When my husband and I moved back to Texas after living in California, we decided that we had to have a pool to offset some of the staggering Texas heat. We had never owned a home, let alone a pool, but we were convinced that having one would help to keep us cool as well as offer some relatively cheap entertainment. The home we ended up buying had a new pool (built within the year of purchase), and it was probably the biggest reason for purchasing the home. In the two years since, we have become something of experts at pool maintenance and upkeep. So if you are in the market for a pool, whether putting one in or buying a home with a pool, here are some things you should consider:
This most likely goes without saying, but having a pool is great in the summer months. If you are in a fairly hot climate, such as myself, then you can use your pool practically year-round. It provides a great place to relax, get some sun and exercise. A pool is a great place for friends to gather, and in my experience everyone wants to be invited to a pool party. If you enjoy entertaining, a pool creates the party atmosphere for you so you don’t have to work nearly as hard as a host or hostess to make sure everyone is entertained.
Having a pool in your backyard truly makes it feel like an oasis, especially if you fill your backyard with greenery to give it a more tropical feel. If you are considering a pool with a spa, that is a truly great combination. My husband and I are both runners, and nothing feels better after a long run than a soak in a warm spa. Spending half an hour in the spa is a wonderful way to wind down after a hard day at work or sitting in traffic. A spa can also be used year-round no matter where you live.
Keeping a pool in immaculate condition is a job, and therefore provides a great opportunity to teach responsibility to older kids. Because upkeep involves several steps to be performed throughout different parts of the year, the job of maintaining a pool is an activity that involves problem solving, memorization and attention to detail – all valuable skills. And because the pool is a resource to be used by the whole family, maintaining it can give your child a sense of accomplishment and contribution.
In the same vein of responsibility, maintaining a pool is a lot of work. When we moved into our house we had no clue as to what was involved with pool upkeep so we had a professional come out to teach “pool school”. There was definitely a lot of information to take in! I won’t go into too much detail because the procedures vary depending on the type of pool, but there are maintenance tasks you must perform weekly, monthly, bi-yearly and yearly, so there is definitely a time commitment. (Note: Salt water systems on average require more maintenance than the traditional straight chlorine systems.)
If maintenance duties are neglected for even as little as a week, your pool could suffer – and depending on weather conditions, even a day could make a difference. The balance of chemicals is a very delicate one and must be monitored closely to maintain a safe swimming environment. When in rainy conditions, a pool may need even more attention. Without attention to these details, your pool could develop an algae or bacteria problem. Once algae develops in your pool you must be extremely careful to thoroughly clean any devices or materials that could have been affected by it. For example, if you have a pool cleaning device (such as a Kreepy Krawly), you must be sure to disinfect all of it’s parts to avoid a later algae bloom. (Note: Many pool companies offer monthly maintenance packages wherein a professional will come to your home to perform basic maintenance and inspections of your pool equipment. These packages can be pricey, so be sure to call around to compare prices if you choose to go this route.)
A pool is an expense. Most things involved with pool maintenance are not cheap. My husband and I have a salt system, and we spend anywhere from $20 to $50 per month on chemicals alone. Pools also have a lot of moving parts that must be closely monitored, because if anything breaks – even something as simple as a seal or a gasket – it could lead to much bigger problems. We recently had to replace a few parts on our Kreepy Krawly and spent nearly $200. You must also consider the energy costs of a pool as well. Depending on how often you run your pump (usually around 7-8 hours per day), and use your spa (heater) your utility bills could increase substantially.
Of course, there are also safety concerns. Families with small children should be especially vigilant pool owners. There are devices you can purchase, such as gates and pool covers, that are designed to keep small children out of harm’s way but those are not substitutions for a watchful eye. Safety issues are also a concern when anyone (child or adult) is swimming in your pool. We live in a very litigious society, and there can be legal consequences involved if anyone is harmed on your property.