What Is A Salt Chlorine Generator
Salt chlorine generators use electricity and dissolved salt to convert sodium chloride, or table salt, into chlorine for your pool. This chlorine works as a sanitizer, just like traditional pool methods. Maintaining the proper salt concentration is important because too much salt can lead to corrosion. Too little can result in lower chlorine production and shorter electrode life.
How Long Does A Salt Chlorinator Last
Generally, a salt water chlorinator cell will last you about five years before you need to look at getting it replaced. Then its time to talk to your trusted supplier about whether your control board needs replacing as well as your salt cell.
As always, we recommend following the maintenance and care instructions for your specific product. This is just a guide.
Where Do I Go From Here
Check out these articles to learn more about salt chlorine generators:
If you decide that a salt water chlorinator is the best fit for you, you may want to look into fiberglass pools as an option. The surface doesnt corrode or roughen with the salt, and the moderate initial price is offset by the minimal lifetime cost.
River Pools is located in Virginia and manufactures fiberglass pools for distribution throughout North America. Get in touch with us today if you’re in our service area and would like a world-class pool experience for your backyard. We’d be thrilled to help you.
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Chemicals For A Salt Water Pool
As previously mentioned, saltwater pools are not chlorine-free, nor are they chemical-free. A salt water pool is a chlorinated pool, with an alternative delivery system. As such, you will still need other pool chemicals when using a salt chlorine generator.
Sanitizers: Most of your sanitation will be taken care of with your chlorine generator. It can be helpful however, to keep a small supply of chlorine tabs or granular chlorine, in the event of problems with the pump, filter, plumbing or the salt cell itself. Salt pool owners also often use granular pool shock for oxidation, algae removal or super-chlorination. Many chlorine generators have a Shock feature, but they are slow to act, and using it creates a heavy demand on the salt cell, and may shorten the lifespan.
Balancers: Just like any pool, you need to pay close attention to pH, Alkalinity, Calcium Hardness and Cyanuric Acid levels in the pool. Chlorine-tablet treated pools tend to gravitate towards the low end of the pH and Alkalinity scale, while salt water pools tend to slowly rise in pH level, requiring pH reducer. Salt water pools are most stable with a pH of 7.6, and Alkalinity of 70-80 ppm. A stabilizer level of 50-80 ppm is recommended by most salt system manufacturers. High calcium hardness levels have no effect on salt water pools, but a level of 180-200 ppm may result in less scale on the salt cell plates.
How To Add Salt To Your Saltwater Pool
Adding salt to a swimming pool is pretty much as easy as it sounds, but there are a few nuances to be aware of.
Heres how to do it:
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Water Testing In A Salt Water Pool
Just like any other pool, you will need a good test kit to monitor chlorine and water balance levels. Most importantly, the pH and chlorine level should be tested at least once per week. Salt chlorine generators can be set to a certain output level, but temperature and weather changes can use more chlorine than is created, so you must test the pool chlorine level in a salt water pool, and adjust the output as needed.
In addition to testing a salt water pool for pH, Alkalinity, Calcium Hardness and Cyanuric Acid, you also now need to test the salinity level, or the amount of salt in the pool, in parts per million, or ppm. Many inground units monitor salt level and some display the salt level or have Low Salt indicator lights, but testing with salt test strips is still a good idea, to calibrate or double-check the salt sensor.
What Kind Of Salt To Use In A Saltwater Pool
The main thing to look out for in the salt you use in your pool is purity. Make sure to use salt that is at least 90-95 percent sodium chloride, and stay away from food-grade iodized salt. You can use solar evaporated or machine evaporated sea salt, but the purest form of sodium chloride comes from mined salt. It is purer is because bacteria and microorganisms found in the ocean will not mix with the salt.
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Pool Maintenance Tasks: Reducing The Salt Level In Your Pool
With the uptick in popularity of salt water pool systems, more questions are surfacing about how these pools should be maintained.
One of the more common questions about salt water pool maintenance is how to reduce the level of salt in the water. Typically, this question will arise when a new pool owner or someone who has recently switched to a salt water pool has overestimated the size of the pool and has added too much salt.
