One thing about salt water pool operation is it is easier than dealing with the physical adding of chlorine. Don’t get me wrong! You still have to test your chlorine levels and add acid manually to lower the pH and alkalinity as needed, but lowering or raising chlorine to the swimming pool has never been easier. You merely turn a dial or push a button.
Pay Close Attention to Your Salt Water Pool Conditioner Level!
My first tip would be to check your conditioner level every 2 months and sooner if you overfilled or had alot of water evaporation or rain. Every time you add water, you dilute your conditioner and your salinity (salt level). You can read about conditioner in our blog titled “Pool Conditioner is Important” and just know that conditioner is what holds chlorine in the salt water pool.
Monitor your salinity level regularly to keep the required salinity in your salt water pool. We have noticed that a salt water swimming pool will perform best with salinity over 3,000 ppm.
Always Physically Test Your Salinity Before Adding Salt!
Before adding salt to a salt water pool, always confirm salinity with your own physical test of salinity in the salt water pool. Salt water pool cells will generate an inacurrate measure of salinity when the salt cell gets calcium build up within the cell. If you read that the salinity is low, you must confirm by testing the water with a quality salt tester. We use a Lamotte Tracer Digital Salt and TDS Tester and it is far easier to add salt if needed than it is to dilute it!
If your sound tester accurately reads close to the same level of salinity as the control system salt panel, add enough salt to raise the salinity level to ideal levels for that salt system. If your manual test of salinity is quite a bit higher than the salt panel or control system reads, you either need to clean the salt cell with an acidic solution or replace the salt cell most likely. Like we mentioned earlier, we have noticed that the salt panel readings are more accurate when salinity is reading over 3,000 ppm.
Be very careful if you plan on cleaning your own salt system cell as that acidic water you use needs to have a proper ratio of acid to water not to burn the salt cell. That acidic water can also damage your decking if it leaks out or spills. It is always best to hire a water chemistry certified pool service like Pool Heaven to perform these projects.
Salt Cells Have Limited Lifespans…
Salt cells have lifespans of 3 to 6 years with normal use and they cost around $500 to $700 to replace, so you want to make sure that you are not over generating chlorine with your salt water pool system, hence the importance mentioned earlier with salt water pool conditioner levels.
As a side note, salt water pools generate chlorine, so please understand that you are still swimming in a chlorine sanitized swimming pool. The chlorine is pure without byproducts and many people claim to have far fewer problems with green hair, dry skin, or eye sensitivity. Many have mentioned how soft a salt water pool feels as well.
As far as your weekly chemical testing, you will notice big spikes up in your ph and alkalinity, so you must have acid to lower them both. In the Orange County area, we use liquid muriatic acid primarily. Be aware and careful not to add too much which would make your salt water too acidic and aggressive. You do not want your pH under 7.2 or your total alkalinity under 80 ppm ever even if your trying to lower the alkalinity or Ph. For instance, if your pH is 7.2 and your alkalinity is 140 ppm, you cannot safely add acid to lower your alkalinity, because your pH is already at the lowest, safe level possible.
Likewise, if you have a total alkalinity of 80 ppm and a pH of 7.2, you cannot safely add acid to lower the pH, because the total alkalinity is at it’s lowest, safe level possible.
High Total Dissolved Solids Should be Expected With A Salt Water Pool.
One more thing to expect with a salt water pool is some white scaling on the tile, deck, boulders, etc. Your total dissolved solids in swimming pool water are considered high when over 1,500 ppm and almost all salt water systems require over 2,700 ppm of salinity which means every salt water pool has high total dissolved solids if working. You can read more about total dissolved solids in our blog “Never Drain Your Swimming Pool..”
We hope these tips help you with your salt water pool. Our goal with these blog articles is to help people enjoy their swimming pools as much as possible. The more you use your salt water pool, the more you are enjoying your own Pool Heaven rather than spending money travelling or shopping!
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