The backyard economy has sprung a leak

From CNBC:

The pool party’s over as Americans ease up on backyard upgrades

Americans will be splashing around this summer in the backyard pools they’ve already got, but not splashing out as much on new ones. 

Swimming pool installations were part of the home improvement frenzy that swept the country during the pandemic as Americans were stuck at home. But recent signs show demand is slowing as households with spending money shift it more toward vacations than renovations.

Pool Corp., a national pool equipment distributor with a roughly $11 billion market valuation, said last week it expects new pool construction to fall by 15% to 20% this year. Some local contractors across the country are seeing a pullback, too.

Skip Ast III, sales director at Shasta Pools in the Phoenix metropolitan area, said the local industry has been having a harder time since roughly 2022.

“If 2023 wasn’t already considered — by pool volume — kind of disastrous, this year’s been worse,” he said, but added that the company has managed to adapt.

While consumers aren’t cutting back on overall record spending, those with extra money in their budgets are increasingly burning it on experiences like travel, dining out and other service-sector purchases.

In 2020, installations of all kinds of pools, from in-ground and hot tub pools to typically cheaper inflatable and above-ground models, rose by 20%, according to property analytics firm Cape Analytics.

At the time, “people started settling in for, ‘OK, we’re going to be at home for a while, we need to bring the vacations into our backyards,’” said Ast, whose family has been in the pool construction business for nearly 60 years. He recalled suppliers struggling to keep up with a crush of orders and contractors facing monthslong backlogs.

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50 Responses to The backyard economy has sprung a leak

  1. LAX says:


  2. Juice Box says:

    My Pool is hot, 83-86 F all summer, heater has not been turned on. Quite a few new pools being built in the area too backlog is a long wait from what I hear.

    My new neighbor who just finished 11 months of renovations on the house has transformed his backyard, it now looks like a resort. He has about a dozen pool loungers and almost as many umbrellas, all Aqua marine color…put in a giant Gazebo too made by Dutch crafters, that thing was probably over $10,000.

    I had a nice family BBQ for the 4th even picked up some bargain fireworks at ShopRite…
    Plenty of pool use so far….

  3. Juice Box says:

    What is this I hear that AI Mania is now cooling?

    Apple is just getting started. New and improved SIRI coming this spring.

  4. LAX says:

    I want to replace of gas powered heater with an electric & tie that into out solar array.
    Pool guy tells me they don’t make an elec. heater large enough. I’m skeptical.

  5. Juice Box says:

    LAX – heat pumps, you can add more than one, as they MAX out at 150,000 BTU. You have to keep the pool pump running longer to heat it up, 24 hours to heat up a regular sized swimming pool.

    I have a 400,000 BTU gas that can heat my entire pool up 10 degrees in just a few hours.

  6. grim says:

    A 399k BTU pool heater is the equivalent of about 117kw.

    Let’s say your gas pool heater is only 80% efficient, that would require 94kw to replicate with much higher efficiency electric.

    At 240v single phase power, that’s every bit of 392 amps. Given most residential service in NJ is 200 amps, not going to fly. Even a 400 amp service would not provide enough power for an electric pool heater. You’d need drop in commercial 3 phase power, or a whopper of a 600 amp service drop. You might see this in a massive mansion.

    A typical rooftop solar system might be 10kw or under, At full power that’s going to to provide about 40 amps.

    It would take a residential rooftop solar system 10 full hours of sun to run the pool heater for 1 hour, that might require 3 or 4 days to actually achieve. Now, this is just for argument sake, you wouldn’t need such a big electric heater, you’d run a small heater longer, but the math here is exactly the same.

    If you are lucky, that 3 or 4 days of sun are going to warm your 20,000 gallon pool by 2 degrees.

    You might just naturally lose that in a cool overnight, or gain that on a stretch of hot days.

    You can’t effectively heat a pool with rooftop solar electric. Cutting any trees down to allow full sun and solar pool cover would make way more sense – same principal, probably greater surface area exposed to sun than a rooftop solar system. Why bother with the intermediary step of converting to electric?

  7. Hughesrep says:

    Looked at a heat pump pool heater briefly this year. Equivalent to 140K BTU output needed 50 amps. It would take twice as long to heat the pool as my 400K BTU gas heater. I get about 3 degrees an hour temperature rise with my gas heater. Really only use it extensively during the early and late part of pool season.

    It’s been so hot out I haven’t used the heater in a couple of weeks. Sitting at 85 this am.

  8. NJCoast says:

    The tiny shore town of Allenhurst was treated to a John Gotti like fireworks display by the new mayor’s generous donation. Her husband served jail time for laundering $22 million for a Colombian drug ring in the 90’s but had his record expunged by a Trump pardon. They now owns several homes in the town as well as Brooklyn and Manhattan. Sad to watch the town change.

