Contrary to popular belief, saltwater pools do contain chlorine, unlike the widespread misconception purports. Suburban swimming pools have remained largely the same for decades, using nearly the same systems to keep them safe and comfortable for aquatic enjoyment. Pools were traditionally quite big, taking-up much of a backyard, but, over the last several years, the rise in popularity of saltwater pools continues to grow. These fixtures are generally smaller in size, but can be more aesthetically pleasing, and, are more healthy for skin.
What’s more, saltwater pools, though containing chlorine, do use less chemicals than traditional swimming pools, have a lower cost of upkeep, and only need minimal maintenance. That however, does not mean any maintenance, as saltwater pools do need care just like regular pools, and also like regular, or chlorinated pools, still need attention even during the months you aren’t swimming on a daily basis like you do in the summer.
The Difference between Salt Water Pools and Regular Swimming Pools
Let’s face facts, a swimming pool is a wonderful creature comfort feature to have at home, but, it’s far from hands-off, maintenance-free. There are many things to deal with to maintain the quality of the water, which include regular skimming of floating leaves and other debris, rainwater pouring down, reclaimed water runoff, and more. All of these can wreak havoc with the oh-so delicate pH balance and needs to be shocked. It takes some time and effort out of upkeep, which, for many homeowners, is a welcome proposition.
Saltwater pools don’t take care of themselves.You still have to add acid to keep the pH balanced. Just because it seems natural like the ocean — it’s not. In fact, saltwater pools have 1/10 the salt of the ocean , so they’re more like a tear drop than a good salt soak! The salt breaks down into various components including hyrdrochloric acid or chlorine gas. Regular pools don’t have that much chlorine. —CNBC.com
In a regular pool, chlorine is manually added and dissolves. It then circulates through the water but must be added again manually to start the whole chlorination process over again. Salt water pools automate this task, employing a purification system that practically eliminates the need for a homeowner to buy sanitizing chemicals.
Chlorinated pools can be converted by adding a mild saline solution, bringing the water to a mixture equal to about 1/10th to 1/12th of saltiness of Sarasota Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Next, a chlorine generator is installed and this is what helps to maintain the water’s salt/chlorine concentration. This system uses electrolysis to push salty water over an electrically charged special metal cell, creating chlorine. The created chlorine then breaks back down into salt and the cycle repeats itself, over and over again.
Basic Saltwater Pool Maintenance
Though saltwater pools have less maintenance than regular chlorinated pools, these fun water retreats don’t completely free you from at-least some level of upkeep. You’ll need to stick to a regular system in order to keep it functioning well and maintain the water quality and quantity. These steps should be done once a week, once a month, and once a quarter to give your family and friends a great experience:
- Once per week, check the water for free chlorine and pH levels. Using a strip or drop test kit, check the free chlorine level, which should test between 1 and 3 ppm (parts per million). The pH level ought to range between 7.2 and 7.6. If the pH level is off in your saltwater pool, use muriatic acid to lower its level or raise it using soda ash or sodium bicarbonate.
- Once per month, test your pool’s salt, alkalinity, stabilizer, and calcium levels. Every month, use a strip test kit or drop test kit to test the salt, alkalinity, stabilizer, and calcium levels. Check your owner’s manual for normal readings and act accordingly if the levels are high or low. In addition, you should also test for the presence of such metals as copper, iron, and manganese.
- Once every quarter, visually inspect the cell and clean, if necessary. Every three months, you should manually take the unit apart and visually inspect the cell carefully. You’re looking for any deposit buildup, which of course, reduces its efficiency and causes the chemical levels to become unbalanced. If you notice a buildup, then use a high pressure garden hose to spray it down and clean off the debris.
- Every three months, check and clean the filter, pump, and skimmer. These three components are absolutely vital for your saltwater system to work properly. If any of these are clogged with debris, the system will not make as much chlorine, reducing the amount of salt generated, and therefore, putting a strain on the system. Check and clean the filter, pump, and skimmer to ensure all are in good working order and are not clogged with foreign deposits.