Can You Convert a Chlorine Pool to a Saltwater Pool?




Converting a traditional chlorine pool to a saltwater pool has become a popular trend among pool owners in recent years, largely due to the increasing cost of chlorine.

Saltwater pools are known for their easy maintenance, lower operating costs, and luxurious feel. If you’re considering changing your pool to a saltwater system, you may be wondering if it’s possible and what the process entails.

Fortunately, it is possible to convert your chlorine pool to a saltwater pool. In fact, I changed my pool system to a salt system at the beginning of this pool season. It was a straightforward process that only took a few hours.

The conversion process involves installing a saltwater chlorination system, which generates chlorine from salt instead of adding it directly to the pool. This eliminates the need for regular chlorine treatments and reduces the amount of chemicals needed to keep your pool clean.

Can You Convert a Chlorine Pool to a Saltwater Pool
The Salt Chlorinator I Installed

Key Takeaways

  • It is possible to convert a traditional chlorine pool to a saltwater pool quite easily by installing a saltwater chlorination system.
  • Saltwater pools offer easy maintenance, lower operating costs, and a luxurious feel.
  • The conversion process can be costly, and it’s important to understand the steps involved before making the switch

Understanding Chlorine and Saltwater Pools

If you’re considering changing your traditional chlorine pool to a saltwater pool, it’s important to understand the differences between the two.

  • Chlorine pools use added chlorine as a disinfectant to kill bacteria and other contaminants in the water.
  • Saltwater pools, on the other hand, use a saltwater generator to convert salt into chlorine to keep the water clean.

One of the main benefits of a saltwater pool is that it can be less harsh on your skin and eyes compared to traditional chlorine pools. Saltwater pools also tend to have lower chlorine levels, which means less chlorine odor and less damage to colored hair. The water in a saltwater pool can also feel softer and more refreshing.

However, it’s important to note that saltwater pools still contain chlorine, just in a different form. The saltwater generator converts salt into chlorine, which means that you still need to maintain proper chlorine levels in the pool.

Additionally, saltwater pools can be expensive to install, as the saltwater generator and other equipment can be costly. However, the savings in chlorine will normally offset this cost.

How to Convert a Chlorine Pool to a Salt Pool

Converting your chlorine pool to a saltwater pool is a straightforward process that can be completed in a few simple steps. Here’s how to convert pool to salt water:

  1. Install a Salt Chlorinator: The first step in the conversion process is to install a salt chlorinator (see instructions below). This device is responsible for converting the salt in your pool into chlorine, which helps to keep your pool clean and clear. Many different types of salt chlorinators are available, so be sure to choose one that is compatible with your pool and meets your specific needs.
  2. Add Pool Salt: Once you have installed your salt chlorinator, you will need to add pool salt to your pool. The amount of salt required will depend on the size of your pool, so be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. It is essential to use the right type of salt, as not all salts are suitable for use in a saltwater pool.
  3. Adjust the Control Board: Once you have connected the salt cell, you will need to adjust the control board on your salt chlorinator. This will allow you to set the correct levels of chlorine for your pool. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully when adjusting the control board.
  4. Run the pump/salt chlorinator. I ran my pump for 48 hours with the salt generator on the boost setting to allow enough salt to be turned into chlorine.
  5. Monitor Your Chlorinator Controller: After you have completed the conversion process, you will need to monitor your chlorinator controller regularly. This will allow you to ensure that your pool is properly balanced and that the chlorine levels are correct. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully when using your chlorinator controller.

Installing the Salt Chlorinator

Each salt chlorinator is different of course so how it is installed will vary. However, this is how I installed mine which may be helpful to some.

Select location to install

You need to install the salt chlorinator somewhere in the return line (ie after the water has passed through the filter). Exactly how or where will depend on your pool’s setup and also the salt chlorinator you have purchased.

Note: If you have a heater then ideally it should be fitted in the return line after the heater.

Some have a separate controller which will need to be installed on a wall while others, such as the one I have, have the controller built in.

Can You Convert a Chlorine Pool to a Saltwater Pool? 1
Before installation – working out where to install the salt chlorinator

Rework the plumbing

Once you have decided where and how you will install the salt chlorinator you need to cut the existing pipework and replumb.

Can You Convert a Chlorine Pool to a Saltwater Pool? 2
After some of the existing plumbing was removed

Install the unit

Once the actual unit is installed in the pipework you will either have to:

  • install the control unit on a wall if it is separate and then connect the controller to the salt chlorinator
  • if the controller is integral (as in mine below) you need to hook it up to your pool’s electrical system.

