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Salt Water Pool Care Tips

salt water

With any home improvement, you’ve got options galore. Have you ever spent weeks looking at patches of paint colors on a wall in your living room? Trying to see how each looks in all kinds of light? When you finally decide on Benjamin Moore’s Beacon Hill Damask, then you have to follow that effort up with identifying the perfect crown moulding to top off the room’s transformation. You thought there were a lot of paint choices – wait until your mind is blown by a zillion decorative details from which to choose!

And then you step outside. Do you want a gazebo? A trellis for your roses? A hot tub? They all come with plenty of options. Moving on to the jewel of your alfresco retreat – a pool. Would you like a lap pool or a spool or a tiny pool? Do you know what kind of pool construction you want? Or would you prefer to move the party inside with an indoor pool for year ‘round enjoyment?

There are many decisions, but we say make them one by one and enjoy the process. When you’re building your own world, it’s OK to take your time.

Perhaps the most singular design choice you’ll want to ponder is whether to go with a traditional chlorine pool or a salt water one.

The Salt Water Pool Difference

While there’s a world of distinction between this pool type and the classic chlorine one, “salt water pool” is a bit of a misnomer.

First off, they neither smell like the ocean nor are they completely chlorine-free. “These pools are designed to create their own chlorine using salt. It’s a process known as ‘electrolysis,’ and it negates the need to manually introduce this additive. While you’ll still need to monitor levels (your contractor can recommend the best apps so you will always know what your pool needs), you won’t have to handle any chemicals. With the salt generator, the chlorine levels are not as high, therefore the potential for skin and eye irritation are reduced. Because it is treated, the water will actually be ‘softer’ — similar to how in-home water treatment systems convert hard water by neutralizing minerals.”

Overall, salt water chlorination is a natural and convenient sanitization method.

Maintaining a Salt Water Pool

Like you would any system in your home, you have scheduled maintenance so you don’t wind up with unnecessary expenses and/or potentially have your pool out of commission on the most beautiful weekend of the season!

Therefore, keep your filter, pump, and skimmer clean and in good operating condition. The salt chlorinator cell must be regularly inspected and replaced when needed. As you would with any pool, you want to frequently test for proper water chemistry, so you have the finest possible pool water.

Salt water pool test strips are your barometer, allowing an at-a-glance review of your water’s free chlorine, salt, pH levels, total alkalinity, stabilizer, and hardness.

It’s a good rule of thumb to retest your pool after a pool party or following a bout of severe weather as the load on your pool’s systems will have increased.


Salt water pools are easier to maintain than their chlorinated counterparts. The biggest difference is that you needn’t worry about buying, stowing, or adding chlorine to your pool’s water. Instead, you add salt and let your pool’s salt chlorinator make the chlorine you need without need for a tremendous amount of potentially dangerous chemicals.

The manufacturer will provide precise amounts of the salt needed depending on the gallons of water in your pool so you achieve the right ratio. When your salt levels go out of range, you’ll get an alert on your system to make the necessary adjustments.

If your pool water takes on a cloudy look, that typically means it’s either chlorine deficient or you have poor filtration and circulation.

First step is to check the chemistry and adjust as needed. The salt level could be insufficient, or perhaps there’s a problem with the salt chlorinator. Keep that filter clean and run your system so all the water is turned over once a day.

(And here are some tips about how to defeat algae from the experts at Swim University!)


While the installation of a salt water pool will be more expensive than a chlorine one, your on-going operational costs for these refreshing amenities are definitely reduced when compared to a traditional chlorinated pool. You won’t have to shop and stow chlorine or add as many supplemental chemicals to get clean and clear water.


There’s something splendid about a salt water pool’s water. Unlike the sometimes-harsh chemical smell and feel in a chlorine pool, this water actually feels soft and is kinder to all skin types.

As far as true “saltiness,” a saltwater pool “contains 10 times less salt than the ocean. There’s around 3,000 ppm (parts per million) salinity in a saltwater pool. By comparison, there’s 35,000 ppm in the ocean.”

Converting a Pool from Chlorinated to Salt Water

Fortunately, this is a lot easier than you’d think! And one of the best parts is… there’s no need to drain the pool first.

Hayward Pools offers up Eight Steps for a salt water conversion:

  1. Add the required amount of pool-grade salt to achieve the desired concentration. Salt quantity is based on the volume of water in your pool. The bigger the pool, the more salt is needed. Broadcast the salt across the pool surface – it may take up to 24 hours to fully dissolve.
  2. Mount the chlorinator controller on a wall near your pool equipment pad. Make sure to consult the installation manual for best results.
  3. Wire the chlorinator controller for power according to the manual specifications.
  4. Install the chlorinator cell into the pool plumbing after the filter.
  5. The chlorinator cell should be the last piece of equipment on the pool pipe before the water returns to the pool.
  6. Connect the chlorinator cell to the chlorinator controller. That’s it for the pool equipment!
  7. Turn on the pool pump, check for any leaks and operate it for several hours to help circulate the water and dissolve the salt.
  8. Turn on the salt chlorinator and start enjoying your salt water pool!

You’ll of course want to follow the specifics outlined by your pool professional or manufacturer, but these steps at least show that this transformation is not a terribly complex one.

At the end of a long day at work, there’s nothing like that shimmering vision to soothe away the stress. No matter the shape, size, or type of pool, you’ve made an investment in your home and in your way of life with a haven of your own design.

Providing pool and home improvement loan solutions since 1979, Lyon Financial loves backyard pools of all kinds! We also love the difference we can make for your family by providing something that puts years of memories within reach. Call 877-754-5966 for more information about creating your ideal backyard oasis.