Is a Saltwater Pool Right for Your Home?

Over the years, swimming pools have seen many changes. What was once considered a status symbol of the rich and famous, is now found in many backyards across the world. Since the first pools began being installed after World War II, they have undergone a myriad of changes to make them more inviting, safer and less cumbersome to maintain.

above ground salt water pools

What Is a Saltwater Pool?

Many people become rather confused when they hear about a saltwater pool. They instantly think of a salty, briny, ocean-like swimming pool. Though a salt water pool does use salt for treatment, it is a mild concentration of salt and is only 1/10 as salty as the ocean. In fact, the very salt you sprinkle on your food, is the type used to clean your salt water swimming pool.

Though chlorine has been the treatment of choice for decades, many homeowners have become interested in learning about the benefits of a salt water swimming pool. With this type of pool, salt is added to the water so that a saline solution is created.

With a special device called a chlorine generator, the salty water passes through the filter and goes through a process called electrolysis. Electrolysis is a process that passes a current through the salty water, creating chlorine gas. This gas is sent out into the salt water pool so the water is treated for:

  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Algae
  • Fungi

Fortunately, this process is entirely reversible which simply means the salt is not destroyed or consumed in the electrolysis process. Instead, the salt continues to produce chlorine gas without the need for chlorine to constantly be purchased and added. Though many homeowners find salt water pools to be less expensive and time-consuming to maintain, there are maintenance chores that need to be carried out so the pool water stays healthy and sparklingly clear.

salt water pools pros and cons

What Steps are Required for Salt Water Pools?

Many homeowners make their purchase before fully researching salt water pool maintenance. They end up mistakenly believing these pools are maintenance-free. Unfortunately, there is no pool on the planet that is maintenance free. No matter which you choose from the different types of inground pools, you need to be aware there will be work to do so the pool stays safe and beautiful.

Though salt water pools typically require much less maintenance, there are a couple of steps homeowners will need to carry out on a weekly basis so their pool maintains the right chemical balance.

  1. Many salt water generator models feature a helpful monitor that clearly displays the salinity level of the water in the saltwater pool. There are some models that do not feature these reading displays so a homeowner will need to test the levels themselves. Ideally, the salinity level should fall between 2500 to 4500 ppm, depending on your particular model.
  2. The pH level of a swimming pool is crucial for allowing the chlorine to properly clean the water and destroy the bacteria, algae and viruses. The pH level of salt water pools should range 7.2 to 7.6. The perfect level hovers right around 7.2.
  3. There are also several tests that will need to be conducted once a month:
  • Check the free chlorine level to make sure it falls between 1 and 3 ppm
  • Check the alkalinity to ensure that it is in the range of 80 to 120 ppm
  • Check the stabilizer level and ensure it has not risen above 80 ppm or is below 40 ppm
  • Check the calcium hardness level to see if it is 250 to 350 ppm

A salt water pool owner will also need to clean the cells in the chlorine generator to ensure calcium buildup is not occurring and preventing the electrolysis process which creates chlorine.

What are the Benefits of Salt Water Pools?

While there are both pros and cons of salt water pools, most owners find there are more benefits than cons. Unlike traditional chlorine pools, there is no eye and skin irritation that can make swimming less enjoyable. Swimming in above ground salt water pools does not damage the hair, discolor it or cause chemical smells.

Among the salt water pools pros and cons, many people find the maintenance to be less expensive, cumbersome and dangerous. Pool owners no longer have to keep a shed full of chemicals or lug around heavy bags or containers of chlorine. With much less testing and fewer chemicals to purchase, many salt water pool owners say they would not trade their pool for a traditional one.

salt water pools

Are There Any Cons With a Salt Water Pool?

Regrettably, no swimming pool system is without its cons. Though salt water pools do not require the addition of chlorine, there is chlorine in the water. Since the chlorine level needs to stay around the same level as a traditional chlorine pool, pool owners often find they deal with the same issues traditional pools can cause.

Fortunately, there is a device that can be added to inground or above ground salt water pools. Through an ultraviolet disinfection system, a pool will need much less chlorine since the special light helps to kill bacteria. These ultraviolet lights also help to break down the dangerous byproducts chlorine produces for a healthier swimming environment.

Though there are both pros and cons of salt water pools, the vast majority of owners find they prefer this disinfection system over that of different types of inground pools. When proper maintenance is carried out on the salt water pool, the water stays clean, fresh and inviting to swim in.

As with any pool, there is salt water pool maintenance that needs to be carried out or the water will become unsafe to swim in. Thankfully, the maintenance chores are less expensive and easier to carry out than with traditional swimming pools.

When it comes to choosing a chlorine pool vs a saltwater pool, it is helpful for a homeowner to carefully compare both types to decide which one will be most beneficial for their swimming pool needs.

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