A salt cell is a device that converts salt in the pool water into chlorine gas, which then dissolves into the water and sanitizes it. A salt cell is also known as a salt generator, a salt chlorinator, or a saltwater chlorination system.
A salt cell is composed of a stack of electrically charged metal plates that are immersed in the pool water. When an electric current passes through the plates, it causes a chemical reaction that splits the salt molecules into sodium and chlorine ions.
The chlorine ions combine with water to form hypochlorous acid and sodium hypochlorite, which are the active forms of chlorine that kill bacteria, algae, and other contaminants in the pool.
Why You Need to Clean Your Salt Cell
Over time, the metal plates in the salt cell can get coated with calcium carbonate, magnesium hydroxide, and other minerals that are naturally present in the pool water. These minerals form a hard crust on the plates, which reduces the efficiency of the salt cell and lowers its chlorine output. This can lead to cloudy water, algae growth, and unhealthy swimming conditions.
To prevent this from happening, you need to clean your salt cell regularly. Cleaning your salt cell will remove the mineral deposits and restore its performance. It will also extend the lifespan of your salt cell and save you money on replacement costs.
How Often You Should Clean Your Salt Cell
The frequency of cleaning your salt cell depends on several factors, such as:
- The hardness of your pool water. Hard water has more minerals that can build up on the plates.
- The salinity of your pool water. Higher salinity means more salt molecules that can be split into chlorine.
- The usage of your pool. More swimmers mean more organic matter that can consume chlorine.
- The weather conditions. Hotter and sunnier days mean more chlorine loss due to evaporation and UV rays.
As a general rule, you should inspect your salt cell at least once a month and clean it whenever you notice any signs of scaling or reduced chlorine output. Some salt cells have indicators or sensors that will alert you when they need cleaning. You can also use a chlorine test kit to measure the chlorine level in your pool and adjust it accordingly.
How to Clean Your Salt Cell
Cleaning your salt cell is a simple process that involves soaking it in a mild acid solution for a few minutes. Here are the steps you need to follow:
- Turn off the power to your salt chlorination system and disconnect the salt cell from the plumbing.
- Rinse the salt cell with fresh water to remove any dirt or debris.
- Prepare a cleaning solution by mixing one part muriatic acid (hydrochloric acid) with four parts water in a plastic bucket. Always add acid to water, not vice versa, to avoid splashing or fumes.
- Submerge the salt cell in the cleaning solution and let it soak for 10 to 15 minutes. You should see bubbles forming on the plates as the acid dissolves the mineral deposits.
- Remove the salt cell from the cleaning solution and rinse it thoroughly with fresh water.
- Reconnect the salt cell to the plumbing and turn on the power to your salt chlorination system.
- Check the chlorine level in your pool and adjust it if needed.
Tips for Maintaining Your Salt Cell
Besides cleaning your salt cell regularly, there are some other things you can do to keep it in good condition and ensure optimal chlorine production:
- Balance your pool water chemistry. Test your pool water weekly and maintain the recommended levels of pH, alkalinity, calcium hardness, stabilizer (cyanuric acid), and salinity.
- Use a pre-filter or a scale inhibitor. These products can help reduce the amount of minerals that enter your pool water and prevent scaling on your salt cell.
- Replace your salt cell when needed. Most salt cells have a lifespan of 3 to 5 years, depending on how often they are used and cleaned. When your salt cell reaches its end of life, it will produce less chlorine or stop working altogether.
A salt cell is an essential component of a saltwater chlorination system that keeps your pool water clean and safe by producing chlorine from salt. To ensure its proper functioning and longevity, you need to clean your salt cell regularly and follow some simple maintenance tips.