You should connect the electricity supply to the same timer that controls your pool pump so that whenever the pump is on the salt chlorinator is also on.

what should my salt chlorinator be set at
After installation (just needed to tidy up the wiring with cable ties)

Why Convert to a Saltwater Pool

If you’re tired of the harsh chemicals and maintenance required to keep your chlorine pool clean, converting to a saltwater pool may be the right choice for you. Here are some of the benefits of a saltwater pool:

Clearer, Softer Water

Saltwater pools use a natural process called electrolysis to generate chlorine, which means you’ll have fewer chemicals in your pool. This results in clearer, softer water that is gentler on your skin, eyes, and hair.

You won’t have to worry about the strong chlorine smell that can linger around a traditional chlorine pool.

Better Swimming Experience

Swimming in a saltwater pool can be a luxurious experience. The water feels silky and smooth, and you won’t experience the same harsh chemical burn that you might get from a chlorine pool.

You’ll be able to enjoy a more natural swimming experience without worrying about the negative effects of chlorine.

Lower Maintenance

While a saltwater pool does require some maintenance, it’s generally less than what’s required for a chlorine pool. You won’t have to worry about adding chlorine tablets or shock treatments, and you’ll spend less time balancing the chemicals in your pool.

Additionally, the salt chlorinator system will automatically generate the necessary amount of chlorine, so you won’t have to do it manually.

Lower Chemical Costs

Chlorine has become much more expensive and harder to obtain in recent years due to problems in some large chemical plants. With a saltwater pool, the only cost of chlorine is chlorine shock, which you will need from time to time.

Cons to Consider

While there are many benefits to converting to a saltwater pool, there are also some cons to consider.

  • The initial cost of converting to a saltwater pool can be significant, and you’ll need to purchase a salt chlorinator system and salt to get started.
  • The salt can be corrosive to some pool materials, so you’ll need to make sure your pool is compatible before making the switch.
  • While the water is gentler on your skin and eyes, it’s not completely free of chemicals, and some people may still experience irritation.
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The salt chlorinator working. The 22 on the display is the water temperature.

Cost Implications

Converting a chlorine pool to a saltwater pool comes with a cost implication. The cost varies depending on the size of the pool, the manufacturer of the salt chlorine generator, and the type of pool. Generally, the cost of converting an existing pool into a saltwater pool is between $800 and $2,000. However, the cost can be as low as $600 for an above-ground pool and as high as $2,200 for an inground pool.

The cost of salt is typically 25 cents to 63 cents per pound.

It’s important to note that the cost of converting a pool to a saltwater system can save you money in the long run. Saltwater pools require less maintenance, fewer chemicals, and less electricity to operate than traditional chlorine pools. This means you’ll save money on chemicals, electricity bills, and maintenance costs over time.

When considering the cost of converting your pool to a saltwater system, it’s important to budget for the initial cost of installation as well as the ongoing cost of salt and maintenance. It’s also important to research different manufacturers and models of salt chlorine generators to find the best one for your needs and budget.

Maintenance After Conversion

Maintaining a saltwater pool requires less work than a chlorine pool. However, that does not mean you can ignore it entirely. Proper maintenance is still necessary to keep your pool clean and safe to swim in.

Salt System Maintenance

Your salt system is the heart of your pool’s sanitation system. It is responsible for producing the chlorine that keeps your pool clean. To keep it functioning properly, you need to perform regular maintenance.

The most critical part of your salt system is the salt cell. Over time, the cell can become coated with calcium deposits, which can reduce its effectiveness.

To prevent this, you need to clean the cell periodically. The frequency of cleaning depends on several factors, including the size of your pool, the amount of use it gets, and the hardness of your water.

To clean the cell, you will need to remove it from the system and soak it in a solution of muriatic acid and water. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully, and be sure to wear gloves and eye protection.

Sacrificial Anode Maintenance

Your sacrificial anode is a crucial component of your pool’s salt system. It is responsible for protecting your pool equipment from corrosion. Over time, the anode will become corroded and need to be replaced.

To replace the anode, you must turn off the power to your salt system and remove the anode from the system. Install the new anode and turn the power back on.

Pool Maintenance

Maintaining your pool is essential to keep it clean and safe to swim in. Here are some tips to help you keep your pool in top condition:

  • Skim the surface of your pool regularly to remove leaves and other debris.
  • Brush the walls and floor of your pool weekly to remove algae and other buildup.
  • Vacuum your pool regularly to remove dirt and debris.
  • Check the pH and chlorine levels of your pool daily and adjust them as needed.
  • Backwash your pool pump regularly to remove debris from the filter.

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