Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

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fedpharmer
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Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by fedpharmer »

Hello Bogleheads,

DW and I are looking at a house with an in-ground pool. We do not have a pool currently. What questions should we ask the seller about it? Any red flags to look for?

Side question: I am familiar with the rule of thumb to expect 1% of house price for annual maintenance. Should we use a higher percentage in our estimates for a house with a pool?

Thanks in advance!
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windaar
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Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by windaar »

Find out what having a pool does to your insurance rates as well.
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Point
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Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by Point »

Here’s what I’ve experienced over the years with our house purchasing with pool:

- cover replacement every 6 year, repairs every 2-3’years
-weekly pool maintenance fees
- leaks at skimmers resulting in 1-2” water loss weekly, resolved with epoxy repair
- water to keep pool filled, less of cover employed
- bottom vacuum replacement every 5-6 years
- heater replacement every 6 years
- pump replacement to multi speed pump for less electrical consumption
- electric cost of running pump several hours a day resolved by going solar
- manual valve system for pool/spa intricacies resolved by replacement with automatic valves and remote control system
- rats in heater resolved by constant cleaning and trapping
- use of pool limited by seasonal cold, costs don’t go away with seasons

So... you’ll have one time, periodic, and regular costs to keep your pool functioning and looking good. I figure it’s 5-600 a month on average over the years.
Globalviewer58
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Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by Globalviewer58 »

Do you plan to clean and maintain the pool yourself or hire a service company? You might learn common issues by visiting the Forum page on troublefreepool.com. Water chemistry and disinfection methods are essential knowledge for proper operation.
bob60014
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Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by bob60014 »

Is it concrete, vinyl lined, fiberglass lined?
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fedpharmer
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Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by fedpharmer »

Globalviewer58 wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 7:25 am Do you plan to clean and maintain the pool yourself or hire a service company? You might learn common issues by visiting the Forum page on troublefreepool.com. Water chemistry and disinfection methods are essential knowledge for proper operation.
Yes, I would plan to do as much maintenance as possible by myself. Thanks for the resource!
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fedpharmer
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Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by fedpharmer »

bob60014 wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 7:26 am Is it concrete, vinyl lined, fiberglass lined?
It's vinyl. Planning to ask when it was last replaced.
Wolfpack2463
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Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by Wolfpack2463 »

Have a pool inspector or pool company come and inspect it. Regular home inspectors won’t inspect it.
mgensler
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Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by mgensler »

If it's a gunite pool (concrete with plaster), look at the condition of the plaster. Any cracks in the pool? Any broken tiles at the waterline?

Does the pool leak? Does the plumbing leak?

If you are in an area where it freezes, look at the pool deck. Has it heaved or cracked?

When it rains hard does mud/dirt get in the pool? Check for proper drainage away from the pool. Check for drains in the deck.

Is the pool properly electrically bonded? Look for an electrical inspection sticker.

These are the big ones off the top of my head. Equipment at the pad should be fairly easy to replace. We budget about $1500 per year for expenses and equipment replacement. We don't budget for safety cover replacement or new plaster. Our cover is about $5k (we're on year 9) and plaster replacement maybe $15k-$20k (also on year 9).
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Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by Jack FFR1846 »

Will you heat the pool? If you will, what is the heating method? (gas, oil, electric, heat pump, solar) What is the added cost for the heat? A co-worker put in a heater for his pool. The family is quite bad at shutting it off when the pool won't be used. His electric bill went up $400 a month for just the heater.
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London
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Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by London »

The good news is that you’re in the right season. I’d much rather buy a house with a pool during the summer so it can be checked more easily. If the seller uses a pool service, maybe you can talk to them about any issues. Otherwise, you can bring someone in, but they won’t find issues like leaks in a short inspection.

I know people have horror stories but my pool has been reasonably cheap to operate.
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fedpharmer
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Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by fedpharmer »

London wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 7:59 am The good news is that you’re in the right season. I’d much rather buy a house with a pool during the summer so it can be checked more easily. If the seller uses a pool service, maybe you can talk to them about any issues. Otherwise, you can bring someone in, but they won’t find issues like leaks in a short inspection.

I know people have horror stories but my pool has been reasonably cheap to operate.
Any specific reasons you think your operation costs have been cheaper?
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fedpharmer
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Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by fedpharmer »

mgensler wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 7:32 am If it's a gunite pool (concrete with plaster), look at the condition of the plaster. Any cracks in the pool? Any broken tiles at the waterline?

Does the pool leak? Does the plumbing leak?

If you are in an area where it freezes, look at the pool deck. Has it heaved or cracked?

When it rains hard does mud/dirt get in the pool? Check for proper drainage away from the pool. Check for drains in the deck.

Is the pool properly electrically bonded? Look for an electrical inspection sticker.

These are the big ones off the top of my head. Equipment at the pad should be fairly easy to replace. We budget about $1500 per year for expenses and equipment replacement. We don't budget for safety cover replacement or new plaster. Our cover is about $5k (we're on year 9) and plaster replacement maybe $15k-$20k (also on year 9).
Thanks for the advice! It is vinyl-lined.
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fedpharmer
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Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by fedpharmer »

Point wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 7:23 am Here’s what I’ve experienced over the years with our house purchasing with pool:

- cover replacement every 6 year, repairs every 2-3’years
-weekly pool maintenance fees
- leaks at skimmers resulting in 1-2” water loss weekly, resolved with epoxy repair
- water to keep pool filled, less of cover employed
- bottom vacuum replacement every 5-6 years
- heater replacement every 6 years
- pump replacement to multi speed pump for less electrical consumption
- electric cost of running pump several hours a day resolved by going solar
- manual valve system for pool/spa intricacies resolved by replacement with automatic valves and remote control system
- rats in heater resolved by constant cleaning and trapping
- use of pool limited by seasonal cold, costs don’t go away with seasons

So... you’ll have one time, periodic, and regular costs to keep your pool functioning and looking good. I figure it’s 5-600 a month on average over the years.
Thanks for your sharing your experience and advice!
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Watty
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Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by Watty »

fedpharmer wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 7:01 am Any red flags to look for?
One big red flag is if you are not in some place like Southern California or Florida where they can be used most of the year. Count up the actual numbers of days that you will be able to use the pool. If they are only usable from about Memorial Day to Labor day in your area then that is maybe 12 to 16 weeks and weekends. If you take a two week vacation each summer and are out of town then you need to subtract two weeks and three weekends.

