Salt Swimming Pool Maintenance - 3 Keys You Need To Know

by Pool Builders on 03-29-2011 in Articles

When it comes to maintaining your salt swimming pool, there's 3 main variables that need your attention the most. Follow these parameters and you'll enjoy a sparkling pool all season long. Think of your car - every 3,000 miles or so you go in for some routine maintenance and an oil change. Your salt swimming pool system is no different. Ultimately, you want to be proactive and catch any issues prior to them taking place. It's a lot less expensive to follow these procedures rather than reacting to situations and paying for repairs once they've taken place.

Salt Swimming Pool Maintenance Key #1: Always make sure there is sufficient saline (salt) in the swimming pool water. Most units operate best when the salt reading is 2700 to 3400 ppm. Check your model to see what the manufacturer recommends. This number can vary quite a bit. Always make sure you're in the "ideal" operating range. If it's too high or too low, you can have issues with phosphates, algae and other contamination related issues. Test for salt using a drop testing kit or a testing strip (drop testing kits are more accurate for this purpose) two to three times a year and adjust appropriately. It's not unrealistic to add 200-400 lbs of salt every year due to evaporation. The good news is that you can get 40lbs of salt for around $6.00.

Remember, your salt cell is ultimately what is generating chlorine. It's no different that what one would purchase at the store only now you don't have to transport it. Saline (salt) is the main active ingredient in order for your cell to produce chlorine. Without it, it's not possible to generate chlorine.

Salt Swimming Pool Maintenance Key #2: Test your pH levels once per week. Salt pools typically have a tendency to fairly rapidly increase pH levels. This can cause scaling on your water line to take place sooner instead of later. Scaling, or calcium buildup, is also extremely difficult (and can be expensive too!) to remedy. Most of the time you'll find that the pH levels have risen. In this case, add muriatic acid (with the equipment running) to bring it down. Ideally, you want the pH to be in the range of 7.2-7.6 ppm.

Salt Swimming Pool Maintenance Key #3: To generate chlorine, it's paramount that the salt cell be cleaned periodically. Just because most salt generators advertise themselves as "self-cleaning" doesn't mean you never have to manually clean the internals of the cell. Think about the filters in your home A/C unit. Every month to 6 weeks they get replaced right? This reduces the amount of "friction" that the air experiences and ultimately, it can reduce your utility bill. Well, your salt system isn't much different. It's a lot more efficient for the water to pass through the cell and for salt to be generated when there's no scale or buildup on the plates.

When there's no calcium built up inside the cell, it will operate a lot more efficiently, generate a higher quality chlorine and it will also add chlorine to your pool faster. Be sure to clean it at least 2-3 times a year. The best solution is to take 1 part muriatic acid and 3 parts water inside a 5 gallon bucket. Using rubber gloves and a brush clean the plates of the salt cell. If there's severe calcium buildup, let the cell soak in the bucket for a few hours. The actual cleaning of the cell only takes about 5-10 minutes. This should be done 2-3 times per year at minimum. Even if the "service" light isn't coming on, there's no such thing as cleaning too frequently or having a salt cell that's too clean. It sure beats buying a new one prematurely - the cell alone can run $500 or more!

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