In this post you will learn how to use a salt water chlorination system to take care of your pool or spa and keep it running smoothly all season long so let’s go…
Summer is in full swing which means it’s both spa & pool season lounging outside and enjoying life in your backyard. This also means the everything water related needs some TLC from all spa & pool owners busy.
Adding a salt water chlorination system to any swimming pool or spa can make the care and maintenance of them much easier. If you’re not familiar with salt chlorine generators, they are a process that uses dissolved salt to generate free chlorine. This type of system is becoming increasingly popular because it typically can run lower free chlorine levels than traditional chlorine systems and it’s gentle on the skin and eyes.
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What is a salt chlorine generator system and what are its benefits over traditional chlorine pool systems?
A salt water spa & pool chlorination system sanitizes pool water using electrolysis to produce chlorine from salt. Since they don’t use traditional chlorine you won’t have to handle chlorine chemicals or store lots of harsh chemicals like chlorine or gallons of muriatic acid.
Another advantage of salt water swimming pools and spas are that the water is much gentler on skin and eyes than traditional chlorine systems and you can soak in your spa without smelling like chlorine. Since a salt system generates chlorine in its natural state makes it less irritating and leaves your pool water less smelly so your swimmers will love to swim for hours.
What are the next steps to take to convert my pool over to a saltwater pool?
The process of selecting a saltwater chlorinator are pretty straight forward. The first thing that you’ll need to purchase a complete saltwater chlorinator that includes a salt cell which is an electrical device that will be installed on your pool or spa. Second, salt water pools and spas will need the right pool salt to be added to get the spa & pool water salinity level raised to proper levels. Third, if you don’t have a pool and/or spa test kit yet, go pick one up at your local pool store or one of the big box stores. Make sure to get a salt test kit too so you can test the salinity of your system.
What salt chlorinator systems should I consider?
- Pentair IntelliChlor Power Center and IC40 Salt Cell
- CircuPool CORE35 Salt Chlorinator System
- Hayward W30AQ-TROL-HP-TL AquaT Salt Pool System
- Circupool RJ45 Plus Complete Salt Water Chlorination Salt Cell System
- ControlOMatic SmarterSpa Saltwater Chlorine Generation System
- BLUE WORKS Salt Water Pool Chlorine Generator with Salt Cell System
- Saltron Mini Salt System Drop-In Saltwater Chlorine Generator
How do I install my salt chlorinator?
Install your new saltwater chlorinator and salt cell either by dropping it into the water for the plug-in-play. The salt cells that require them to be plumbed are a bit more involved so if you’re up for the challenge, great. If not, then it may be best to have either a pool expert installing saltwater systems or a plumber would do nicely.
Here is a list of simple steps that may help:
- Find the breaker box for the pool equipment you will be tying into so everything is off and won’t cause any issues.
- Locate a place to hang the power supply so it’s out of the way and has the least amount of sun exposure.
- As with the Pentair system, the salt cell power cord is 15′ so it will need to be located within that range of the power supply.
- Mount the power supply and complete the wiring per the manufacturer’s instructions since each saltwater system is different. The Pentair can be wired using 115 or 230 volt. It comes from the factory set up for 230v and that is what we used for this installation. There are instructions for 115v located on the inside of the cover panel. Make sure the power supply is grounded properly.
- Locate a long enough section of piping to accept the salt cell downstream of all the pool equipment. Ensure to have between 12″-16″ of straight pipe before the salt cell and that the arrow on the cell is pointed in the direction of the water flow. It may be wise to think about installing a piping bypass to allow for any future salt cell maintenance.
- After removing the water pressure, go ahead and cut in the salt cell plumbing as to have a neat and clean installation.
- Ensuring all plumbing and wiring is secure and plumbed in properly, plug in the power supply and follow the guidelines to program your new saltwater chlorinator.
What kind of salt should I buy and how much should I add to my pool or spa?
Next, add the proper amount of pool salt to your swimming pool or spa water depending on the size (water volume) of your pool or spa. It’s best to add the salt to the shallow end of the pool and let it recirculate for 18-24 hours before you check the water quality for salt content. You may want to consider to do a small manual chlorine shock with either granular chlorine or chlorine tablets to speed up this part of the process.
As far as how much salt you will need to add is generally about 40 pounds of salt for every 2,000 gallons of water. So for example, if you have a salt water chlorination system and a pool or spa that’s 20,000 gallons, you’ll need 400 pounds of salt. Please note: Start by adding much less salt than you think you’ll need as not to over shoot the sodium chloride (salt) level or you’ll be draining that valuable salty water to just have to add fresh non-salty water to bring the salt level down.
There are three main types of salt to use in your pool or spa which are sodium chloride, potassium chloride, and magnesium chloride. Each type of salt has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, so it’s vital to choose the one that’s best for you.
The most frequent salt used in salt-water systems is sodium chloride. It’s also the most affordable, making it a popular choice for all spa and pool owners. Sodium chloride, on the other hand, may irritate skin and promote algal growth.
Potassium chloride is a more expensive option, but it’s less likely to cause skin irritation and won’t contribute to algae growth. However, it can be harder to dissolve than sodium chloride, making it more difficult to use in salt water systems.