If there is a spa that is part of the pool then it may have separate pumps and blowers that will periodically need to be replaced and require additional maintenance and energy use to heat it.

There are lots of prior threads about pools that you can look up using the search box in the top right of most screens.

Unless you have a huge lot that means that your kids will not have a backyard so for much of the year they will not have any place to play outside.

You might think that having a pool would be a great social thing for your kids, and there will be parties and good times, but when my son was young there were times when we would not let him go to a neighbors house to play because they had a pool and we did not think that they would we well enough supervised. Part of the problem was that when you have a kid in the pool you need really need for an adult to be out at the pool, not in the house doing something else.

It varies by area but in many areas a house with a pool can be difficult to sell because there are a limited number of people who want a pool. If you ever need to sell the house in a weak housing market this can be a big problem.

If you have kids be realistic about the risks of drowning.

https://snicc.org/files/uploads/Facts_a ... idents.pdf

In addition to actual deaths there can also be near drownings that can result in brain damage. Kids are smart and by the time they are in grade school they will figure out how to get past any gates you put up.
windaar wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 7:18 am Find out what having a pool does to your insurance rates as well.
Also find out what fencing is required now. If the pool was put in years ago you may need to upgrade the fencing and gates to comply with the current laws.
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Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by Vanguard Fan 1367 »

I bought a house with a leaky pool. I knew that it leaked but thought I could have it fixed. Thousands of dollars later I still had a problem. The subsequent owners of that house filled in the pool with fill dirt. That probably fixed the leaking pool.

If you buy a leaky pool feel confident someone can do a quality fix for a price you can afford.
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London
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Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by London »

fedpharmer wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 8:19 am
London wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 7:59 am The good news is that you’re in the right season. I’d much rather buy a house with a pool during the summer so it can be checked more easily. If the seller uses a pool service, maybe you can talk to them about any issues. Otherwise, you can bring someone in, but they won’t find issues like leaks in a short inspection.

I know people have horror stories but my pool has been reasonably cheap to operate.
Any specific reasons you think your operation costs have been cheaper?
Some part could be luck obviously. But I do my own maintenance to keep costs down. Read and understand troublefreepool. I spend about $300 a year on chemicals. I’ve replaced a cover ($3k) and bought a pool vac ($700k) in the five years I’ve owned the house. I could have got by without the robot, but I wanted to save time.

In general I’d say I spend less than 15 mins a week maintaining the pool. It’s been enjoyable. Obviously your experience may vary.
rhanna
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Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by rhanna »

I think you could ask the sellers for their annual utilities to get an idea of heating cost and water consumption.
aquaman
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Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by aquaman »

OP, if you are interested in figuring out the maintenance costs of a pool, head over to troublefreepool.com, which is like Bogleheads for pool owners. Bogleheads is a superb website, but a discussion of pool ownership is way outside the scope of knowledge of most of its members, so you're going to receive a lot of inconsistent and downright incorrect information based on third hand knowledge.
Carguy85
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Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by Carguy85 »

From what I understand fiberglass pools or someone else’s pool are the only way to go after quite a bit of research. I’d be very cautious otherwise. Of course the quality of install with any type is a massive factor...my wife is 100% for it and I was 100% against a pool given the several problem stories I’ve heard that have ultimately resulted in filling in the pool with dirt or moving. I bet you can’t guess who won...happy wife happy life. Vinyl liners are several thousand $$ and 7ish year life expectancy? Back to install I’ve heard of brand new ones being totally worthless after a bad install..as one example, our neighbors had a pool put in last year with a bad liner right off the bat...funny thing is the company tried to get them to buy another one and they had not even used the pool yet.
aquaman
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Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by aquaman »

I thought I'd give you some context for this post:

Point wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 7:23 am Here’s what I’ve experienced over the years with our house purchasing with pool:

- cover replacement every 6 year, repairs every 2-3’years
A lot depends on where you're located and how you use your pool. In a lot of warmer climates, people do not bother with closing and covering the pool and keep it running all year long (which, if there's an attached hot tub, also allows you to use the hot tub in the winter, which can be quite enjoyable).

If you do need to/want to cover the pool, the cost of the cover depends on the shape of the pool (it'll cost you more to cover irregularly shaped pools) and the quality. Basic pool covers can be purchased pretty inexpensively, or you can get expensive safety covers that people can walk on.
-weekly pool maintenance fees
Hiring a pool company is a lifestyle decision. Keep in mind that if you have a saltwater pool, the needed maintenance can go way down. Lots of people with saltwater pools only have them serviced once every two weeks. So, if you use a pool company, it cuts your monthly visit fees in half.
- leaks at skimmers resulting in 1-2” water loss weekly, resolved with epoxy repair
Having a pool is like having a car. From time to time, you should expect to have repairs.
- water to keep pool filled, less of cover employed
Right, you lose water to evaporation, so all pools have to be refilled from time to time. In general, I would budget $100/year on this.
- bottom vacuum replacement every 5-6 years
I would change your pool company. Pool vacuums should last way longer than 5-6 years, although some worn out parts will need to be inexpensively replaced from time to time (the pool company should be handling this as part of its service and only charging you for the parts, not labor).
- heater replacement every 6 years
This is also exceptionally short. Pool heaters generally last about 10-12 years. A high quality pool heater runs about $1,500 online, plus labor, which should take a pool company about 1 hour to install.
- pump replacement to multi speed pump for less electrical consumption
- electric cost of running pump several hours a day resolved by going solar
Without going solar, the cost will obviously depend on your electric rates, whether you close the pool or keep it open all year, etc... With a variable speed pump and the national average of 12c/kwh, your electricity should generally average about $50/month (more so for huge pools and for situations where you operate the pump longer than you have to because, for instance, you want to keep various water features running).
So... you’ll have one time, periodic, and regular costs to keep your pool functioning and looking good. I figure it’s 5-600 a month on average over the years.
That is very, very high. If your pool service comes out once every 2 weeks and you don't have an unusually repair prone pool, you'll generally be looking at about $2,500 - $3,000/year. Eliminating your bi-weekly pool company service would cut the overall annual expense in half.
Last edited by aquaman on Mon Jun 08, 2020 9:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
MarkerFM
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Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by MarkerFM »

