Pool & Spa

How to Convert Pool to Saltwater

What is a Saltwater Pool

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The most common type of pool is the normal chlorine pool. However, it has many cons. For instance, many swimmers complain of skin and eye irritation. For that reason and more, people are therefore opting for saltwater pools which are gentler and easier to maintain.

This article discusses what a saltwater pool is and why you should consider switching to one. It also explains in detail, how to convert your pool to saltwater. This includes steps to take before purchasing the saltwater generator and how to install it.

What is a Saltwater Pool?

A saltwater pool is one that relies on a saltwater generator (chlorinator) to produce and regulate chlorine levels in the pool. The generator is installed in the pool and it converts the salt in the pool water to chlorine. This process is called electrolysis.

A saltwater pool therefore still contains chlorine but it is much less than that of a chlorine pool. Further, the salinity level of the pool is around 3000 ppm, which is 10% that of the ocean. This means it is more friendly for swimmers.

Why Switch to a Saltwater Pool?

Why Switch to a Saltwater Pool

Photo: premierpoolsandspas.com

1. Gentle on Swimmers

Swimming in a saltwater pool leaves the skin with a silky feeling. The chances of irritation to the eyes and skin are also minimal unlike in a chlorine pool.

Additionally, the water does not leave a chlorine residue on the skin and hair unlike in a normal chlorine pool. The residue is known to be drying and it often causes hair breakage.

It has also been determined that saltwater pools are better for people who suffer from asthma or allergies. This is because there are fewer chloramines (combined chlorine) in a saltwater pool. Chloramines give off a strong chlorine smell that irritates people with asthma.

2. Less Maintenance

A saltwater pool requires minimal maintenance. The generator releases small amounts of chlorine at a time which is self-regulating.

Maintenance practices such as pool shocking which can prove tedious in normal chlorine pools are not required regularly in a saltwater pool. 

Furthermore, even when converting a regular chlorine pool to saltwater, you are not required to drain water from the pool before installing the saltwater generator.

Full pool cleaning that includes changing filters and draining the pool is only done once every year. This is unlike the regular chlorine pool that may require more regular maintenance.

3. Safer

Even though this pool does not have high levels of chlorine, it is enough to keep germs at bay. It is safer in the sense that you do not require to handle pool chemicals such as undissolved chlorine regularly.

This reduces the risk of accidents involving pool chemicals.

4. Cost Friendly

Although the initial cost of the saltwater system is high, this pool is more cost-friendly in the long run.

This is because the salt used in the generator is inexpensive compared to chlorine that is needed in a normal chlorine pool. The maintenance practices are also fewer for the saltwater pool.

5. Regular usage 

You can use a saltwater pool throughout the week. This is unlike a normal chlorine pool in which you cannot use immediately after maintenance practices such as the weekly pool shocking.

How to Convert Pool to Saltwater

How to Convert Pool to Saltwater

1. Selecting the Right Saltwater System

Before selecting a saltwater system for your pool, you will need to determine the volume of your pool. To do this, find the average depth and multiply it by pool length and width. Then multiply by 7.5. This is because there are 7.5 gallons per cubic foot.

Pool Volume = Width * Length * Average Depth * 7.5.

While purchasing the pool filter and generator system, look out for durability and their compatibility with each other. Other factors to consider are whether the system is self-cleaning, its chlorine output per 24 hours, and power consumption.

Additionally, ensure that you purchase a system that has a rating of at least 1/3 higher than your actual pool volume. This will be important in making sure the system works effectively and does not have to run at full capacity all the time out to produce chlorine for your pool. This is because its lifespan is considerably reduced.

For instance, if your pool has a volume of 30,000 gallons, get a salt system that is meant for a 40,000 gallons pool.

A self-diagnosing system with a display is also preferable. This will allow you to correct any issues that the system encounters within a short time.

Follow expert advice when you purchase your pool system to ensure it is the right match for your pool.

2. Installation

Balance Your Pool Chemistry

You will need to balance the pool chemistry first before installing the saltwater generator. This will ensure you have your pool chemistry at optimum even before introducing the chlorination system.

Test the pool pH and alkalinity levels using either a liquid test kit or a strip test which is easily available in local stores. Ensure the pool pH is within the Centre for Diseases Control, recommended range of between 7.2 and 7.8.

If the pool pH is below 7.2, add an alkaline to balance it out. If the pH is above 7.8, it means the pool is alkaline. Add an acid such as muriatic acid to bring the pH down to the recommended range.

Add a chlorine stabilizer like cyanuric acid, to ensure the longevity of chlorine action. This reduces the degradation of chlorine by the sun’s UV rays. Consequently, it will ensure your saltwater generator does not have to overwork to produce enough chlorine from the salt, for the pool.

Install Your Saltwater Generator

Installation of the salt generator should be done with precaution and all manufacturer’s recommendations must be followed. It is especially important to have an expert to do the electric connections for the generator to avoid accidents.

Most inground salt systems have a wall-mounted control box plugged into an electric outlet, and an inline saltwater generator plumbed into the return line. For above-ground pools, however, the generator is often hung on the pool wall, or attached to the pool return line.

Do not run the saltwater generator before the next step.

Add the Salt

Add non-iodized salt (NaCl) to the pool, making sure to distribute it effectively. To determine how much salt you should use, please refer to the saltwater generator manual to ensure you add just the right amount.

The amount of salt to add is often determined by the output of the saltwater generator. You can expect to use an initial salt input of about 200 lbs. per 10,000 gallons of water.

Crank up the Saltwater Generator

Ensure your saltwater generator is connected to the power source. Switch it on and adjust the settings on the display panel. Let it run for at least 24 hours. This is recommended as the output of the generator is measured in lbs. per 24 hours.

This will give it ample time to convert just enough salt to chlorine as required in your pool.

Retest

Just to be sure that your pool chemistry is balanced, retest the pH and the alkalinity levels and ensure they are within the optimum range mentioned above.

In addition, use a DPD test to check the level of free chlorine in your pool and the salt levels in the pool. The salt levels should be between 3000ppm and 3400 ppm (parts per million) for a comfortable swimming experience.

If the salt level is low, add more salt to the pool and allow more time before retesting. The pool will be ready for use immediately.

Conclusion

In conclusion, a saltwater pool still contains chlorine but the levels are lower than those of a normal chlorine pool. The advantages of having a saltwater pool have been explained, the main one being that it is gentler on swimmers.

The process of easily determining your pool volume has been highlighted as it is important to know that before choosing a saltwater generator. Once you purchase the generator, test and balance your pool chemistry, install the generator, and add the salt to the pool.

Lastly, crank up the saltwater generator and allow it 24 hours to produce the optimum amount of chlorine for your pool. This way, you will have converted your pool from a normal chlorine pool to a more beneficial saltwater pool.

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