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How To Convert Chlorine Pool To Salt

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Labor Cost To Install Saltwater Pool

Converting Your Pool To Salt Water

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.

How To Convert Your Pool To Salt Water

Although salt water pools have been around since the 1970s, their popularity has grown rapidly in recent years. This is due in large part to their reduced cost in upkeep. Theyre also easier on your skin, hair, and eyes, and youve probably heard salt water is healthier than chlorine, too.

Maybe youve been thinking about salt water pool conversion to take advantage of all those benefits. But what a hassle that change would be, right? Actually, the conversion process is fairly simple, so if youre thinking of doing it yourself, youre in luck.

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.

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A Salt Water Chlorinator

The first thing youll need is a great salt water chlorinator! As we mentioned earlier, well be basing this guide on the Water TechniX Atomic Salt Water Chlorinator, but this guide is suitable for almost any brand out there.

The reason why we picked the Water TechniX Atomic is simple, its robust, designed and assembled right here in Australia, and it has the longest warranty period of all the salt water systems out there. It also has the best price-to-performance ratio that we know of, making it one of the best, if not THE best, salt water chlorination system out there.

The Atomic features analog timers and an analog control panel. Now you might be asking why analog when were already living in the digital age. The answer is simple: salt water doesnt play well with electronic components. There was a point in time where salt systems used high end LCD screens to show every sort of conceivable data about the functioning of the chlorinator, but in the long run, it only served as another point of failure which could lead to hundreds of dollars in repair costs. And to be honest, we dont really spend a lot of time sitting down and staring at the control panel of the chlorinator.

Will Residual Salt Affect My Pool

Chlorine to Salt conversion

No, the leftover salt in your pool water does not pose a danger to your pool equipment. The electrolysis created by the reaction to the salt cell is what caused most of the corrosion in your pool, not the salt itself. Without the cell, the salt will be relatively harmless.

And before you fire up the keyboards talking about the corrosiveness of seawater, be aware that seawater contains 35,000 ppm salinity level, and your pool water has about 3,500 ppm tops. After you have purged so much water to lower your CYA, your pool waters salinity level will be a fraction of the 3,500 ppm.

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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.

Take Precautions For Your Pool Liner

If you have a vinyl liner, youll be happy to know you can use a salt chlorinator system in your pool without taking any extra precautions. The liner will be exposed to lower levels of chlorine, so it may even extend your liners lifespan.

However, many inground pools have galvanized walls behind the liner. If your liner springs a leakeven a small leakallowing salinized water to seep out against the steel wall, the wall will eventually corrode.

Similarly, above ground pools with a lot of metal parts can rust over time due to exposure to salt water. If you have a resin above ground pool, you can make the switch without this concern.

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How Much Does Saltwater Pool Conversion Cost

Most people are able to convert their inground pools to a salt system for around $1,700 to $2,500 plus the cost of salt . This cost includes the salt chlorine generator, which can vary in price depending on the size and manufacturer.

Read more:Inground Saltwater Pool Cost: Salt, Cells, Generators, and More

Keep in mind that your salt chlorine generator is not a one-time purchase. You will need to regularly replace the cell and control board at a combined cost of about $1,200 to $2,000 every 3 to 7 years.

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

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Test & Balance Before You Convert

Before beginning the conversion process, youll need to test and balance your pool water. We recommend using standard test strips, which will provide you with an accurate read on your current water chemistry. This will let you gauge your pools pH, total alkalinity, free chlorine levels, cyanuric acid stability, calcium hardness, and salt.

The simplest and most seamless way to track and test your pools water chemistry is with Pool Calculator a handy app for desktop, Android, and iOS. Just enter the results of your test and well show you exactly how to balance your water before converting to a salt water pool. Adding chemicals and stabilizers to balance your water is a crucial first step before you proceed with the salt water conversion process.

In most instances, a pool wont need to be drained in order to convert to salt water. However, if youre currently using a water sanitizer that contains polyhexamethylene biguanide, you may need to drain your pool and fill it with fresh water because it will impact your chlorine balance.

