How To Look At A House

McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of  

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Should I buy a house with an old inground pool?

Friday, April 29, 2022

You can expect a concrete or fiberglass inground pool to last 30 to 40 years, maybe even longer with diligent maintenance and keeping up with the water chemistry. But, as a pool gets older, more maintenace and repairs are necessary for both the pool shell and equipment. Also, although an older pool is wonderful for family backyard fun, the prestige of owning a pool gradually fades as crack repairs run across the pool deck and over the coping. Leaks are common in older pools too, and they can difficult to find and fix.

    A house from the 1970's or 80's with a 40+ year-old pool might even be the same price as a comparable home without a pool nearby, and a “free pool" can very enticing. You can rehab an older pool, like the one shown above that sat without maintenance for months after a foreclosure, but resurfacng the marcite plaster finish and replacing the old, rusted pool equipment is not cheap.  

    Here’s a few examples of problems that are specific to older pools and not readily discernible to a homebuyer:
•• They may have metal plumbing that corrodes and eventually leaks underground, whereas more recent pools are plumbed with PVC plastic.
•• The pool's marcite plaster finish has to be resurfaced every 10 to 12 years and, as the layers pile up on an older pool shell, eventually it all has to be chipped back to the concrete to resurface the pool shell one more time. See our article How long does a pool finish last? 
•• Older pools often have a single-speed pump. Variable speed pumps are now the standard, and they cut the electricity cost by up to 75% or more. Go to Why are pool pumps now required to be variable speed? for details.

•• Older pools sometimes do not have an anti-entrapment pool drain cover with a curved surface. This means the suction at the drain can trap someone that sits over it. They cannot escape and drown—especially young children.
•• One out of three older pools that we inspect has a gas or electric pool heater that has not been functional for years.

    Although home inspectors like us can inspect an older pool and give you an understanding of its condition, we recommend that you engage a pool contractor that can talk to you about the specific cost of the immediate repairs and ongoing maintenace for any pool that is 25-years or older at a home you are considering buying.

    And one last thing: once you get an estimate of how much it will cost to get that old pool looking good and functioning properly, along with a pro’s guess at how many more years it has left, you have one more thing to consider. What will you do and how much will it cost to get rid of that big hole in the ground once it’s useful life is finally over? 

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Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about POOL AND SPA:

• How can I tell if my pool is no longer level? 

Does an above-ground pool require a building permit? 

What are the pros and cons of vinyl liner vs fiberglas vs concrete in-ground pools? 

Can a pool with green, cloudy water be inspected?

Should I refinish-resurface my pool with paint or plaster? 

How can I tell if my pool is leaking? 

• What are the pool safety barrier requirements for Florida?

• Is the deteriorated finish of a concrete pool shell only a cosmetic problem?

• When was pool bonding first required by code? 

When was it first required for pool pumps to have GFCI protection?

What are the clearance requirements for an overhead electric service drop that is directly over or near a swimming pool?

    Visit our POOL AND SPA  and “SHOULD I BUY A…” pages for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

Thanks to Dean Muggeo of Dino’s Pool Service, Gainesville, FL, for assistance with this article.

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