A swimming pool can make your home the envy of the block, especially on a hot summer day.
A well-maintained pool serves as the perfect centerpiece to a neighborhood party or family get-together, but you’ll have to roll up your sleeves and get a little dirty if you want your pool to sparkle.
In the Kansas City area, pools lie dormant during the winter before coming to life again in late spring. Waking your pool up from its winter hibernation takes time and money.
“You have to buy new chemicals, a new cartridge filter and lube up all of the O-rings and make sure all the equipment is running well,” says Eric Larsen, owner of Larsen’s Pool & Spa in Tampa, Fla.
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After removing the cover, cleaning any debris and topping the pool off with water, one of the most important steps is balancing the chemicals, Larsen says.
“There’s five major tests: the chlorine, pH levels, alkalinity, calcium and stabilizer levels,” he says. “Pool chemistry can be very confusing. We try to simplify it for new pool owners. It takes a month or so for many people to feel comfortable. You can use a test strip once a week, though, to check all five major steps.”
Test water weekly to ensure chemicals are at the right levels, pool technicians say.
That weekly check can take 30 minutes to an hour, says Bill Moore, owner of Moore’s Pool Service in Scottsdale, Ariz.
On the other hand, Moore says it generally takes less than 20 minutes for a professional to come by each week and maintain your pool.
Moore, whose company services 300 pools every week, says many people don’t have time for regular upkeep since most pools in Arizona are open year-round. He estimates about 50 percent of homeowners pay pool professionals for weekly maintenance.
“People get behind and can’t do it every week,” he says. “Then algae starts, and there are equipment issues. People will tell us they didn’t know they needed to change out the filter, and the motor burns out. Once they turn the pool green three times, or people just can’t do it anymore, they hire a professional.”
As part of a weekly service, most professionals will shock the pool (which consists of adding chlorine and other chemicals, as needed), skim surface debris, vacuum, check the filters for debris and clean the pump and pump basket.
Moore says a pool typically costs $30,000 but can range up to $200,000, so keeping it in good shape only makes sense.
“It’s a big investment,” he says. “The hardest part, in some cases, is that the kids are gone, and some people get frustrated putting money into it to upkeep it.”
Larsen says it generally costs $125 to $200 for a spring tuneup. Moore charges $90 to $150 a month for weekly service.