If you want to be a pool owner, you have to accept that all pools leak. The only questions are how much and from where. If you accept that and are willing to do troubleshooting/maintenance yourself, you will be fine.

The more complicated the system, the more things can go wrong. We had a house with a pool that had an attached spa, bottom cleaner, remote operation, automatic valves, extra cartridge cleaning system, diving board, etc. It was more work and expense than the pool we have at another house, which has a simple chlorination system, no cleaner, no spa, no diving board, manual valves. Much easier.
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Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by TomatoTomahto »

I had not wanted a pool. My wife had. It has made wfh a million times better for her. I’m sitting poolside with the dogs as I wrote this.

Btw, ours is a salt water pool. It is such a relief not to smell the chlorine; i understand that chlorine is generated from the salt, but it doesn’t smell and the water feels great on the skin.
Okay, I get it; I won't be political or controversial. The Earth is flat.
cheezit
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Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by cheezit »

Carguy85 wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 9:27 am From what I understand fiberglass pools or someone else’s pool are the only way to go after quite a bit of research. I’d be very cautious otherwise. Of course the quality of install with any type is a massive factor...my wife is 100% for it and I was 100% against a pool given the several problem stories I’ve heard that have ultimately resulted in filling in the pool with dirt or moving. I bet you can’t guess who won...happy wife happy life. Vinyl liners are several thousand $$ and 7ish year life expectancy? Back to install I’ve heard of brand new ones being totally worthless after a bad install..as one example, our neighbors had a pool put in last year with a bad liner right off the bat...funny thing is the company tried to get them to buy another one and they had not even used the pool yet.
(bold added by me)

About a decade ago, I worked as an inspector (and loader) at a pool liner factory for a while. Your neighbor's experience doesn't remotely surprise me. Pool liners at the time often came with impressively long warranty periods, but if you read the fine print there was an aggressive pro-rating schedule and lots of 'outs'. I doubt much has changed.

Incidentally, the work at that company was awful but between the money I was able to make by working as much OT as I wanted/could and the eye-opening lessons I learned while there, I'm really glad I did it. I also lost about thirty pounds (despite eating absolute trash) and got really beefy forearms, which was nice.
aquaman
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Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by aquaman »

MarkerFM wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 9:37 am If you want to be a pool owner, you have to accept that all pools leak. The only questions are how much and from where. If you accept that and are willing to do troubleshooting/maintenance yourself, you will be fine.
Although pool leaks do happen, I wouldn't call in an inevitability. We've had a pool for a very long time and have never had a leak. Just about every house in our subdivision has a pool, and a ton of our friends do as well. I've only heard of one leak, which ended up costing $350 to fix.
The more complicated the system, the more things can go wrong. We had a house with a pool that had an attached spa, bottom cleaner, remote operation, automatic valves, extra cartridge cleaning system, diving board, etc. It was more work and expense than the pool we have at another house, which has a simple chlorination system, no cleaner, no spa, no diving board, manual valves. Much easier.
I would respectfully disagree and would suggest the exact opposite. Properly set up pools significantly reduce your maintenance headaches and allow you to enjoy the pool without adding to your chores.

An electronic saltwater chlorinator, for instance, is a simple and reliable feature that significantly reduces your cost of chemicals and needed maintenance. A pool vacuum cleans the bottom of the pool, so that it's always ready for you. A high quality pool vacuum is $350 - $500 and, with minimal maintenance, lasts 10-15 years. Pool automation is one of the best things out there, as it allows most of the pool functions to be automated and controlled from inside your house or, with newer ones, from your smartphone. There are plenty of pool automation systems out there that are 15-20 years old and have never needed any repairs. Yet, they save people a ton of time and greatly increase their enjoyment of the pool.
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Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by 1130Super »

Go talk to a pool maintenance and cleaning company and have a good talk, if you agree to use their services one of them could be even willing to come and inspect pool with you when you find home.
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Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by aquaman »

TomatoTomahto wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 9:43 amBtw, ours is a salt water pool. It is such a relief not to smell the chlorine; i understand that chlorine is generated from the salt, but it doesn’t smell and the water feels great on the skin.
I also much prefer salt water pools, but this chlorine smell that all people hate is a function of chloramines in the water. Ironically, it frequently means that there's insufficient chlorine in the water to kill all the contaminants. Here's some info: https://clearcomfort.com/blog/what-caus ... rid-of-it/

People who aren't used to well maintained private pools are frequently surprised when they get in them and see that the water is silky smooth, has no unpleasant odor and does not irritate their eyes. That's because well maintained private pools have properly balanced chemicals, which stands in stark contrast to most commercial pools, where the volume of bathers and poor sanitizing practices mean chemical odors, water that irritates your eyes and skin, etc...
Last edited by aquaman on Mon Jun 08, 2020 10:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
bgf
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Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by bgf »

Our house has a small in ground pool, 11000 gallons, with saltwater chlorine generator. The first couple years I was very frustrated and wanted to fill it in. Now that I've learned much more about pool maintenance (again please read up on troublefreepools), I'm glad we have it. With the heat where we live, I don't know how people survive without one. My 3.5 year old daughter loves it, and I spent hours with her over the weekend in the pool.

