Search  |  Become a Dealer  |  Contact  |       

Request Pricing
How Long Should Salt Water Chlorine Generators for Pools Last?

By: Jason Hughes on June 28th, 2011

Print/Save as PDF

How Long Should Salt Water Chlorine Generators for Pools Last?

Pool Maintenance  |  Options and Accessories

You may be wondering: How long should the salt chlorine generator for my inground pool last? 

Let’s take a quick look, but first, let’s take a second to understand exactly how salt water chlorinators actually work

Then we'll reveal the average lifespan of salt chlorine generators...along with a few pointers on how to make yours last longer.   

 

How a salt chlorine generator works

Salt chlorinators have two major components:

  1. The cell 
  2. The control board

 

The Cell

The cell is the part of the system that actually converts salt (NaCl) to chlorine.

Water passes through the cell and over solid titanium plates that are coated with either ruthenium or iridium, which are naturally occurring metals. The control board sends an electrical charge to the cell, and electrolysis occurs, which produces chlorine

Eventually the metallic coating on the cells erodes, requiring the cell to be replaced.    

A well maintained cell will last 3–7 years at an average replacement cost of $700–$1100. 

 

Factors that Impact the Lifespan of a Salt Chlorinator Cell

The life span of a chlorinator cell can be significantly shortened by two things: too frequent or improper cleaning.

As the chlorinator cell produces chlorine, scale develops on the metallic grids, decreasing its performance.

You clean the cell by submerging it in a mild acid solution (usually 1 part acid to 15 parts water) until the scale that has developed has dissolved. 

Cleaning the cell too frequently or using an acid solution that is too concentrated will prematurely erode the coating off the titanium grids, and thus rendering the cell useless.

Many times, when the cell needs to be replaced, pool owners find that it makes sense to replace the entire chlorine generator because a new unit is only a couple hundred dollars more. 

 

The Control Board

The working end of the machine, the cell, receives its charge from the control board.

The primary function of the control board is provide electricity to the cell. It also allows the user to control how much electricity is sent to the cell— how much chlorine is produced. 

The primary component of the control board is an internal circuit board.

Due to the nature of electronics, a circuit board's life span may vary dramatically for no obvious reason.

A typical lifespan is 3 to 7 years at a replacement cost of $500–$900

 

Extending the Life of a Salt Chlorine Generator 

Proper Maintenance for Salt Chlorinators

To maximize the life of your salt chlorinator, consider the following tips:

  • Maintain a consistent salt level (typically 2700–3900 ppm).
  • Clean the chlorinator cell at least once a season or as needed.
  • Avoid too frequent cleaning of the chlorinator cell.
  • Turn pool equipment off during lightning storms to avoid damaging power surges.
  • Keep calcium levels as low as possible and still remain in accordance with guidelines set by pool equipment manufacturers.
  • Purchase chlorinators with reverse polarity, a function that greatly reduces scale build-up on the cell.

 

If you’re new to our site, please take a second to look around. We have written extensively on most major topics regarding inground pools. 

You can also subscribe to our blog to stay on the cutting edge of the pool industry. 

Please feel free to share any comments or questions you may have below. Thanks!

How-to-Buy-a-Fiberglass-Pool-in-2017


Editor's note: This blog article was updated on May 15, 2018.