Saltwater pools are becoming more popular among pool owners who want to enjoy the benefits of chlorine without harsh chemicals. Saltwater pools use a device called a salt chlorine generator, which converts salt into chlorine through a process called electrolysis. This way, the pool water is constantly sanitized and balanced, without the need to add or store chlorine products.
However, saltwater pools still require some maintenance and monitoring, especially when it comes to the salt level. The salt level is the amount of dissolved salt in the pool water, measured in parts per million (ppm). The salt level affects the performance of the salt chlorine generator, the comfort of the swimmers, and the health of the pool equipment.
The Ideal Salt Level for a Pool
The optimal range for salt in a pool is 2,700-3,400 ppm, with 3,200 ppm being ideal. This range ensures that the salt chlorine generator can produce enough chlorine to keep the pool water clean and safe, while also preventing corrosion or scaling of the pool surfaces and equipment.
If the salt level is too low, below 2,700 ppm, the salt chlorine generator will not be able to make enough chlorine to sanitize the pool water. This can lead to algae growth, cloudy water, and health risks for swimmers. Low salt levels can also damage the salt chlorine generator cell, as it will have to work harder and longer to produce chlorine.
If the salt level is too high, above 3,400 ppm, the salt chlorine generator will produce excess chlorine, which can cause eye and skin irritation, bleaching of pool surfaces and accessories, and deterioration of pool equipment. High salt levels can also make the pool water taste salty and feel slippery.
How to Test and Adjust the Salt Level in a Pool
The easiest way to test the salt level in a pool is to use a digital salt tester or a test strip kit designed for saltwater pools. These devices can give an accurate reading of the current salt level in ppm. Some salt chlorine generators also have a built-in display that shows the salt level.
To adjust the salt level in a pool, there are two options: adding more salt or replacing some water. Adding more salt is necessary when the salt level is too low while replacing some water is necessary when the salt level is too high.
To add more salt to a pool, use pool-grade salt that is at least 99% pure and free of additives or impurities. Do not use table salt, rock salt, or sea salt, as they may contain iodine, anti-caking agents, or other substances that can harm the pool water quality. The amount of salt needed depends on the pool size and the current and desired salt levels. Some online calculators can help determine how much salt to add.
To replace some water in a pool, drain a portion of the pool water and refill it with fresh water. The amount of water to replace depends on the pool size and the current and desired salt levels. Some online calculators can help determine how much water to replace.
After adding more salt or replacing some water, it is important to test the salt level again and make sure it is within the optimal range. It is also advisable to run the filter system for several hours to circulate and dissolve the salt evenly throughout the pool.
How to Maintain the Salt Level in a Pool
The best way to maintain the salt level in a pool is to test it regularly and adjust it as needed. It is recommended to test the salt level at least once a month during peak season and every two months during off-season. The frequency of testing may vary depending on factors such as rainfall, evaporation, bather load, and backwashing.
Rainfall can dilute the pool water and lower the salt level. Evaporation can concentrate the pool water and raise the salt level. Bather load can introduce contaminants that consume chlorine and reduce its effectiveness. Backwashing can remove some water and increase the concentration of salt.
To prevent these factors from affecting the salt level too much, it is advisable to:
- Cover the pool when not in use to reduce evaporation and debris.
- Check and adjust the water level regularly to keep it at an optimal height.
- Shock the pool weekly or as needed to boost chlorine levels and kill bacteria.
- Backwash or clean the filter system as needed to remove dirt and improve circulation.
- Add fresh water or more salt as needed to keep the salt level within range.
Saltwater pools are a great alternative to traditional chlorine pools, but they still require some care and attention. The most important aspect of maintaining a saltwater pool is keeping the salt level within an optimal range of 2,700-3,400 ppm.
This will ensure that the salt chlorine generator can work efficiently and effectively and that the pool water is comfortable and safe for swimmers and equipment. By testing and adjusting the salt level regularly, pool owners can enjoy the benefits of a saltwater pool for years to come.