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Swimming Pool - Maintenance Nightmare?
Old 06-03-2008, 01:30 PM   #1
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Swimming Pool - Maintenance Nightmare?

I realize that many LBYM-types wouldn't dream of putting a swimming pool in the backyard. That said, I have 2 young kids who have taken to swimming in a big way. I'm contemplating a move in the next few years to a home with a pool, or with a backyard suitable for building one. There is a public swimming pool not that far from us, but we're a family of introverts, and would prefer more privacy & quiet than the public pool affords (though it's definitely a heckuva lot cheaper than building our own pool).

Many folks who have pools complain incessantly about the maintenance required, and I have zero interest in becoming a slave to a big water hole. Any personal experiences, good or bad? It seems like the newer saline pools require less chemicals and futzing with. Is that true?

Any input is appreciated!
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Old 06-03-2008, 01:35 PM   #2
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I am interested in hearing about this, too. I think that if I had a pool, I'd probably get a pool man to take care of it. How expensive is that? How hard it is to do the maintenance oneself?

I would assume that in freezing cold climates (like Missouri), you have to empty the pool in the winter. But where does all that chlorinated water go to? I am thinking it would kill the grass, so do you have to drain it into the street?
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Old 06-03-2008, 01:59 PM   #3
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Take a look at the stats about injury and deaths - it might change your mind.
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Old 06-03-2008, 02:06 PM   #4
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Take a look at the stats about injury and deaths - it might change your mind.
I've heard the statistic that more kids are killed by swimming pools than by handguns. Perhaps I'm being naive, but I'm not concerned about the safety factor.
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Old 06-03-2008, 02:07 PM   #5
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I live in Florida and I have a pool. I had the pool put in when I built the house. The pool is a decent size and it has an attached spa. I love it when I get to use it, which is not often since I work on the other side of the state. The pool has a salt system and it is heated with a heat pump. Since I am not there that often, I only use the heat pump occasionally. I have been using a pool service since I closed on the house in 2004. I started out paying $75 per month for service. My original pool service was not that great but, fortunately, they were bought out by another service that is excellent. There has been a price increase to $85 but it is worth it to me for the service I am getting. This may be higher than some are paying.

Since I owned the pool I have had the following problems:
1. After installation in 2004 the pool began leaking. This was covered by warranty. It turned out that there was a nail hole in one of the pipes. It took multiple tries to discover and repair the source of the problem. Glad I didn't have to pay for it.
2. In 2005 the LED display on my chlorination system burned out -- warranty item.
3. In 2006 the LED display burnt out again -- still covered by warranty.
4. In 2007 a problem with the pool heater and the pump cropped up. A repair company tried a temporary fix that never really worked. My pool service suggested another repair company who later fixed the problem. Total cost was around $1500.

Pools can be expensive and tough to maintain. However, if you are in a warm climate, there is nothing better than floating back and forth across the pool with a drink and a good novel. It's worth it in my opinion.
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Old 06-03-2008, 02:14 PM   #6
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We've put in two pools over the last 10 years (moved). I love having it. I do all the care myself and it amounts to about 15-20 minutes a week. Dipstick for the chemicals. add a touch of this, a touch of that. If you want the same kind of ease-of-maintenance, I suggest...

1. Get a fiberglass pool. They are a little more expensive, but never need replastering, last 25+ years. and have a smooth fiberglass "gelcoat" surface like the bottom of a boat. For that reason, algae and other nasties don't stick to the walls. Just brush it down once a week and futz around with the chemicals.

2. Get a saline chlorinator. I add a bag or two of salt 2-3 times a year and just dial in the chlorine concentration. No tablets, no measuring.

3. Get a good robot-type vacuum contraption and let it run plenty (10-12 hrs a day here in the summer). They don't wear out in fiberglass pools. Pebbletech and plaster require that you chance the foot pads periodically. Only failure in 7 years was a pump, just out of warranty, $400.

4. Don't get too crazy about getting the chemistry "just right." I add as needed, keep the pH and chlorine in range more or less, plenty of bicarb and never had a problem. One time we had a mild algae bloom after being gone for 2 weeks in the Florida summer, added a bottle of algacide and it went away.

5. If your climate is conducive to a screen enclosure that makes a huge difference as far as debris, sun intensity, etc.

So, it's easily do-able if you do it right. On re-read, I may have made it sound a little easier than it might be if you have to winterize it, cover it, have lots of leaves, no enclosure, etc. But for Fla, what I described does the trick.

For my effort, we spend many lazy Sundays lounging around the pool on our covered patio, tunes playing, iced tea, good book, friends stopping by. Take a dip and get under the fans and you stay cool and comfie for hours even when it's 90 degrees out. And the grandkids love it - barriers always up, all the doors alarmed, kids never, ever out of sight of course.