  9. Juice Box says:

    electric pool heater??

    No lol heat pump…. aka reverse air-conditioner. They are very efficient. Coefficient of performance (COP) as high as 7. They draw around 5 kilowatt power per hour. Any solar electric could in theory run the heat pump but for clean power you need a battery system. Besides the pool water pump is needed too, so now you have two electric motors running…

    There is nothing efficient or green about a pool between the electric needed and well the chemicals etc. Thankfully by Labor Day nobody really wants to swim anymore. That is only 56 more days folks….

  10. Juice Box says:

    Speaking of Water. Shark Week has arrived… watch you appendages while you are in the water.

  11. grim says:

    COP comparison to electric heaters is closer to 3-4. So that 3-4 days of sun gets you 6-8 degrees with a heat pump, instead of 2, at probably close to 10x the price per BTU in the long-run (taking into account reliability, replacement).

  12. Fast Eddie says:

    Speaking of pool heaters, mine is kaput. I don’t know how old it was when I bought the house but it’s time for a new one. I did the pool epoxy two years ago along with a new filter and rewiring but next up is the heater. Anyone care to venture the cost range for the device(s), installation and labor?

  13. Fast Eddie says:


    Approximately 22,000 gallons or roughly 15 x 30, with a deep end and shallow end. I need to call my pool guy, he’s honest and reasonable.

  14. Libturd says:

    Captain Cheapo say:

    You will raise your pool temperature (barring trees) by two to three degrees a day. The smart folks I know who use them have a giant roller thing:

    There ya go. $200 all in. It also will help with pool water evaporation lowering chemistry costs. If you get one with a UV coating, you’ll use very little chloring. In high school I maintained a few pools in my area. I swear, these things work. You won’t be swimming in May or October, but most people I know don’t swim then anyway, mainly because it’s too expensive to heat their pool with gas.

    These things are truly a best kept secret.

  15. Fast Eddie says:


    Considered the solar cover and have used them in the past when we had above ground pools. Though, above ground pools don’t need them. Once that sun hits the metal side walls for two days, the water approaches 90 degrees. Just got off the phone with my pool guy, gonna go with the gas heater installation.

  16. No One says:

    I think I’ve spent about $100k over the past 4 years on my FL pool: weekly servicing, re-surfacing, mechanical repairs, rebuilt a pool cage (hurricane), repaired the deck, paying electricity and gas costs. (Including the one time the pool app went haywire and heated the pool to 90 degrees in winter for a week without anyone noticing, increasing our gas bill by about $500)
    Total time I or family or guests have actually been in the pool over those years? Maybe 20-30 hours.
    But a pool is expected for this kind of house, to make sure that someday grandkids are excited to come visit on winter break!

  17. Libturd says:

    I’d say the only negative with the solar cover was having to move the ugly roller somewhere when not in use, which is a two person job.

    I’ve seen them in both above and in in-ground pools.

  18. Libturd says:

    No one,

    I used my dumb Intex nearly every Summer Day. The kids, about 1/4 of the time.

  19. Fast Eddie says:

    I’m in the pool more times than not so it makes sense. Plus, the size of the yard and landscaping are complimentary. God only knows the cost to remove an in-ground pool. I don’t even want to think of it. I agree with “No One” above though, if you aren’t prepared to shell out hefty sums, don’t buy a house with an in-ground pool.

  20. Hughesrep says:

    I think I paid $4200 for the 399K BTU Raypak with the upgraded headers via HD. Had it here in two days. Neighbor runs his own pool business on the side, gave him $500 to put it in. Maybe two hours of his time. It was an almost exact replacement, so very little piping involved.

    Realistically I could have done it myself, but I dont like to mess with gas or electricity. Water makes a mess, I can clean that up, gas and electricity are dangerous.

  21. grim says:

    We walk down to the lake nearly every day in the summer, membership worth every penny. Heck, even popping in for an hour before or after dinner is worth it. Kids get a nice break, it’s usually pretty quiet.

    Have been working on my balance on the Wibit with my 4 year old. If the end-of-times come, and it takes the form of American Gladiators, I’m set. Until then, it’s a nice break.

    I would love a pool though, but I don’t think I could ever pull that trigger.

  22. Fast Eddie says:


    What size is your pool with that 399K BTU heater?

  23. Hughesrep says:

    28K gallons or so. Roughly 16×33, I’ve only ever walked it off, never measured exactly. 9 feet in the deep end. It came with the house. Would not have done one myself.

  24. Hold my beer says:

    We just started getting rain from the hurricane. We’re supposed to get less than an inch. Looks like Houston is a mess. 1 million without power already.

  25. Boomer Remover says:

    Wrapping up third week in Greece. I know vacations are just that, but the idea of looking out of my Uber flying down the turnpike is depressing me already.

  26. chicagofinance says:

    Where exactly?

