Salt Water Pools

SALT WATER POOLS vs CHLORINE POOLS

A common misconception with pool owners is that when they are having a massive problem with algae, there is always extreme confusion as they repeat “I was told I don’t need any chemicals because I bought a salt generator.” 

A CHLORINE GENERATOR  Some pool owners refer to their unit as a salt generator.  A chlorine generator is a piece of pool equipment that has the ability to produce chlorine with slightly saline pool water.  It can be complicated deciding which pool is best for your family.  Many questions revolve around salt-water pools vs. chlorine pools.

Saltwater pools are NOT chlorine free pools.  A saltwater pool is simply one that utilizes a chlorine generator.  Chlorine generators have been around for decades.  As technology and materials continue to evolve, chlorine generators continue to improve in performance.

Ocean water has a salt content of around 35,000 parts per million.  People have a salt taste threshold of around 3,500 ppm.  Chlorine generators typically require a salt content of 2500 to 6000 ppm in the pool.  A unit that needs less than 3500 ppm to operate effectively is optimal.

Swimming in a mild saline solution is much like taking a shower in soft water.  Generally, when people swim in a traditional chlorine tab pool they feel like their skin dries quicker upon exiting the pool.  They may feel and/or see a whitish residue on the skin.

A chlorine generators’ main function is to produce chlorine for the pool so you do not have to buy it, store it or handle it.  These are big advantages for many pool owners.  Chlorine generators, when functioning correctly, produce chlorine constantly.  This keeps a residual of chlorine in the pool that prevents algae from growing.  The secret is keeping the cell free of calcium and mineral deposits.

Through the process of electrolysis, salt water passing over the chlorine generator cell produces chlorine that is instantaneously transformed into hypochlorous acid.  Hypochlorous acid is the active sanitizer, this is what kills bacteria and viruses in the water and prevents algae.

Its effectiveness is 100% dependent on balanced water conditions and, most importantly a proper pH.  With a salt water system or chlorine generator, you still must maintain your water balance (pool chemistry) properly.  The pH WILL increase as a result of the electrolysis making the pH harder to properly maintain which can result in staining.  A stain preventative chemical can be used to help minimize the effect but not eliminate it.

Another factor to consider when making this decision is the cost of the components.  The salt cell which converts the sodium chloride into the Hypochlorous acid has a limited life expectancy and the circuit board that controls the system also will need to repaired/replaced throughout the life of the system.  These components can be costly.  So the money you saved on chlorine is spent on repairs/replacement of the unit.

During our extreme temperatures in the summer, we do use chlorine tabs or liquid chlorine to supplement the levels of chlorine in the pool because the salt generators can’t keep up with the chlorine demand.

THE BOTTOM LINE is that chlorine generators do nothing more than produce chlorine, nothing more, nothing less.  The biggest reason to consider a chlorine generator is the overall quality of the water.  If the unit is functioning correctly, chlorine residual will always be present in the pool.  Even with a chlorine generator, you still must maintain your pool.  You still must maintain correct water balance, and you must maintain the chlorine generator and the components.

For more information, please call our office to speak with a pool professional.

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