How to Convert to a Salt Water Pool
If you want better control over chlorine levels and all the other advantages of saltwater pools (discussed further below), converting your pool to a salt system is a smart move. Here's what you need to know and how I did it to make the transition from a chlorine pool to a saltwater pool go off without a hitch:
Reasons to Switch to Salt Water for Your Pool
Reasons to replace your chlorine pool with saltwater are listed below. Read my article where I detail the differences and similarities between salt water and conventional chlorine pools for more information.
Reduced Requirement for Repairs
Compared to chlorine pools, saltwater pools require less upkeep. The salt in the pool, which dissolves in the water and reforms naturally as chlorine, is the primary reason for this. Salt and chlorine still evaporate from the pool over time, but at a much slower rate than in a chlorine pool.
The pure chlorine typically used in pool maintenance is more dangerous to handle than the salt found in bags.
But salt is inherently corrosive, so you'll want to make sure your pool liner or interior material can handle saltwater. If not, a chlorinated pool is probably your best bet.
Most people think of the ocean when I mention saltwater pools to them, where the water is naturally very salty. But that has nothing to do with the actual flavor or texture of swimming pools.
The USGS estimates that the salt content of ocean water is around 35,000 parts per million (ppm), giving it its characteristic odor. Most public swimming pools' salt levels average around 3,500 parts per million (ppm), or just 10% of the ocean's average salinity. In spite of what the name may imply, this actually improves the quality of your swim session dramatically.
Start-up expenses that are relatively modest
Although the actual cost to convert to a saltwater system for a residential or commercial pool can vary widely depending on factors like the pool's size and the chosen salt chlorine generator, the average cost is under a thousand dollars. This is well within the average costs of owning a pool, and the money saved on chemicals could eventually help pay for the system.
The salt chlorine generator, which uses existing salt in the pool water to produce hypochlorous acid (as a sanitizer), accounts for the bulk of the total cost. When installing a chlorine generator, you may need to dig a trench, replace some stones, or perform other maintenance tasks typically associated with putting in new pool equipment.
The salt is the other major expense when making the change to a saltwater pool. Due to its accessibility in both large-scale production and retail, pool salt is relatively inexpensive. Since nearly all of the salt is retained by the water, the cost per use is much lower than that of conventional pool chemicals.
As a point of reference, the typical pool requires around 200 pounds of pool salt per 10,000 gallons of water to achieve the recommended concentration. The salt is sold in convenient 40-pound bags for less than each.
How to Turn Your Swimming Pool Into a Saltwater One
If you're interested in switching to a saltwater pool, here are the measures to take.
First, take stock of what you already have.
First, take stock of everything that's already in place. Everything that comes in contact with your pool's water, such as the pipes, interior materials, pumps, and so on, falls under this category. That's because, before making the switch, you need to know if the salt will cause damage to those systems.
Smaller components can be swapped out sooner, but if your pool's interior is made of a material that doesn't do well in saltwater, you may want to hold off until you replace the entire pool. Afterwards, you can switch to a material that is more salt-tolerant.
You can move forward with the conversion if all of your parts are compatible.
Step 2: Inspect the Water in Your Current Pool
If you're switching from bromine to chlorine but plan to keep your pool cleaner, you won't need to drain it or change the water.
Yet, chlorine is incompatible with many common antibacterial products. As an example, polyhexamethylene biguanide is incompatible with chlorine-based disinfectants. At this point, your only choices remain switching your pool water or burning it out with excessive amounts of chlorine if you are currently using it. The second choice is less costly but time-consuming.
Third, achieve water equilibrium in your pool.
Assuming the saltwater conversion is compatible with the current chemicals, you should return your pool water to as close to normal as possible. Chlorine, alkalinity, pH, stabilizer, calcium hardness, and other metals should all be balanced before anything else. It's important to keep checking the water's pH and ph level to make sure you're maintaining
If your pool wasn't balanced when you first got it, it could take a few days to get it just right. It's important to wait until the pool water has had a chance to circulate and is as balanced as possible before proceeding. Rest your pool all the way around, not just the spot next to where you put the chemicals in.
The Fourth Step: Select a Salt Chlorinator
A saltwater chlorination system can be chosen in a number of different ways. The ideal setup is one that can handle the size and shape of your pool, is durable enough to last for many years without being replaced, and doesn't break the bank.
Most people prefer to have professionals install their saltwater chlorination systems, and these experts may have suggestions for you regarding which brands or models to consider. No, I won't do that, because it makes no difference to me which system you choose. Instead, think carefully about what you want and need, do some research, and make a call yourself.
Chlorinators come with a wide variety of options. Almost all systems allow you to modify the amount of chlorine they produce, making it simple to fine-tune your pool, while more sophisticated ones may also provide automatic cleaning, freeze protection, flow control, digital readouts, and other useful features.
Chlorinator set up is Step 5.
If you've already decided on a salt chlorinator, you can either install it yourself or have a pool service do it. You should get this done as soon as possible to avoid having to readjust your pool's chemicals later. This could end up being prohibitively expensive if that happens.
The manual that came with your chlorinator should have all the information you need to put it together. Prioritize the chlorinator's instructions over these if they conflict. In addition, you can read my comprehensive tutorial on installing a salt chlorinator.
Sixth, season with salt
Perhaps this is something you should do before putting in your chlorinator. To adjust the salt concentration, simply open the bags and pour salt in. You can use a salt calculator online to get a rough idea of how many pounds you'll need if you don't know exactly how much you'll need. The purest salt is mined salt, but solar salt and mechanically evaporated salt are also acceptable alternatives.
If you pour salt into a pool, it will take about 24 hours to dissolve. It should go more quickly if you use finer salt crystals. However, your chlorinator may recommend using a particular size of salt crystals. So, if that's the case, go ahead and buy salt of that specific size.
It's best to add salt near the shallow end or far from your skimmer. In order to prevent damage to pool products, you should allow the salt to disperse beyond the immediate vicinity of the salt-adding process.
To direct the salt to specific locations, pour against the current. Moving counter to the current will result in a more uniform distribution.
Step 7: Put It to the Test!
After you've put in your chlorine generator, you should immediately have the pool water tested. After a week, re-evaluate the pool's statistics to see if there's been any change. After this amount of time, your pool should reach a steady state, and any abnormal readings can indicate if something is wrong.
In the event that the salt level in your pool is dangerously high, you may need to drain and refill some of the water. If the salt level is too low, more salt should be added. If you salted the food properly before, this should be an unusual occurrence. The correct pool salt concentration can be determined with the help of our handy calculator.
Step Eight: Maintain a Tidy Environment
You should clean your chlorinator at least once every three months, in addition to cleaning the rest of your equipment as directed by the manufacturer at least once per week. However, unless your chlorinator salt cells absolutely require it, you should try to avoid using hydrochloric acid.
How Much It Will Set You Back To Change Your Pool To Saltwater
Converting to a saltwater system, as I mentioned before, is not prohibitively expensive. Pools of varying sizes have different installation costs, ranging from about $425 (for a 10,000-gallon pool) to $2,480 (for a 50,000-gallon pool). The majority of pools can be changed for under $1000.
Amount reflects total price for components, labor, and salt. Additional taxes and fees at the state and municipal levels are not included, but they typically amount to less than 10% of the total cost. The cost of a possible pool draining and refilling is not included.
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