    Boomer Remover says:
    July 8, 2024 at 3:02 pm
    Wrapping up third week in Greece.

  27. LAX says:

    Table for two at Dorsia ?

  28. Libturd says:

    I always wondered…are there a lot of diners in Greece?

  29. Boomer Remover says:

    Chi – We started with a few days on the Croatian coast and then flew to Athens to meet with some friends from NJ. After two days in Athens we headed for the islands of Naxos, Paros, Ios, and Santorini. Out of all those – and Thasos which we did two years ago – Naxos was by far our favorite. Washboard dirt roads by the coast, windsurfers paradise, we stayed 50 meters to crystal blue beaches, boundless nature, amazing meals on the beach at sunset… relatively little tourism unlike the other more known islands. 10/10 would do Naxos again. Santorini, the times square of Greece, and a relative dump is a necessary evil as it has the largest airport on the Agean.

    I think we’ve one more Greek trip in us. Probably to Milos, Crete and Turkey. I say Turkey, because the costal parts were all Greek at some point anyway.

  30. Chicago says:

    30 years ago, Santorini was like Naxos, but then all the ships made it a port of call. Fucked it up.

  31. Boomer Remover says:

    Naxos’ days may be numbered as well. I learned this week that it is slated to receive an airport landing system upgrade in 2025, which will allow larger non turbo prop airliners to land.

    We also enjoyed Chalkidiki on our last trip. Ended up in a small village with pop. 400 away from any port/cruise ship destinations. Greece is a great vibe.

  32. Fast Eddie says:

    Where’s Phoenix? Where’s Joyce?

  33. Fast Eddie says:

    Another day in Paradise. I can’t imagine what the next PSE&G bill is going to look like with two A/C zones running continuously and the pool filter on for ~ 10 hours. Though, the 2nd floor A/C doesn’t run until an hour before bed time. I do have a sizeable attic fan that I run all day as it keeps the 2nd floor tolerable. It’s a walk up attic. Gotta look at the dew point for today, that’s the difference between miserable and tolerable.

  34. Fast Eddie says:

    Isn’t it interesting that slo joe wants to be a dictator, the Dem Senātus Rōmānus is feuding as Barry and Hunter run the country and Jill discovers she likes this thing and wants more? Is this any way to treat a guy who beat Medicare, beat Putin and created NATO? Did they save democracy or is that still on the “to do” list? And finally, does joe do a boom boom in the potty between 10 AM and 4 PM?

  35. LaX says:

    Had to run to Hollywood today. Cantor’s deli chopped liver made the trip perfection.
    Talk about soul food.

  36. Libturd says:

    I used to live about 5 minutes from there. Directly between Pink’s and Cantor’s, two blocks off of Melrose. I drove through there about a year ago. I didn’t recognize the area. What used to be all hip mom & pop stores and cafes has mostly been replaced by chains. I was happy to see Pink’s, Cantor’s and the El Coyote were still there.

  37. LAX says:

    2:26 Lib, it’s dystopian. I can’t imagine Hollywood in it’s heyday.

  38. LAX says:

    The “industry” here has really been in the doldrums.
    Not sure how the area supports the sky high valuations
    on those chic, tiny bungalows in the area?!

  39. Libturd says:

    I think the move is to put down as little as possible to get into one and then refinance the equity like every three years. Then you’re rich!

  40. LAX says:

    Frightening. If you’d bought when you lived here,
    you’d have been able to cash out biiiiig time.

  41. Libturd says:

    Oh I know. We drove past the old abode on North Vista.

    It probably would have gone for 450K or so 27 years ago. Still, the stock market ends up being the much better play over the long run, with no carry costs and no sweat equity.

    I think three of us split the $1500 rent back then.

  42. Libturd says:

    Sold for 420K, right after our lease was up in January of 2000. Estimated to sell for 1.7M so a triple. S&P 1,400 then, to 5,600 today. Almost exactly identical gain. Very interesting.

  43. Libturd says:

    What’s crazy is how that 1,500 square foot home is worth $1,700,000?

  44. Fabius Maximus says:

    PSE&G sent me a notice to have my gas meter replaced. The unit did not look that old and I sat on the notice for months. Finally I called them and scheduled a replacement.
    I had an interesting chat with the tech. He says that the state require them to change a set amount every year. Although my meter was not old, it came up in the lottery they use to pick who to change.

    Today I got a letter saying that they tested my meter and it was running fast. They adjusted my account for the calculated overage and I was getting a $750 credit. WTF!

  45. LAX says:

    3:13 boggles the mind!!!

  46. Fabius Maximus says:

    Off for a fun day at the Javits Center for the AWS Summit.
    Let’s see who protests this year. They finally worked out that having the keynote in the big hall with the unwashed masses was not the best idea. So they are having in a side hall and live-streaming ti the rest of the building.

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