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How Much To Convert My Pool To Saltwater

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What Is A Saltwater Pool

Converting Your Pool To Salt Water

One of the biggest misconceptions about a saltwater pool is that they don’t use chlorine to keep the water clean. This is not the case, as chlorine is still used as a sanitizing agent. The difference is that with a saltwater pool the salt works with a salt cell to produce the chlorine for you as it is needed. This not only means you won’t have to handle liquid chlorine or chlorine tablets, but your pool will generally have lower chlorine levels than it would with a traditional system.

As the chlorine is regulated through your salt cell and its connected automation system, your pool will not experience the constant seesaw of spikes and drops commonly associated with traditional chlorine pools. For a more detailed comparison, check out our breakdown of chlorine vs. saltwater vs. mineral pools.

What About The Pool Liner

If you have an inground pool with a galvanized wall behind the liner, and your liner springs a leak, the wall could potentially corrode due to the salt in the water.

Salt can also cause an issue for above ground pools, which tend to have metal parts make up the top of the pool. These metal parts, when exposed to salt, can rust over time

Inground Saltwater Pool Cost

Inground saltwater pools are usually quite expensive in comparison to an above ground pool. The price difference is due to the amount of preparation that goes into installing an inground pool.

An inground saltwater pools cost falls between $23,000 and $30,000 for a 12 by 20-foot pool. The price is drastically different from the above ground pool because it includes the preparation work value.

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How Do You Test Your Salt Levels

Its pretty simple. Your salt chlorine generator should give you a reading for how much salt is currently in your pool. However, if you dont have that reading, you can use a salt testing kit to get an accurate measurement. Once youve done that, youll know if youre above or below the ideal salt range that I mentioned above. If youre above it, youll need to replace your current pool water with new water. If youre below it, you add more salt.

The Cost Of A Saltwater Pool: The Quick Answer

How to convert a Chlorine Pool into a Saltwater Pool ...

Coming up with an all-inclusive answer to how much your saltwater pool costs isnt easy. The price can dramatically change based on the size of the swimming pool, where you live, and whether youre building it from scratch or converting a chlorine pool.

What we can say is that most homeowners can expect to spend anywhere from $30,000 to $60,000 give or take a few grand if theyre constructing the pool from scratch. Smaller pools that are only twenty gallons or less might only cost around $16,000 to $18,000.

The reason theres so much variation with these numbers is because theres so much variation with pool owners. A ten-by-fourteen foot pool with little to no landscaping might not make much of a dent in your wallet.

However, many homeowners choose to do to build a deck, patio, or install a fence along with the pool. Landscaping and similar construction costs are often where the expenses start to pile on.

If you already have a chlorine pool, but youd like to make it into a saltwater pool, buying a salt-chlorine generator can run between $600 to $2,500, depending on pool size.

Minimum Cost of Building a Saltwater Pool $16,000
Average Cost of Converting a Saltwater Pool $1,550

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Crank Up The Salt Water Generator

Check your pools chemistry again. The ideal levels for your salt water pool are:

  • pH: 7.4 7.6
  • Chlorine: 1.0 3.0 ppm
  • Salt: 3,000 3,500 ppm

Before starting the generator, its a good idea to go ahead and shock your pool with another type of pool shock, like cal-hypo, and then wait for your chlorine to return to its ideal level.

This is especially a good idea if you cant get your pool chemistry to balance, and should help stabilize all the levels.

Once the chlorine has returned to around 1.0 3.0 ppm, you can turn on your salt chlorinator system.

You can choose the amount of chlorine production you want for your pool, but if youve just shocked it and all the levels are in normal range, 50% production is a good starting point.

Myth : Saltwater Pool Water Smells Strong And Tastes Like Salt

When you imagine owning a saltwater pool, you might assume that its like having a little piece of the ocean in your backyard. Its notand thats a good thing. A saltwater pool wont dry out your hair, make you smell like salt, and cover you in sand. As a swimmer, this pool type couldnt be more convenient.

And no, it doesnt taste like salt, eitherbut you shouldnt be drinking it anyway! And by the way, that includes your pets, too. This is not a water source for Fido, for his sake and yoursthe last thing you want to deal with is a dogs stomachache. Ill leave it at that.

If youre interested in saving the cost of operation significantly over time, the first thing to do is get a variable-speed pump. The 1.5 HP Blue Torrent Thunder Variable Speed In-Ground Pump is the way to go: it comes with a lifetime warranty, is available for rebates, and pays itself off in under a year. As customer Brian Turner says, delighted with the purchase first class service.

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Decide Which Device You Use To Convert Drop

There are two types of saltwater system constructions Drop-in and In-line. Here, Ill give you an overview of each design and its pros and cons.

  • Drop-in saltwater generators you only need to submerge the cell into the hot tub water to make it work.