How Do Salt Water Pools Work

A saltwater pool needs a salt water chlorination system to function correctly. The salt system contains an electrolyzer which generates chlorine from the salt and water as the salt water passes through an electrical current. The process results in fewer chloramines, which softens the water, is good for aching joints, and doesn’t smell like chlorine.

Get free estimates on HomeGuide from trusted inground pool installation companies:

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The Cons Of A Salt Water Pool

Salt water pool conversion does come with a few drawbacks. Most homeowners feel that these drawbacks are so mild that they arent enough to change their minds. If youre willing to deal with a bit of a startup costs and some changes to your maintenance plan, its simple enough.

  • Startup costs
  • Specialized outside help

Faqs About Salt Water Pools

How to Convert Your Pool to Salt Water

Salt water pool chlorination was first developed and built in Australia during the 1960s. By the 1980s, the United States started to see more of these types of pools built in new homes. Over time, as technology improved, these salt water pools became increasingly popular.

One of the key factors for its increasing popularity is convenience. Fans of salt water pool systems are quick to talk up the convenience of salt water pools over manual chlorination because of the reduced maintenance associated with chlorine and the list of additives needed to clarify water, discourage algae and keep the pool healthy.

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Saltwater Is Gentler On The Body And Clothing

Regular exposure to chlorine can cause a variety of problems, it is a strong chemical after all. Chlorine can cause sensitivities and allergies if a person is exposed to it on a regular basis.For those who already have a chlorine allergy or with sensitive skin, a chlorine pool can cause hives, rashes, and itchy skin due to the chlorine exposure.In addition to this, saltwater is also much gentler on clothing than chlorine is, so youll have to replace your bathing suit far less!

Cost To Convert A Pool To Salt Water

The cost to convert a pool to salt water will vary depending on the size of your pool and whether you hire a professional to complete the installation. There are salt water systems designed for every size of pool ranging from 5,000-100,000 gallons so you can be sure to find one that works for your specific pool.

We recommend purchasing a salt water system that is rated for pools approximately 15% larger than specified to ensure that you have adequate chlorine production during higher pool usage, increased sunlight hours and during superchlorination that reduces the need for shocking.

The price for a basic is about $300 and can be installed in as little as 30 minutes by a handy pool owner. The advanced units can cost upwards of $1,500 and include features like self diagnostics, automatic chemical feeders and a control panel that will automate all of your pool hardware. The automated pool systems are a bit more complex to install but for most pool owners the upfront cost is worth the very low maintenance down the road.

If you install the system yourself you won’t need to hire a pool service company but we recommend a professional for complicated systems to ensure it is installed correctly. A pool technician will charge approximately $250-$500 to install a salt water system but this of course will vary with geographic location and the complexity of the system.


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Balancer Chemicals For Traditional Chlorine

You will essentially be continuing your regiment of testing pH, alkalinity, and hardness, applying chemicals as needed. You can probably chuck your bottles of CYA, because tablets and liquid chlorine contain stabilizer within their formulas.

For a guide on pool chemistry, follow this link: How To Maintain A Swimming Pool Part 1 .

Saltwater Systems Cause Corrosion

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

Corrosion is a common problem with saltwater pools. Saltwater systems pass salt through an electrolytic cell to produce chlorine. Pool water can become extremely over-chlorinated and corrosive if the sodium hypochlorite levels get too high.

Saltwater can wear away at the deck anchors of the ladder and diving board, causing safety issues. Over the long term, the salt itself can corrode anything near the pool where water evaporates like equipment, lighting fixtures, and cement.

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Should You Convert Your Inground Pool To Saltwater

The benefits of converting your pool to a salt system are clear, but it might cause you more problems in the end if your pool is incompatible.

It might not be a good idea to switch to a salt system if your inground pool has any metal parts in the structure or if you have metal accessories. You might also choose to steer clear of salt if you have a plaster surface.

However, in most cases, unless your pool has metal walls that can corrode, a saltwater pool can make pool maintenance much easier and give you a better swimming experience overall.

