The Saltwater Trend
Here at Rin Robyn Pools, we get plenty of questions concerning the somewhat-new fad of saltwater pools: are they easier? Cheaper? Healthier for you than traditional chlorine pools? Oftentimes, the answer to those questions depends on how you look at them. For people looking to convert their existing chlorine pool to salt water, or for those who are looking to install a new pool in the near future, here is some important information for you to know before you begin.
Like traditional pools, saltwater pools use chlorine
The most salient point to make about saltwater sanitization is that it is not a chemical-free pool. Saltwater pools are in fact chlorine pools, however the chlorine sanitizer in a saltwater pool is delivered in a different manner than traditional pools. Saltwater pools, instead of using chlorine granules, tabs, or liquid chlorine, create chlorine using a special device called an electrolytic converter (a.k.a a salt cell) installed in line with your pool plumbing. Using electrolysis, this salt cell takes traditional salt (which is sodium chloride or NaCl) and breaks it into hypochlorous acid and sodium hypochlorite, which then sanitize the pool. In this way, owners of a salt water pool only have to add salt directly into the pool, instead of adding chlorine itself. However, in addition to chlorine, in order to maintain excellent water quality, a saltwater pool still may require other balancing chemicals including pH adjusters, total alkalinity adjusters, cyanuric acid (for stabilizing chlorine), borates (for algae suppression and eye/skin comfort), calcium hardness adjusters (to protect corrosion or scale forming on pool surfaces and plumbing), clarifiers to eliminate cloudy water issues, enzymes for removing scum, and algaecides to kill off algae buildups.
Pros of Saltwater Systems
Given that a salt water pool is essentially just a contrived chlorine pool, surely there must be some benefits, right? In our experience as pool professionals, the benefit we hear about most from our customers is that it “feels better” – that is, it is experientially more pleasant on the skin than a traditional chlorine pool. And that’s important! Given that pools are primarily for relaxation and family fun, it matters a lot when you worry less about dry skin and itchy eyes. Beyond that, the salt used in place of chlorine tabs usually ends up being less expensive to purchase over the course of a pool season than the chlorine would. Additionally, adding salt to the pool only occurs when the salt concentration is diluted by rainwater or makeup water from your garden hose, which means less time spent managing your chlorine sanitizer levels. Lastly, nearly any existing traditional chlorine pool can be converted to a saltwater pool with some modifications to the pool plumbing and equipment.
Cons of Saltwater Systems
However, there are some serious downsides to owning a salt water pool that anyone considering the switch should be aware of. The first is the hazard of the salt itself; while the suggested level of salt in a pool isn’t typically harmful, higher salt levels due to poor maintenance or neglect can cause increased wear and tear on your pool equipment and your landscape! Pool equipment manufacturers oftentimes won’t cover warranties on equipment damaged by saltwater. Salt cells are another story – they are expensive, require frequent maintenance and cleaning due to the harsh environment they operate in, and need to be replaced every few years to the tune of several thousand dollars. Finally, a frequently overlooked facet of salt water pools is their pH levels; due to the byproducts of chlorine generation, the pH of a saltwater pool is constantly increasing and must be kept in check with regular doses of pH decreaser – in this way, the owners of a saltwater pool find themselves substituting weekly applications of chlorine for routine applications of pH reducer.
All in all, it comes down to personal preference whether or not to have a traditional chlorine pool or a saltwater pool. Though saltwater pools come with their own host of unique challenges, it is true that they appear to offer some automation benefits. Whatever your choice, Rin Robyn Pools is always here to help you make an informed decision!
However, if you would prefer to completely get rid of all chemicals and enjoy a truly natural and completely chemical-free swimming experience, then click here to learn about converting your pool to a BioNova® Natural Swimming Pool.