Many people ask the question, “should I install or switch over to a salt pool?” First of all let’s go over the differences. A salt pool creates its own chlorine by using a generator cell to split salt into sodium and chloride then send it out to the pool water as a chlorine gas, essentially chlorine. So you can think of it as using salt to create its own chlorine rather than you having to add chlorine to the pool. Where as, in a regular chlorine pool you are adding chlorine directly to the pool or the pool’s chlorinator. I have commomly found that pool owners have been told that with a salt pool you never have to add any chemicals just salt. It’s not quite that simple. The general chemistry of a salt pool is the same as a chlorine pool. Actually some of the elements are a little more difficult to control. With a salt pool you will tend to have a higher pH level and need to use muriatic acid to regulate that. You also have to keep alkalinity in check. The chlorine stabilizer will be important for holding a solid chlorine level. Here in Texas a salt pool, especially during hot summer months will most likely need to be shocked, which means adding high concentration of chlorine occasionally. And yes salt pools can get algae like any other pool especially if the phosphate level is not kept in check. So when people say there are no chemicals used in a salt pool, take that with a “grain of salt” pun intended!
Another common misconception of a non-salt typical chlorine pool is that the chlorine smells bad, stings the eyes, and makes the skin itchy. If this is happening in your private pool, it might be time to call a professional to balance the chemistry. Your pool should never smell like chlorine or burn your eyes, this is just a sign that the chemistry is not in check. When you go to a public pool and the chlorine smell is really strong it’s because of things like urine in the water. Gross, huh? The key benefit to a salt pool, in my opinion is the softness of the water.
There is much debate over whether a salt pool is more or less money over its life. Overall, some studies have found them to be similar in cost. A salt pool will cost more up front on the equipment itself, also the salt generating cell may need to be cleaned several times per year to remove calcium build up. The cell does tend to wear out and need to be replaced, which is quite costly. Within our clientele, we have had several pool owners decide not to replace the cell when it has gone out. Another reason they have decided to go back to chlorine is that the salt can be corrosive especially on natural stone. Switching back or over to chlorine is really just putting chlorine in the pool instead of salt. You can do this by adding a chlorine floater with tabs or having an automatic chlorinator installed.
Pool owners should also know that a salt cell will not work properly in low temperature water so it is better to just turn it off during winter months or once water temperature is below 55 degrees approximately.
In my opinion the bottom line of the debate should be this…If you have a salt pool and you feel that the water is softer and you like it, great! Keep it and keep it properly balanced. The softness and feel of the water is the reason to buy one. If you have a chlorine pool and you are keeping the chemicals perfectly balanced, you should have no smell, no burning…then why change? The balance of the chemistry is the key to being successful with either type of pool.