Pros and Cons of Salt Water Swimming Pools

by Pool Builders on 01-23-2011 in Articles

An increased number of new residential swimming pools and many existing pools are being installed with, or being converted to use, salt chlorine generators. These salt chlorine systems combine salt water and electricity to create the chlorine required for proper sanitation. As the percentage of pools with these systems increase, the pros and cons of salt water swimming pools is becoming clearer.

Pros

Softer Water - a majority of salt pool owners report that water chlorinated with a salt chlorinator is much easier on the body. Swimmers say they experience less skin and eye irritation as compared with traditional chlorine.

Buy Less Chlorine - since a salt chlorine generator will be producing chlorine most of the year, chlorine expenses will be reduced by up to 90 percent.

Eliminate Chlorine Lock - with traditional chlorine pools, the water will eventually get saturated with cyanuric acid (also know as stabilizer). When this happens, the chlorine cannot do its job properly leading to water clarity problems and algae blooms. This problem is eliminated with salt swimming pools.

Convenience - the biggest benefit to owning a salt pool is the convenience of having chlorine automatically produced. Even though it is recommended that water chemistry still be tested at least weekly, leaving town on a business trip or enjoying an extended vacation becomes less of a concern.

Cons

Initial Expense - salt chlorinators can cost in the range of $500 to $2000.

Repair Expense - like any other advanced technology, a small percentage of salt chlorinators will experience technical problems that will require repair work. If the problem falls outside the warranty period, it will be an additional expense.

Replacement Expense - the typical life span of the current generation of salt chlorine generators is around 5 to 7 years. When it goes bad, the system will need to be replaced at an additional expense. The alternative is to convert to traditional chlorine.

High pH - salt chlorine generators have a tendency to cause high pH so testing the pH and adding acid when needed will become a higher priority.

Increased Costs of Other Chemicals - chlorine costs will be significantly reduced, but costs will increase for muriatic acid to control the pH and cyanuric acid to stabilize the pool water.

Apathy - salt water swimming pools are often sold as "maintenance free". This is far from the truth and unfortunately many salt pool owners continue to think this is the case. The water chemistry still needs to be maintained properly and other maintenance tasks need to be performed as needed just like with a traditional chlorine pool. If they are not, the pool will be difficult to maintain regardless of what type of chlorine is being used.

Salt pools are becoming more popular and can provide many benefits including an easier and more enjoyable owner experience. More comfortable water, less water problems, and added convenience are the real selling points of these systems. The key to maximizing these benefits is good education on the pros and cons of owning a salt water swimming pool.

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