Transform Your Pool to Salt Water

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Transform Your Pool to Salt Water

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • How Salt Pools Work
  • Advantages of Salt Pools
    • Renewable Source of Chlorine
    • Elimination of Handling Chlorine Tablets and Liquid
    • Improved Water Quality and Swimming Experience
  • Disadvantages of Salt Pools
    • Scaling and pH Issues
    • Replacement Parts and Costs
    • Concerns About Corrosion
  • Factors to Consider When Choosing a Salt System
    • Pool Size and Gallons
    • Budget and Features
  • Installation of a Salt System
  • Adding Salt to the Pool
  • Proper Pool Balancing
  • Maintenance and Cleaning of Salt Cells
  • Conclusion

How to Convert Your Pool from Chlorine to a Salt System

Salt pools have gained popularity among pool owners due to their benefits over traditional chlorine pools. By converting from a traditional chlorine system to a salt system, you can enjoy a better swimming experience and lower chlorine levels. In this article, we will discuss the process of converting to a salt system, including its advantages, disadvantages, and factors to consider when choosing a salt system for your pool.

How Salt Pools Work

Salt pools use a process called electrolysis to generate chlorine from salt in the water. Inside a salt cell, charged titanium plates apply an electric charge to sodium chloride molecules in the water, causing them to split and release chlorine. This chlorine then eliminates bacteria and algae in the pool. The electrolysis process is renewable, as the chlorine and sodium molecules reunite to become sodium chloride again.

Advantages of Salt Pools

Renewable Source of Chlorine

One of the main advantages of salt pools is that they provide a renewable source of chlorine. Instead of relying on chlorine tablets or liquid, the salt in the water is used to generate chlorine continuously. This allows you to maintain lower chlorine levels, resulting in improved water quality and a more enjoyable swimming experience.

Elimination of Handling Chlorine Tablets and Liquid

With a salt system, you no longer have to handle chlorine tablets or liquid. Traditional forms of chlorine can be caustic and dangerous if not handled properly. Additionally, they have a relatively short lifespan in the pool, requiring constant testing and dosing of the water. Salt systems simplify chlorine production, usually done with a simple adjustment of a knob.

Improved Water Quality and Swimming Experience

A properly maintained traditional chlorine pool can still have unpleasant chlorine smells, along with red eyes and itchy skin. These symptoms are caused by chloramines in the water. Salt chlorine generators burn up chloramines and provide a continuous supply of free chlorine, keeping your water smelling and feeling fresh.

Disadvantages of Salt Pools

Scaling and pH Issues

One disadvantage of salt pools is the naturally higher pH of saltwater, which can lead to calcium buildup called scaling. Scaling can accumulate on pool walls and equipment, hindering salt chlorine production. However, scaling and pH can be managed by adding an anti-scaling product to your maintenance regimen and using pH reducers when necessary.

Replacement Parts and Costs

Salt systems require periodic replacement of parts such as salt cells, power, and display boards. These replacement costs can range from $200 to $700, depending on the system. Additionally, there is a concern about the susceptibility of salt systems to power surges. In comparison, a traditional chlorine pool typically costs $150 to $300 per year.

Concerns About Corrosion

There is a concern among potential salt pool owners that saltwater may cause rusting of metal rails, ladders, and deck equipment. The effect of saltwater on certain pool equipment components, such as the pump shaft seal and heat exchangers, is also debated. To minimize corrosion, a sacrificial zinc anode can be used, as zinc is more attractive to corrosion than steel components.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Salt System

When selecting a salt system for your pool, several factors should be considered:

Pool Size and Gallons

The size of your pool determines the appropriate size of a chlorinator for optimal performance. Online pool volume calculators can help determine your pool's gallons.

Budget and Features

Salt systems can range in price from $400 to $2,000, depending on the features included. Consider your budget and the specific features you need for your pool. Avoid choosing an undersized system for your pool, as it may strain the salt cell's limits and shorten its lifespan.

Installation of a Salt System

The installation of a salt system can be done by a pool professional or by the pool owner. While hiring a professional ensures proper installation, many pool owners choose to install the system themselves. Step-by-step installation videos are available for DIY installation.

Adding Salt to the Pool

To determine the amount of salt required, use a salt strip test kit to measure the salinity of your water. Then refer to the system's salt chart to determine the appropriate amount of salt to add. Typically, 400 to 1,000 pounds of 99% pure salt are needed. The salt can be poured into the pool, and a pool brush can be used to help dissolve it into a solution.

Proper Pool Balancing

Before turning on the salt system, ensure that your pool's water chemistry is properly balanced. Shock the pool with a standard granular chlorine shock or liquid chlorine and wait until the chlorine levels return to 1 to 3 parts per million. Set the salt system to 50% chlorine production and let it run for 24 hours. Test the pool water and adjust the chlorine output as necessary until the proper chlorine level is reached.

Maintenance and Cleaning of Salt Cells

Salt cells should be cleaned at least once a season. Soak the cell in a diluted muriatic acid solution to remove any calcium buildup. Regular maintenance and cleaning prolong the life of the cell and ensure optimal performance.


Converting to a salt system can provide numerous advantages, including a renewable source of chlorine, improved water quality, and simplified chlorine production. However, it is essential to consider the potential disadvantages, such as scaling, replacement costs, and concerns about corrosion. By considering factors like pool size, budget, and features, you can choose the right salt system for your pool. Proper installation, adding salt correctly, and maintaining the system will ensure its effectiveness and longevity, allowing you to enjoy a saltwater swimming experience.

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