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You may have looked into having a swimming pool but you are probably now wondering what the average pool maintenance cost is. Like a car or house, your initial investment is just the beginning of the upkeep and maintenance. You will need chemicals, equipment, and there will be occasional repairs. Cutting corners in pool upkeep will leave you with a dirty pool so you must budget accordingly and inform yourself of pool maintenance costs.
What does it really cost to maintain a swimming pool? The cost to maintain a swimming pool can vary tremendously although an average in-ground pool will cost anywhere from $46.50 to $100 a month, or roughly $800 a year. This cost includes chemicals, equipment replacements and more.
When you are budgeting to maintain a pool, you must account for everything involved. A pool relies on chemicals to stay fresh and clean so you must include those necessities in your budget. There is also equipment that must be purchased, such as a net and vacuum. Maintaining a pool can be expensive and you should be fully aware of the costs before committing yourself to the chore of keeping after a swimming pool.
Average pool maintenance cost – how to estimate
There are many factors that can change the average pool maintenance cost. The cost of a pool can vary greatly. Some of these factors are:
Size of the pool
A 15’ x 30’ in-ground pool with an average depth of 5’ holds about 20,000 gallons of water while a 20’ x 40’ in-ground pool holds about 30,000 gallons of water. The more water there is, the more chemicals are required to maintain the pool. Other things are impacted by the size such as the length of the vacuum hose and the size of the filter.
Saltwater or Chlorine pool
There are many differences between a saltwater and a freshwater pool. A saltwater pool is based on drawing dissolved salt in the water to generate chlorine while a chlorinated pool requires far more chemicals and is much more expensive to maintain. The initial investment of a saltwater pool, however, is much more than a chlorinated pool, so while the maintenance is less expensive, the pool itself costs more initially.
In-ground or above-ground pool
Just like the size of the pool, the orientation of the pool impacts the cost of pool maintenance. While an average in-ground swimming pool has about 20,000-30,000 gallons, an above-ground pool has only about 7,000 (pool size approximately 18’ in diameter and 4’ deep). An above-ground pool is far cheaper to maintain than an in-ground pool and it is a small fraction of the cost of an in-ground pool. But an above-ground pool is naturally smaller so while you may not spend as much on it, it won’t be very deep or very big.
Heated or Not Heated pool
One factor that needs to be considered is if the pool will be heated or not. It costs a considerable amount of money to pay for the electricity for the water heater. This needs to be taken into consideration because the monthly energy cost of a heated pool may not be within your budget.
When considering the factors of the size of the pool and the type, we can then discover the cost of maintaining the pool. There are many requirements to maintain a pool, chlorine or saltwater, and there are several things that need to be taken care of to keep your pool clear and clean.
Average costs to maintain a pool – cost drivers
Once you have your pool installed, you will need to purchase some equipment to maintain your pool. Of course, these won’t be a frequent purchase, but they will need to be replaced on occasion and possibly maintenance as well. When taking care of your pool, you will need:
- A long net – These are about $12-$30. Some will need to be thrown away after they are worn out but others can take a replacement net so you will only have to buy a new net instead of having to buy the entire handle as well.
- Vacuum – A decent pool vacuum will cost you anywhere from $250 to $900. If you have a bigger pool, you will need a bigger (and more expensive) vacuum to accommodate the additional water. This is one piece of equipment that should be of good quality because buying a cheap vacuum can leave you with a dirty pool.
- Hose – You will need a hose that can be used with your vacuum but also as a hand vacuum. It will need to reach all corners and edges of the pool so it will have to be many feet long. A 30-foot hose is around $30 but a 50-foot hose is around $60.
- Pool cover – This is optional but having a pool cover can keep your pool a lot cleaner and warmer too. These run about $70 for the low end but as much as $600 for the more durable covers.
A large portion of the ongoing maintenance costs of a swimming pool is the needed chemicals. The type of chemicals you will need can vary but you can expect to spend anywhere from $100 a year to $100 a month on pool chemicals. The size of the pool greatly dictates how much chemicals you need so the larger the pool, the more the expense.
Average Chemical Costs for a Chlorine Pool
There are many chemicals needed to maintain a swimming pool. These chemicals sometimes need to be added once a week, once a month, or only when needed. So the cost of the chemicals for your pool will vary. Here are some basic chemicals you should have on hand and how much you can expect to spend on them:
- Chlorine tablets – These are tablets that can be placed in an enclosed basket to float around the pool and distribute chlorine as it dissolves. You will need 2 3-inch tablets, per week, per 10,000 gallons of water. So if your pool is 30,000 gallons, you will need 6 3-inch chlorine tablets per week, or about 24 a month. These are typically sold in buckets by the pound, so you can get 50 pounds (about 100 tablets) for about $100, which is enough chlorine tablets to last you for about four months. You will be spending about $25 per month on chlorine tablets.
