Salt water pool systems have been around for a few decades, but recently they’re becoming very popular. People like it because it uses less chlorine, which means no chlorine smell, no chlorine taste, and no chlorine residue to make your skin itch or your hair turn green. In fact, the salt content in the water is so low that you can’t taste that, either.
However, there are some facts about salt water systems you should know before you decide to install one in a new or existing pool. You may have seen a few horror stories written by people who switched to salt water and regretted it, but if you know what to expect, you shouldn’t run into any major problems.
“Less Chlorine” Is Not “No Chlorine”
Even with a salt water system, your pool will keep itself clean using chlorine. After all, salt, sodium chloride, is half chlorine. The way the system works is by separating chlorine and sodium with electrolysis so there’s enough unpaired chlorine in the water to kill algae, bacteria, and other germs. The sodium bonds keep the chlorine from evaporating away, which is why you don’t need as much as if you only used chlorine.
Sodium Is Caustic
As any ocean sailor can tell you, the sea breeze is really good at rusting steel and other metals. A salt water pool doesn’t have nearly as much sodium as ocean water, but it can still corrode non-stainless metal pool equipment. It can even damage concrete over time, although this is only a real problem in very dry parts of the country like Arizona and Southern California since the salt can build up without washing away. For salt-water in-ground pools in Shickshinny or Luzerne, Pennsylvania, your concrete should be safe. Just make sure you replace any pipes with corrosion-resistant alloys.
Salt Water Is Not Low Maintenance
A salt water system means no more chlorine tests or shocks. The salt water pump can test the chlorine level and adjust it automatically. However, you still have to watch the pool’s systems and chemical balance. The pH can rise and calcium can build up, the extra sensors and moving parts can fail, and you’ll have to replace the salt water cell every 5 years or so.
A salt water system can be great for your pool. You just have to know what you’re in for first.