Estimating Pool Maintenance Costs

Man skimming leaves out of a swimming pool

As every seasoned pool owner knows, the initial price tag of an inground pool is only part of the cost you have to pay. There’s also the ongoing expense of chemicals, heating, and other things you need to keep your swimming pool safe and clean.

Pool maintenance costs are small in comparison to the price of installing the pool in the first place. However, no estimate of the true cost of owning a pool would be complete without factoring them in.

Why Swimming Pool Maintenance Costs Vary

Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer to how much it costs to maintain an inground pool because of the number of variables involved. Here are some of the major ones:

Size. As you can probably guess, larger pools cost more to maintain. Since chemical treatment is one of the biggest ongoing expenses, having more water tends to increase costs significantly.

Amount of Use. Obviously, if you live in a climate where you use your pool year round, that’s more months where you will be paying higher maintenance costs. But also, consider the number of people who use your pool, and how often they use it. More use equals higher cleaning costs.

Liner. The liner you use (vinyl, fiberglass, or gunite) will affect your ongoing costs. For example, vinyl is more prone to damage and needs to be replaced more often. Fiberglass is more algae-resistant, and may save you money on chemicals.

Optional Features. There are optional pool features that cost you money on an ongoing basis (water fountains, slides) and those that save you money (solar pool heaters, salt water systems).

Behavior. Finally, your day-to-day behavior in using the pool can have a dramatic impact on your pool maintenance costs. For example, using an inground pool cover regularly can literally save you hundreds of dollars a year.

Maintenance Costs to Consider

Once you have a general idea of how your pool might be different from the norm, you can start estimating the different costs required to keep it running. Here are some of the biggies:

Chemicals. To make sure your pool water remains clear and sanitary, you have to monitor pool chemistry and add chemicals as needed. For most pool owners, this means buying chlorine in some form. The exact cost varies depending on climate, with warmer temperatures being more conducive to algae growth.

Water. Filling your pool initially is the biggest expense. However, to keep a swimming pool topped off, you also have to continually replace any water lost through evaporation. This means higher water bills.

Electricity. Your pool pump requires extra electricity, as do lighting and heating (assuming you’re not using a solar pool heater).

Wear and Tear. Everything wears down over time – lining, pool covers, electric pool appliances. It’s difficult to accurately predict how many of these items you’ll have to repair or replace each year, but you can bet it will add to your pool maintenance costs.

Time. The most precious asset you have is time, and maintaining a pool costs plenty of it. To save time, you may want to hire a pool service that does much of the work for you – and there again is another expense to consider.

If you look around the internet, you’ll find a lot of conflicting opinions about pool maintenance costs. That’s because of all the variables, which render any quick and simple answer meaningless.

The only way to get an accurate idea of how much you have to pay is to consider your own specific needs and research local prices.