Its more work for sure, but there are also great times.

I've had one leak that was easily patched. Pump has died, replace it. Salt cell died, replace it. After 10-15 years the aquarite system was on the fritz, I just replaced the PCBs yesterday.

In all you just have to expect it to cost money, once your expectations are set properly, you can enjoy it.

Unfortunately there's not a whole lot that an "inspection" will find if its otherwise running well. How does the water look?

Good luck!
Last edited by bgf on Mon Jun 08, 2020 11:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by bgf »

aquaman wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 10:08 am
TomatoTomahto wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 9:43 amBtw, ours is a salt water pool. It is such a relief not to smell the chlorine; i understand that chlorine is generated from the salt, but it doesn’t smell and the water feels great on the skin.
I also much prefer salt water pools, but this chlorine smell that all people hate is a function of chloramines in the water. Ironically, it frequently means that there's insufficient chlorine in the water to kill all the contaminants. Here's some info: https://clearcomfort.com/blog/what-caus ... rid-of-it/

People who aren't used to well maintained private pools are frequently surprised when they get in them and see that the water is silky smooth, has no unpleasant odor and does not irritate their eyes. That's because well maintained private pools have properly balanced chemicals, which stands in stark contrast to most commercial pools, where the volume of bathers and poor sanitizing practices mean chemical odors, water that irritates your eyes and skin, etc...
Bingo
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by TomatoTomahto »

bgf wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 10:13 am
aquaman wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 10:08 am
TomatoTomahto wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 9:43 amBtw, ours is a salt water pool. It is such a relief not to smell the chlorine; i understand that chlorine is generated from the salt, but it doesn’t smell and the water feels great on the skin.
I also much prefer salt water pools, but this chlorine smell that all people hate is a function of chloramines in the water. Ironically, it frequently means that there's insufficient chlorine in the water to kill all the contaminants. Here's some info: https://clearcomfort.com/blog/what-caus ... rid-of-it/

People who aren't used to well maintained private pools are frequently surprised when they get in them and see that the water is silky smooth, has no unpleasant odor and does not irritate their eyes. That's because well maintained private pools have properly balanced chemicals, which stands in stark contrast to most commercial pools, where the volume of bathers and poor sanitizing practices mean chemical odors, water that irritates your eyes and skin, etc...
Bingo
Thanks. Not only did I learn something today, I feel better about my pool service guys 😁

ETA: we are on well water, so I expect no chlorine at all. I have it tested annually and I am pretty sure, but too lazy to find the report. It has some iron and salt, is hard, but otherwise tastes as good as the Poland Spring I drank for years when on municipal water.
Okay, I get it; I won't be political or controversial. The Earth is flat.
aquaman
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Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by aquaman »

windaar wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 7:18 am Find out what having a pool does to your insurance rates as well.
On average, it causes your homeowner's insurance premiums to go up by $50 to $75/year. So, this tends to be a non-issue.

The OP should carefully look into the resale value. In some areas of the country, having a pool can be a negative, particularly for lower priced houses. In other areas of the country, a pool represents a highly desirable feature, particularly for some of the higher end houses.
TomatoTomahto wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 10:36 amETA: we are on well water, so I expect no chlorine at all. I have it tested annually and I am pretty sure, but too lazy to find the report. It has some iron and salt, is hard, but otherwise tastes as good as the Poland Spring I drank for years when on municipal water.
Right, but your saltwater pool uses chlorine. Saltwater pool owners have SWG's (salt water generators), which use electricity to convert salt into chlorine: https://www.troublefreepool.com/blog/20 ... enerators/

Your well water does sound amazing though. I really enjoy drinking fresh well water.
Last edited by aquaman on Mon Jun 08, 2020 11:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
adamthesmythe
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Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by adamthesmythe »

fedpharmer wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 7:27 am
bob60014 wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 7:26 am Is it concrete, vinyl lined, fiberglass lined?
It's vinyl. Planning to ask when it was last replaced.
I would regard it as having a negative value, equal to the cost to remove and fill.
lazydavid
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Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by lazydavid »

First off, I'm going to third (or fourth?) the recommendation for Trouble free pool. Those folks REALLY know their stuff, and are single-minded in wanting to reduce the difficulty and (where possible) the expense of maintaining a pool. Since finding that site and drinking the kool-aid, my pool has become so much easier and cheaper to manage, and looks way better to boot.
TomatoTomahto wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 9:43 am Btw, ours is a salt water pool. It is such a relief not to smell the chlorine; i understand that chlorine is generated from the salt, but it doesn’t smell and the water feels great on the skin.
aquaman wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 9:56 am An electronic saltwater chlorinator, for instance, is a simple and reliable feature that significantly reduces your cost of chemicals and needed maintenance. A pool vacuum cleans the bottom of the pool, so that it's always ready for you. A high quality pool vacuum is $350 - $500 and, with minimal maintenance, lasts 10-15 years. Pool automation is one of the best things out there, as it allows most of the pool functions to be automated and controlled from inside your house or, with newer ones, from your smartphone. There are plenty of pool automation systems out there that are 15-20 years old and have never needed any repairs. Yet, they save people a ton of time and greatly increase their enjoyment of the pool.
I converted to saltwater generation (SWG) this year, and am actively angry at myself for putting it off for so long. The pool literally manages itself now. I do still test the water every other day or so, but since the SWG is dialed in, the testing is very anticlimactic, FC is always exactly where it should be. :) Haven't added ANYTHING to the pool this year since late April/early May when we refilled it and I got everything in balance. That and the robot have made caring for our pool an absolute joy.

