An inground pool can be an expensive luxury to maintain, depending partly on whether one maintains the pool oneself or hires a pool service to maintain the pool, how many months of the year the pool is used, and where the pool is located. Overall, the average cost for upkeep on an inground pool ranges from as little as $500 per year to over $2,000 per year.
Self service or pool service?
Depending on the size and condition of your pool, the cost of a weekly pool service can range from $100-300 per month, including chemicals, and assuming that all pool equipment is functioning properly. On the other hand, if you perform the labor yourself, you will be paying a minimum of about $30 per month during swimming season for bromine or chlorine tablets, about $15 per month for pool shock chemicals (administered weekly during rainy, high-use periods), algicide ($15/bottle, administered several times per year), and pool water test kits (perhaps two per year at about $20 per kit), for a total of about $60 per month during swimming season (again, excluding the cost of any equipment repair).
Therefore, you can save anywhere from about $50-200 per month during swimming season on pool maintenance by performing the labor yourself.
In addition to pool chemicals, the cost of running the pool pump and filter is not negligible. During summer swimming months, the pool pump needs to be circulating water a minimum of eight hours per day, which can easily add $10-15 per month to a family's electric bill.
How long is the swimming season?
If a nonheated pool will only be used for three months during the summer, then most of the annual cost to maintain the pool will be incurred at the beginning and end of the swimming season. During the off season, the pool will require much less maintenance, and the occasional water circulation and chemicals will run less than $25 per month. For such a pool, annual maintenance cost may be as little as $500.
On the other hand, if the swimming season is extended by adding an electric pool heater to the setup, expect an additional $50-75 in energy costs per month to heat the pool. A solar pool heater will have lower monthly costs. Of course, if the pool will be used for more months, the annual cost of chemicals and maintenance will also be increased. Thus, if the swimming season is six months rather than only three months, the minimum cost of maintaining the pool can easily be in excess of $1,000 per year.
Where is the pool located?
An inground pool in Florida will require more pool chemicals than an inground pool in Arizona, because it rains much more in Florida and the almost daily addition of rainwater tends to throw off a pool's chemistry significantly, requiring chemical correction weekly. On the other hand, a pool in a warm climate is generally not going to suffer from unexpected freezes that can cause expensive leaks in pipes and hoses.
Although it may not be an obvious cost, insurance companies often require that a pool be fully enclosed with a fence to deter neighborhood children from using the pool unsupervised. Additional liability insurance for pool coverage is another cost to consider.
As a Floridian who has owned an inground pool that is used almost every day during the summer by children and their friends, the author can honestly say that having an inground pool is worth the extra trouble and expense. Information in this article is based on personal experience with pool maintenance costs.