- Pool Shock – This is used every few weeks or once a month to sanitize the pool and boost chlorine levels. You will need 2 pounds of shock for every 10,000 gallons, so if your pool is 30,000 gallons, you will need 6 pounds per month. These can be sold in packages with as little as 6 pounds to buckets of 50 pounds. You will be spending about $20 per month on pool shock.
To maintain your swimming pool, you will need to keep track of the pH level. This is done a few times a week using small test strips. If the pH balance is off, it can be increased or reduced using chemicals. These chemicals should be on hand but are not necessarily used every month as they are only used as needed.
- pH Increaser – Sodium carbonate, or soda ash, is most commonly used to raise the pH in a pool. This will need to be on hand, but it won’t be used all the time; only use as needed. The cost can vary depending on how much you use per month and how much you need. You will need about 1 pound of soda ash per 10,000 gallons, so you will need 3 pounds to increase the pH level by 0.1. You can get a 10-pound bag of soda ash for about $20.
- pH Reducer – Many use muriatic acid to reduce the pH level of a swimming pool. This is also as needed but should be kept on hand. You should add about ¼ of a gallon per 15,000 gallons so your 30,000 pool would need a ½ gallon of muriatic acid to reduce the pH level. You can get a gallon of muriatic acid for about $30.
- Test strips – A few times a week you will need to test the chemical levels in your pool to ensure it is level. You will need about 10-12 test strips a month and you can get 50 test strips for about $7, which comes out to about $1.50 per month.
There are also other chemicals that you may need to maintain your pool. These chemicals are not used routinely but should still be kept on hand for when they are needed.
- Alkalinity Increaser
- Calcium Hardness Increaser
- Chlorine Neutralizer
- Algae dies
- Filter Cleaners
- Phosphate Removers
- Tile and Vinyl Cleaner
Average Chemical Costs for a Saltwater Pool
If you are considering a saltwater pool, the cost and ease of maintenance may be what is the selling point for you. Unlike a chlorine pool, a saltwater pool relies on a few chemicals and therefore has a lower average pool maintenance cost. They also require a lot less work. Of course, the downside is that they are far more expensive to put in. But the more expensive investment may be worth it because you will save money in the long run as operating a salt-water pool is much easier and cheaper than maintaining a chlorinated pool.
The chemicals needed for a saltwater pool are slightly different as it uses salt to chlorinate the pool instead of the chemicals used in chlorine pools. You don’t put have to fumble around with smelly chlorine. You will still need to test your pH level, and you will need to use many of the chemicals listed above, but the main difference in a saltwater pool is the hundreds of pounds of salt. The main ingredient of a saltwater pool is, of course, salt. To have a saltwater pool, you must add salt to the water. The calculations are tricky because it all depends on how much salt your pool already has in it, but you can expect to buy about 12 40 pound bags of salt to add to your pool. You can get one 40 pound bag of salt for about $25 but you only add salt to your pool water once, except maybe after heavy rain or water replacement. So this is not a monthly cost.
The Average Cost To Maintain A Pool
An average size in-ground chlorinated pool is 30,000 gallons. This extreme amount of water will rely on chemicals to stay fresh and clean. Without maintenance, the pool will turn green, grow algae and even attract bugs. Any body of water will need care to keep it fresh and algae free.
If the average size of a pool is 30,000 gallons, a monthly expense can be expected for:
- Chlorine: $25
- Pool Shock: $20
- pH Increaser: $20 (as needed)
- pH Reducer: $30 (as needed)
- Test strips: $1.50
The average pool maintenance cost can be anywhere from $46.50 per month to as much as $100 per month, depending on the needs of your pool, your region, the style of pool, the type of pool and the size.
There are also other expenses such as equipment that will need to be replaced as it becomes worn. Maintaining a pool can be a little bit of work and it can be expensive. You may be tempted to switch to a saltwater pool because of the cost of maintenance, but the start-up cost is much greater than that of a chlorinated pool because you need a saltwater chlorine generator, which is expensive.
When maintaining your pool, you can often take water samples to a pool supply store for them to test it for free. They can help you pick out the chemicals you need and make sure that your pH level and chlorine levels are balanced. You will have chemicals that will be used weekly and monthly so keep that in mind when estimating the cost of getting a pool. They are a lot of fun, but they require daily and weekly upkeep to maintain the freshwater as safe to swim in.