The Pool I Didn’t Want / Pool Maintenance 101

I had a very specific list of wants when I was buying my second house, including no pool.  Then I picked a fancy area where over 95% of the houses have pools and found a foreclosure for 77% of market value.  “I guess I’m about to learn how to maintain a pool!”

Pools vs. Michigan

You want a pool?  Yeah, no.  Michigan will laugh at you for trying.  Don’t forget to open it up early in the season so that you can actually use it.  You’ll end up with three months where it’s warm enough to use the pool, but the water often won’t top 70 degrees.  Then have fun winterizing it in September, as soon as the leaves start changing!  Otherwise, you’ll be fishing the leaves from the pool.  As if all that wasn’t torture enough, your house often had lower resale value with a pool due to all the extra work to maintain it.  No one else wanted a pool.  They wanted memberships to the local indoor pools instead.

Growing up with this mindset (also, indoor pools are awesome!), it’s no surprise I didn’t want to deal with a pool.

...Well, It’s There Now

The thing to note with pools is that once you have it, that's kind of it.  It is $10k to fill, and you can't drain the water out or else your pool base will crack due to not being heavy enough.  Down in Florida, you'd be reducing property value to remove the pool anyway.  You really have to keep it and maintain it.

Florida Loves Pools

In Florida, your property value is higher, because it gets so much more use and is much more enjoyable. For anyone house shopping, a screened enclosure is one of the best ways to prevent fishing for leaves, bugs, and other critters.  It has made a huge difference, but I didn’t realize how big a difference it made until Irma came and tore down my screens.  I feel like all I do now is fish for leaves.  I’m looking forward to the screen replacement for my enclosure and have been on the waitlist for months.

Hiring a Pool Guy

The cost of a weekly pool maintenance person was in the range of $80-120 per month.  They come once per week, cleaning out the pool and filter and checking on the chemicals.  I hired someone in the beginning, since I was brand new to pool ownership.  I received various recommendations from neighbors for services and settled on a one-man operation that charged $100/month.

Learning How to Maintain

From my lovely pool man, I enjoyed one month of maintenance, and the opportunity to learn how to clean and maintain the pool myself.  This was $100 well spent, as he showed me the exact techniques for my own pool and spa areas.  He also explained what tools I actually needed, and mentioned tools to avoid.​

A pool pump needs to run about 8 hours a day minimum depending on the size of the pool. If water sits, it breeds mosquitoes and frogs.  Everyone should invest in a timer if the pool doesn't have one already. The added electricity cost was about $30 a month with timer and my slightly older pump compared to the month where I moved in and everything for the pool was off.  New pumps get quoted in price ranges all over the place, from $300 up to $1800.  I've given up researching until after my current pump dies.

Tools for the Job

My vacuum cost $35 for the pool hose, $15 for the vacuum head, and I got a pole and deep net, skimmer and brush on sale at the local pool store (maybe another $50).

I take the pool water in for free to get it tested at the local pool store.  Although they try to sell you chemicals for the service, you can say no.  For chlorine and shock and other chemicals as needed (don't keep extra on hand of anything except chlorine and shock), Home Depot and Lowes are often far cheaper.  I use one bag of shock after a rain storm, and 2-3 bags after any flooding/hurricanes.\

For the filters and fun stuff like floaties and ducky chlorinators, Amazon is my best friend.

I try to avoid filling water, so I use a solar cover (acquired for free from Craigslist) for the pool when it's not in use/during colder months to lessen the evaporation. During this time, I don't bother cleaning much (leaves stay on top) but still do the chemicals and the pump still runs. Rain fills the pool for the most part.

Time Well Spent?

Overall maintenance is an hour a week to add chlorine tablets to the chlorinators, empty the skimmer and then skim with nets and pole, brush the sides, get any leaves or critters, and clean the filter.  Usually once a month, I will take about an hour to vacuum.  It’s actually not bad, now that I know what I’m doing.  I will definitely say having a pool is a huge draw for my Airbnb business.  

If you are on the fence or leaning toward not wanting a pool, keep looking for a house without. It's not bad, but as someone who doesn’t use it, I could definitely be spending my time and money in better ways.