If you’re thinking about buying a house with a pool, there are some important things you need to know — before closing the deal. A swimming pool is one of the most valuable assets in a home and it can be the place your family and friends share some of the best times of their lives.

Or it can be a headache that just won’t go away.

Get a Professional Pool Inspection. You’ll want to buy your next home with your eyes wide open.   But unless you’re a pool expert yourself, you’ll be wise to engage a professional pool service company to conduct a thorough inspection. You need one that’s been around some time and has experience with a wide variety of pools – and the many problems that can happen with them over the years. You pay for the inspection, so get one you can rely on.

Don’t Rely on a Home Inspector. Some buyers assume the home inspection covers the pool, but it’s rare when it does. Even if they offer pool inspections, many home inspectors do not have the required expertise to evaluate a pool. In fact, most home inspection reports include a disclaimer covering the pool.

Pools Have Complex Equipment. There are quite a number of moving parts to pools. Beyond the actual pool, which needs to be solid and leak-free, the pumps, heaters and filters need to be checked for proper operation. The electrical equipment needs to be inspected, as does the plumbing. Decking surfaces, safety covers and the hardware that secures them should be evaluated for condition and longevity.

Test the Pool by Running the Equipment. During a thorough inspection the overall operating condition of the pool and equipment is evaluated by turning the systems on to see if they run. Typically this is a visual inspection; keep in mind, you and the inspector have no right to take anything apart.

Get a Pressure Test for Leaks. If the company you hire doesn’t know how to pressure test the plumbing for possible leaks, you may be setting yourself up for expensive problems down the road. Certainly, you don’t want to have to schedule the pool for repairs before ever touching a toe in the water.

So before hiring a pool inspector, ask if the company performs pressure testing of the pool plumbing. Main drain lines and some water feature lines cannot be easily pressure tested, and that should be noted in their report. Check to see if the report includes a written estimate for any needed repairs.

Check the Main Drains. Another important aspect of an inspection—perhaps the most important aspect—is to make sure the pool is equipped with federally approved anti-entrapment covers on all suction outlets (drains) in the pool. Your pool inspector also needs to know applicable state laws regarding pools.

Use an Accepted Inspection Format. Depending on the company and the amount paid, pool inspection reports vary widely. There is a recommended format that was developed a number of years ago by the Northeast Spa and Pool Association (NESPA), which provides an objective basis for an inspection report.

Check the Fence. All communities require fencing or other barriers around the pool to prevent children from wandering into an open pool area. Specific requirements may vary from town to town, but all require functioning self-closing, self-latching gates. Your inspector should be very familiar with all aspects of safety pertaining to the pool and the surrounding area.

Settle the Pool Details, Then Close. When you buy a home with a swimming pool, you’re buying it “as is.” So before you sign the papers, know what you’re getting into. If you need to make a price adjustment based upon any work that might be required to restore the pool to good operating condition, you’ll be able to negotiate that before your real estate closing. Having money held in escrow to cover repair costs is an easy way to address any concerns that may have come up during the inspection.