From a cost perspective, over the seven years we've been in the house with a pre-existing above-ground pool, we've had some big lumpy expenses:
  • Several repairs to the very old Doughboy DE filter that came with the pool, at $150 or so a pop
  • $600 or so to replace the DE filter and pump with a cartridge filter system 5 years ago, which has been totally trouble-free, not even needing a new element
  • $1800 last year to replace the very old (15 years?) Hayward heater with a new RayPak
  • $850 for the Dolphin Active 30 robot
  • $900 or so this year for a CircuPool EDGE 25 SWG, including miscellaneous stuff needed for installation
  • $120-ish for a new solar cover every 3 years
  • $80-ish for a new winter cover every 3 years
  • miscellaneous hoses since ours is not hard piped, not sure how much that has cost
  • $72 for my initial testing kit, and $50 to replace reagents every other year
Prior to the SWG, we went through about $200 worth of liquid chlorine every season (mostly gotten at Menards BOGO sales in May and July), $12 worth of stabilizer, probably $14 worth of borax, and $20 worth of baking soda, plus $20 or $30 worth of pucks to put in a floater when we go on vacation.

Going forward, I expect we'll use probably $20 worth of chlorine at the start and end of the season (total) when the water's too cold to run the SWG, plus maybe $12 or so of Muriatic Acid to maintain pH. And we'll have to replace the SWG cell every 5-7 years at a cost of around $330. I added $48 worth of salt (320 lbs) this year, and will probably have to supplement with $24 more at the start of the season each year going forward when we re-fill the pool after the winter.
Aku09
Posts: 64
Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2019 11:29 am

Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by Aku09 »

Bought a house 4 years ago with an in ground pool (never owning one before). I love it, but it is some work and somewhat pricy. During the summer my electric bill goes up $200 (combination pool pump and AC for the house). Everything on the pool is expensive to replace. Saltwater cell ($800), pool pump ($700), booster pump for cleaner robot ($300) for a few examples. Had to replace the liner a year after moving in which was slightly over 3k. Ended up having to replace the light at the end of the pool after that as it kept tripping the gfci ($600). Diving board base (just the metal V bracket it sits on was over $500.

Just budget around $1k a year for stuff breaking and you’ll be fine. This year has been bad so far. Had to replace the bulb in the pool light ($10) and a new wheel for the robot cleaner ($20). Saltwater pools are relatively maintenance free. I may add salt once a year and some cyanuric acid once a year. Spend less than $50 a year on chemicals to keep the pool looking nice.

My pool cover has a few small rips that need to be patched or replaced. Will probably patch when we close the pool this fall and hope it lasts a season or two.
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Nate79
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Location: Delaware

Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by Nate79 »

Congrats. I would love to have a pool. With careful planning and servicing DIY the costs are not that much.
HomeStretch
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Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by HomeStretch »

Our 13-year old in-ground pool has been a pleasure and mostly problem free.

It adds about $200/mo. to the electric bill (high rates), minimal amount to insurance (we don’t have a diving board or slide) and $250 for propane heater to extend the pool season. Very minor repairs over the years. Mainly due to field mice chewing the heater wires.

Some suggestions:
1. Hire a good pool service (open, close, vacuum, chemicals) for the 1st season to learn how to maintain it. Also makes the pool more enjoyable (less work).

2. The auto pool vacuums that crawl along the bottom may be annoying as you have to look at the equipment if you leave it in the pool. Or by the side of the pool if you haul it out. You shouldn’t need it if you hire a service.

3. If the pool shape accommodates it, consider an electric solar cover installed under the coping as it’s easier to maneuver and safer if you have young children.

4. Do a good inspection of the pool and fencing to assess whether it’s up to current code. For example:
- is fence height code compliant?
- do gates close after you if required by code?
- is fence in good condition
- is pool coping/patio in good safe condition (no loose coping stones)
- does the pool have a diving board or ladder that might need to be removed for insurance purposes
- is electrical up to code; has gas/propane line/tank been inspected (if you use it); is propane tank owned or leased and how old is it?
- does code require pool alarms (in pool, at gates) or auto shutoff if something (someone’s arm) gets stuck in a pool/spa intake valve
- is winter pool cover in excellent shape?
- are there any water leaks coming from equipment or water wetness on equipment pad?
- did the owner pull a permit, if required, for the pool. If yes, were inspections done and CO issued?
- etc.

I’m not saying the current owner should pay to bring it up to code. But as a pool owner, I would factor those costs in to do so. I don’t think the average home inspector will do a thorough job inspecting the pool.
ChrisC
Posts: 928
Joined: Tue Jun 19, 2012 9:10 am
Location: North Carolina

Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by ChrisC »

We didn't go looking for an in-ground pool when we relocated in retirement in 2013, but the house we purchased had everything we wanted (except for the pool). Thus far, we've actually enjoyed the pool, especially when other family members use the pool. Our pool, with added spa, is over 15 years old, pebble tec finished, salt water generator pool. We've had some nagging recurrent repairs, mainly our pool coping stone work ($800), and we probably have a leak around our skimmers that needs to be looked at and repaired. I do most of the regular pool maintenance work after seeing how our first pool guy maintained chemical balances in the pool. I'll clean and replace pool filter cartridges, add salt, replace pool robotic cleaners (twice so far over 7 years). When parts have broken down -- motor went last year ($400), salt cell generator two years ($600), remote PDA ($300), I'll order them online and have the local pool maintenance guys install them.

On the horizon, major pool or pool related repairs for us appear to be: (1) fiber optics lighting in the pool needs to be replaced, and (2) our pool deck area probably needs a major overhaul, replacing all stamped concrete and pavement.
aquaman
Posts: 136
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2016 2:13 pm

Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by aquaman »

ChrisC wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 12:08 pm replace pool robotic cleaners (twice so far over 7 years).
Folks, robotic cleaners should not be replaced this often. Robotic cleaners have wear and tear items that get replaced from time to time and they then run like a champ. Replacing robotic cleaners twice a 7 year period is like replacing a 3-4 year old car because it needs new tires (literally, as robotic cleaners need to have their wheels replaced from time to time).

