arizona swimming pool companies and therefore, you may be able to negotiate a better price on a new pool.  Whether you add a pool to your existing home or buy a house that already has a pool, below is some information to consider about swimming pool maintenance.

Maintaining a swimming pool takes time and money.  Pools consist of many systems; the structure itself, as well as electrical, plumbing & mechanical systems.  So there’s alot to maintain including pumps, filters, lights, valves, sometimes a heater and other features.  Each pool is different, therefore the exact cost of maintaining your pool will depend on many factors such as the pool’s age, surface area, type of finish, water capacity, type of pump & cleaning system, etc.

STRUCTURE & FINISH
The pool’s structure will usually last many years provided that it’s built right and the finish is properly maintained.  The pool’s finish may be plaster, pebble-tec or fiberglass.  All three types will require regular brushing, cleaning and chemicals.  Algae is a bigger concern with a plaster finish.  This is because algae can actually etch the plaster finish, or pit the surface and make it rough.  Also, the type of pool matters…a diving pool usually holds a lot more water than a play pool, and therefore it will probably cost more to maintain.

COST OF CHEMICALS, ETC.
Properly maintaining the chemical balance of the water is important.  If you aren’t sure what to add, you can take a sample of your pool water to the local swimming pool supply store for help.  They will test it and tell you what chemicals you need and how much to add.  Pool water generally requires more chemical maintenance when the weather gets hotter and the pool is used more frequently.

For a pool that does NOT have a chlorinating or soft water system, you’ll have to buy chlorine, acid and other chemicals.  The chlorine is by far the most expensive of these chemicals, which will probably cost $200 or more per year (depending on the size of the pool, the amount of water it holds, etc.).

If the pool does have a chlorinating or soft water system, you won’t need to buy the chlorine but you’ll need to buy salt and other chemicals.  Also, this type of system is more complex and requires more maintenance.

COST OF FILTERS
There are several different types of filters:
1.  Sand filter –  probably the cheapest to maintain, as you’ll need to replace the sand from time to time.
2.  DE – the ‘DE powder’ (diatemaceous earth) has to be replaced each time the pool is backwashed.
3.  Cartridges – these are the most convenient but are also the most expensive to replace.

Note: ‘Backwashing‘ is basically cleaning the filter.  It’s usually done by connecting a hose to the pool equipment, and then operating a valve that reverses the water flow so that the water pushes the dirt out and drains through the hose (into the street or wherever you put the other end of the hose).

INCREASED COST OF UTILITIES
The water bill will generally be higher for a house with a pool.  This is because water has to be added to the pool regularly to make up for evaporation.  The water level is usually maintained automatically so you won’t know how much evaporation is actually taking place, but the increase in water usage will be much more noticeable in the hotter months.

You’ll also have an increase in your electric use due to the pump running.  An average pump might need to run 4-8 hours per day, depending on conditions.  It will need to run more in the hotter months and during the Arizona monsoon season.  You may also see an increase in your gas or electric cost if you heat your pool.  Although Arizona doesn’t get that cold in the winter, even a small pool will usually costs quite a bit to heat.

Before you buy a house in Arizona, you can contact the local electric company, water company, etc. and they will usually give you information about the utility bill on that house for the past 12 months.

BARRIERS
If you have kids, you definitely need to consider a fence.  In fact, a fence should be seriously considered even if you don’t have children yourself because your friends, neighbors or relatives might have kids.  Many localities have barrier laws requiring not only a fence around the pool, but also self-latching gates and auto-closers on all doors leading to the pool.  So be sure to check out and comply with pool barrier laws in your area.

MAINTENANCE & OTHER COSTS
Pumps and heaters may require repair/replacement from time to time, but they usually last many years if properly cared for.  Some pools have a vacuum system that crawls the pool, while others have in-floor pop-up cleaning systems.  Both will need to be repaired/replaced from time to time – the vacuums wear out and the pop-up heads sometimes get broken.  They both have their advantages and disadvantages.  The in-floor pop-up systems usually cost more when the pool is being built, but can reduce the amount of your time required to keep the pool clean.  Vacuums need to be serviced regularly, and they still don’t last forever.  When they can’t be repaired, vacuums cost several hundred dollars to replace.  But the in-floor pop-ups can be even more expensive to repair if you need more than just a head replacement.

TIME INVESTMENT
You should also consider the cost of your time.  Think about how much time you’re willing to spend cleaning and maintaining your pool vs. how much time you will spend using your pool.

BUYING A HOME WITH A POOL vs. ADDING A POOL
If you’re buying a home that already has a pool, you may have to be less picky about the type of pump, cleaning system and other features the pool has.  But financially, it’s usually best to buy a house that already has a pool since the cost of adding a pool is much higher than what it will add to your property value.  For example, adding a $25,000 pool might increase the home’s value by $10,000-$15,000.  If you do buy a home with a pool, be sure to GET BOTH THE HOME AND THE POOL INSPECTED by a Certified Home Inspector!

Adding a pool yourself will cost more, but you can choose whatever options you want.  In this case, you should carefully consider which type of pool/cleaning system best fits your budget and your lifestyle.

In short, a swimming pool can be a fun way to escape the Arizona heat and get some exercise.  However, pools also take time and money to properly maintain, and they must be properly secured to avoid drowning accidents.  So if you’re considering a pool, just be sure you know what you’re getting into!

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