30 Apr The Ultimate Guide to Saltwater Pools
Since we have had home pools, we have used chlorine to clean and sanitize the water. But in the last few decades, saltwater has developed as a top way of easily maintaining our pool water. Since the idea of sanitizing our water using salt has come about, so have many questions. To help you get a better understanding of this emerging concept, use this article as your ultimate guide to saltwater pools.
What is the Difference Between Saltwater and Chlorine Pools?
When looking at saltwater and chlorine pools, the difference is in the name. One is sanitized by salt and one is by chlorine chemicals. Unlike chlorine pools though, you can’t just dump salt into your pool water. In order to sanitize your pool, salt needs to go through a process called electrolysis.
What is Electrolysis?
Electrolysis is the procedure where salt passes through the salt cell in order to convert the salt into chlorine. To keep things simple, electrolysis breaks down the salt chemicals through electrical currents which are then converted into chlorine chemicals. The salt is then sifted through your pool water to eliminate contaminants and bacteria.
This brings us to another point of difference between the two pool types. Saltwater pools require an extra piece of equipment added to your water processing system called a salt cell. The salt cell, also known as a chlorine generator, is the piece of equipment that converts salt into chlorine.
The best part about the salt cell is it’s very low maintenance and can be installed and then left alone. Just like anything else in your pool, it does require maintenance and checking, but this only needs to be done about every 6 months.
If you use our routine pool maintenance service, we make sure to check your salt cell every time we come out.
Benefits of Saltwater Pools
While there are many different benefits to a saltwater pool, in this guide, we’ll outline the top three.
When people think about swimming in chlorine, often the first things that come to mind are the red eyes and itchy skin that can come with it. With a saltwater pool, this is something you don’t have to worry about again. The salt in the water actually provides a softer feel that is safer on your body. Since these pools only use a fraction of the amount of salt as the ocean, you won’t even realize it’s there.
Set it and Forget it
The added salt cell, that is required for a saltwater pool, will continually process the salt and release chlorine into your water. That means that you don’t have to continually be checking it or adding more salt. The only time you do need to add more salt is when the salt cell is running low.
Cheaper to Maintain
While the initial cost of converting your pool to a saltwater pool comes with a hefty starting price, the cost of maintaining your saltwater pool is much less than a chlorine pool. This is because salt is much cheaper than chlorine and requires less frequent testing and additions to the water. Chlorine pools can cost between $300-$800 annually just for the chemicals. Salt only costs between $70-$100 a year.
Maintaining Your Saltwater Pool
Just like with your chlorine pool, your saltwater pool needs to be tested at regular intervals to make sure the pH, alkalinity, and calcium levels are where they should be. By continually testing, cleaning, and maintaining your pool, you can actually extend your pool’s life and save yourself thousands of dollars in pool repair costs.
To make things easy for you, we’ve included a maintenance schedule for you and what needs to be done.
Clean the Water – Make sure there is no debris or objects in the pool that can make your pool water dirty.
Clean the Skimmer, Filter and Basket – This is essentially the same as taking out the trash in your house. This will make sure your pool doesn’t get backed up and leak contaminants back into your water.
Test Water Levels – Maintaining healthy water levels ensures your water is always safe and ready to swim at any time. Here are the levels you should keep your water at.
- pH – 7.6
- Alkalinity – 80-120 ppm
- Calcium – 200-400 ppm
Add Salt – If your salt levels are running low in your salt cell, you’ll need to top them off.
Check Your Salt Cell – This is when you will need to check on your salt cell to make sure it’s clean, filtering correctly, and is not getting backed up. If you don’t check your salt cell, there’s a chance you will need to replace it, which is not a cheap repair.
After a Storm or Party
After a heavy storm or party, it’s essential to clean your pool. You will need to clear the debris, check the skimmer, basket and filter as well as test your water. These can leave behind contaminants that are harmful to you and your pool.
Saltwater Pool FAQs
This section will highlight and answer some of the most frequently asked questions we get about saltwater pools. If you don’t find the question or answer you are looking for, please reach out to us.
Will My Pool Water Be Salty Like the Ocean?
No. Saltwater pools use about 1/10 the amount of salt as what is in the ocean. The ocean water can sting your eyes and cause other issues whereas salt in your pool is often undetectable.
Can Any Pool Type Use Salt?
Yes. As long as the material it is made of is able to handle salt, then there shouldn’t be a problem. Almost all modern pools are designed to handle any type of sanitizer and water.
Do I Still Need Chlorine?
No. Salt is meant to replace your chlorine and so you won’t need to store or keep any chlorine.
Can I have Metal Rails and Ladders in My Saltwater Pool?
Yes. salt does tend to corrode things like metal faster than chlorine, which is why we suggest installing anodes in your pool to conduct the electricity that would erode your rails away.