Ask a Pool Expert: How Much Does it Cost to Maintain a Pool?

House Method held a one-on-one interview with Robert Flynn, owner of New Jersey Pool Repair LLC in Ocean County, NJ, for his two cents on the required investment of time and money that comes with at-home pool ownership.

Q: What are some of the most expensive pool repair needs among homeowners?

A:  “The most common pool repair issue we see across the clients we serve are pool heater malfunctions, which cost roughly $6,000 upfront to replace. With heaters or any other primary pool components approaching ten years old, expect to pay anywhere from $1,500 to $1,600 per repair. “

“Aside from smaller pool repairs, resolving something more significant like a crack in a gunite pool can cost up to $30,000. If we’re talking about the typical pool type in New Jersey, a vinyl liner installation or replacement will cost around $3,500 to complete. Automated system installations — more of an upgrade rather than a repair — might fall around $5,000. And then, if you went with a variable speed pump, that could be around $2,500.

Q: When should a homeowner decide to replace a pool part versus attempting to repair it?

A: “If the heater is approaching ten years old and you’re looking at a major repair needed, it’s likely not worth attempting to fix it. You’ll save more money in the long run by just investing in a replacement because breakdowns will only continue with age. Everything wears out at some point. For pool heaters, in particular, there’s a part called a heat exchanger, a part in the heater called a heat exchanger —it’s like a radiator in a car, but it sits horizontally instead of vertically — and that’s where the water runs through. If that leaks, that’s about a $2,000 repair in itself. At about the ten-year mark, you can expect that to happen. Especially for coastal cities, like it is here in New Jersey, the salt air wreaks havoc on pool equipment.”

Q: What is the life expectancy of pool equipment?

A:  “Standard pumps, filters, and heaters last anywhere from seven to ten years.” 

“Vinyl liners can last over 20 years so long as no tears occur, but most require replacements every 6 to 12 years, especially if use is frequent. Concrete pools should be resurfaced every decade to ensure their longevity. Fiberglass or gunite pools can last anywhere from 25 to 30 years with routine maintenance.” 

Q: How much does a professional maintenance visit cost?

A: “The cost of a home visit depends on the work needed. A whole swimming pool installation is a different story. Labor and part availability will also impact the total cost, so understand that it’s always variable. Also, pool services in different states will charge more or less depending on the local competition. In New Jersey, I’d say an average repair appointment costs $300, but again, it just depends.”

Q: Do pool repair services typically come with their own workmanship warranties?

A:  “When somebody like myself and other pool builders installs a heater or pump, homeowners can get a certain type of extended warranty or what we refer to as a 3-3, which stands for three years part, three years labor.” 

“Different pool repair services will have their own packages and deals, but limited warranties, whatever they entail, are common in the pool service industry. A reputable contractor won’t hesitate to stand by their installations and repair work.”

Q: Do you have any additional tips for maintaining an in-ground pool or spa at home?

A:  “Homeowners with in-ground swimming pools should have a good go-to contractor that services their pool and looks at their equipment regularly. They need to be very proactive about it too. Especially in New Jersey, we have a short, $16-week season. And sometimes, people will have a heater or part that intermittently fails, meaning it’ll waver between working and not working. Often they’ll wait until it’s totally broken to get it fixed. And then, if you have a backlog on a part, you could have to wait two or more weeks, especially with the shortages we’ve seen lately. And four weeks into a sixteen-week season is 25%.”

Q: Do you advise against do-it-yourself repair work on pools?

A: “Yes, I absolutely advise against trying to fix parts of your pool by yourself. Especially with pool heaters, you’re sending water, 230 volts of electricity, and natural gas through that system simultaneously, so it’s best to have someone who knows what they’re doing. “

“Because most pool equipment, even your salt systems, pumps, and automated systems — like the boards and boxes — almost all of them run on 240 volts. 240 volts of electricity is a very dangerous power level, and I don’t think any DIY-er should be dealing with it without prior experience. It’s a little different if you’re, say, changing an outlet in your house, but this is something that could very well put you in a hospital.”

Q: Is saltwater more corrosive to pool parts and systems than chlorine?

“With saltwater pools, you can sometimes get galvanic corrosion on some of the metal parts on the pool, especially at the railings and ladders. This happens when you have dissimilar metals — say a stainless ladder or rail, going into an aluminum anchor, held down by a brass bolt. And through the electrolysis in the salt system, you’ll get galvanic corrosion where those metals actually fuse together somewhat, causing them to fall apart fairly quickly. 

“The antidote to that is a zinc anode — similar to what boaters use — and so you’ll want to bond a zinc anode right into your PVC pipe.  Because zinc is a weak metal, it’ll give its ions up faster to the electrolysis. All homeowners with a pool that has a salt system should without a doubt have a zinc anode.”

Potential Savings with a Home Warranty

Of 63+ home warranty companies we’ve reviewed across House Method, providers offering pool or spa coverage as an optional add-on will cover an average of $500 in eligible repairs or replacements. Below we’ve outlined what you’d be paying out of pocket for common pool replacement needs, both with and without a home warranty.

Pool Issue Upfront cost without a home warranty Upfront cost with a home warranty (plus service fee)
Pool filter $1,000 $500
>Pump motor $300 $0
Heater $6,000 $5,500
Skimmer $400 $0
Interior lights $900 $400
Pool pump $1,100 $600
Main drain repair $600 $100

About the Ask an Expert Series

House Method’s Ask an Expert series directly connects our readers with the expert insight of certified home service professionals around the United States. Our research team led one-on-one interviews with each subject matter expert on our site and asked them topical questions about the insections of their field of work and homeownership. Though all answers featured in this article include direct quotes, we’ve also integrated contextual information, relevant research findings, and verified resources to supplement each excerpt further.

For more information about our research and vetting process in the home warranty category, visit our full rating and review methodology.

Best Overall

  • 4.9 out of 5 stars
  • Superior cost-to-coverage ratio
  • Emergency servicing available
Most Cost-Effective

  • 4.8 out of 5 stars
  • Lowest service fee
  • Free roof leak coverage
Most Customizable

  • 4.7 out of 5 stars
  • 50+ years in business
  • Pick-your-own service fee

Looking for more information on home warranty companies? Check out some of our other expert reviews to get all the details you need. Remember, each of these companies gives a free quote.

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