The Real Costs of Maintaining a Swimming Pool

Written By Timothy Te

29th January 2021

We’ve talked about maintaining a pool for quite some time now but we’ve never really gone over the actual costs of maintaining a swimming pool by the numbers. Sure, we have estimates, but today, we’re going to take a look at the actual numbers of how much each task actually costs so that we have a clearer picture of what it actually means (to our wallets!) when it comes to maintaining our pools.

Since this post is going to be about the on-going costs of maintaining your pool, we’re not going to include the actual costs of purchasing the needed equipment as we’re going to assume that you already have those on hand. We’re also going to make recommendations at the end of the article on how to reduce these on-going costs so that you’ll get the maximum out of your pool while minimizing the costs (and time spent!).

Emptying Skimmer and Pump Baskets

This is probably the easiest pool maintenance task that you can do (and cheapest!) to ensure that your pool circulation system is in tip-top shape! Once a week (or after heavy leaf days) empty your skimmer and pump baskets to provide unobstructed water flow for your pool pumps.

Time Spent: 1-2 Minutes
Cost: FREE!

Skimming the Pool Surface

Not everything gets caught by your skimmers, some of the leaves just stay near the sides of your pool or in the middle of your pool, floating there without a care in the world. While you may think that it’s harmless, leaves (and other floating debris like dead bugs) are excellent sources of phosphates and phosphates are algae superfood! So leaving them there floating around isn’t really a good idea.

Time Spent: 5-10 minutes, twice a week
Cost: FREE!

Manually Brushing the Pool

Brushing the pool is a task dreaded by a lot of people because, well, it involves manual labor. This is a very important pool maintenance task as it loosens all of the dirt that starts to latch on to your pool surfaces and as well as algae that starts to latch on to your pool.

Time Spent: 10-20 minutes, two to three times a week
Cost: FREE!

Manually Vacuuming The Pool

Remember how we brushed the pool surfaces? The loosened particles have to go somewhere right? What usually happens is that half of the brushed particles get sucked into your pool filtration system and the other half settles down to the bottom of your pool, this is where vacuuming comes in. Manually vacuuming your pool draws in the loosened debris at the bottom of your pool and pushes them through your pool’s filtration system, leaving you with crystal clear water.

Time Spent: 15-30 minutes, once a week
Cost: Around $0.20 in electricity cost (regular pool pump) or about $10 a year in electricity for vacuuming your pool weekly.

Running the Pump / Filtering your pool

It’s usually recommended to run your pump enough to circulate all of the water in the pool on a daily basis, and if you have an average-sized pool then this would equate to about 8 hours a day. The good thing about this maintenance task is if you have a timing system, it’s pretty much automatic.

Time Spent: None to a couple of minutes daily switching pumps on and off
Cost: Roughly $100 a month on electricity costs or about $1,200 a year.

Cleaning your filters

Your filter elements are probably the dirtiest parts of your pool since every single bit of filtered out dirt and debris rests with your filter elements and they too, need cleaning. For sand filters a backwash is needed around twice a month to ensure that the filter elements are in top shape. For cartridge filters, periodic rinsing every couple of months and maybe a treatment with some Zodiac filter cleaner around twice a year to keep the filter cartridge in top condition.

Time Spent:

  • Backwashing - 5-10 minutes every two weeks or so
  • Cleaning cartridge filters- 5-10 minutes every few months

 

Cost:

  • Backwashing - 1,000 to 5,000 liters per backwash ($2-$10 in water cost per backwash)
  • Hosing down cartridge filters - Negligible Water costs
  • Zodiac Filter Cleaning Solution - $25 x twice a year

Adjusting your pool water

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The main cause of water loss for pools is evaporation and while it may not be noticeable, it does add up if you look at it as an average sized pool in Australia loses around 40,000L to 60,000L a year from evaporation as well.

Time Spent: Negligible
Cost: Approximately $80-$120 a year in water costs

Testing your pool water

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Before you can balance your pool you have to test your pool water, and you’ll need test your pool water. A test kit, either strips or reagent kits can last for approximately a year if used on schedule so let’s set the benchmark at one year per test kit.

