You Bought a Pool, Now What?

On hot summer days, few people wouldn’t love a swimming full of clean, cool blue water. Just imagine diving in and then floating the afternoon away. Owning a , however, also requires a significant amount of work, with attention to prevention and treatment of algae, chemical balance and safety issues. Still, with a little education and good maintenance practices, you may reasonably expect years of clean, safe swimming fun.

Many costs come with pool ownership, some of which you won’t even realize until you become a pool owner — like the spike in your energy bill.

“Pool pumps use a lot of electricity,” said Chip Payson, owner of Lightning Pool Supply, a pool and spa renovation company in Dunedin, Florida. “After air conditioning, the pool pump uses the most electricity of all your household appliances.” Payson suggests buying one of the newer, super-efficient pool pumps that pay for themselves in three to four years. Additionally, energy-efficient replacement motors can save up to 30 percent on your energy use. Simply remove the old motor and hook up the new one.

The biggest pool expense is resurfacing a concrete pool. To calculate the cost, Payson suggests you measure the floor of the pool and multiply by $6 to $10 per square foot. If the surface has been painted or covered with fiberglass, the price will go up another $2 to $4 per square foot. A regular pool finish, marcite or exposed aggregate, has a little texture to it, while a fiberglass pool is smooth.

The maintenance of a pool also has costs, whether you decide to pay someone or handle the monthly or even weekly upkeep yourself. Maintaining your pool is the biggest task that comes with your new acquisition. To decide if you need to pay someone to do this task, you’ll need to determine how much time you have, and how vigilant you can be with it. If you’ve got the time in your schedule, you can take care of your pool yourself, but if not, it may make more sense to hire someone. Plan to spend $60 on chemicals if you’re doing it yourself or around $100 for a professional cleaning. Of course, the cost depends on where you live and the size of your pool.

If you do it yourself, be thorough. “I find that new pool owners only check the chlorine level,” said Justin McCracken, owner of Pro Pools in Cape Coral, Florida. “There is much more to it, such as checking the pH, alkalinity, stabilizer and calcium hardness.” McCracken, whose family has been in the business for 20 years, suggests that pool owners check the chemical levels in the pool at least once per week. The store where you bought the pool will typically give you a guide on exactly what the appropriate levels are and how to check them; if they didn’t, or you lost yours, just contact the store or the manufacturer.

If hiring someone to service the pool, McCracken also suggests having it done weekly. And don’t choose based on price alone. “The cheaper price is not always the better choice to make when finding a pool company to service your pool,” said McCracken.

McCracken often deals with algae problems in his clients’ pools. “If your pool tech tells you that your pool will never turn green, they are lying,” he said. “Every pool will go green from time to time for many reasons.”

Even more than cleaning, though, the main priority for any pool owner should be safety concerns, especially if children are in the home. “The best protection is ensuring children know how to swim,” said Payson, who also suggests purchasing safety fences to keep children away from the pool. When children are enjoying the pool, an adult should be present and attentive. Talking on the phone by the pool is not the same as actively watching the children. Keep lifesaving equipment, including a life ring and first aid kit, near the pool and in good condition. Establish pool rules that all children must abide by, including no running and no glass by the pool.

Lastly, rethink potentially dangerous extras. “Insurance companies charge a lot for coverage if your pool has a diving board or water slide,” said Payson. “I’ve had numerous customers who have removed these really fun pool items because of the insurance cost.” Payson suggested that you check with your insurance company on this and other concerns, such as neighborhood children using your pool.

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