Construction is very simple and consists of 2 main parts:

Control panel a control unit for adjusting the intensity and amount of chlorine or bromine extraction, a timer, and other functions depending on the model.

Electrolytic cell produces chlorine/bromine, consists of a plastic case containing electrodes. They are usually made of Titanium .

Some models are equipped with a cell holder, which is very convenient and used to place the cell in

Pros: price, easy installation

Show price


The drop-insaltwater systems are the best choice for hot tubs, as in-line ones are designed mostly for pools with a large volume of water, require professional installation, and are up to several times more expensive. But, you can still use them if you dont want extra cables in your spa.

Labor Cost To Install Saltwater Pool

How to Convert your Swimming Pool to a Saltwater Pool a Step by Step Video

The labor cost of a saltwater pool installation runs from $8,000 to $30,000. The lowest price doesnt include the excavation, but it does include all installation work. Excavation costs about $9.22 per cubic yard to a 6-foot depth, so it would cost about $920 to dig a hole big enough for a 15 x 20 pool and $1,230 for a 20 x 30 pool. The highest cost is usually all-inclusive and includes the patio, fencing, plumbing, and electrical work.

Above-ground pool salt systems are much easier to set up, and can sometimes be installed in less than an hour, or have it installed professionally for $300 $500.

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Saltwater Pool Conversion Steps

Converting your traditional chlorine pool to a salt system is not as difficult as you may think.

You won’t even have to drain your pool and refill it with fresh water.

Because saltwater pools also use chlorine , the transition can take place in four relatively simple steps:

  • Step one is to balance your swimming pool’s chemistry.
  • Install your saltwater chlorinator and check for leaks.
  • Next, add pool salt directly to your pool water .
  • Test your pool water chemistry, and keep it balanced.
  • If you’d like to work with a professional to install a new saltwater pool, or to convert your existing pool to use a salt water system, get in touch with a River Pools builder near you today:

    Congratulations! You are now the proud owner of a saltwater swimming pool. Let’s go over how much that might cost.

    Check Your Existing Pool Water

    Most pool cleaners are compatible with chlorine, so you wont need to drain them or change your water before you convert.

    However, some common antibacterial products are not compatible with chlorine. In particular, polyhexamethylene biguanide does not work with chlorine cleaners. If youre currently using this, your only options before converting are switching your pool water or burning it out with excess chlorine. The second option is more affordable, but it takes several days.

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    To Drain Or Not To Drain

    The good news is, you dont have to drain your pool. However , if you currently use an antibacterial agent in your pool, draining the pool may be a good idea.

    The active ingredient in this type of pool sanitizer is polyhexamethylene biguanide, a chemical that is not compatible with chlorine. Because your salt water pool will contain chlorine, if this agent is not first removed from the water, your pool water will not be properly balanced, and the chlorine will be less effective at keeping your water clean.

    You have two options in this casedrain your pool and start from scratch with new water, or burn the antibacterial agent out of the water with a high dose of chlorine.

    This option will turn your pool water white, and it will take several days to dissipate. Once it does, you can begin the salt water conversion process.

    Salt Water Pool System Considerations

    Can I Convert My Pool to a Saltwater System? 2021 Average ...
    • The salt cell will need to be replaced every 3 6 years at the cost of about $500 to $800. Without a functioning salt cell, chlorine will not be created from the salt, and your pool environment will suffer.
    • The saltwater that is splashed onto anything metal will eventually corrode that metal. It should be rinsed off as soon as possible.
    • Saltwater will kill surrounding grass and some plants.
    • A saltwater pool needs to be tested weekly with salt and pH levels rebalanced.
    • Salt buildup must be cleaned off the salt cell and pool interior regularly.
    • Salt can corrode specific metal rails, steps, etc., so dont install these in or near the pool.

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    New Marble Plaster Pools

    Most pool plaster manufacturers dont recommend to add salt to new concrete pools with a marble plaster finish until the excess calcium compounds in the plaster have leached out and the pH of the water has stabilized.

    The recommended stabilizing period is a minimum of 12 weeks. During this time the chlorinator unit is switched off and the pool is run as a fresh water pool and should be sterilized manually with liquid chlorine or tablets.

    Salt Water Pool Test Kit

    A salt water pool test kit costs about $15 to $55, and saltwater test strips cost $11 to $25 for 40. A test kit lets you know if you need to rebalance the salinity and pH level of your saltwater. To keep a healthy pool, the water should be tested once a week. Not all salt water pool test kits give results for the salinity of the water, so check to make sure the one you want to purchase gives that result.

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    Salt Water Pools Are Gentler To Your Body

    Switching away from harsh chlorine has to be a positive, right? Sure. But the most important thing to understand is that salt water pools are not actually chlorine free. However, the presence of salt in the water reduces the kind of eye and skin irritation you may experience by swimming in a chlorine pool.

    A salt chlorine generator creates the same kind of chlorine used in a chlorine pool. Its imperative to keep chlorine levels stable to inhibit the formation of chloramines.