Magnesium chloride is the most expensive type of salt, but it’s also the easiest to dissolve and doesn’t have any negative side effects. It’s a good choice if you’re looking for the best possible results for your pool or spa.
How often do you need to add salt and how can you tell if it’s working correctly?
Although it is suggested that you add salt to your pool on a regular basis, there are no strict guidelines other than using your salt water test kit to measure the salt level in spas or swimming pools which is pretty straight forward.
Most salt water pools based on manufacturers recommendations maintain the salt level between 3000-4000ppm. Anything below 3000ppm and your pool may start to produce algae. Above 4000ppm pegs the salt meter and may start to create corrosion issues with your pool equipment.
What maintenance and tests should I be doing and how often?
Salt cell generators are pretty user friendly in that they help keep saltwater pools or hot tubs sanitized, clear and relatively low maintenance. But there are still some pool maintenance items and basic tests you should be running on your spa or pool water on a regular basis, just to make sure everything is running smoothly. Here’s a quick rundown of the tests you should do and how often you should do them.
- pH level: Once a week – You want to keep your spa or pool’s pH levels in the range of 7.2 to 7.6. Above 7.6 you may want to think about adding a hint of muriatic acid to drop the pH and if you’re seeing the pH below 7.2 then you can simple add a bit of sodium bicarbonate or baking soda to bring the pH up a tad.
- Alkalinity: Once a week – This measures the amount of alkaline substances in salt pools, and you want to keep it between 80 and 120 ppm.
- Calcium hardness: Once a month – This measures the amount of calcium in saltwater pools, and you want to keep it between 175 and 225 ppm.
- Cyanuric acid: Once a month – Most salt pools use cyanuric acid which bonds well with chlorine and helps it stay in the pool water. Maintain between 30-50 ppm.
Most spa and salt pool owners can easily do the maintenance required to keep everything looking great when using a salt chlorine generator. Here are a few maintenance items when using a saltwater pool system:
- Check the pool filter and make sure it’s backwashing properly and the pressures are within showing good flow. If the filter isn’t backwashing properly, you will see a reduction in the pool circulation water and an increase in back pressure on your filtration gauge.
- Cleaning your saltwater system salt cell isn’t really needed much unless there is evidence of some scaling, build-up or white calcium hardness visible. But, if there is some build-up, carefully remove and soak the salt cell in a five gallon bucket of diluted muriatic acid to remove any buildup. Please be careful and wear the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) like rubber gloves, safety glasses, face shield, etc. so you don’t get any of this acid on you. At minimum, it will sting the skin, a worst it can absolutely damage your eyes so be careful.
- Keep the pool tile on your spa or swimming pool looking great by brushing away any debris that can easily accumulate after any heavy pool usage which will keep your spa & pool water looking excellent.
- If a pool liner is installed, make sure that it’s secured properly and not allow any water to get behind it a cause long term damage like corrosion issues with the bottom affixed drain. Saltwater pools as well as traditional pools will corrode metal object if left unchecked.
How often should I run my pool or spa filtration system?
In the salt water pools and spas world, the frequency with which you should operate your pool or spa filtration system is determined by a number of variables. With a salt water system, you will need to run the filtration system at a minimum of 8-12 hours, 14-20 maximum daily. Saltwater pools need to recirculate the water more often than traditional chlorine system because the saltwater pool systems produce chlorine gas, which can quickly build up in the water and cause irritation to your skin and eyes.
Generally speaking, the larger the pool or spa, the longer the filtration run cycle should be especially if there are a lot of trees or other foliage around your pool.
What are the cost comparisons of running a salt chlorination system vs a traditional chlorine system?
The cost to maintain a saltwater pool vs traditional chlorine pools are interesting to show how it shacks out. Here’s a quick rundown of the costs associated with each type of system:
- initial investment for saltwater chlorination system: $1,500 – $2,500
- salt: $50 – $100 per year
- electricity: $30 – $50 per year
- maintenance: same as traditional chlorine system
Traditional chlorine pools system:
- chlorine: $100 – $200 per year
- electricity: $50 – $100 per year
- maintenance: same as salt water system
As you can see, there is a fairly significant initial investment required for a salt water pool system. However, the ongoing costs are much lower, since you only need to purchase salt once per year. In addition, salt water pool systems are generally easier to maintain than traditional chlorine systems. As a result, salt water systems may be the more cost-effective option in the long run.
How long do salt water pool systems last?
Salt water systems typically have a lifespan of 7 to 10 years. However, this can vary depending on a number of factors, such as how well the system is maintained and the climate in which it is used.
To get the most out of your salt water pool system, it is important to follow a few simple tips:
- Test the salt levels regularly and adjust as needed
- Flush the filtration system with clean water and wash it as directed by the manufacturer
- Inspect and clean the salt water cell on a regular basis
You may extend the life of your salt water pool system and enjoy years of trouble-free use by following these basic recommendations.
So in closing, salt chlorine generators not only make spa & pool maintenance easier, but they also make provide many benefits over traditional chlorine systems.
We hope this article has helped you learn more about salt water chlorination and how it can benefit you so if you’re thinking about investing in a salt water pool system, rest assured knowing that it will likely provide you with years of enjoyment. Just be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for care and maintenance, and you’ll be swimming in crystal clear waters for years to come.