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Plunge Pools: A Worthy Investment or a Fad?

Plunge pools have gained popularity as a luxurious addition to homes and outdoor spaces. These compact pools provide a refreshing escape from the heat and offer several benefits for homeowners. However, if you want to use your pool for exercise or if you have a household full of boisterous kids, and plenty of garden space, the question is – are plunge pools worth it?

Plunge pools are worth it for homeowners with limited space, who don’t intend to have large pool parties, and who want to enjoy cooling off in a pool but don’t want to use it for fitness training. Plunge pools have drawbacks but many benefits, including lower installation and maintenance costs.

A plunge pool is not just an oversized spa or an under-sized swimming pool, so our first task is to define precisely what is meant by the term “plunge pool.” Then, having done that, I’d like to outline the benefits of installing one as well as some of the disadvantages you need to be aware of before you go ahead and “take the plunge!”

Are Plunge Pools Worth It? All The Pros And Cons

There’s no official dividing line between a standard swimming pool and a plunge pool, but obviously, the latter is smaller – so just how small?

What Is A Plunge Pool?

Plunge pools are usually no larger than 10 by 20 feet compared to an average-sized swimming pool’s dimensions of 15 by 30 feet. They are also pretty shallow, ranging from wading pools with a depth of around three feet to a more usual depth of five feet. Plunge pools are typically flat-bottomed, so there’s no difference between the deep and shallow ends.

While plunge pools can be in-ground, it’s also common to have them semi-sunken with a low perimeter wall of twelve to eighteen inches that provides convenient seating and also prevents debris from falling into the pool.

While both options require some ground excavation, an above-ground plunge pool is a cheaper alternative. While less aesthetic than an inground pool, it is an option worth considering for those on a limited budget. Materials include concrete, fiberglass, or vinyl, and the plunge pool can be made more attractive with pool decking and landscaping.

Advantages Of Plunge Pools

While their size doesn’t suit everyone, there are several benefits if installing a plunge pool:

1. Space Efficiency

Plunge pools occupy a smaller footprint compared to conventional swimming pools. With their compact size, these pools are ideal for urban homes and limited outdoor spaces, and they can be installed where a regular-sized pool won’t fit. A small backyard, a courtyard, a rooftop, or even an indoor area can be transformed into a chic oasis and a visual centerpiece.

2. Cost-Effectiveness

Compared to larger pools, plunge pools have lower installation costs, as their smaller size means less construction time and fewer materials. Concrete plunge pools are the most expensive but allow greater versatility of design, whereas precast fiberglass or vinyl plunge pools are great cost savers.

While the choice of materials, equipment, and accessories is essentially a matter of choice, plunge pools can be installed for as little as half the cost of a standard swimming pool. For many homeowners, the choice is between a plunge pool or no pool at all, and the answer is clear.

Long-term maintenance costs are also considerably reduced. Less water is needed to fill the plunge pool, and there is also less evaporation, which means less topping up. The lower volume of water in these pools also means fewer chemicals are needed to maintain water quality and allows for quicker top-ups.

Energy usage, particularly if you choose to heat the plunge pool, is also lower, and further savings can be enjoyed as a smaller pump can be used.

3. Relaxation And Health Benefits

Plunge pools provide the perfect setting for relaxation and stress relief, as well as hydrotherapy for muscle strains and for low-impact exercising. As I mentioned, you can install a pool heater and spa jets for additional features in your plunge pool, making it even more versatile.

4. Easier Maintenance

Being smaller, plunge pools are easier to clean. Cleaning by hand and using a manual vacuum is a task that will only take minutes, so you’re saving on the costs of automatic cleaners. Even your decking and coping are easier to maintain.

Disadvantages Of Plunge Pools

Just as the smaller size of a plunge pool has its advantages, there are also some negatives:

1. Limited Swimming Space

The compact size of plunge pools means they only provide sufficient space for up to two or three people to comfortably use the pool at the same time. It also means there is very little room for active kids to play, so a plunge pool is much less of a social venue than a full-size pool.

2. Fitness Training Is Limited

The short length of a plunge pool doesn’t allow for lap training, so it’s not a great place to get fit. This problem can be solved by fitting resistance jets that you can swim against without moving forward, but that’s not ideal as it’s an expensive addition. A cheaper option is to use a tether around the ankle while swimming in a stationary position.

3. Limited Design Options

Due to their smaller size, plunge pools may offer limited design options compared to larger pools. The space constraints can restrict the inclusion of additional features such as waterfalls, slides, or intricate landscaping. However, creative design solutions and clever use of materials can still create visually appealing plunge pool areas.

Limited Accessibility

The depth of plunge pools can be a disadvantage for individuals with limited mobility or those who need help to swim. Getting in and out of the pool may be more challenging due to the absence of gradual steps or shallow areas. Proper safety precautions, such as handrails or non-slip surfaces, should be implemented to ensure accessibility and prevent accidents.

Conclusion

Plunge pools are undoubtedly worth it as a valuable asset in your backyard, offering many of the benefits of a full-sized pool. However, while they provide space efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and health benefits, the limited swimming space, restricted use, and limited design options should not be overlooked. Ultimately, the worth of a plunge pool depends on individual preferences, available space, budget, and intended use.