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Swimming pool components: how long can they last?

Maryalene LaPonsie | Improvement Center Columnist | December 6, 2012

Nothing says luxury like a swimming pool.

However, pools aren't cheap. Whether you are considering a home purchase that comes with a pool or thinking about installing a pool on your current property, you probably want to know how much money replacement parts cost and what the life expectancy of swimming pools and all those parts might be.

To help you make informed decisions when it comes to investing in a pool, we've compiled a list of major swimming pool components, their life expectancy and replacement costs. Life expectancy estimates are from the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, Inc. Meanwhile, replacement costs were gathered from various pool retailers and may vary in your region.

how long do pools last

Concrete shell

Life expectancy: 25+ years

Replacement cost range: $8,000-$15,000 depending on the pool size and design

Concrete pools come with a number of perks including endless design flexibility. Unlike some other pool materials that may come in a limited number of sizes and depths, concrete shells can be customized to any shape. In addition, concrete offers greater durability than other shell materials.

While some manufacturers offer lifetime warranties on concrete shells, that doesn't mean they are maintenance-free. Extra care must be taken to ensure algae doesn't grow in porous concrete. Approximately every 25 years, you might need to resurface and re-tile the concrete shell.

Vinyl liner

Life expectancy: 10 years

Replacement cost range: $2,500-$5,000 depending on the pool size

For those on a budget, vinyl liners offer an affordable way to install and enjoy a pool. Like concrete shells, vinyl liners can be customized for a variety of sizes, shapes and depths. Although their lifespan is less than half of that for concrete shells, these liners have a considerably lower replacement cost, also.

The most significant drawback of vinyl liners is the possibility of tears or rips. Liners can average only 20-30 millimeters thick, making them susceptible to damage from rough use by dogs and kids.

Cover

Life expectancy: 7 years

Replacement cost range: $30-$350 for standard vinyl covers, $250-$500 for mesh covers and $2,000-$5,000 for automatic covers

Pool covers often serve a dual purpose. They keep your pool free of debris and can also help maintain the water temperature and minimize evaporation, which, in turn, lowers energy bills.

Depending on your budget, covers can range from basic vinyl that must be manually placed on the pool to automatic covers which can be retracted and extended with ease. Basic covers collect water on top; mesh versions allow water to drain while keeping debris out of the pool. Solar covers are available that typically use a bubble wrap-style material with an insulating effect.

Diving board

Life expectancy: 10 years

Replacement cost: $300-$650

Diving boards create a whole new dimension of poolside fun. They are also relatively inexpensive accessories that will generally last a decade. Basic replacement diving boards may have a wood core with a laminated exterior. More expensive boards may be specially treated to withstand saltwater or may be compatible with accessories such as waterfalls and decorative lighting.

Filter and pump

Life expectancy: 10 years

Replacement cost range: $150-$900 for filter and $450-$1,200 for pump

To keep your pool water clean and safe, you need an efficient filter and pump system. Filters use sand, cartridges or diatomaceous earth, also known as DE, to remove contaminants from the pool. Sand filters have traditionally been the most common filters, although DE filters are increasingly popular and are more effective at removing smaller particles from the water. Cartridge filters don't require the occasional backwashing required of sand and DE filters, but they still must be cleaned regularly.

Pumps are responsible for circulating water and chemicals throughout the pool. Pool pumps vary in price depending on their size and efficiency. Another consideration is the level of noise emitted by the pump. Since pool pumps must run regularly to do their job properly, quieter models may be preferable.

Pool water heater

Life expectancy: 8 years

Replacement cost range: $730-$2,100 for natural gas heaters, $1,000+ for solar energy models, $2,000-$3,000 for electric heaters

Swimming in frigid water is no fun, and a water heater is essential to ensuring you are able to stretch how long you can use your pool. Heaters use a variety of energy sources including natural gas or propane, solar power and electricity. Natural gas heaters tend to heat the water the quickest, but they may also have the highest operational cost. Solar power and electric can reduce your monthly bill but offer slower heating.

A pool is a major investment, and you should be prepared for the costs of maintaining it for the long run. However, with the right care, your pool can continue providing fun for many years.