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A lot of homeowners nowadays are choosing salt water pools instead of conventional inground pools, and the reasons for this are many, including easier maintenance. However, if you are considering investing in a new saltwater pool, knowing what maintaining one entails is an important step in making an informed decision. This handy pool owner’s guide to saltwater pool maintenance will tell you all you need to know about the upkeep process.
Difference between regular chlorine pools and salt water pools
Chlorine is the chemical of choice when it comes to pool maintenance, because of its affordability, cleaning properties, and oxidation levels.
In conventional pool maintenance, you will be expected to add chlorine to the water periodically to maintain consistency in the pool. However, that is not the case in saltwater pools.
Salt water pools use what is known as a salt chlorinator, or a salt-chlorine generator to pass water through, instead of simply dumping the chemical in the water.
When water and salt come into contact with electricity in these salt chlorine generators, the chemicals are broken down into hydrogen gas and hypochlorous acid. While the hydrogen gas bubbles and escapes out of the water, the acid acts as a cleaning agent and cleans the pool.
Another key difference is that while regular chlorine swimming pools require constant chemical adjustments to maintain pH levels, saltwater pools require much less maintenance and be used for much longer without modifications.
However, one must always keep in mind that salt is corrosive in nature and should never exceed the advised limits. If used indiscriminately, salt can break down pool liners to machinery and railings. You will then need to employ zinc anodes to fight the corrosion and will incur sizable costs to repair and replace parts.
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The pool care process
Maintaining proper circulation
The concentration of salt needs to be evenly distributed across all areas of the pool, and for this reason, it is important to maintain proper circulation in your pool. This is also the primary reason why pools with irregular shapes are rarely saltwater pools. If you wanted an unevenly shaped saltwater pool, it would take a lot of precise planning to get the salt chlorinator to work evenly across the pool.
However, this is not a problem with regular-shaped pools. All you will need to do is to make sure your water enters and exits the pool filters at an even pace,
A simple way to check if circulation is even is to use salt concentration detectors. Check the salt concentrations at different parts of the pool. If the levels are the same, it indicates that the circulation is even. If the readings vary, you will need to adjust the direction of the filter jets and check again until the readings match.
As with all pools, regular cleaning is a must. Keep the pool filters, pump, and skimmer clean at all times. It is also important to buy cleaning devices manufactured for saltwater pools specifically because the corrosive nature of salt will make regular pool cleaning equipment ineffective.
Another thing to make sure of is that there is minimum splashing from the inside of the pool to the outside during the cleaning process. You do not want the salt building upon and eating into your pool liner, causing extensive damage. The best thing to do is to use a high-pressure hose to wash off the splashed salts back into the pool after the cleaning process.
Maintaining pool chemistry
There are multiple aspects that you will need to pay attention to when it comes to maintaining proper pool chemistry.
- The standard salt level required by most manufacturers is around 3400 ppm. In fact, most chlorine salt generators will not even start if the salt level is below 3000 ppm. So if you find your pool is low on salt, you will need to manually add salt until there’s enough for the generator to start.
Your pool manufacturer will advise you on the exact process of calculating how much pool salt needs to be added. A lot of them have online calculators just for this purpose.
- The next aspect you will need to pay attention to is making sure you add the right amount of stabilizer to the water to ensure the chlorine does not evaporate quickly. In most saltwater pools, cyanuric acid is used as a stabilizer, thanks to the fact that it bonds well with chlorine and prevents it from evaporating.
- Maintaining the pH levels as well as free chlorine levels of the pool is important to the water safe to use. The ideal pH level for swimming pools is around 7.4. There are multiple home testing kits, ranging from expensive options to simple testing strips that you can use for checking your pool regularly. Once you’ve tested your pool, you can add the chemicals needed to either reduce or increase the pH levels.
Soda ash is often used to increase pH levels, while muriatic acid or sodium bisulfate is used to reduce them.
- Finally, it is good to shock your pool every once in a while by shocking your pool by adding granular chlorine. Granular chlorine burns up unnecessary organic matter and returns the pool to its original state. However, always contact your pool manufacturer for exact directions on how often your pool should be shocked, and the amount of chlorine that should be added.
The yearly cost for salt and chemicals needed to maintain a salt water pool is between $70 and $100 a year. This is a bargain, compared to the $300 to $800 chlorine pools cost in maintenance. However, the salt chlorine generator will need to be replaced every five to seven years, and that will cost around $1,700 to $2,500.