Answers to Questions About Pool Chlorine Generators  

by Pool Builders on 02-15-2012 in Articles

Many pool and spa owners are considering purchasing a chlorine generator system to sanitize their pool or spa. The biggest benefit a pool owner would get by doing this is the ability to eliminate the need to buy, store, transport and handle chlorine, which in many cases is a hazardous material that has special needs. The sanitizer that the chlorine generators produce is not an alternative to chlorine because the outcome of the system is the production of chlorine by means of table salt.

How Does It Work?

Pool water passes through the chlorine generator cell which transforms the salt into hypochlorous acid. This is the exact same component that is produced when any chlorine is added to pool water. As the water returns to the pool the newly produced chlorine will start preventing algae and bacteria growth immediately creating a safe and sanitary environment for everybody who uses the swimming pool.

More On How It Works

This mild saline water is sanitized through the process of electrolysis. The electrolytic cell, through the use of a small electric current breaks down the water into its basic elements, hydrogen and oxygen. By adding small quantities of granulated salt the hypochlorous acid is produced. During the process the hypochlorous acid is ultimately converted back to salt., thus the salt does not get used up. Salt only needs to be topped off once or twice a year to make up for the salt lost due to water splash-out and/or filter backwash.

Is Salt In My Pool Healthy?

The salt level required to maintain a safe, chlorinated pool is about 2500 to 4000 PPM (parts per million). The human body cannot taste salt until the PPM is around 5000 so in most cases you would not be able to taste salt in the water. Once the salt is added to the pool there is no need to add more salt during the calendar year unless a significant amount of water is removed from pool. Also, the salt levels in the water are low enough where you don't have to worry about the salt corroding your pool equipment. Chlorine generator owners report that there pool water is softer than the water that is sanitized by chlorine. This leaves your skin softer to the touch after you use the swimming pool.

Is There Any Maintenance Required?

Chlorine generators require very little maintenance. The actual cell to the system should be taken out and cleaned on a yearly basis, usually done at startup. This requires cleaning on cell done with a bristle brush. If there is calcium deposits, a mild solution of Muriatic Acid and water will do the job. The power supply requires no maintenance.

What Type Of Salt Do I Add?

Avoid Rock Salt as it contains too many impurities! Acceptable salts include food grade salt, water softener pellets, solar salt flakes, water conditioner salt, or Brine blocks.

Where Do I Add The Salt?

What is most important when adding salt is to brush it around until it is dissolved. This is accelerated by turning your pump on, opening the bottom drain and adding the salt over the drain, rather than walking around the perimeter while adding the salt. It is recommended that you continue to run the pump for 24 hours so the salt can spread evenly throughout the pool. With granular salt, 60 - 70% will have dissolved before hitting bottom. The remaining salt can simply be brushed into the drain which will then complete dissolution. With all other forms of salt, it will take longer to dissolve but the same process will accelerate the dissolve rate. Simply brush the salt in a pyramid over the drain to increase dissolution.

How Much Salt Do I Add?

Enough for 4000 ppm (parts per million) as a starting point. So depending on the initial salt level of your water, you only add the amount needed to establish 4000 PPM. For new pools or freshly filled pools, the salt level will mostly be zero. In this case 50 lbs of salt per 2000 gallons of water will establish 4000 PPM. For existing pools, the previous usage of chlorine bleach or tablets will have already introduced a level of salt into the water. Have the water tested, and then have the appropriate amount to establish 4000 PPM.

What Happens If I Add Too Much Salt?

Over-salting will not harm your chlorine generating system, but will lead to a salty tasting water. For some, this is not undesirable as it will more closely match our bodies natural salinity level, making it more comfortable to swim in. If it gets too excessive (over 6000 PPM), you can sustain corrosion damage to metallic equipment that is in contact of the water such as stainless steel handrails, ladders and filters, light rings, or copper heat exchangers. To reduce the salt level, dilution is the solution. Drain some water and refill with fresh water.

How Often Will I Need To Add Salt?

After the initial dosage of salt, you will only need to add salt when necessary. The most common ways salt is lost is through leaks, rainwater overflow, filter backwashing, and bather splash-out. Normal water evaporation does not lose salt, it increases the concentration. The make up water added to bring the water level back to normal will then reduce the salt concentration back to 4000 PPM. Most chlorine generator units have low salt indicators, with the digital going further to provide the proper salt amount needed to reestablish 4000 PPM.

Do I Eliminate The Need To Add Chemicals?

Chlorine generators do one thing, generate chlorine. However, the purity of this chlorine has less effect on the overall water chemistry balance, therefore fewer chemicals are needed to re-balance the water.

Will I Have To Run My Equipment More?

Your chlorine generator does not rely upon a higher salt level and extended pump run times in order to generate enough chlorine, provided the cell is properly sized to the pool. Most units allows for multiple configuration set-ups so that you can generate sufficient Alkalinity or Calcium Hardness, a monthly check is sufficient. In some cases, you might still need to add chlorine for shocking purposes due to extremely heavy bather loads, rainstorms, or accidents (fertilizer, excessive organic debris or human waste) but will not effect your chlorine generator.

How Long Will The Cell Last?

The residential cell is rated for approximately 10,000 hours of operation. This typically translates to 3-5 years, depending on pool volume, cell size and the sanitizer demands of your pool. Water chemistry balance, salt levels and stabilizer levels are key factors in ensuring maximum cell life. Proper water chemistry is the key here.

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