As I mentioned above, if you have a good pool company, they should be doing this during regular service visits and only charging you for parts (mine is more than a decade old (there are no real improvements in their technology), and averages $25-$35/year in parts). If you're not using a pool company and don't feel like figuring out how to do it, pool stores will fix them for you (although there will obviously be a labor charge).
salt cell generator two years ($600)
A saltwater generator is a wear and tear item that requires periodic replacements. It's like brake pads on your car. A new salt cell is about $500 installed, but saves you far more than that over its lifetime by reducing your chemical costs and service frequency.
remote PDA ($300)
Unless you've physically damaged it, most pool remote failures are easily fixable without any additional parts. Sometimes you just have to reprogram it, make sure that your base receiver's antenna doesn't have a loose wire (it sits outside, so this is common), etc... If you have a good pool service company, they should be able to fix it without charging you anything extra for it.
motor went last year ($400)
This isn't always the case, but a ton of motor failures out there are caused by the pool owners failing to maintain sufficient water levels. When your water level is too low, the skimmer takes in too much air. If you let it go too long, at first your pump shaft seal will fail, which will cause water to run down the backside of your seal plate. If you don't fix the seal, your motor will go out. This is entirely preventable by adding $5 worth of water to the pool.
ChrisC
Posts: 928
Joined: Tue Jun 19, 2012 9:10 am
Location: North Carolina

Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by ChrisC »

aquaman wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 2:24 pm
ChrisC wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 12:08 pm replace pool robotic cleaners (twice so far over 7 years).
Folks, robotic cleaners should not be replaced this often. Robotic cleaners have wear and tear items that get replaced from time to time and they then run like a champ. Replacing robotic cleaners twice a 7 year period is like replacing a 3-4 year old car because it needs new tires (literally, as robotic cleaners need to have their wheels replaced from time to time).

As I mentioned above, if you have a good pool company, they should be doing this during regular service visits and only charging you for parts (mine is more than a decade old (there are no real improvements in their technology), and averages $25-$35/year in parts). If you're not using a pool company and don't feel like figuring out how to do it, pool stores will fix them for you (although there will obviously be a labor charge).
salt cell generator two years ($600)
A saltwater generator is a wear and tear item that requires periodic replacements. It's like brake pads on your car. A new salt cell is about $500 installed, but saves you far more than that over its lifetime by reducing your chemical costs and service frequency.
remote PDA ($300)
Unless you've physically damaged it, most pool remote failures are easily fixable without any additional parts. Sometimes you just have to reprogram it, make sure that your base receiver's antenna doesn't have a loose wire (it sits outside, so this is common), etc... If you have a good pool service company, they should be able to fix it without charging you anything extra for it.
motor went last year ($400)
This isn't always the case, but a ton of motor failures out there are caused by the pool owners failing to maintain sufficient water levels. When your water level is too low, the skimmer takes in too much air. If you let it go too long, at first your pump shaft seal will fail, which will cause water to run down the backside of your seal plate. If you don't fix the seal, your motor will go out. This is entirely preventable by adding $5 worth of water to the pool.
Acquaman, Thanks for the observations and advice. I run our pump all year round (pool is never covered), 7-8 hours daily for half of the year, and 10-12 hours daily during the rest of the year. For my first robotic cleaner, Polaris 360, I ran it far too often and left in the pool, 24-7, and the bearings went on the wheels -- after 5 years -- couldn't be fixed by the pool service company or pool store. So, ordered another one, took the advice of running it less often and removing it out of the pool when not running it. So far, so good for the last 2 years. I mis-spoke about the PDA -- I had to order a new one as the original owner misplaced it -- nonetheless, I had to order a new radio transmitter/receiver -- antenna broke and the antenna couldn't be separately replaced.

Not sure my burnt out motor was caused by inadequate water levels -- I do keep adding water to keep levels at appropriate levels when rainfall doesn't do the trick. I was warned by our original pool guy to keep adequate pool water levels, including draining the pool whenever levels are too high.

We replaced our salt cell generator a few years ago -- the one it replaced ran for around 7 years, at high levels of chlorinating the pool. I was advised to run the salt cell at lower levels during the Winter and not at the high levels originally programmed by the former owner.
Carl53
Posts: 1968
Joined: Sun Mar 07, 2010 8:26 pm

Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by Carl53 »

We have had a home with an in ground pool for 30 years. The 40000 gallon pool is now 45 years old. Took me ten years to figure out how to get by with the least cost and effort. I did not ask questions when we bought the house and no information was provided so you are doing the right thing to learn as much as you can up front. Pump the current owners for information as to how the processes work and their maintenance schedule as well as age of components. In our case the original owners replaced the liner which had been reportedly torn up repeatedly by fiberglass. Major things I’ve changed or learned over the years include blowing the lines out and filling with RV antifreeze at season end(no more broken pipes), use ozonator for primary sanitization, removed concrete steps that fostered algae growth, drain and paint pool every 4 years in September when it is most dry with epoxy paint that also reduces algae by providing a very slick surface, add sand to paint for slope as it is scary slick without, add gas heater for initial early heat up and to extend season to October - less than $100 per year of gas, avoid algaecide or at least copper based ones that might give very blond kids a green do. Pumps last 5-10 years, still on first ozonator (21 years) although ten years ago I bought replacement bulbs that are still in the box, still use first gas heater (19 years) but lcd display is hard to read and replacements are not available, pool covers for us last but a few years, replaced the sand filter a few years ago when I cracked it by having it valved off and turned on the pump. PC11 epoxy is good stuff for fiberglass pool repair and skimmer boxes too. Sealall works for some minor things. Get a professional fiberglass pole or two. Outlast others and are far less likely to give you trouble. Get the best vacuum hose you can buy, our current75 foot hose looks like new and on 6th season and in full sun all season. Installed a side port to pump inlet that allows me to use vac any time for touch ups. Installed an industrial type timer suited for wet locations to avoid having to remember to shut off pump when not needed. In recent years only run pump perhaps 8 hours a day which is probably more than needed. Shock it at least once a month with an overdose of liquid shock even if it looks clear. Keep records as to when you did what, my spreadsheet goes back twenty years although little stuff I no longer bother recording.Good luck. I never wanted a house with a pool but have grown to appreciate it. Btw, Originally there was an automated pool sweeper, not impressed. Tried one again a few years ago, but not worth hassle as it did not get all areas..... returned it.
phxjcc
Posts: 530
Joined: Thu Aug 23, 2018 3:47 pm

Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by phxjcc »

Questions:

When were the filter elements last replaced?
How old is the pump, filter, heater, and chlorination, if equipped?
Is the pump a single speed or variable speed?

Recommendation:
Look into UV Water sterilization system.
Easier on plumbing and swimmers than salt/chlorine systems.
Enjoy it.
Don't let the nervous Nellies here bother you.

I have been the family's pool boy, on & off, since 1964.
Even in my old age, I use mine at least 6 days/week.
Water exercises are easy on the joints.
:beer
aquaman
Posts: 136
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2016 2:13 pm

Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by aquaman »

ChrisC wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 3:35 pmAcquaman, Thanks for the observations and advice. I run our pump all year round (pool is never covered), 7-8 hours daily for half of the year, and 10-12 hours daily during the rest of the year. For my first robotic cleaner, Polaris 360, I ran it far too often and left in the pool, 24-7, and the bearings went on the wheels -- after 5 years -- couldn't be fixed by the pool service company or pool store.
Your Polaris 360 and Polaris 280, which is essentially the same robotic cleaner but with a booster pump, are two of the most commonly used robotic pool cleaners out there. They are good and reliable, and replacement parts are widely available and are plentiful. Here's a link to inexpensive aftermarket wheel bearings (all 4 for less than $10): https://www.amazon.com/Bearings-Replace ... B00MQ0BPQU Here's a link to Polaris' ball bearings: https://www.amazon.com/Polaris-360-Ball ... B00GA7OM4C

You can find a lot of other options out there as well.

The amount of time that your pool pump runs doesn't dictate how long your pool cleaner should run (if you have pool automation, that is, and can program separate run times for each one). You only need to run your pool cleaner for the amount of time that it takes to get the pool clean.

Also, unless you run your pump that long because you have and like the look of your water feature, or because you have a lot of debris that ends up in your pool and you need a lot of time to filter it all, there is no reason to run your pump that long, which causes your power bills to be higher than they should be. There are a lot of free pool run time calculators on the web. Just plug in your numbers and see what it is for you.
I was warned by our original pool guy to keep adequate pool water levels, including draining the pool whenever levels are too high.
Having too much water in the pool isn't really a problem, unless we are talking about water levels that completely cover your skimmers. If your skimmers get completely covered with water, the surface debris won't be able to get into the skimmers. So, the pool surface will be dirtier, which can affect its chemistry and is just unsightly.

In general though, unless we are talking about that much water, a somewhat higher water level isn't a problem and will correct itself through evaporation. Not having enough water is what's dangerous.
We replaced our salt cell generator a few years ago -- the one it replaced ran for around 7 years, at high levels of chlorinating the pool. I was advised to run the salt cell at lower levels during the Winter and not at the high levels originally programmed by the former owner.
Right, algae isn't really a big problem in the winter. Here, a lot of folks who operate their pools year around even turn off their salt cells in the winter, as salt cells don't work that well during colder temperatures, and switch to chlorine pucks during winter months.
aquaman
Posts: 136
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2016 2:13 pm

Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by aquaman »

Carl53 wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 4:13 pm Shock it at least once a month with an overdose of liquid shock even if it looks clear.
The only time that your should shock your pool is when you have a problem with your water or you expect or experience an unusual event that will cause you trouble (for instance, you're doing repairs and are unable to run your pump). Shocking is not something that should be done for the sake of shocking it.

If you maintain your FC level above the minimum for your CYA, you should never have to shock your pool, except maybe at opening and closing. That's the whole point of keeping your FC in range.

Over the past decade or so, my pool has probably only been shocked about 5-8 times.

You may want to take a look at this thread: https://www.troublefreepool.com/threads ... ol.121939/
jminv
Posts: 1073
Joined: Tue Jan 02, 2018 10:58 pm

Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by jminv »

Get a pool company to check out the condition of the pool. Preferably a company that actually repairs/builds pools not just a weekly service company. You'll want an opinion on the condition of the pool itself but also on the equipment - pump, filter, etc. Ask whether the equipment is right for the pool.

Figure out how much extra the pool adds to your home insurance costs by quoting the address with and without a pool. Part of the insurance/liability angle is that you need to have a sufficiently high fence around the pool/backyard so consider that as well.

Are there trees/shrubs around the pool? If there are a lot of trees around the pool consider whether you'll enjoy the extra maintenance that entails or whether you'd take them out/trim them back.

Consider how much you'll use the pool realistically. As time goes on, that tends to be not so much for many people with pools. Since you've indicated a preference for taking care of the pool yourself, think carefully about it. They can become a pain.

