Saltwater pools have been transforming backyards for years, offering a desirable alternative to conventional chlorine-based swimming pools. The appeal of a saltwater pool lies not only in its ability to provide a soothing, spa-like swimming experience but also in the lower levels of harsh chemicals, making your swims gentler on your skin and eyes.
However, an investment in a saltwater pool comes with its own set of considerations. While the allure is undeniable, it’s essential to be aware of the common challenges and how to navigate them effectively before diving headfirst into ownership.
From managing chlorine levels to mitigating corrosion risks and understanding the potential impact on the local environment, it’s crucial to equip yourself with the knowledge to ensure your saltwater pool remains a source of enjoyment rather than stress.
In this article, we’ll demystify some of the common salt water pool problems and provide actionable advice on how to address them.
We’ll show how to maintain optimal chlorine levels, prevent potential corrosion, manage the effect on surrounding vegetation and pets, and understand the lifecycle costs associated with salt chlorinator cell replacements.
Understanding and Managing Saltwater Pool Challenges
Excessive Chlorine Levels
While saltwater pools bring the advantage of enjoying the benefits of a chlorinated pool without the associated adverse effects such as burning eyes or unpleasant chlorine odors, they can also generate extremely high levels of chlorine without you noticing.
This excessive chlorine can have detrimental impacts on your pool shell or equipment.
To prevent this, conduct a weekly test to monitor your pool’s chlorine levels and adjust the salt generator if the chlorine levels are getting too high.
For those residing in coastal areas, the corrosive impact of salty air on window screens, furniture, and doors is a familiar problem.
This issue extends to homes with saltwater pools, where the elevated salt levels caould lead to the corrosion of nearby metallic objects like wrought iron gates, sheds, fences, screens, and doors.
The pool’s saline water can also accelerate the corrosion of galvanized deck anchors. After installation, most galvanized deck anchors start corroding within 4 to 5 years, making it difficult to remove the handrail or ladder. However, this can be resolved by using brass anchors instead of galvanized steel.
If you plan to install a salt system in a pre-existing pool that uses galvanized steel, it’s advisable to use a corrosion inhibitor.
For new pools, insist on your contractor using brass anchors.
Impact on Vegetation and Pets
High saline levels can be harmful to vegetation including flowers, trees, and grass, often leading to barren areas around saltwater pools.
Even more important, if your pets drink the salt water in the pool regularly, it could lead to dehydration and severe health issues.
To mitigate this risk, keep your pool area secured to prevent pets from accessing it.
Salt Cell Replacement
While salt chlorinators can be more affordable during certain seasons compared to chlorine, the cell in the chlorinator that converts salt into chlorine can malfunction.
The average cost of cell replacement ranges between $200 and $900 (depending on the make/type), with a typical lifespan of 5 to 7 years.
Therefore, while saltwater pools offer numerous benefits, cost-saving isn’t necessarily one of them. However, with the ever-increasing cost of chlorine cost savings are more likely.
Corrosion of Vinyl Liner Pool Walls
This issue primarily affects above-ground and in-ground vinyl liner pools with metal walls. Many vinyl pool builders now use polymer walls, reducing this problem in newer constructions.
However, if you’re considering a vinyl liner pool with a salt water system, avoid using metal walls as they may corrode over time.
While the lower maintenance of above-ground pools can outweigh the impact of saltwater on the pool’s metal structure, the difference in the rate of wall corrosion between pools with and without saltwater systems can be significant.
A saltwater system might give an above-ground pool a lifespan of 10 to 15 years, compared to 20 to 25 years without.
Given these potential challenges, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons: do the advantages of saltwater pools outweigh the possible issues?
What are the benefits of a saltwater pool?
Saltwater pools offer the advantages of a chlorinated pool without associated adverse effects such as burning eyes or unpleasant chlorine odors. They also require less frequent chemical maintenance compared to traditional pools.
What are the potential issues with a saltwater pool?
Saltwater pools can generate high chlorine levels, cause corrosion of metallic objects and pool components, potentially harm vegetation and pets, and may require costly cell replacement in the salt chlorinator. But with correct safeguards these issues are not a problem.
How can I manage high chlorine levels in my saltwater pool?
To manage high chlorine levels, regularly test your pool’s chlorine levels each week. Adjust the salt chlorinator settings or add fresh water to the pool to maintain the optimal chlorine level.
How can I prevent corrosion caused by a saltwater pool?
Preventing corrosion involves using corrosion-resistant materials, such as brass anchors instead of galvanized steel. For pre-existing pools with galvanized steel, applying a corrosion inhibitor can help reduce the rate of corrosion.
How does a saltwater pool impact pets and vegetation?
Saltwater can harm pets if they drink it and can negatively affect vegetation. Prevent pets from accessing the pool area and consider landscaping alternatives or pool water drainage solutions that minimize exposure of vegetation to the saline water.
I have had hot tubs for over 20 years and a pool for the last 10 years. I had to learn how to clean, maintain and fix them the hard way. Since then I have helped many friends and neighbors with their pools and now I want to share everything I have learned with you. About Me