Salt water pools have come into vogue as many swimmers have found the swimming experience to be gentler on their skin, and some take comfort in knowing that they are using less chemicals, thus reducing their impact on the environment. Even if you're an experienced pool owner, salt water pools are different from regular chlorinated pools and maintaining them isn't quite the same.
Monitoring your salt water pool
A salt system is stabler than fresh water which makes it easier to maintain in some ways. For example, salt water pools don't need quite as much chemical balancing as the average pool.
In order to maintain proper chemical levels, salt system owners are encouraged to perform weekly tests of the salt, chlorine and pH levels. The target concentration for salt is 2,500 to 4,500 ppm, 1 to 3 ppm for chlorine and a pH level of 7.2 to 7.8.
For the chlorine, test two separate areas of your pool. The chlorine level near the pool return line, which returns water to the pool from the filter, should be slightly higher than in other areas if the chlorine generator is functioning properly. If your pH levels are off, it could negatively impact the ability of the chlorine to do its job of removing bacteria from the water.
Clean the salt cell for your pool as needed, since clean cells perform better and produce the proper amount of chlorine. The salt cell contains the salt chlorine generator which makes water with low chlorine levels out of salt water. According to Aqua Value, the average pool cell will last you for 4 to 6 years.
Avoiding common mistakes
Some salt water pool owners make the mistake of thinking they can save money on their electric bill by shutting the filter off and letting the chlorine do its job. This is not the case, as chlorine can only be added to the pool while the filter is running. Turning it off for extended periods of time will leave you with low chlorine levels and can leave to algae blooms.
Salt water pool maintenance requires a stabilizer, also known as a conditioner, to protect the chlorine from the sun. Stabilizers come in the form of cyanuric acid, and you ought to maintain levels of 20 to 60 ppm. Have the level tested every few months in order to keep your pool and the people who swim in it healthy.