Also, pools aren't really worthwhile if the swimming season isn't sufficiently long. I prefer all year, so you then usually need to look at a heater solution. While solar heating systems can get you part of the way and extend the season, year-round swimming means you need a propane or electric solution. A heat pump is the most cost-effective in terms of operating costs of those solutions. So factor in what a heat pump will cost you, if the house doesn't already have one. Hayward has a heat pump selection tool to help you size it. For the biggest heat pump, figure 4k installed plus any electrical that needs to be done. To cut your heat pump electric bill in half (and also your evaporation), you'll need to use a solar cover. Solar covers are easy with reels if your pool is rectangular but more difficult if it's a large kidney shape. Otherwise you'll have to pull it out yourself which isn't hard for me, but is for some people.
jmorgans
Posts: 82
Joined: Mon Nov 03, 2008 9:53 am

Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by jmorgans »

When I bought my home it’s pool already was leaking. As a pool newbie I thought it was from cracks in the plaster. So we resurfaced and it looked a whole lot nicer but didn’t fix the leaks. That is because leaks are generally in the plumbing. And the older the plumbing the more likely it will leak. Since then have fixed about 1 leak per year. Annoying for sure but better than ripping up a patio and installing new plumbing.
Carl53
Posts: 1968
Joined: Sun Mar 07, 2010 8:26 pm

Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by Carl53 »

aquaman wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 5:08 pm
Carl53 wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 4:13 pm Shock it at least once a month with an overdose of liquid shock even if it looks clear.
The only time that your should shock your pool is when you have a problem with your water or you expect or experience an unusual event that will cause you trouble (for instance, you're doing repairs and are unable to run your pump). Shocking is not something that should be done for the sake of shocking it.

If you maintain your FC level above the minimum for your CYA, you should never have to shock your pool, except maybe at opening and closing. That's the whole point of keeping your FC in range.

Over the past decade or so, my pool has probably only been shocked about 5-8 times.

You may want to take a look at this thread: https://www.troublefreepool.com/threads ... ol.121939/
I use almost no chlorine other than the shock. I noted an ozonator for oxidation source. Don't need to watch cya. BTW, forgot to mention I do keep the borate level at 30 ppm. Seldom need to add any as it is not lost due to water evaporation.
aquaman
Posts: 136
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2016 2:13 pm

Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by aquaman »

Carl53 wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 5:48 pmI use almost no chlorine other than the shock. I noted an ozonator for oxidation source. Don't need to watch cya. BTW, forgot to mention I do keep the borate level at 30 ppm. Seldom need to add any as it is not lost due to water evaporation.
I did miss the fact that you mentioned that you use an ozone generator "for primary sanitization." Is this for an outdoor pool? If so, you may want to reconsider relying on it for primary sanitization (or at all). They were briefly popular quite some time ago. Once facts became more widely known about them, most people stopped using them, as they do next to nothing to sanitize your outdoor pool and have no residual effectiveness.

From Trouble Free Pool ("TFP") (https://www.troublefreepool.com/wiki/in ... ne_Systems ) "TFP does not use or endorse the use of ozone systems. Ozone is not a water sanitizer and ozone systems have little to no value in a residential, outdoor pool.

Ozone manufacturers push Ozone systems by saying you need to maintain a minimal amount of chlorine in the water. Here at TFP we group them together as an "alternative" system that is potentially unsafe to the swimmers in the water.

Additionally, ozone systems are impossible to test to see if they are working or not.

Ozone provides no residual effectiveness. It only cleans what comes in direct contact with it. We would much rather maintain a higher Free Chlorine level and know that pool water is safe since it's the water itself that carries the sanitizing effects along with it."

You may also want to take a look at:

https://www.troublefreepool.com/threads ... ruth.2834/
https://www.troublefreepool.com/threads ... or.152233/
https://www.troublefreepool.com/threads ... ls.108028/
https://www.troublefreepool.com/threads ... ne.167302/
Last edited by aquaman on Mon Jun 08, 2020 7:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.
wootwoot
Posts: 577
Joined: Tue Jan 27, 2009 7:37 pm

Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by wootwoot »

Make sure the pool has pebbletec and that the pebbletec is in good shape.
aquaman
Posts: 136
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2016 2:13 pm

Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by aquaman »

wootwoot wrote: Mon Jun 08, 2020 6:57 pm Make sure the pool has pebbletec and that the pebbletec is in good shape.
Pebble Tec and similar products (Pebble Sheen, which is similar, but uses smaller pebbles, which makes for a smoother surface that's less likely to scrape your skin, but is more expensive) are great, highly durable products, but they are primarily an aesthetic preference.

Regardless, the pool the OP is considering has a vinyl liner, so Pebble Tec or plaster or anything else out there isn't an option.
rjmack
Posts: 26
Joined: Fri May 29, 2020 10:56 pm

Re: Looking at buying house with in-ground pool. What questions should we ask?

Post by rjmack »

Lots has been covered already, so I don't have much to add. We most recently owned a house with 14k gallon, in-ground, fiberglass pool.
These are the questions I would ask if buying another house with a pool:
  • what type of cover do they have, and how old is it? (take a look at it if possible! there are several types of covers with varying levels of cost, durability and safety)
  • how old is the equipment (pump, filter, heater if there is one)? (Lifespans vary of course, but if these things are in the 8-10+ year range, be prepared to replace them soon)
  • how old is the liner?
  • and of course general questions like whether they've had any trouble with it or made any repairs in recent years
For our pool, I budgeted around $150/month (year round) to operate & maintain. We used it from essentially Memorial Day to Labor Day. Electric alone was ~$100/month while the pool was open, running an older single-speed pump continuously. We paid a service to close the pool in the winter, but other than that I did everything myself - opening, regular maintenance, system repairs, etc. We did not use a heater, which would certainly have increased operating cost.

The pool systems themselves are pretty simple and with a little research (like links provided by others) are easy to understand. You can change almost everything yourself when something fails with just basic plumbing & electric skills. Of course you can add complexity like variable-speed pumps, heaters, automatic vacuums, salt vs chlorine, etc. I would say the single most important thing is to stay on top of the regular maintenance - keeping the water clean, balanced, and chlorinated with a small amount of effort all the time will save you a ton of trouble in the long run. Most pool supply stores will test your water for free - definitely do this periodically instead of relying only on tester strips, especially when you first open the pool in spring and are getting everything ready for the season.
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