For safe swimming conditions, the ideal salt level is going to be between 2500 ppm and 4000 ppm. An overly salted pool will generally not be a major problem , but at levels over 6000 ppm there may be corrosion damage to some of the metallic equipment. Furthermore, some salt water generators require the water to be at 3000 to 4000 ppm and may not function correctly outside of their given range.
As always, we recommend hiring a professional pool company to provide regular service this will ensure that your pool is always properly cleaned, tested and maintained. If you have tested the salt water levels and there is too much salt in your pool, here’s what you need to know.
Get Your Pool Water Volume
Nex, figure out the amount of water in your pool. If you built your pool from scratch then you probably know this number off by heart. The majority of backyard pools fall somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 gallons.
If you dont know, you can use an equation to figure it out.
- Rectangular Pools: Length x Width x Average Depth x 7.5 = Volume
- Circular Pools: Diameter x Diameter x Average Depth x 5.9 = Volume
- Oval Pools: Length x Width x Average Depth x 6.7 = Volume
For example, if you have a large rectangular 32 foot x 16 foot pool, with a 4 foot depth in the shallow end, and 8 foot depth in the deep end , the water volume will be 23,040 gallons.
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Are Saltwater Pools Costly
We’ve covered several aspects, but before wrapping up, it’s critical to discuss the cost of having a saltwater pool. Although the difference in price with chlorine-tablet pools is negligible, saltwater pools tend to be more expensive on account of their many components.
The price of chlorine generators can vary from $250-1,250 while replacement salt cells don’t come cheap either. If your salt cell malfunctions, it might cost up to half or even more than the total cost of the pool to change the metal plates.
Plus, you need to factor in the expense of salt lost due to backwashing, splash out, and reduced water levels. To counter this, most people use annual boosters, bought separately.
On top of that, some components have a short lifespan of 3-5 years, after which it’s essential to make changes. So, you need to have a flexible budget to enjoy the comforts of a saltwater pool.
Converting Your Pool To Salt Water
If you do decide to convert your pool to a salt water system, there are some basic things that will help you out.
For example, choose your salt water generator based on cost and pool size. These babies can get expensive, so dont go overboard with the biggest one when a smaller model will serve your purposes.
Make the decision upfront as to whether you’ll be installing the system yourself or hiring a professional.
Read up on exactly how its done and decide whether or not you have the time, patience and willingness to learn to get the job done right.
If you think you need a professional, get estimates and include that in your financial decision.
Know that you’ll sometimes still have to use regular chlorine.
While salt chlorinators do usually have a super chlorinate function that will give it a boost, its not a substitute for pool shock.
Usually, your pool will still need to be shocked at least once a month to keep algae at bay.
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How To Maintain A Salt Water Pool: A Complete Guide
Whats the best thing about a salt water pool?
If you ask homeowners who have them, theyll probably say they like that they dont have to buy chlorine anymore. Thats because salt water pools create their own chlorine through a process known as electrolysis.
Other benefits include no smelly chloramines, softer water, and less maintenance. Now, take note. Salt water pools arent zero maintenance.
You should still know how to maintain a salt water pool to keep it in tip-top shape. That being said, lets talk about some care and maintenance tips so you can enjoy your salt water pool for a long time.
Q: What Chemicals Do I Need For A Salt Water Pool
Some pool owners overlook cyanuric acid for their salt water pools, but this stabilizer is still important to maintain the right sanitizer levels.
Remember, your salt water pool is still a chlorinated pool. Its just generated differently.
You may also need muriatic acid to lower pH levels when they get too high and soda ash to raise them.
You’ll also need sodium bisulphate to lower alkalinity, sodium bicarbonate to raise alkalinity, and of course pool salt to keep your levels in check.
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How Much Salt A Pool Needed
The amount of salt in a pool will depend on the initial salt level of the water. Generally speaking, you will only need to establish a 4000ppm. But if your pool is new and is freshly filled, then the salt level will most likely be zero.
And in this case, you need to add 50lbs of salt per 2,000 gallons of water to reach the 4000ppm.
Pools that are already in use have preceded the chlorine tablets and should have a certain salt level. Thats why you need to have your pools water tested first and then add in the required amount to reach the 4000ppm.
