Salt Water Swimming Pools - Are They Here to Stay?

by Pool Builders on 07-12-2008 in Articles

Salt water pools used to be the exception, but now they are becoming a widely accepted method of water treatment in swimming pools. A lot of builders are now making salt water systems standard on their new pools. Most equipment manufacturers have also become aware of the fact that salt water pools are not just a passing fad. They are here to stay.

Why have salt water pools become so popular?

In this author's opinion, most people who consider themselves "sensitive" or "allergic" to chlorine are not reacting to the chlorine at all. What is creating a problem is packaged pool chemicals and the additives and carriers in those chemicals. Those same swimmers who claim allergic reactions to chlorine, typically experience no problems when they are in a salt water pool. The answer isn't the absence of chlorine. Salt systems create their own chlorine. The answer is the absence of all the packaged chemicals and by-products in those chemicals.

What is the cost benefit of a salt water pool?

Most people do not buy a salt water pool system for the sole purpose of saving money. They buy it for the increased swimmer comfort. With that said, they do save quite a bit of money on pool chemicals, but it probably takes about 2-3 years before the system pays for itself.

Here is the best rationale for buying a salt water system: People spend $25,000 and up to build a beautiful pool, so doesn't it just make sense to spend about $1000 on the water quality. After all, shouldn't the best thing about the pool be the water? In the end, you get what you pay for. A little money spent on the salt water system will allow the typical homeowner to enjoy their swimming experience so much more.

What's the difference between a saltwater pool and a pool maintained with packaged chlorine?

Salt water pools used to be the exception, but now they are becoming a widely accepted method of water treatment in swimming pools. A lot of builders are now making salt water systems standard on their new pools. Most equipment manufacturers have also become aware of the fact that salt water pools are not just a passing fad. They are here to stay.

Lower Chlorine Levels

- Saltwater Pools - 0.5 to 1.0 ppm chlorine
- Traditional Pools - 3.0 - 10.0 ppm chlorine

No "Chemical Bath" Feel

- NO packaged chlorine needed.

- NO algaecides needed

- NO soda ash or baking soda

Better Swimmer Comfort

By eliminating the need for the harsh chemicals, you eliminate the source of the irritation that plagues swimmers in most pools.

Controlled Stabilizer Levels

If you are using chlorine tablets, you are adding 1 lb. of stabilizer for every 2 lbs. of tablets you put into your pool. Your stabilizer level rises to over 100 ppm and your chlorine becomes ineffective and yellow algae and poor sanitization results.

With a salt system, you add stabilizer as needed and are able to keep the level low. Your chlorine remains VERY effective and you need much less in the water to do the job (see above).

On commercial pools, state code requires you to drain pools when the stabilizer level exceeds 100 ppm. The salt system avoids this problem.

Superior Algae Control

Saltwater pool systems virtually eliminate algae problems. This is because the chlorine in the pool is not inhibited by high stabilizer levels.

What is the down side to a salt water pool?

The only real problem we have seen is the fact that it does change the way you do your water chemistry and people are sometimes slow to adapt. It is very important to follow directions carefully with regard to water chemistry. Some pool owners have experienced problems trying to keep the pH down, but in our experience it is simply a matter of keeping up with the water chemistry and not letting the pH get too.

Once you have decided to convert your pool over to salt water, you have to find the system that is best suited for your pool.

1. Find a brand that you are comfortable with.

Look at the control box. Are the controls easy to read? Is it weatherproof?
Do the controls give you enough information to be able to easily diagnose any problems?

2. Find a unit that will produce enough chlorine.

Make sure that it will be able to handle your pool's chlorine needs even during times of highest usage.

3. Make sure your pool equipment is compatible with a salt system.

Most pool equipment is compatible with salt, but there are a few pieces that are not. If in doubt, check with the manufacturer of the equipment to see if your pump, filter and heater are compatible. Some warranties may be voided by the installation of a salt system. In particular some heaters and newer stainless steel filters are not designed for use with a salt system. The older stainless steel filters handle salt just fine, but the newer steel filters can develop corrosion issues quickly and the manufacturer will not warranty it.

NOTE: Technically water is not officially considered to be "salt water" until you reach a threshold of 6000 ppm salt. Up to that point it is considered to be "fresh water", but the salt in the water even at 3000 ppm can accelerate corrosion in some situations.

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