Still thinking about your options when it comes to inground pools, and whether or not you’d like to use a salt system to keep it clean? Take our Pool Type Quiz, which includes a question about saltwater to help you figure out which type of pool best suits your needs:

If you’d like to learn more about salt systems, feel free to check out our guides below. Happy swimming!

Salt Water Pool Conversion In 5 Steps

After you have purchased your salt system it’s time to install it in your existing pool plumbing system. It should be installed at the end of your plumbing after the pump, filter and heater right before the return valve to your pool. This ensures that the freshly chlorinated water that has passed through the salt system and cell enters the pool directly.

The ideal setup is to run your control panel and pool pump from the same power source and timer to ensure simultaneous operation. This keeps the entire system is in sync and ensures that the pump is running during chlorination. You can print off our salt water pool installation diagram for easy reference.

If you decide on a system that requires a more complex installation you will be required to do some basic plumbing and electrical work. It’s recommended that you hire a plumber or pool professional to complete the conversion if you arent comfortable with either of these tasks. If you want to try on your own you can follow our step by step guide on how to complete a salt water pool conversion.

  • Adding Salt
  • 1. Establish Location for Installation

    In most inground swimming pools you will be adding the salt system in your existing plumbing that is fitted for 1.5-2.5 inches diameter. It should be installed after the pump, filter and heater and within proximity of the power source and control panel.

    2. Plumbing, Flow Switch and Check Valve

    3. Sacrificial Zinc Anode

    4. Control Panel and Power Supply

    5. Adding Salt

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    Selecting Your Salt System

    • Pool size: Salt systems range from pools 10,000 gallons 100,000 gallons. You will need to select the system based on your pool size. You can always go with a larger unit on a smaller pool. This will allow you to run the salt system for shorter periods of time and you will have longer time between replacing your salt cell.
    • Budget: Salt Systems can cost anything from $500 $2,000. The less expensive models have few bells and whistles where the higher end systems have a bunch of fancy features including the ability to control all your pool equipment.
    • Features: Salt systems vary in regards to the features offered. Some of these features include: salt readout, self cleaning, self diagnostics, digital readout and the ability to control pool equipment.
    • Replacement cell cost: This is an important factor and is often overlooked. Your salt cell will need to be replaced every 3-5 years. Replacement salt cells range from $200 $700. So, if you get a salt system which uses a $200 cell then you could replace this cell 3½ times before it costs as much as replacing the $700 cell.
    • Where to buy: Here you can check out our full line Salt Chlorine Generators we even have a model for in-ground pools starting at $499.

    How To Convert A Pool To A Saltwater Pool

    How to Convert a Chlorine 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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    How Much Salt Do I Need When I Change Over My Pool

    When converting to saltwater, youll need about 440 pounds of salt for a 15,000-gallon inground pool or around 11 bags of salt. Ideally, the ratio of salt to water is 2,700 3,400 parts per million . At 3,500 ppm, humans can taste and sense salt, but at around 3,000 ppm of dissolved salt in the pool, the water will feel soft and silky.

    Is A Salt Water Pool Right For Your Home

    Salt water pools are a perfect solution for pool owners who are busy with life activities. Youll appreciate how little time you need to spend while you are at home to keep your pool sparkling, clean, and balanced.

    When youre away from home on business or vacation, you wont have to worry about asking a neighbor, a friend or hiring a pool service to clean your pool and add chlorine to prevent a green lagoon looking pool . Anything that simplifies caring for your pool can only increase your enjoyment of it year after year.

    If you find you are struggling to keep chemicals in your pool properly balanced and regularly battle algae blooms, you may be ready to convert your pool to a salt-water pool. Saline pools are easier to maintain and more healthful. The conversion pays for itself over time

    No pool system is perfect and all types of pools require maintenance. You need to choose which is best for you, your family and home. While there are many reasons to opt for converting your pool to saltwater, the decision about whether to make the switch comes down to simplicity, economy of maintenance and peace of mind.


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