Salt Water Pools: Should I Use Salt Chlorine with my Swimming Pool?
You may have noticed that there is a new trend in the swimming pool sanitation industry-Salt Chlorine Generators. So what is all this talk we hear regarding salt water and low maintenance? Do these devices really work? And how does salt keep your water clear anyway? This article will answer these and other questions regarding this suddenly popular technology.
How does it work?
By nature, Salt is Sodium Chloride. The way a salt chlorine generator works is that it applies a process of electrolysis to the dissolved salt in water as it passes through a pool's filter system. This electrolysis takes away the "sodium" part of salt and all one is left with is chloride, or chlorine. This form of chlorine is very natural, and does not have the normal byproducts you will find with other types of chlorine, i.e., red eyes, strong odor, etc.
What are the benefits?
What makes this system so nice is that because the chlorine is produced and dispersed into the system on such a consistent basis, it is much more difficult for a pool's water to get cloudy or have algae, and as we all know, algae will make or break just how much you enjoy your swimming pool. This consistency also makes pool maintenance much easier due to the fact that one does not need to constantly check their chlorine levels, add chlorine, and shock the pool. I did not have to shock my pool once this year, despite the fact that our pool has had up to 19 children in it at one time and was used everyday by our kids as well as the rest of the neighbors. No one complained of red eyes and my water maintained excellent clarity. My pool is roughly 17,000 gallons and we only added 2 bags of salt the entire season. Our chemical cost for the summer was roughly a whopping $50.00. Needless to say, my wife thinks that salt chlorinators are the greatest thing since sliced bread and I would have to agree.
Are there any drawbacks?
One might ask what the drawbacks of salt systems are. Well, although there aren't any major ones, I'll list what I've been able to observe. The initial investment you will spend on a good salt system will be somewhere between $1000-$2000. Although this may sound like a lot, it really isn't when you figure that it will save over $500 a season for a typical baquacil customer, or roughly $300 a season for a chlorine customer. It will certainly pay for itself over time, but the headache that it saves is worth its weight in gold in my opinion. The "cell" on the salt systems(the part where the water passes through) needs to be cleaned out roughly 1-2 times per season. This is accomplished by easily removing the cell from the filter system and soaking it in a 20:1 water/muriatic acid solution. This soaking, along with an occasional brushing, should remove any scale that has built up on the inside of the cell. Cells normally have to be replaced every 5-7 years, and will cost in the neighborhood of $300-$600.
Does the water taste like salt?
Yes, the water does taste like salt, but the salinity levels are very low, and just slightly noticeable. I certainly would not consider the salt taste to be uncomfortable or distracting.
Are these devices just a fad, or are they here to stay?
Salt generators are certainly here to stay. In fact, over 90% of all pools in Australia use salt water sanitation. For whatever reason, the technology was slow to get to the United States. Experts in the industry suggest that more swimming pools will be using salt water in 10 years than regular chlorine.
Will the salt system be hard to add to my existing pool?
One of the great features of the salt systems is their ease of installation. Our service department can do a complete conversion in less than one hour. They take up little space and are certainly not an eye sore.
Are there different grades of salt systems?
Yes there are different grades of salt systems, especially on the above ground models. I have even seen some above ground generators that sell for less than $200. Needless to say, these units are not as good.