An above-ground pool requires a sizable investment of time and money to maintain. There are a number of chemicals that are required to keep the water clean, as well as daily water testing and cleaning. The more diligent you are when testing and cleaning, the cheaper the pool will be to maintain.
Time and Money
Factors influencing the amount of time and money it takes to keep a pool clean include the size of the pool, the number of people who swim and how often they swim, whether there are plants around your pool and what the weather is like. Plan on spending at least 15 minutes each day to test the water and skim the pool, and 30 minutes each week to add chemicals and clean the filter.
Running the pump and filter will raise your electric bill. During the hotter months, the pump and filter will run almost continuously to keep the pool clean. A 1-horsepower pump will cost about 37.5 cents per hour to run at an average of 25 cents/Kilowatt hour. Depending on your location, the cost could be higher or lower. The larger the pump, the more wattage it will use and the higher the cost. A 1-horsepower pump will sufficiently clean a 24-foot round pool in 8 hours.
The first chemical that needs to be added to a pool is algaecide. One quart of algaecide costs about $10 as of May 2011, and should last a whole season. The next chemical that you will need is pool shock, which usually comes in 1-lb. bags that run from $2 to $4 per bag. The amount needed will depend on the pool size; however, as a general rule of thumb add 3 1/2 tbsp. per 500 gallons of water. Then there are the pH and alkalinity balances. A 4-lb. container of pH down is about $10, the pH up and alkalinity increase is about the same. The highest cost in chemicals will be the chlorine. A-10 lb. bucket of 3-inch chlorine tablets will cost about $40 to $50 and will most likely last you one season. Chemicals need to be replaced each year, but they can be used during the off-season to keep the chlorine level in the pool stable.
Water and Pool Service
If you winterize your pool, you will need to add water to bring the level back to normal before you add chemicals. Occasionally, you'll need to add water due to splash out and water loss during the summer. If you do not feel confident in your ability to service your pool, you can hire a pool service to check and service the pool once per week. The cost will range from $85 to $150 a month, depending on how much of the maintenance you want the service to perform.