Increasing numbers of new home buyers are opting for salt water pools. If you’ve been considering a salt water pool, or converting your existing pool into a salt water pool, there are three important things you need to know:
1. Chlorine – Many people incorrectly believe that instead of chlorine, a salt water pool uses salt water like you’d find in the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico or Intracoastal Waterway. In actuality, salt water pool systems use your local city water and an electrical generator that converts bags of salt into chlorine. The chlorine is then continuously added to the swimming pool water. Thus, in actuality both types of swimming pools – salt water pools and chlorine pools – contain chlorine in their water in order to disinfect and maintain clean, safe swimming pool water.
2. Maintenance – Some manufacturers of salt water pool systems claim that salt water pools require less maintenance because you don’t have to add liquid chlorine or chlorine tablets. This is not entirely correct. Chlorine and pH levels must be closely monitored in salt water pools, just like in chlorine pools. And, while salt swimming pools reduce the amount of handling and storage of liquid chlorine bleach and chlorine tablets, they still need other chemicals such as acid, alkalinity increaser, a stabilizer such as cyanuric acid and occasional “shocking” with liquid chlorine bleach to eliminate algae and restore water quality. Salt water pools also require periodic maintenance and cleaning of the salt generator’s electric cells, which occasionally must be replaced.
3.Cost – Depending on the type of salt water system equipment you choose, initial costs can range from $2,000 to over $10,000. Salt, by itself, is less expensive than chlorine, but the other costs associated with salt water systems – including other chemicals such as acid, stabilizer, alkalinity increaser and occasional “shocking” with liquid chlorine bleach - together with the cost of the salt water system itself, make the long-term costs of a salt water pool nearly double that of a traditional chlorine pool.
4. Special Construction Requirements – Due to the corrosivity of salt and salt water, the components of salt water pools must be corrosion resistant. The pool surface and construction materials, pool ladders, pumps, filter housings, screen enclosures, tile grout and deck drains, especially, must be carefully selected to minimize corrosion damage from the salt water. When converting an existing swimming pool to a salt water pool, you should check the manufacturers’ warranties on your existing pool and equipment as some manufacturers and pool builders disclaim responsibility for deterioration/damage/corrosion caused by salt water pools.