Salt pools have become the most requested chemical system in home swimming pools today. Two out of three pools we build include a salt chlorine generator, and many of our existing customers convert to salt every year. While not for everyone, most salt pool owners enjoy the feel and quality of salt water and prefer the convenience of never having to buy, store or handle chlorine tablets again. As one of the first companies to install salt systems in St. Louis, we now have hundreds of salt pools and more experience in maintaining them than any other company. Following are a few frequently asked questions we receive.
How do Salt Pools Work?
Simple table salt is added to the pool at opening (usually around 400-600lbs). A salt chlorine generator is installed on the plumbing; we use Pentair’s IntelliChlor®. The scg contains titanium plates, electrodes that pass electricity between them. As the salt water passes through the electrodes, it is converted into active chlorine. When the active chlorine is used up by killing algae and bacteria, it returns to its salt form and the process starts over. So a salt pool IS a chlorine pool; it just has its own chlorine factory as part of the pool equipment.
What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of a Salt Pool vs. a Traditional Chlorine Pool?
There is a different feel to bathing in a salt pool vs. a traditional chlorine pool. Most people notice that their skin feels softer and better when they get out of a salt pool. Salt pools are similar to the chemistry of the human body, so it feels more “natural” to swim in a salt pool. There is less “chlorine smell” to a salt pool. Salt pools contain about 3000ppm of salt, so most swimmers do experience a slight salty taste; some people find that undesirable. The ocean, by comparison, contains over 10X more salt at over 37,000ppm.
Speaking of the ocean, think about the last time you stayed at an oceanside home. Did you notice the rust on the metal fixtures? Salt speeds up the corrosion of metal and concrete because it attracts water, which causes corrosion. Every salt pool will experience corrosion, and this should be factored in to the decision to use a salt chlorinator.
Salt pools must be maintained at least as well as a traditional chlorine pool in terms of keeping the water chemistry balanced. In fact, salt pools drive the pH up, so they usually require MORE balancing than traditional chlorine pools. When left unadjusted, salt pools will encounter scale formation on the cell and possibly on the walls/tile of the pool.
Costs of operation per year are similar. You save the cost of chlorine with a salt pool, but the salt cells wear out in three to four years (usually around 10,000 hours of operation) and need to be replaced. Also, remember that you still need to keep the water balanced, add chlorine stabilizer, etc.
The main advantages are not having to ever buy, store or add chlorine, a more natural and comfortable bathing experience and the lack of chlorine-related problems.
How do I Maintain my Salt Pool for Maximum Enjoyment and Minimum Problems?
As with all pools, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” for salt pools. Following are a few key maintenance rules that our Service Department follows to provide a comfortable and trouble-free swim season. The following tips are not a complete list of everything required but will generally provide a problem-free pool.
Consider Mineral Springs®, a complete line of products designed to simplify and enhance chlorine generator pools. It simplifies pool care and creates a soothing mineral spa-like environment. Salt pools generally provide a more desirable swimming environment; Mineral Springs® creates the ultimate silky smooth backyard oasis! Mineral Springs® is not a low-cost option, but no other pool system can touch the simplicity and experience that it provides.