If the salt level increases, the only solution to lower it is to dilute the pool water. If you are diluting, you need to drain some of the pools water and then refill it with fresh water.
Calculating How Much Salt To Add
Use the calculator below to figure out how much salt to add or water to replace in your pool. All you need to do is plug in your pool volume and your current salt levels and hit calculate. I already plugged in the ideal salt level of 3,200 ppm, but if you feel strongly that you want it to be lower or higher, you can adjust it as needed.
And its as simple as that!
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What Happens When You Put Too Much Salt In A Pool
The only way to lower the salt level in your pool when its too high is to:
- Drain some water and then refill it with clean unsalted water ie. water from your garden hose.
- Wait for the salt level to naturally go down through splashing, filter backwashing, etc.
- Wait for a heavy rainfall to dilute the pool water.
If your salt level is slightly above the desired range of 3,400 ppm and your chlorinator isnt giving you a high salt warning, you might choose to do nothing and wait it out because salt level does drop over time with regular pool usage and as evaporated pool water is replaced.
How To Start Up A Saltwater Swimming Pool
So you’re feeling salty, huh? It’s actually a good thing! Salt pools offer a ton of benefits including less time spent on maintenance and more time enjoying your pool. Unlike traditional chlorine, salt pools are gentle on eyes, skin, and clothes. They can be harsh on some equipment though so make sure you follow these steps when starting up or converting to a salt pool!
*As with any product, always refer to your salt chlorinator’s owner manual for detailed instructions specific to your model and brand.
PRO TIP: Regardless of the type of pool you own the water does not need to be drained, even when converting a chlorine pool to salt pool. This is especially true if you have a vinyl liner pool. We cover the only time you should drain your vinyl pool here.
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Maintaining A Salt Water Pool
There is very little difference in the day to day maintenance between salt pools and chlorine-tablet pools. The biggest difference is that youre not opening a smelly chlorine bucket every week to fill the chemical feeder or floater. You still need to test and adjust your water balance and chlorine levels, you still need to use chlorine stabilizer, and may need other helper chemicals to maintain water quality.
There are some additional tasks that come with a salt water pool however. The energized plates of the salt cell attract calcium scale, which deposit upon the metal surfaces, reducing chlorine output, and eventually damaging the cell. Salt cells need to be cleaned regularly in a mild acid solution, to dissolve the scale. Advanced inground salt systems are self-cleaning, accomplished by reversing the polarity to the salt cell, and sloughing off the scale, which is carried away by the water.
In addition to testing your chlorine, pH, alkalinity, calcium and cyanuric acid levels regularly, salt water pools should be tested with salt test strips throughout the pool season. Salt does not evaporate, but is diluted by rain and fill water added to the pool, or when lowering the water level for winterization.
Add Salt To Your Pool
Every salt chlorinator has a suggested range for salt so check your manual to make sure you the best dose for your pool. We’ll be using the average salt level required which of 3200 ppm.
Make sure you are using the proper kind of salt for your pool, i.e. Sodium Chloride Salt that is at the very least 99% pure. We strongly recommend using AquaSaltwhich is 99.9% pure especially if you need to add a lot salt like for a new pool or converting to salt. While that 0.1% may not seem like much of a difference, when you have to add several bags of it to the pool it adds up.
Use the below chart to see how many lbs of salt needs to be added to your pool based on the current salt ppm and the gallons of water in your pool. Salt is typically available in 40lbs bags.
To add the salt, pour a few bags directly into your pool at a time. Then use your pool brush to move the water around and help kick up any salt sitting on the bottom to help disolve the mixture. Once you start getting close to the final number of bags recommended, go ahead and test your water’s salt levels. You can always add more but the only to remove salt is to add more water. If your salt levels are too hight this could result in needing to drain your pool several inches before filling it up again with fresh water. Start low and build your salt level.
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How Much Salt Do You Need For Your Pool
First, check your salt chlorine generators operating manual. Find out what level of salt your chlorinator works at most of the time it will be either 3500 ppm or 4000 ppm. Once you have identified the operating level of your chlorinator, on calculating the right amount of salt for your pool.
We recommend that you measure your salt levels as part of your regular pool maintenance routine. This measurement will give you a more accurate salt reading, so you know exactly how much salt to add to your pools water. .