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.
Before diving in, you may want to look at the reality of owning a place to take a dip. Here are seven reasons not to own a pool.
1. High installation costs
Building an in-ground concrete pool is expensive. The cost can range, on average, from $35,000 to $100,000 in the United States depending on style, size and materials used, according to the industry publication Pool Magazine. Fixr, a site where you can compare home remodeling estimates, puts the average pool installation cost at between $42,000 and $79,000 for a 12-by-20-foot fiberglass in-ground pool with a deck. On the high end, a concrete infinity pool with an enclosure ranges from $100,000 to $150,000.
As for an aboveground pool, Fixr estimates that purchase prices (including installation) range from $1,500 — for a metal-frame aboveground pool with a ladder and no deck — to about $10,000 for a 12-by-24-foot rectangular hard-sided pool with a full deck.
Don’t forget to add in the costs for fencing and gates, which nearly every municipality requires.
2. Time and money in maintenance
You can DIY weekly pool upkeep in about five to 10 hours of your spare time, but don’t forget that you also have to 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 — there’s currently a shortage.
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 $39 but also offer robotic in-ground pool cleaners for $1,400. Just wading through the options could give you a headache.
Home improvement website HomeGuide estimates the onetime 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 $200 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. According to HomeAdvisor, a website that helps connect homeowners with local professionals that do repairs and remodeling, you’ll also pay higher utility bills when the pool’s in use: an extra $300 annually for the additional electricity needed, and between $60 and $120 for water to fill a standard 15,000-to-30,000-gallon pool. In drought-prone areas like California, there may also be an overuse fee.
3. Scary safety issues
As if you don’t have enough to keep you up at night, there’s this sobering statistic: The Consumer Product Safety Commission’s 2020 data shows that, on average, there are “379 reported pool- or spa-related fatal drownings involving children younger than 15 years old each year.” Seventy-five 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 headed 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.
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4. 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.
If someone gets injured, you can 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.
5. Repair Costs
The most common trouble spots are liner or cover tears, leaks in concrete, and clogged lines, 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’ve got to hire a pro, expect to pay about $200 to fix a tear in a vinyl liner. Cracks or leaks in an in-ground pool can set you back quite a bit. FIxr puts the average range for that type of repair at $500 to $3,500.
6. Animal attraction
Even if you’re a nature lover, you might not be happy to find a 10-foot alligator in the backyard pool as one Florida family did in May 2022. With the heat index creeping ever 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 “scamper ramp,” which hangs over the edge of the pool deck as an escape route for curious critters who are in over their heads.
7. No help at resale
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 Realtor with Hunt Real Estate 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.”
If you still want a pool, get in line
Even if you ignore all of the above and still want to own a pool, you might not be able to purchase one this year, anyway. Pool sales soared around the globe during the pandemic, and that likely will not slow down in 2022. Swimming pool companies are reporting yearlong backlogs.
Building materials have all risen in cost and are difficult to purchase. The global supply chain has broken down due to everything from the pandemic to the weather to power outages and supply-and-demand issues.
Even the items you’d need to maintain your pool will be hard to come by. There’s a shortage of pool heaters, pool liners and other pool parts as well as that widespread chlorine shortage.
You may want to keep this old chestnut in mind: You don’t want to own a pool — you want to be friends with people who own a pool.
Stacey Freed is a contributing writer who covers remodeling, construction, lifestyle issues, education and pets. Her work has appeared in Beautiful Kitchens & Baths and This Old House and on Forbes.com.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on May 24, 2021. It's been updated to reflect new information.