Good luck - it's an expensive toy but really enhances our lifestyle.
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Old 06-03-2008, 02:40 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by ProspectiveBum View Post
Many folks who have pools complain incessantly about the maintenance required, and I have zero interest in becoming a slave to a big water hole. Any personal experiences, good or bad? Any input is appreciated!
I'm in So. Ca. and I was a pool slave for 2 years and tired of it. I hired a pool maintenance company for $65/month. They do it all, twice a month. This works for me.
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Old 06-03-2008, 03:45 PM   #8
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For what its worth, if you want to try a pool on the cheap get one of those blow-up-collar Intex above ground pools. The 15-18' size are $200-250 on sale and include a pump and filter. The 8-12' models are under $100 on sale.

They go up in under an hour plus however long it takes to fill with water. The filter pumps have cheap replaceable cartridges and take 1" chlorine tablets. I test every couple of days and add a little phup or phdown liquid and tweak the chlorine a little. Skim it once a day.

If you decide you like it but would prefer it to cost $40,000 and be buried in the ground, then move on to the full banana in-ground pool.

They work fairly well with kids too. You cant fall into them and hit your head on something, and if you're small and try to climb in, water come out and makes you scoot backwards because its cold.

You can get a "solar cover" thats translucent blue and fits over the pool for around $30. I've used a $4 piece of black plastic tarp over the smaller ones and that warms them right up.
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Old 06-03-2008, 03:46 PM   #9
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My sister has one... and where I worked almost everybody had one.... so these are comments I heard...

Electricity... they take a GOB... expect to pay between $50 to $150 a month according to where you live an your rates...

Maintenance.... some have it some don't... my sister got a leak and it cots $5,000 to find and fix... at the bottom of the pool...

WATER... one guy said his water bill went up a lot as he has to put in thousands of gallons every month due to evaporation... he has a bigger one and it is in the sun all day long...

Fences, locks, insurance etc.... all costs that you will have to pay because you now have a hazard sitting in the back yard...


My conservative estimate of the cost of a pool which does not actually include the actual cost to put on in is about $200 per month... and that is one that is not heated... it is surprising how cold it can be when the sun is hot outside... I have been in one and the water was so cold I was turning blue... but it was 80 degrees...
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Old 06-03-2008, 04:19 PM   #10
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I have one at our weekend house. I just add chlorine sticks to the skimmers when I am down there on weekends. Our two Golden Retrievers live in the pool (a maintenance no-no). I don't take good care of it and had to have it resurfaced and a new filter and heater after 15 years as a result -- or maybe that is normal. I do have an automatic cover that I keep on nights and when I am away - that keeps a lot of junk and sunlight out of the pool. I always worry that the cover will be in the pool when we get down there - that happened once when a tree blew into it. But I like having it. The pool, the hot tub, and the view make it sort of a resort like getaway. The tree in the left corner is the one that dove in:
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Old 06-03-2008, 05:16 PM   #11
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Electricity... they take a GOB... expect to pay between $50 to $150 a month according to where you live an your rates...

WATER... one guy said his water bill went up a lot as he has to put in thousands of gallons every month due to evaporation... he has a bigger one and it is in the sun all day long...

Fences, locks, insurance etc.... all costs that you will have to pay because you now have a hazard sitting in the back yard...


My conservative estimate of the cost of a pool which does not actually include the actual cost to put on in is about $200 per month... and that is one that is not heated... it is surprising how cold it can be when the sun is hot outside... I have been in one and the water was so cold I was turning blue... but it was 80 degrees...
The guy who told you it takes thousands of gallons a month... well, let's just say I put in about 100 per month in the dry season, and none for months during the rainy summer. Electricity: we estimated about $20 per month, unheated. Insurance did not go up, maybe cause Fla carriers build that in.

As always, depends a lot on where, when, what kind, etc.
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Old 06-03-2008, 05:22 PM   #12
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We have a pool that is saline based. Each season we add 8 bags of regular rock salt, and keep the acid level with an occasional add of mucuric acid, available at Lowes and many other places.

Very easy to take care of and does add about $30-40 each month to run the pumps.

Have to add water once in awhile, no big deal and also flush out dirt.

Biggest issue we have on occasion, is keeping the frogs out that get trapped into the skimmer. Again no big deal.

So if maintenance is a concern, not that much of an issue and would definately go with the salt type.
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Old 06-03-2008, 06:17 PM   #13
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Not difficult to maintain. Paid about $2,500 for a new liner 6 years ago, about $1,500 for a heater 3 years ago, Couple hundred for a new filter a 3 years ago, $600 for a new pump this spring. Couple hundred a year for chemicals, extra for natural gas to run the heater, extra for insurance etc. etc. etc.
Well worth it the kids live in the thing all summer many friends over having fun very nice part of our home.
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Old 06-03-2008, 07:24 PM   #14
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I'm very curious what people's experience further north is with the heated pools and the amount of electricity/natural gas is used for heating it.
I am sure in Florida the evaporation and heating are less that is required further north
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Old 06-03-2008, 07:42 PM   #15
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I'm very curious what people's experience further north is with the heated pools and the amount of electricity/natural gas is used for heating it.
I am sure in Florida the evaporation and heating are less that is required further north
I heat it once or twice at the beginning of the year (last week) and then leave it all summer. I don't know what that costs but it isn't a fortune. I circulate the filter during the day initially -- the cover picks up heat from the sun. By July, I switch and circulate in the evening and over night or it gets too hot. If I have a party in late September I may heat it once then. The pool is in northern Virginia.
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Old 06-03-2008, 07:44 PM   #16
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I have a pool and it was great while my children were growing up. Now I still have it and it is rarely used. I do my swimming at the local health club. I used to maintain it myself but now have hired a company to do it for me. It costs $200 per month. I wish that I never had put the pool in now. Cannot wait for the pool demolition party.
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Old 06-03-2008, 07:46 PM   #17
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We had a vinyl-liner in-ground pool built when we lived in Orlando and we loved it. Like the fiberglass pool surface, nothing sticks to the vinyl so it is extremely easy to keep clean. Also, the vinyl surface is easy on the feet, equipment, and swimsuits. I despise the smell of chlorine so the salt chlorinator was mandatory. Heat pump heater. We figured the pump running 12 hours per day cost $30 per month.

