Swimming pools are a great way to stay cool and refreshed during hot summer days, but keeping the water clean and clear can be a chore. In recent years, salt water swimming pools have become a popular alternative to traditional chlorinated pools.
Let’s look at the differences between a saltwater pool and a chlorinated pool and how to maintain water in a salt water swimming pool.
What is a Salt Water Pool?
A salt water swimming pool uses a salt water generator to produce chlorine. The generator converts salt into chlorine through a process called electrolysis. The chlorine produced is then used to sanitize the water, killing harmful bacteria and algae.
Differences Between Salt Water and Chlorinated Pools
The main difference between a salt water pool and a chlorinated pool is the way in which chlorine is added to the water.
In a traditional chlorinated pool, chlorine is added manually, either in liquid or granular form. This requires constant monitoring and adjustment to maintain the proper chlorine levels.
In a salt water pool, chlorine is produced automatically and continually by the salt water generator, which makes it a more hands-off approach to pool maintenance.
Another difference is the feel of the water. Salt water pools have a lower concentration of chlorine, making the water feel softer and smoother on the skin. Chlorinated pools, on the other hand, can have a harsher feel due to the higher concentration of chlorine.
Maintenance and Testing
Maintaining a saltwater pool requires regular testing to ensure the water chemistry is balanced. The most important aspects of maintenance are:
- Salt level: The salt level should be tested regularly and maintained within the recommended range for the salt water generator to work properly.
- Chlorine level: Chlorine levels should be tested at least twice a week to ensure that the water is properly sanitized. The recommended range for chlorine levels is 1-3 ppm.
- pH level: The pH level should be tested regularly and maintained within the recommended range of 7.2-7.8. This is important to ensure that the chlorine is working effectively. Use water balancers to adjust pH levels.
- Alkalinity: Alkalinity levels should also be tested and maintained within the recommended range of 80-120 ppm. This helps stabilize the pH level and prevent fluctuations.
According to the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals, all swimming pools, including saltwater pools, should be shocked weekly to eliminate byproducts that reduce the effectiveness of chlorine in the water.
Benefits of Salt Water Pools
- Lower chlorine levels: Salt water pools have lower levels of chlorine, which can be beneficial for those with sensitive skin or allergies.
- Smells better: Lower chlorine levels mean less chlorine smell.
- Less maintenance: The automatic chlorination system of a salt water pool requires less maintenance than a traditional chlorinated pool.
- Softer water: Some people believe the water in salt water pools is less irritating to skin and eyes.
- Safer: Salt is easier and safer to store and work with than chlorine.
Disadvantages of Salt Water Pools
- Initial cost: Salt water generators are much more expensive to install than traditional chlorination systems.
- Corrosion: Salt water can be corrosive to pool equipment and accessories, which may require more frequent maintenance or replacement.
- Testing: Although less maintenance is required, regular testing of the water chemistry is still necessary.
- Not right for everyone: Salt water can damage a concrete pool and the metal parts of vinyl pool liners.
- Cost of repairs: Most repairs must be handled by an experienced technician.
- Salt chlorine generators have an expected lifespan of three to 10 years and they’re much pricier than standard pool equipment.
Consider Your Needs
Maintaining water in a salt water swimming pool requires regular testing and adjustment of the water chemistry. While there are some pros and cons to using a salt water pool versus a chlorinated pool, ultimately the decision comes down to personal preference and budget. With proper maintenance, either type of pool can provide a refreshing and enjoyable swimming experience.