Upgrading Your Above Ground Pool to a Saltwater System
Chlorine has been a part of pool owners’ maintenance routines for more than a century, but it does have its share of setbacks. You don’t have to settle for toxic chlorine tablets as saltwater systems are a safer alternative to keeping your pool clean and sanitary.
As the name suggests, saltwater systems use dissolved salt to create chlorine to sanitize the water in your pool. The chlorine generated in saltwater pools is similar to that found in chlorine pool tablets but without the compounds that cause the adverse effects commonly associated with chlorinated pools.
Why convert to a saltwater system?
The biggest reason people switch to saltwater pools is that it’s gentler to use. The chlorine from saltwater systems does not contain chloramines that cause the usual side effects like faded clothing, itchy eyes, and that distinct smell from chlorinated pools. The chlorine levels in saltwater pools are also more stable and have the same salinity of natural tear ducts, which is why it doesn’t hurt to open your eyes in a saltwater pool or let your skin and hair dry afterward.
Another benefit of saltwater systems is that they require less maintenance. Unlike chlorinated pools that need to be replenished with chlorine tablets every week, the chlorine in saltwater pools is self-regenerating. Pour some pool-grade salt in your pool, and it will generate enough chlorine for a month or more. And since you will only do periodic maintenance every couple of weeks, you’ll also spend less on test strips and cleaning materials.
Preparing your pool for saltwater conversion
Once you’ve decided to switch to a saltwater system, the first step you need to take is to prepare your pool. Preparation may involve draining water out of your pool, especially if it contains antibacterial agents that may counteract with the chlorine from saltwater. You also need to test the pool water for free chlorine, pH, alkalinity, heavy metals, calcium hardness, and other substances to ensure an optimum chemical balance once you add the chlorine. There are test kits available specifically for this purpose, although we recommend having the testing done professionally by your local pool dealer.
If your pool has galvanized walls or metal frames and parts, you will also have to switch them out for resin or vinyl material. Saltwater will gradually corrode the metal and cause the pool structure to weaken over time.
Converting your pool
There are now saltwater systems available that streamline the conversion process from start to finish. The process varies from one kit to another. Still, it usually involves dissolving pool-grade salt into the water, installing a chlorinator and chlorinator cell, and connecting it to the water pump. There are also advanced saltwater chlorine generators you can use to monitor the water’s salinity and temperature and adjust the chlorine output automatically.
However, because of the complicated process of keeping the water’s chemical composition balanced and installing the saltwater system, we highly recommended you have it done by professionals. Pool dealers like Smith Pools can expertly test and optimize your pool’s chemical balance and install the saltwater system at a reasonable rate.