I think we actually took more water out of the pool than we every put into it after we filled it the first time (10,000 gallons) due to normal periodic heavy rains.

Being new to Florida and swimming pools, we had visions of building a giant, deep swimming pool. The pool builder counseled us to leave ourselves plenty of deck area to enjoy and not to go deeper than 5.5' in the deep end. "Why do you want the water over your head when you are standing up?" Good question. No one has diving boards anymore so what was the point of a "deep" end? He built us a beautiful pool we enjoyed often.

I miss Florida.
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Old 06-03-2008, 09:51 PM   #18
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We have a pool -- southeastern Michigan. It came with the house otherwise we probably would not have put one in ourselves. Ours is a gunite in ground, 20 x 44 feet. After opening it in the spring, maintenance isn't a big deal. We generally do not use the pool heater except at the beginning of the season and I haven't noticed much of a impact on the energy (gas) bill as a result. Like Rich, we have one of the automatic pool cleaners that you throw into the pool, flick the switch and it scours the floor, walls and steps of the pool unattended.

We're still using chlorine, but plan to replace the pump and pool heater this season, so we'll also switch over to the salt chlorination system.

We use the pool a lot -- when I was working, I really enjoyed taking a swim before heading off to work during the summer and lounging on a pool float after work justing chilling. Now that I'm retired, I use the pool pretty much daily from June thru September.

Being in a northern climate, the season is pretty short, although I have a friend who had one of the inflatable dome enclosures installed over his outdoor pool and he uses the pool pretty much year round.

At the end of the season, closing the pool is a bit of a pain as we do have to drain out the water to below the intake valves and add anti-freeze to the lines to prevent them from freezing. (W2R: The only time you have to drain the entire pool is for a major repair -- e.g., floor leak -- or replastering.)

Bottom line? Like I said at the beginning, I don't know if I'd invest the big $$ to install a pool if I didn't already have one; but we do get a lot of use out of it and when our daughter was in h.s., we always knew where she and her friends wanted to hang out!
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Old 06-03-2008, 11:15 PM   #19
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We have a fiberglass pool in Arizona. We don't worry about heating. We keep it filled year around. About the same maintenance as if it were a garden. Check the chemicals once a week, more during the summer. Clean the baskets out and let the creepy krawley do the cleaning. Brush the algae off during a bad monsoon.

Came with the house. Doesn't have value but our friends like it.
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Old 06-04-2008, 12:07 AM   #20
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Let's see, put in in-ground pebble tec finished gunite pool about 18 years ago. No tile at water line, no plaster, just pebble tec which is cement and rock. No plaster burned red feet, no plaster erosion. After a couple years, the concrete aged enough so that the need to ocassionally add acid to hold PH was no longer required.

Chemicals are about $50 a year total for 3" chlorine tablets for inline chlorinator, some occasional use algecide, and a 25lb box of DE for the filter.

We run the pump about 6 hours a day in warm season. Also have a wheeled cleaner, that does it's thing underwater. Every couple years or so I have to take the cleaner apart (a few screws) and replace the drive belts in it.
Replaced the pump motor a few years ago, the shaft bearing was going and the impeller was starting to hit the side of the pump case. Replacing the motor was about a 15 minute job.

A few years ago I replaced all the grids in the DE filter, they were finally wearing out and letting a bit of DE through.
Oh, and I replaced a cracked DE filter inlet manifold plastic pipe, it eventually cracked due to our horrible ground movement here in TX.

Winter -
In late fall after pool season over, we put on the floating solar cover, has bubbles on underside, cut to fit with scissors. We are on our third cover now, about $100 each or so. The cover prevents stuff falling in, and prevents water evaporation, which also prevents chlorine evaporation, so we pull the tablets out of the chlorinator and occasionally put a tablet fragment in a skimmer basket. That's all the chlorine it needs for months with the cover on. We set the pump timer to run maybe 2 hours, and set it to come on near morning, which is when the freeze guard would kick the pump on anyway if air temp <35 degrees.

I've never considered it high maintenance. Kids loved it, DW survived very hot summers and kept her sanity. Simple safety rules, always followed.
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