One of the most important parts of owning a pool is maintaining good water chemistry. This not only keeps your bathers safe, it also keeps your pool water sparkling and clear. Overall, keeping proper water chemistry allows you to fully enjoy swimming in your pool while preserving its longevity.

There is a lot that goes into pool water chemistry, but at its most basic level the water needs to be sanitized and free of bacteria, viruses, and algae. The tried and trusted way to sanitize your pool water is to add chlorine to the water. You can use liquid chlorine, chlorine pucks or tablets, or sometimes a pre-packaged powdered “shock.” While chlorine certainly gets the job done, it can have some drawbacks such as drying out your skin, burning your eyes and bleaching bathing suits and hair.

A New Normal for Pool Sanitation

The biggest sweeping “change” that has come through the pool industry is an alternate to traditional chlorine sanitation.  Salt/chlorine generators are more and more common as people are seeing major benefits from owning a “salt water” pool. A salt water pool requires less maintenance because the salt system actually produces its own chlorine, which also means less handling of chemicals. Additionally people enjoy that salt water pools are gentler on the skin, eyes, hair and bathing suits and overall the water feels “softer.”

To install a salt/chlorine system on a new pool or an existing pool, your pool builder will plumb a “cell” into your circulation system which all of your pool water will pass through after traveling through your filter and possibly a heater. A pool professional will then check how many gallons of water are in the pool and carefully calculate how much salt to add the pool. This salt is manufactured and sold specifically for the pool industry. Never use salt crystals or pellets meant for home water softeners in your salt water pool!

It’s important to also clarify that salt water pool systems are not “chlorine-free.” Your pool is still being treated with chlorine. The difference is that instead of the pool owner or service company having to add chlorine to your pool water, the salt system automatically produces its own chlorine.

How the Process Works

Once you have placed the required amount of salt into the pool, your pool professional will start up your pool filtration system. As the salt water travels through your salt cell, there is a small amount of electricity that goes to the cell and starts a process known as electrolysis. The salt water molecule (NaCl) is spit into Na (sodium) and Cl (chlorine gas) and returned to the pool. The chlorine will sanitize the pool water and then recombine with the sodium where it will once again go through the filtration system and salt cell and split again where the process continues.

You can adjust how much chlorine is being produced in your system to provide you with the ideal sanitation level, usually between 2 to 4 parts per million (ppm). This may need adjusted based on temperature and the amount of swimmers using the pool. You can make this adjustment right at your salt cell or on your automation system or smartphone. By having a consistent amount of sanitizer being constantly produced and added right into your pool water, you can avoid constantly having to manually add chlorine tablets or “shock” to your pool.

What You Need to Consider

If you’re not sure if a salt water pool is right for you, there are several things you should consider to help you make a wise decision. First, installing a salt water pool does require an initial investment that averages about $3,000 more than a traditional chlorine pool. Keep in mind that over time, you will not incur the regular cost of needing to add chlorine pellets or “shock” to your pool, so over the life of your pool there could actually be a cost savings to salt water.

Next, consider your lifestyle and how much time you want to dedicate to maintaining your pool. If you’re busy, or simply want to spend more time enjoying your pool than caring for it, a salt water pool might be the best option for you. This upgrade allows pool owners to be more “hands-off” with their water sanitation, which means more time to relax!

Finally, no matter what type of pool you choose, you want to be sure you work with a trusted and experience pool professional. Both systems can be complex to balance. Having a pool technician you know you can rely on to answer your questions and get the job done right is key to fully enjoying your swimming pool.

Want to learn more about owning a salt water pool? Contact us today and we’ll gladly answer your questions!