Salt Water Pool Problems
If you are considering any of the popular salt water pool systems on the market today, there are some critical salt water pool problems you will want to be aware of before you ever think of taking the plunge.
Many pool stores, salesman, pool professionals, and even builders tend to only mention the benefits of these popular pool systems, ignoring altogether the hidden costs, potential dangers, and problems of salt water pools.
- To avoid potential problems and consumer disappointment, you should do your homework thoroughly. Be aware of what common problems usually arise, the reasons behind them, and what alternatives exist so you can avoid unnecessary pool system disappointments.
The following list, links, video, and additional resources will help you identify some of the most common salt water pool problems, what to look out for, and what potential alternatives exist.
Hundreds of lbs. of Salt in Your Pool:
For any salt in the pool system to work correctly, hundreds of pounds of salt must be added to the pool water to reach a concentration of pool salt necessary for chlorine generation. However, the concentration of “salt in in the pool systems” is not optimal or efficient for peak chlorine production. In fact, many complain about the inability to reach acceptable pool chlorine concentrations during the peak pool season.
- This high concentration of salt in the pool water increases TDS (total dissolved solids) and creates pool water management challenges all their own.
- Salt Concentrations are Critical: Low salt levels (less than 2000 ppm) can damage the anode and shorten the lifespan of the salt water chlorinator cell. Also, if the salt concentration is too low the unit will not be able to produce enough pool chlorine. Recommended salt concentration varies greatly between chlorinator models and manufacturers, but it is recommended you continually monitor levels, and maintain them at the upper end of the manufacturer’s scale. (Again this will compound problems with total dissolved solids.)
- Low concentration of salt also makes the production of chlorine inefficient. Dow Chemical, Clorox, etc. have all done the research on how to efficiently produce chlorine. They use tap water (not pool water) to make a concentrated brine solution in which to submerge their cells. The brine solution requires less voltage and makes the system substantially more efficient. None of the salt in the pool systems use the above technology as do the big chemical companies.
Total Dissolved Solids:
Salt in the pool like we’ve said increases the TDS. This is a problem. If the TDS is too high, staining and reduced activity of pool chemicals can negatively impact the pool water. Water can become cloudy and problematic. According to some pool authorities, the acceptable level for TDS is 1,500 ppm. Most salt water pools need 3,000 to 6,000 ppm of salt in the water to function.
Salt Water Systems are not necessarily safe on pool equipment, pool surfaces, landscaping, etc. Salt by nature is corrosive. Although salt suspended in solution in the pool water may not be corrosive at levels below 3500 ppm, it quickly builds up on surfaces where water evaporates and leaves pure salt deposits.
- Salt can have a negative impact on far more than just landscaping features. Salt can attack and negatively impact the cement in the pool plaster and decking materials. It can also produce unsightly residues, stains, and even etch certain materials. A common problem is corrosion of the ladder where the saltwater will eat the anchors over time. Tile, rock, concrete, etc. may all be affected so you should be prepared to seal surfaces and materials where salty pool water exposure takes place.
Conductivity – The Unseen lurking danger:
Salt water conducts electricity far better than fresh water. Stray electrical currents can move through the water causing electrolysis and damaging all metal parts of the pool and pool equipment. Higher voltages have the potential to cause serious injury or even death.
Long Filtering Times:
Salt water pool systems have an inline salt water cell which means chlorine can only be produced when the filter is running. However, the relatively low salt concentration of salt water pools makes chlorine production inefficient. As a result pumps and filters must be run for long hours pumping salt and water through the salt chlorinator cell which increases energy consumption and wears and tear on your equipment. Even at peak production salt in the pool systems may never reach the critical chlorine production levels necessary to keep up with demand during peak pool usage.
- Factors that can increase chlorine demand include heavy pool traffic, hot weather, increased sunshine, and low pool stabilizer levels. Consumers complain when they find the need for addition pool chlorine on a pool system that was supposed to eliminate the need for adding chlorine.
Proper monitoring and balancing of pH are critical. pH levels should be maintained between 7.4-7.6. If pH moves outside of this range your chlorine becomes much less effective. This is a constant problem for “salt in the pool generators.” With a salt water pool, all the chemicals produced in the cell end up in the pool which drive the pH to the alkaline side of the spectrum and acid has to be continually added to keep the water balanced.
- This is a real disappointment for unsuspecting consumers who were promised maintenance-free systems. The truth is, managing pH becomes a major chore with a salt water pool system.
Cell Maintenance, Cleaning, and Replacement:
The cathode side of all inline chlorinator cells attracts mineral from the pool water that causes a buildup on the electrode. Mineral buildup shortens the life of the salt cell, affects the chlorine production, and necessitates regular cleaning and proper maintenance. If the buildup is not addressed the cell will rapidly clog, stop working, or require expensive replacement.
- All saltwater chlorinator cells require cleaning for proper functioning. Methods of cell cleaning vary. Some companies reverse the polarity of the electrical current to the cell in an attempt to keep it cleaner. This will always limit the lifespan of the cells. Anodes do not like to be run as cathodes and cathodes do not like to be run as anodes. Reversing the polarity also removes flakes of minerals from the Cathode and deposits them in the pool, creating unsightly debris in the bottom of the pool which becomes especially apparent in darker colored pools.
- Some units require removal of the cell unit, manual cleaning, and acid washing every season to maintain the performance of the cell. This can be a chore. Many pool owners don’t adhere to good maintenance rituals and it leads to cell clogging, poor performance, and premature cell failure. Maintenance can be costly and cell replacement prohibitive.
The Chlorine Genie is different
After more than 40 years in the pool industry and running countless thousands of hours in service calls on saltwater pool systems, we learned how to eliminate and solve the biggest salt water pool problems all salt water systems suffer from. The Chlorine Genie pool water management system solves the above problems.
Here’s how we did it:
- We isolated the salt. We put the salt in the unit, not in the pool.
- We connect household water to the unit. (No pool water enters the unit.)
- Our cell is submerged in a concentrated salt brine solution. It produces chlorine far more efficiently than any “salt in the pool unit.”
- The small amount of water the unit uses is pre-softened removing most of the mineral before it enters the cell. (This keeps cells running cleaner longer.)
- We have a sealed acid reservoir inside the brine tank. (The cell can be cleaned with the flip of a switch.)
- Our cell produces a mild acid and base product. (We can adjust pool pH up or down without commercial chemicals.)
- Our commercial units include a built-in adjustable copper/silver cell to ionizing the water and reducing chlorine demand by up to 80%.
- We have a patented process (more than 40 claims on this technology) that provides you the ultimate in pool water management.