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8 Reasons You Don’t Want a Swimming Pool

Is a pool worth it? Maintenance headaches and expenses might mean no


spinner image Equipment for testing the quality of pool
Bill Oxford/Getty Images

When hot weather arrives, there's no better way to cool off than in the water.

While thoughts of a backyard pool can conjure up images of cannonballing into cool water on a hot summer’s day, the reality is a bit different. Pool upkeep is a lot of work.

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Before diving in, you may want to look at the reality of owning a place to take a dip. Here are eight reasons not to own a pool.

1. High installation costs

Building an in-ground pool is expensive. The average cost ranges from $39,000 to $70,000, depending on style, size and materials used, according to Angi.com, formerly Angie's List, where consumers can compare professional contractor prices. For a 12-by-28 foot pool, concrete is the most expensive choice, with an average installation cost of about $50,000; fiberglass is about $40,000; and vinyl, the least expensive, comes in at about $30,000. If you're looking for something custom, expect to invest $80,000 or more.

As for an aboveground pool, Angi.com estimates that the average cost ranges from $1,037 and $6,009 depending on pool type, size and add-ons. You can get a DIY kit for as low as $800, but you’ll need a pro to install a custom pool with a deck, water features or other extras.

Don’t forget to add in the costs for site prep (tree removal, perhaps), as well as fencing and gates, which nearly every municipality requires.

2. Pool maintenance expenses and time

You can DIY weekly pool upkeep in about five to 10 hours of your spare time, but don’t forget that you also must purchase all the supplies: pH kit, chlorine, pool vacuum, pool brushes, filters (replacements), skimmer, pool cover. And right now, the chlorine you need might be hard to find — and more expensive. A shortage that began when the nation's second-largest chlorine manufacturer was destroyed by fire is still impacting availability and price.

Costs for pool vacs vary widely depending on size and functionality (scrubbing, leaf removal). Big home-improvement chains sell leaf vacs for as little as $25, but also offer robotic in-ground pool cleaners for $1,445. Just wading through the options could give you a headache.

Home improvement website HomeGuide estimates the one-time cost for a pool maintenance kit with a telescopic pole, vacuum, skimmer net and wall brush is around $35. Chemical kits can run $20 to $100 per month.

You can hire a pool service, but expect to shell out about $80 to $150 a month on average for weekly professional maintenance (between $20 and $50 a week).

If you live in a warm climate, you might get to enjoy the pool year-round, but in other parts of the country, there are additional costs for seasonal shutdown, too.

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3. Bigger bills

Running that pump eight hours a day when the pool’s in use can mean higher utility bills according to Angi.com. Expect to see an extra $30 to $150 a month for the additional electricity needed. Filling up your pool? Tack on $60 and $120 for city or well water for a standard 15,000-to-30,000-gallon pool. But if you get water delivered, expect to fork over anywhere from $1,250 to $1,900. Typically, in drought-prone areas like California, there may also be an overuse fee. This summer, drought conditions have improved only slightly in the South and West.

4. Scary safety issues

As if you don’t have enough to keep you up at night, there’s this sobering statistic: Consumer Product Safety Commission data show that between 2017 and 2019 there were 1,168 pool- or spa-related fatal drownings involving children younger than 15. Nearly 75 percent of these drownings involve children younger than 5.

There are also possible slip-and-fall injuries and diving board accidents to consider. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistics Center, diving accidents topped the list for recreation-related spinal cord injuries between 2010 and 2017.

Finally, there are the unseen, creepy-sounding things that can survive long enough in your pool — even those treated properly with chemicals — to make you sick: cryptosporidium, giardia, shigella and norovirus (diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting); pseudomonas (hot tub rash and swimmer’s ear); and legionella (respiratory issues), to name a few.

5. Higher insurance rates

You’re responsible for whoever is in your pool, invited or not. Pools are known in the law as an “attractive nuisance,” something tempting to children that might harm them. Having a fence and a pool cover isn’t enough.

Your homeowners insurance will cover in-ground pool damage with additional fees added to your premium, and it may cover aboveground pool damage under personal property coverage. But when it comes to liability, that “attractive nuisance” adds a much deeper cost layer.

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If someone is injured, you may incur medical and legal expenses. The typical homeowners liability insurance policy is $100,000. The Insurance Information Institute suggests raising that to $300,000 to $500,000 if you have a pool. And the institute says to consider an umbrella liability policy, which kicks in when you reach the limit on your main liability coverage, and it will help pay for attorney’s fees.

spinner image Technician fixing swimming pool water pump
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6. Pool repair costs

The most common trouble spots are liner or cover tears, clogged lines and leaks in concrete, according to Family Handyman, a DIY resource for homeowners. If you’re handy, you might be able to repair the problems yourself.

But if you need to replace the vinyl liner, for example, you’ll likely have to hire a pro. Depending on the size of your pool and the liner type, you’ll spend on average $2,350, according to Angi.com. Cracks or leaks in an in-ground concrete pool can set you back quite a bit. It’s about $75 per linear foot to fix a small crack, according to Angi.com, and if you need to resurface the pool’s interior the cost can be $10,000 to $20,000 depending on the type of finish and the size of the pool.

7. Animals get in the pool

Even if you’re a nature lover, you might not be happy to find a 400-pound alligator in the backyard pool, as one Florida woman did in March 2023. With the heat index creeping upward, lots of water-loving critters like ducks, geese, frogs and snakes might want to take a dip. But raccoons, dogs, cats, squirrels, mice and other furry creatures often fall in accidentally.

You can invest in barriers, scare tactics (like imitation natural predators) and pool covers. If you’re a real softy, you can get a ramp that hangs over the edge of the pool deck as an escape route for curious critters who are in over their heads.

8. A pool may not add value

Does a pool add value to your home? If you sell, in most cases, you’re not going to recoup the cost of installing an in-ground pool, and “it’s not going to increase the resale value,” says Colleen Wightman, a Realty One Group SPARK in the Greater Rochester, New York, area. “Maybe in the Southwest that might be different, but if you’ve got accessible lake or ocean shoreline within 20 minutes of your home, a pool is not going to increase your home’s value,” she says.

Editor's note: This article was originally published on May 24, 2021. It's been updated to reflect new information.

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