If you’ve never heard of a plunge pool, you’re probably not alone. But they actually made their way on the scene thousands of years ago when ancient scholars discovered the health benefits of cold-plunge therapy.
Don’t worry, though! You don’t have to love icy cold dips to enjoy one of these lovely little pools.
Many people keep their plunge pools at normal temps, or the much higher temps you might enjoy in a hot tub.
But however you enjoy your water, if you don’t have the space or the budget for a large pool, plunge pools might be just the answer you’re looking for.
What is a Plunge Pool?
Plunge pools are primarily designed for hydrotherapy and exercise. They’re much smaller and more affordable than full-sized pools.
These pools have gained a lot of popularity over the years because health experts are always touting the medical benefits of aquatic exercise. These include things like improved use of joints and decreased pain.
And believe it or not, it’s even known as a mental health booster, alleviating anxiety and depression in many people.
How Does a Plunge Pool Work?
Plunge pools are usually much smaller and shallower than traditional pools. Otherwise, they’re pretty much the same thing.
Most of them are installed in-ground and have the same plumping and filtration systems as other pools. But some companies do make affordable above-ground models if that’s something you’d rather have.
Since the main difference between plunge pools and regular swimming pools is the size, they’re obviously used a little differently. For example, instead of playing chicken or lounging on floats, you’ll probably primarily use it for relaxation and exercise.
It will also hold fewer swimmers than larger pools so it’s not something you’ll likely have a pool party in.
Pros vs. Cons of Plunge Pools
A plunge pool can be a great alternative to a larger swimming pool for a lot of families for several reasons. But there are also a few drawbacks to consier.
They take up less space than regular pools.
You can easily slip these pools into an otherwise useless corner of your backyard or beside your deck.
They’re less expensive than full-sized pools.
Even inground models are much cheaper to install than large pools because they require fewer materials and less work.
They require less maintenance.
While you might need to perform the same maintenance tasks on any size pool, doing so with these takes a lot less time and effort.
They’re cheaper to operate.
Not only do plunge pools require a lot less water to fill, they’ll also require less chemicals. Not to mention, running the filtration system will be cheaper.
They hold fewer people.
Pool parties are probably not happenin’ here. That is, unless you want to take turns jumping in.
They don’t add the same value.
A plunge pool is probably not going to add the same market value to your home as a full-sized pool. Although, it can still make a difference.
How Big and Deep Are Plunge Pools?
Just like other types of pools, you’ll find quite a bit of variety in the sizes of plunge pools. But on average, they are around 7x12 feet and anywhere from 54 to 60 inches deep.
You’ll also see a lot of square plunge pools in the 6x6 or 8x8 foot range.
How Much Does It Cost to Put in a Plunge Pool?
The cost to install a plunge pool can also vary quite a bit depending on the size, shape, and type you buy. Some companies sell kits to start with that can come in under $5,000.
But if you’re looking to have an inground model professionally installed, you could be looking at something more in the ballpark of $14,500-24,500. However, when you compare that to the up to $65,000 average cost of a full-sized fiberglass installation, you can see how you’d be saving some money.
3 Ways to Use a Plunge Pool
Of the many uses of a plunge pool, this might be one of the most popular. Athletes, in particular, find taking hot or cold plunges after a workout can reduce muscle pain, inflammation, and stiffness.
But athletes aren’t the only ones who find water therapy useful. People with arthritis and other chronic conditions often get the same benefits.
Exercising in the water has a lot of perks you might not have ever thought of. For one thing, it supports the body so there’s less stress on your muscles and joints.
This makes it great for people with conditions like arthritis or bad knees.
It also provides a lot of resistance to build strength naturally without the impact of free weights or machines.
Finally, it makes exercise a little more comfortable since it keeps you from overheating, possibly helping to prolong your workout.
Scientists believe there’s a deep mental connection between water and mental well-being. They say that even being near a body of water, whether it be a lake, pool, or ocean, “makes us happier, healthier, calmer, more creative, and more capable of awe.”
How To Install a Plunge Pool
Plunge pools are almost always going to require professional installation, unless that just happens to be a skill in your wheelhouse. But basically, it’s just like installing any other pool.
The difference between plunge pools and a lot of other types of pools is that they are often built off-site and brought in to be installed. This is also true of fiberglass pools, but full-sized concrete pools usually have to be poured on-site, which is one of the reasons they’re usually so much more expensive.
Before your pool is delivered, you’ll need to dig a hole to fit it in the space you’ve designated. This is usually done by an excavator, but if you do it yourself, be sure to call your local utility companies or “call before you dig” service.
Then, they’ll bring the pool in and your pool professional will connect all the proper plumbing.
What Temperature Should Plunge Pool Water Be? (Can Plunge Pools Be Heated?)
Your plunge pool’s temperature might be completely different from someone else’s. This is because different people use them for different things.
Some people install plunge pools specifically for cold water therapy. In these cases, they usually install cooling systems with them and keep the water around 50℉.
Other people prefer them hotter, installing heating units that can take the water up to 104℉. In these cases, they either use them at their hottest like spas or they keep the temp at a comfortable range somewhere between 78℉ and 82℉.
How Long Should You Stay in A Plunge Pool?
The answer to this question also depends on what you’re using it for.
For cold therapy, experts recommend only 10 or 20-second dips. Otherwise you’ll lose too much heat from your body and could risk hypothermia.
If you keep your plunge pool on the hotter side like a spa, you should never soak more than 20 or 30 minutes. Overuse can cause nausea, dizziness, and sometimes, more serious issues.
For plunge pools kept at normal temps (78℉ - 82℉), it’s probably fairly safe to stay in the water as long as you’d like, provided you don’t get dehydrated or too exhausted from exercising.
Plunge pools are a great alternative if you don’t have the space for a full-sized pool, or just prefer the lower-maintenance aspect of them. They’re perfect for exercise, hydrotherapy, or just relaxing after a long day.
Just make sure to do your research and choose the size and type that works best for you. Keep in mind, you can install them with heating or cooling units to meet whatever needs you have.