Time Spent: 5-10 minutes a week
Cost: Approximately $40 to $60 a year

Balancing your Pool Water

Keeping your pool crystal clear and free of visible debris is all fine and good but what’s more important is to keep it free of the invisible baddies, and this is where balancing your pool water comes in. Obviously, there is no fixed cost for this as varying conditions will lead to different amounts of pool chemicals used. But what we can say is, the more you stick to a strict testing and balancing routine, the LOWER your pool chemical costs will be. By preventing wild swings of your pool chemical levels, you’ll be using less chemicals trying to “catch up” or “fix” problems caused by out of control pool chemical levels.

Time Spent: 10-20 minutes per week
Cost: $30-$60 per month of different pool chemicals, the bulk of the chemicals being your pool chlorine

Algaecide

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If you’re religious in maintaining your pool chlorine levels then algaecide can be skipped altogether but it’s always better to be safe than sorry right? Using a bottle of algaecide monthly on an average-sized pool (about 40,000L) will be more than enough to prevent algae blooms.

Time Spent: Negligible
Cost: $30 a month

Clarifiers

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Clarifiers are purely optional when it comes to pool maintenance. But if you really want the clearest water possible then clarifying cubes are your friend! And the best thing about it is that you don’t need any testing or any special methods, just pop one into your skimmer basket and you should be good to go for a month!

Time Spent: Negligible
Cost: $8.50 / cube (one a month)

Task Name Time Spent Estimated Costs

Emptying Pump and Skimmer baskets

1-2 minutes

FREE!

Skimming the pool

5-10 mins, twice a week

FREE!

Manually Brushing the Pool

10-20 minutes, two to three times a week

FREE!

Manually Vacuuming the Pool

15-30 mins a week

$10 a year in electricity

Running the Pump / Filtering the pool

Approx: 8 hours a day

$100/mo or up to $1,200 a year

Cleaning your filters

Backwashing - 5-10 minutes every two weeks or so

Cleaning cartridge filters- 5-10 minutes every few months

$2-$10 in water cost per backwash

Zodiac Filter Cleaning Solution - $25 x twice a year

Adjusting your pool water

Negligible

$80-$120 a year in water costs

Testing your pool water

5-10 minutes a week

Approximately $40 to $60 a year

Balancing your Pool Water

10-20 minutes per week

$30-$60 per month of different pool chemicals

Algaecide

Negligible

$30 a month

Clarifiers

Negligible

$8.50 / cube (one a month)

Reducing On-going costs of pool maintenance

Here are some of the ways you can save on the on-going costs of pool maintenance, while they may seem negligible at first, it does add up over the months and years!

  • Getting a variable speed / ECO pool pump - this is probably the biggest thing you can get for your pool that can have an impact on your running expenses. A 7-star rated ECO pump running the same hours as a single speed pump can consume as low as $21 per month! That translates to about a $900 savings in electricity in a year! The savings along will pay for the pump in one year. Don't believe us? Check out this post where we break down the numbers in our comparison between single speed pumps and variable speed pumps.

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  • Oversizing your pool filters - We've always been proponents of having larger than "needed" pool filters and it's a good way to reduce on water usage and cleaning your filter elements. Check out the detailed breakdown here.
  • Use a pool cover - Pool covers reduce both water and chemical consumption. By how much? We have a detailed breakdown here but off the top, it prevents around 80% to 90% of pool water loss by preventing evaporation! It also cuts your manual maintenance task times considerably by preventing debris from entering your pool!  

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  • Convert to a Salt Water Pool - Cut down on pool chemical usage by converting to a salt water pool! Since the majority of your pool chemical consumption is chlorine, you're going to be saving a lot on your chemical costs on a monthly basis! Worried about the things you hear about salt water pools? We debunk the myths surrounding saltwater pools here.
  • Get a robotic pool cleaner - Robotic pool cleaners cut down your maintenance times considerably by taking the scrubbing and vaccuuming part of your pool away from your hands, this means considerable savings on time and a little bit on pool chemical and electricity costs as well. On top of savings, a robotic pool cleaner has a number of other benefits as well!

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Conclusion

The on-going costs to pool maintenance is part of pool ownership, and while it's surprising, the more diligent you are with maintaining your pool, the lower your costs will be! It's amazing right? The more you spend, the more you'll save. It's mind boggling, but it's true.

Want to make these tasks easier so you can do them more often? Check out our ultimate pool cleaning guide here. 

Do you have any questions about this topic or the featured products? No worries, we're here to help! Drop us a question down below and we'll get back to you ASAP.

Happy swimming :)

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Written By

Timothy Te

Pool Guru at Mr Pool Man

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