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MAINTAINING A SWIMMING POOL DOESN’T HAVE to break the bank. Many people shy away from houses with pools because they think the pool costs will be excessive, but that’s just not the case.

If you’re committed to maintaining your pool yourself, you’ll soon find it’s an affordable endeavor that won’t eat up too much if your time. Initially, you’ll have some outlay for some basic pool cleaning equipment that needs to be purchased: a vacuum hose of about 50 feet, a multi purpose handle that can accept a net, a brush, and a vacuum head, all of which you’ll need, and some basic pool chemicals.

Pool costs can be kept low by sticking with the old standby – chlorine. Chlorine is an effective and inexpensive sanitizer that can be purchased just about everywhere from pool supply houses to department stores. Chlorine as a sanitizer comes in a few different forms – liquid chlorine, which is fast acting, cheap, but dissipates quickly, and dichlor, which lasts longer, comes in tablet form, but is more expensive.

You’re average backyard pool of about 15,000 gallons will use approximately a gallon of chlorine per week – assuming the weather isn’t too hot – which will set you back about $4 per week. Extremely cheap! And weekly, by the way, is exactly how often you want to check up on the health of your pool. Any longer a period than that you run the risk of letting the pool go – which costs you more in the end.

pH and alkalinity need to be monitored, as they directly affect the ability of chlorine to do it’s job. Nothing raises pool costs like a homeowner who dumps gallons of chlorine every week and wonders why the pool is still green and smells – because the pH is out of whack. Budget about $5 per month in chemicals to either raise or lower the pH, depending on your water. Sodium carbonate lowers it, sodium bisulfate raises it.

You’ll need some pool chemicals to control hardness. Water hardness is another hidden but long term effect on pool costs- hard water will deteriorate pump seals, wear motors and jets prematurely, and corrode sensitive items if left unchecked. Figure on $3 per month on these chemicals.

All the chemicals in the world are useless without a way to measure the water – test strips are the way to go here. They’re inexpensive, relatively precise, and give you a good, graphic picture of where your pool is at health wise. Test strips cost about $10 for a package and you’ll need two strips a week in the beginning. Figure on a dollar a month for test strips.

You can see from our calculations that so far, pool costs are extremely affordable with monthly maintenance looking like only about $30 per month. This is not the whole picture however – there are other costs associated with pool ownership besides the monthly chemical costs.

Water is one of those costs, and the initial fill will be an expensive endeavor depending on the size of the pool. Evaporation is a factor in extremely hot climates – your pool will literally lose water monthly – not a lot, but a noticeable amount. Another pool cost is electricity. You must run your pumps a certain amount each day or risk water stagnation. A pool pump is usually a few horsepower motor, and it runs for several hours each day. The electrical costs aren’t crippling but they most definitely are there, especially when compared to a home without a pool.

Pool ownership is not simply for the rich; any family can have a pool and maintain it without having to hire a pool professional. Weekly maintenance on your pool and the chemical costs are negligible when looked at in the grand scheme of things – a sparkling ocean of fun and relaxation in your back yard where you’ll build memories for years to come.

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