Many homeowners find that in the saltwater vs chlorine swimming pool debate, saltwater takes the cake. After all, saltwater pools are often cheaper to maintain and aren’t quite as hard on the skin, hair, and nose.
That being said, your saltwater swimming pool does require some maintenance. From adjusting salinity to avoiding corrosion to, yes, maintaining chlorine levels, there are certain steps you’ll need to take to keep your saltwater swimming pool in good shape.
When maintenance falls by the wayside, there are common issues that will arise, even in the best swimming pool.
Read on to learn more about common issues you may encounter with a saltwater swimming pool and how to prevent them.
If you know anything about the science of salt and metal, you know that salt can have adverse effects on metal. In the early stages of damage, you might start to notice that the metal surfaces in your pool appear stained or dulled. Over time, those metal components can actually start to wear away due to the salt’s corrosive abilities.
Unfortunately, opting for all plaster and plastic components won’t prevent damage entirely. The salt can still cause staining and other issues on these non-metallic materials.
So, what can you do? We recommend adopting zinc anode as a regular part of your pool system.
Zinc anode protects your pool, particularly any metal components, by “sacrificing” itself to the salt. The zinc anode corrodes in reaction to contact with the salt, protecting other surfaces from having a similar reaction.
When you’re using zinc anode to protect your pool from corrosion, make sure to check on it at least once a year. Over time, it will degrade completely and you will need to replace it.
One false assumption that saltwater swimming pool owners tend to make is that saltwater doesn’t require chemical regulation. This is not true and, in fact, you should be looking at your saltwater’s chemical makeup once a week.
Testing and adjusting chemical levels in your saltwater swimming pool can prevent serious imbalances from occurring. In severe cases, you can use stabilizers like cyanuric acid to adjust things like chlorine levels, but this should be done sparingly.
Proper salinity levels for a saltwater swimming pool are between 2500 and 3500 ppm. The exact salinity level your pool needs will depend on your chlorine generator, so make sure that you understand manufacturer instructions.
If you need to raise salinity levels, do so by adding more salt to your pool gradually. Keep in mind that the only way to lower salinity levels is to drain your pool and start over. Add small amounts at a time and take multiple readings before adding more.
Proper chlorine levels for a saltwater swimming pool are between 2-5 ppm. In a saltwater swimming pool, chlorine is measured in terms of free available chlorine. The chlorine generator uses the salt in your saltwater pool to generate small amounts of chlorine to kill bacteria.
Low chlorine levels may indicate low salt levels. It can also indicate calcium buildup or damage to the salt cell, poor pool circulation, or too much stabilizer. In some cases, chlorine levels get low because of how much the pool is used, in which case you can turn up your chlorine generator or add more chlorine to the water.
It’s never ideal to shock a saltwater pool with chlorine. Make sure that you assess all possible sources of low chlorine levels before resorting to adding chlorine directly to the water.
Total alkalinity in a saltwater swimming pool should be between 80-120 ppm. If the alkalinity is low, you may notice corrosion, algae growth, metal staining, and calcium buildup. If the alkalinity is too high, your pool may become cloudy.
Alkalinity and pH tend to respond directly to one another. In other words, if you try to lower the alkalinity in your pool with muriatic or hydrochloric acid, it will lower the pH. If you try to raise the alkalinity in your pool with sodium bicarbonate, it will raise the pH.
Adjusting alkalinity levels is best left to the professionals.
TDS (or total dissolved solids) should not exceed more than 1500 ppm in a saltwater swimming pool. When TDS levels get higher than 1500 ppm, it will start to disrupt your chlorine’s role in cleaning the water. Cloudiness and murkiness will typically follow.
TDS levels go up when you add more chemicals to your saltwater pool. That means that every time you need to make an adjustment, it will impact the TDS level.
One way to monitor this is to increase the frequency with which your pool system backwashes the water and amp up your filter cleaning regimen. Unfortunately, the only way to reduce high TDS levels is to drain the pool and start from scratch.
Wacky pH Levels
One thing that saltwater and chlorine swimming pools have in common is the need for proper pH levels. In a saltwater swimming pool, you want to hit the 7.4 mark–although anything between 7.2-7.6 is adequate.
You may have deduced earlier that the way to adjust pH is to adjust alkalinity. Let’s reiterate what you can do, just to make sure that the process is clear.
If you need to increase pH levels, increase alkali in small increments. Just like when you’re adding salt to the pool, take multiple measurements each time you add more alkali.
If you need to reduce pH levels, add a dry acid or muriatic acid in small increments. Don’t forget to measure your alkalinity after doing so.
Chlorine Generator Issues
It’s easy to avoid saltwater chlorine generator (SWCG) issues: keep the components clean and replace them as needed.
In an SWCG, all of your chlorine production is occurring in the salt cell. Once that salt cell becomes damaged or clogged, you’re not going to get the chlorine production you need to keep your pool water clean.
Check the salt cell a few times a month, looking for signs of damage or calcium buildup. Even if the salt cell appears fine, clean it every six months. Some salt cells have a self-cleaning feature, but you should still check on it from time to time.
Cloudy Saltwater Swimming Pool Water
What can make a saltwater swimming pool go cloudy? Chemical imbalances.
If your chlorine, pH, salinity, or alkalinity are off, your pool may become cloudy. This is also the case if your pool contains too much cyanuric acid or calcium hardness.
Naturally, that means that in order to avoid cloudy pool water, you need to maintain your chemical balances. If saltwater pools do become cloudy, they require a chlorine shock to get back to normal–and that’s not something you want to do! Remember, you want to rely on salt chlorination in a saltwater pool, so having to do a chlorine shock means that something went wrong.
Algae are very simple plant forms that grow in water through, primarily, photosynthesis. While most algae that grow in saltwater swimming pools aren’t harmful, they also aren’t attractive. Plus, they may exacerbate skin conditions and cause infections.
There are a few primary culprits of algae growth in any kind of swimming pool. This includes poor circulation and poor pool water hygiene. It can also indicate that your pH balance is off or that your pool filter isn’t up to snuff.
Here, we have the same advice for you as we do when it comes to keeping your pool water clean and clear. Maintain those chemical levels, clean your filters, and maintain your saltwater chlorine generator.
Your Best Bet to Avoid Common Saltwater Swimming Pool Problems? Professional Help
Saltwater swimming pools aren’t just fun features to build and enjoy in your backyard. When you commit to having a swimming pool of any kind, you essentially commit to an ongoing chemistry project! Fortunately, you don’t need to take care of all of these things on your own.
Whether you’re looking for some one-time guidance or weekly check-ups, hiring professionals for your salt water pool maintenance is never a bad idea. If you want to enjoy your pool without all the hassle, consider scheduling regular appointments with saltwater pool professionals. If you need a reliable provider of Las Vegas pool cleaning services, contact Bryte Pools today.
Keep Your Saltwater Swimming Pool Clean and Problem-Free
Having a saltwater swimming pool comes with tons of advantages. They’re relatively cheap to maintain and don’t cause some of the problems associated with high levels of chlorine, like skin irritation and hair dryness.
However, that doesn’t mean that they’re maintenance-free! Use our guide to check on your saltwater swimming pool and avoid some of the common issues that can arise when maintenance goes by the wayside.
Looking for more ways to maintain or improve your property? Take a look around for our best home improvement guides and tips–plus tons of other exciting content.