    In a salt water pool, when chlorine levels are stable, and chloramines are not present, the salinity of the water is much closer to the salinity of your natural tear ducts.

    This is why it doesnt hurt to open your eyes in a salt water pool, and why your skin and hair wont feel as dry after swimming.

    Salt Water Testing Strips

    Converting Your Above Ground Pool to Salt

    To check your salt water PPM levels, youll need specialized salt water testing strips. Not that salt water testing isnt included in your regular 7-in-1 testing strips so if youre thinking of converting to a salt water pool, get a bottle of these salt water testing strips when you get your salt water chlorinator. Testing for salt water PPM is also different than testing for chemical levels in your pool.

    Regular chemical testing with 7-in-1 test strips require you to swish your strip in the pool water and see how the colors change. To test for salinity, fill the included container up to the required level and then put in the strip and leave for five minutes. The color on the strip should start to fade, and the highest faded point should be your PPM reading. The way this works is that the strip has different resistances for salt concentration, the faded parts of the strip have had their requirements fulfilled and have done their job, while the unfaded sections means that there isnt enough salt in the water to cause them to fade, giving you an approximate reading of the salt level in the water.

    P.S. Do not submerge the entire strip into the water! Only submerge the indicated section of the strip to get the proper readings!

    Now that we have everything that we need to convert our pool into a salt water pool, its time to install our salt water chlorinator!

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    Generator Cell And Sensor Maintenance Is An Investment Of Time And Money

    Saltwater generator cells require a cleaning every 90 days, or you will end up with calcium buildup. Skipping regular cleanings for six months or more shortens cell life, increases the likelihood that the cell will break, and the pool will eventually become swampy.

    The cell in a saltwater generator cell must be replaced every two to three years. The replacements are an investment of about $500 to $800 .

    You will also need to have a professional closely monitor and clean the sensor that determines how much salt needs to be added to the water, or you can end up with a serious chemistry imbalance.

    How To Convert A Pool To A Saltwater Pool

  • Choose your salt system and the additional features you want it to havedigital readers, self-cleaning abilities, etc.
  • Figure out your pool power source setup 3-prong or twist-lock plug.
  • Hook up your salt cell to your plumbing line with a return jet or hose/pipe.
  • Test the water.
  • Turn off salt chlorine generator.
  • Add salt according to your saltwater system manual and the number of gallons in your pool. Use salt thats at 99.8% NaCl. Brush the water around to speed up the dissolving process.
  • Turn the salt chlorinator on and run it for 24 hours.
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    Balance Your Pool Chemistry

    You dont necessarily have to balance your phosphate levels, but with salt water pools, its a good idea because they act almost like a glue for contaminants that can cause scale build-up inside your salt cell.

    They enter your pool from human contaminants, chemicals, rainwater and other various sources.

    Most average pool testing kits dont come with phosphate testers, but they’re pretty cheap to buy.

    A phosphate level below 200 is recommended. You can then purchase a phosphate reducer if needed.

    If any of these levels are off, take the appropriate measures to correct them.

    Maintaining Your Salt System

    Pool Salt Calculator

    Even though these generators are great about maintaining a balanced chlorine level once youve found the right setting, you’ll still want to occasionally check the chemistry just to make sure everything is in balance.

    Salt water pools have a tendency to have high pH levels that need to be dealt with to prevent scaling and cloudy water muriatic acid can be added to reduce high pH levels.

    Youll also want to keep it as clean as possible. Just like a chlorine pool, your salt water pool needs to be brushed and vacuumed and kept free of visible debris.

    Your pump also needs to be maintained to keep water flowing which will maximize your salt cells effectiveness and make it last longer.

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    How To Convert From A Fresh Water To A Salt Water Pool

    The good news is, you dont necessarily have to drain your pool in order to convert it to salt water.

    However, if you use antibacterial agents in your pool, then draining it is a good idea. Antibacterial products are incompatible with salt chlorine generators, and make it difficult to keep the pool clean and balanced. You can remove these products by draining the pool, or by burning it out with a very high dose of chlorine, which can take several days.

    If/when your pool is free of antibacterial agents, you can begin to convert it to a salt water pool. Heres how:

    • Step 1: Test the water. Your pool should be tested and balanced to the specifications of your salt chlorine generator. Remember that balancing a pool takes time, and the pool should be balanced in this order:
    • Chlorine
    • Hardness
    • Metals
    • When you adjust your pool, any changes you make tend to adjust all the other values, so doing it in this order allows you to save time. Once your pool is balanced, you are ready to proceed.
  • Step 2: Inspect your liner. If you have a vinyl pool liner, inspect it carefully. Allowing salt water to corrode your pool galvanized walls will eventually damage or destroy your pool wall, so be cautious. Make sure the vinyl is completely intact, or take this opportunity to make any necessary repairs.
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