Managing Saltwater Pool Maintenance Vs Chlorinated

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It is human nature to always seek out and return to the natural state of things. Our swimming pools are no different. For generations, we have used chlorine to keep our pool clean. In recent years more people are turning back to saltwater pools so are saltwater pools hard to maintain?

There isn’t a significant difference between a salt water and chlorine pool, while they sound different they actually are very much similar with the key difference being the presence of the salt chlorine generator, which rids you of the need to handle the chlorine. 

This is usually done by those that prefer to keep their interaction with chemicals to an absolute minimum. If you are considering making this transition you would be wondering, are saltwater pools hard to maintain?

Well, everything is relative. The only way to provide a comprehensive answer to this question is by putting it into context. 

Let us consider what it takes to maintain a traditional chlorine pool, and use that as a gauge of the difficulty when it comes to salt water pools. When you have a chlorine pool you keep it clean by purchasing and adding chlorine to the water.

The key difference with saltwater pools is that the salt that you add to the pool is automatically converted into just the right amount of chlorine required to keep your pool clean.

This is a process that is carried out by the pool chlorinator. The chlorine slowly drip-feeds into the water over time. 

What will I need to do to maintain my saltwater pool?

There are 4 components that you need to be mindful of. These are the salt chlorinator cell, skimmer, pump and the filter. The only thing that you would not find on the traditional chlorine pool is the salt chlorinator.

That is because you add chlorine directly to the water, in which case there is nothing that needs to be chlorinated. 

The skimmer, pump and the filter will occasionally become clogged by debris as it is filtered from the water.

You will be required to keep them clean and unclogged. This is a task that you would need to do with the traditional swimming pool as well. 

The salt chlorinator cell is an active part that needs to be kept functional. It is responsible for keeping your pool at the right level of chlorine.

You will need to replace this where necessary. This salt cell converts the salt that you add to the water into chlorine.

It does this through a simple chemical electrolysis process. If this part stops working, nothing else that you do to clean the pool will matter.

One massive advantage of this process is that the chlorine is progressively released into the water which deters algae buildup.

The one curveball that you will encounter is the need to make a habit of testing the pH levels of the water. Failure to do so will often lead to high maintenance and repair costs.

When the pool has been exposed to unusual conditions such as a significant increase in the number of users or adverse weather conditions, you will need to redo the testing to ensure that everything is still in the balance.

That is the gist of saltwater pool maintenance. It doesn’t seem too difficult, does it?

There isn’t a significant difference between this and the work that goes into maintaining a chlorine pool. The key difference is the presence of the salt chlorine generator, which rids you of the need to handle the chlorine. 

The key advantage of the saltwater pools over the chlorine pools is that you only need to add salt. You have the chlorine generator to take care of the rest.

This cuts out the need to purchase and store pool chlorine to add when needed. The lower cost of salt, when compared to chlorine, is an added bonus. You will need to store some salt though. 

Jumping deep down underwater - Are Saltwater Pools Hard to Maintain

How does pH differ between freshwater and saltwater pools

The pH of most freshwater sources such as lakes, ponds, dams and rivers ranges between 6-8. [Source].

Anything outside of this range would be considered unsuitable for some of the species found in this habitat to survive. 

The prevailing wisdom when it comes to saltwater pools is that the pH should be kept between 7.2 and 7.6.

Within this range, swimming in either body of water will feel the same. The water quality is incredibly similar.

You will often find that the pH of saltwater pools will start to creep up slowly. This is why it is important to run frequent strip tests.

If left uncontrolled, a saltwater pool will become increasingly acidic. A telling sign is usually the calcium build up that starts to show up on the walls of the pool. 

How can I convert my pool water to saltwater

According to Homeadvisor it may set you back between $12000 and $67000 to build a saltwater pool. Fortunately, if you already have a chlorine pool you will not have to spend as much.

So, why does it cost so much? Well, you can actually get it done for an average of $3000.

This is based on the following expenses:

  • A salt water system (including the generator and cell) at up to $1800.
  • Installation and salt at up to $1200.

The installation can be carried out by a DIY-savvy person, although we must warn you that it is not as easy as the chlorine system.

The cost of the system will depend on the size of your pool and whether it is an in-ground or above ground pool. 

The installation process includes fitting the generator and the cell. These are then tested to ensure that they are functioning as expected.

The right amount of salt will need to be added based on the state of the water that you are starting with. To establish this, you will need to make use of the test strips. 

How are saltwater swimming pools cleaned

As you would do with any other swimming pool, a saltwater pool requires to be filtered for debris.

Once a year, you would be advised to drain the pool for a thorough scrubbing of the inside and the walls. This is done to eliminate any algae that may have started to grow. 

Regular cleaning will include the removal (scooping) of leaves and other debris that you may find floating on the surface. This is what usually ends up being sucked into the filter and causing problems.

You will also need to scrub the walls of your pool to get rid of sediment. This stops it from building up and becoming a bigger task when the annual cleaning is done.

Once you have finished scrubbing, you may also vacuum the pool bed to such out any of the sediment that may have settled at the bottom. 

You will be pleased to find that most people do not clean their pools are often. A saltwater pool can get away with just the annual clean up if the debris is consistently scooped out. The key is to be consistent

Final Thoughts on Are Saltwater Pools Hard to Maintain

Whether you have an above ground pool or an in-ground one, you can certainly make use of a salt water system as an alternative method to the traditional chlorine.

One of the concerns that most people have is how salty the water will become. You will be pleased to know that it is not overtly salty at all. In fact, salt pools tend to be kinder on your eyes and skin than a chlorine one.

The usual fading of swimwear that occurs with chlorine pools becomes a thing of the past. The one thing that stops most people from transitioning to a salt pool is the higher upfront cost that is involved.

In the long run, you would undoubtedly recoup the investment.