In recent years the popularity of ‘salt water pools’ has increased dramatically. Consumers love the convenience offered by chlorine generators that use ordinary table salt to continuously generate chlorine in their swimming pools.
Chlorine generators break down NaCl (salt) molecules using a process called electrolysis which eventually produces hypochlorous acid(HOCl) and sodium hypochlorite (NaClO), the sanitizing agents already commonly used in swimming pools traditionally added as harsh chlorine liquids, chlorine tablets or chlorine granules/powders.
Pool professionals suggest maintaining a salt level between 1,800 and 6,000 parts per million (ppm), with most pools hovering around 3,500 to 5,000 ppm.
Some people believe that salt pools contain no chlorine, but in fact they really do. Salt pools do not, however, usually contain chloramines, often referred to as combined chlorine, which can irritate the eyes of swimmers and result in pools having a strong and unpleasant ‘chlorine smell’. The process by which chlorine generators produce chlorine also destroys chloramines.
Many pool professionals claim that properly installed and monitored chlorine generators make swimming pool ownership about as easy as it will ever get — short of hiring someone else to take care of the pool, of course!
Proper Monitoring/Maintenance of a Salt Pool
Will I Ever Need to Add More Salt?
While salt systems more or less recycle chlorine and in a perfect world would never need anything added to them to maintain a desired salt/chlorine concentration, water splashing out of the pool results in chlorine generators needing to slowly draw off of salt reserves which need replenishing every once in a while.
Will I Ever Need to Shock My Salt Pool?
Yes. Pool professionals suggest adding a non-chlorine shock treatment once a week to oxidize any accumulated bacteria or other contaminants not affected by normal chlorine residual levels.
Please note that merely cranking up a chlorine generator and running the system for a long time (24 or more hours in a row) will result in super-chlorination but it will not adequately oxidize contaminants in the water.
Will I Need to Use Stabilizer (Cyanuric Acid)?
Most experts agree that a salt pool should have a chlorine stabilizer residual to keep the sun’s UV rays from depleting the pool’s free chlorine levels. A chlorine stabilizer concentration of 50 to 75 ppm will usually suffice, though pools in areas that get a lot of sun may require higher concentrations.
Seasonal Maintenance on a Chlorine Generator?
A definite YES. Each year, and possibly several times a year, pool experts recommend removing and cleaning the ‘salt cell’ in a mild acid in an effort to keep it free of calcium build-up and scale.
To help reduce and/or prevent calcium build-up on the cell you can use a product such as the Aquapill Salt Cell Guard.
Is There a Downside to Salt Water Pools?
Nothing great comes without a price of some sort, so yes, salt water pools do have a few negatives associated with them.
For starters, the initial cost of a decent chlorine generator can deter people from converting their pool over to a salt system. The cost of replacement cells, which most people WILL need at some point, may also make some people think twice about installing a salt system on their pool.
A second negative side to salt water pools deals with the fact that salt water tends to corrode many types of metal, including stainless steel, faster that standard chlorinated water. For that reason pretty much all above ground pool manufacturers will tell you that they will NOT honor any warranty claims for salt water pools.
Where Can I Get a Chlorine Generator for My Pool?
So glad you asked… An online pool products by the name of Amerimerc has a decent selection of chlorine generators and really great (inexpensive) shipping & handling policies.