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We are thinking of converting our pool from chlorine to saltwater, but we've heard and read some things about possible issues with the lining or other things breaking down over time due to the salt. Not sure if this just counter-marketing from chlorine pool people, or if it is legitimate. Does anyone have any info on real problems encountered with saltwater pools or if special material is needed to encase saltwater in a saltwater pool.

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From my personal and professional experience with Saltwater Pools with "Salt Chlorine Generators" on them has always been positive. I will bullet point some information to help you ensure its a positive experience:

Correct Installation: The Salt Chlorinator Systems have 2 main parts.

  • A "Salt Chlorine Generator Cell" that is spliced into the return side of the PVC usually directly after your filter or heater. (Important Note: Ensure that the salt cell is installed as the last place in the PVC that returns to the pool. If you install it say before a heater or before the filter, then when the salt cell converts the salt to chlorine, you will have a high concentration of fresh chlorine (which is very corrosive). Chlorine is basically double the strength of Bleach and is used in your pool to sanitize and eat up/destroy organic matter in your pool. Remember, that single cell has to create enough chlorine to sanitize and be useful in a, say average pool of 15,000 gallons. So the chlorine level directly after the cell is well over a "readable" level (20PPM+) but once it gets to your pool, it instantly dilutes to a more preferred level of 3 PPM - 5 PPM Chlorine Level.
  • A "Salt Generator Control Box" is usually installed by your pool equipment on the wall and is connected to your pools power source (so that it only runs when your pool is running and circulating water) and it also connects to your "Salt Chlorine Generator Cell" (which is what provides the electrical power to turn the salt into chlorine. There is also usually a built-in flow meeter to ensure that there is water flowing at a minimum rate to protect the system).
  • EXPERT TIP - A final part of the installation is not included with your purchase of a Salt Chlorine Generator system for your pool, but I recommend it for ALL pools that have some type of automatic chlorinator on them. That part is a Standard PVC Check Valve, which you have installed Just Before the Salt Cell. A Check Valve is basically a simple PVC adapter you can get at any local hardware/plumbing store (Home Depot/Lowes) for $1 and what it does is allows water to only flow ONE WAY through the valve, if it tries to flow the wrong way, it stops the water. This is important for many reasons but on this topic, this will ensure that when your pool equipment turns off each day, the Very Concentrated Chlorine water made by the Salt Cell does not "drain back into your pool heater, filter, pump, etc. and basically sit there are corrode all your o-rings, gaskets, etc.... I've seen the damage countless times from this. You can Google "PVC Check Valve" to understand it more if you want, but its a very simple part to be installed during installation of the salt chlorine cell and should only be at most $10 extra for installation & the check valve. If your doing a personal install, pool equipment uses 1.5" or 2" PVC pipe, ensure you know which you have to get a check valve that fits.

Salt Chlorine Generator Facts: These simple facts that compare the amount of salt your pool will require for a salt chlorine generator vs a tear from a human eye vs Ocean Salt Water.

  • The average Salt Chlorine Generator requires 3,000 PPM of salt in your pool to operate correctly (Check instructions for exact amount of the system you buy).

  • Everyone has probably cried enough before to get a tear on your lips or in your mouth. A human tear normally has 9,000 PPM of salt

  • The Salt Water from the Ocean such as the Gulf of Mexico has 20,000 PPM of salt

In closing, We sell Thousands of Salt Chlorine Generators A Year All Over The World. To this day, I'm not aware of ONE single customer who was unhappy and wanted a refund after they installed it. In my last house, I had a pool built and I used a salt chlorine generator from day one. I can say that the 3,000 PPM of Salt Required in the pool makes the pool water feel "soft" on your skin vs the normal "dry" feeling from a liquid/powder chlorine pool. I also only had to clean the cell 2 times in the 8 years I lived there and it ran everyday without any other issues.

Common Issues:

  1. Ensure You Clean Your Filter Often - There will be times that you may see that your salt chlorine generator isn't on due to "flow" (some systems will just turn off). Always check and clean your filter as a dirty/old filter will slow down the water flow enough to make your salt system not work. Do this before dishing out $300+ for a new "Salt Cell".
  2. Clean Your Cell* - Basically every pool requires calcium for proper water balance. This calcium with time will start to collect on the salt cell. When you remove the salt cell (Which should be installed on **Union PVC Connectors so you can easily unscrew the salt cell for cleaning vs having to have a pool repair tech out to cut into your PVC again). Use the manufactures directions on cleaning your cell. To clean the salt cell on my pool required a mixture of about 70% water and 30% Muriatic Acid in a bucket in which you place your cell in and you will start to see it bubble and foam, which is the acid eating the calcium deposits off the metal blades of the cell. EXPERT WARNING - Muriatic Acid is VERY dangerous and if poured onto concrete or your body it will eat a hole right through it, so be very careful when handling Muriatic Acid. EXPERT WARNING - Muriatic Acid if mixed with Chlorine creates "Mustard Gas" and is deadly if breathed in. So don't think of adding chlorine to the cleaning bucket like I've heard of people recommending before.

Well thats my 2 cents and facts I know from selling tens of thousands of salt chlorine generators over the past 10 years online and its still one of our top selling product lines.

Happy Swimming!

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Hi, and welcome to the site. This is a great first post with lots of information. I edited out your signature since the link to your user profile appears with every contribution (see diy.stackexchange.com/help/behavior for more information). –  Niall C. Apr 11 at 15:02
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The term "saltwater pool" is a bit misleading. I was a builder in TX. and 95% of my pools had that system. Simply put, adding a chlorine generator is just that. A system to generate chlorine, from sodium chloride (salt). The system changes the salt you've added to your pool water into a chlorine gas and eliminates the need for you to add chlorine maunally. Benifits: After the overall cost of the system (size of the unit is based on total gallons)salt is pretty darn cheap. A lot less than chlorine tabs or powder, so you'll save some money. Chlorine is caustic and a carcinogen. Totally unsafe. "Chlorine tanks ruptured after train wreck" "Towns evacuated, people suffer burns"

Salt on the other hand, is sitting in your kitchen. (Same as pool salt but iodine has beed added). The chlorine gas entering your pool does not produce chlorimines which cause burning eyes, itchy skin, yellow hair and bleached out bathing suits.

Disadvantages? Well if you add to much salt into the pool, you will taste it.

If added properly there will be no taste involved and most systems have an "add salt" light and a "correct range" setting in PPM.

Simply put...........add the system, with self reversing polarity (self cleaning). Most systems are guaranteed for at least 5 years.

The sun will deterioate your liner more that the chlorine will if used properly. Remember, all your doing is producing your own chlorine instead of buying it.

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