The following information was provided by Kevin Woodhurst, a local pool building professional in the Phoenix, Arizona area.
I get many questions regarding the cost of owning a swimming pool beyond the initial investment. Like an automobile, a home and other major investments there is the upfront cost and then there is the upkeep, maintenance, and repair cost associated with ownership. I refer to these as life cycle costs. A swimming pool, like most things, will not last forever. If you maintain your pool, keep the water chemistry balanced and do some routine preventative upkeep, however, your swimming pool will provide years of trouble-free fun, enjoyment and great memories.
OK, so what does it cost to maintain a pool? First, understand that nearly every pool is different. Some pools are tunable. By that I mean it can be adjusted to find that pool's sweet spot -- that perfect combination of good flow, little restriction, quiet pump performance and low energy consumption. If the builder built it without the necessary adjustment capabilities, you have fewer choices.
- Energy usage with a standard 1-1/2 or 2 HP motor can be as much as $60-$80 or more per month. Many older pool pumps are oversized for the pool and draw a lot of energy. This is prevalent in old pools where the pumps were replaced with the mentality that bigger must be better. Not true in this case.
- Chemical usage could be as little as $20-$30 dollars per month to well over $50.
- Let's address water usage. The average pool is 12,000 gallons. Every pool in the desert without a pool cover has an evaporation rate of 5' per year. For most play pools that is the entire volume of water lost. Out of the 300,000 or so pools currently constructed, it has estimated that nearly 20% of them may be leaking, so that is 60,000 pools. If you have a filter that requires back washing you are sending thousands of gallons of water down the proverbial (and literal) drain. If every pool had a cartridge style filter, we could save 1.5 billion gallons of water alone in Arizona. That is 4,603 acre-feet of valuable water. Your water bill will depend, therefore, on how efficiently you use water in your pool, coupled with the water rates charged in your community.
- A pool service company will charge anywhere from $50 to several hundred dollars per month to care for your pool. The average is probably about $100. Make sure you know whether or not the charge includes all the chemicals. Most people shop these guys for price, which is not always the best method. 'Chuck in a Truck' will always be cheaper than an established full service company. The bar to get into this business is very low, as can be verified by the amount of individuals coming into the industry and going out of business year after year. If the deal seems too good to be true...
[About.com Phoenix Guide comment: You can find information about pool service companies at the Central Arizona Better Business Bureau. Search for accredited "Swimming Pool Service & Repair" companies. There you can find companies in your city or zip code, see ratings, see what kind of complaints might have been filed, and find out how long the company has been in business.]
- The cost of heating a pool is difficult to estimate because there are so many variables. In the Phoenix area the swim season is 5 or 6 months for adults; the smurfs we call our kids do not care about being cold, are fascinated with water, and just love swimming and being kids. The options for heating include gas (natural and propane), electric heaters or heat pumps, solar and other alternatives. Pool covers are great for extending the season without a heater and they save on chemicals, evaporation and cleaner. You'll use use far less energy as a result of the pool not being exposed to the sand, grit and dust. Heating a full size swimming pool all the time is out of reach for many of us, since that could cost from $300-$400 per month to over $1,000 a month.
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Your pool maintenance costs may differ from those presented here as examples. The size of the pool, the equipment used, your particular water rates and electricity rates, as well as other factors will determine the cost of pool ownership.