When my family bought a house with a salt water pool in 2006, we were pleasantly surprised to learn about its low maintenance. I didn’t know much about pools when we bought the house other than I liked swimming in them.
So there was a bit of a learning curve but I was able to navigate it and quickly learn not only how to maintain the pool but the benefits of salt water.
Salt Water Pool Benefits – Maintenance
There are a number of benefits from a salt water pool owner’s perspective. The main ones are:
One of the first benefits of salt water pools is how relatively easy they are to maintain. From an owner’s perspective, there isn’t really a lot to do to keep the chemistry straight, especially with modern chlorinator systems. You can learn more about my introduction to salt water pools on my About page.
When we first bought the house, I contacted the company that built the pool for the previous home owner and had opened and closed the pool each year at an expense of course. They offered a pool school training class for $75 where they’d show me how to operate the pool. Not to open it and close it – they still wanted to be paid for that! – but rather understanding the valves, the pump, pool chemistry, things of that nature.
I didn’t bother.
I can use the Internet as well as the next person and decided to learn about this stuff myself and save the $75. So that’s why I did.
Once you get familiar with the salt water pool system, your pool itself, your usage of the pool, etc you’ll most likely find that it’s very easy to maintain.
It’s much cheaper to buy a $5 bag of salt and dump it once or twice a season (in my experience) than it is to buy costly barrels of chlorine or chlorine powder. In an average season, we spent maybe $20 on salt and had to buy some chlorine for the opening. Other chemicals were bought as needed (algaecide, etc) but we’d have had to buy that with a chlorine pool too.
Having said that, there is a cost to salt water pools: The up front cost of a salt water chlorinator system could be $1,400 -$2000. You may face additional installation costs, electrician costs (to hardwire it), etc. We had to pay an electrician to add a plug outlet for our Hayward system as we didn’t have capacity on the existing breaker. This added several hundred dollars to the bill.
Also, salt water systems require a salt water cell, the device that actually converts salt to chlorine. A good one might last 3-5 years but they do wear out and need to be replaced. These can cost $500 and up.
But when you compare that to the time and cost of a more hands-on chlorine pool, I think you’ll appreciate the benefits of salt water.
Salt Water Pool Benefits – Swimming
There are also numerous benefits to swimmers with salt water pools. Here are the ones we noticed right away.
Easy on the eyes
Have you ever swam in a chlorine pool with your eyes open and when you were finished, they were bloodshot and irritated? You won’t experience this with a salt water pool. The chlorine you use is only to shock the system in the spring when opening a pool. The chlorine produced by the salt water chlorinator is a natural one produced with salt, not a chemical one from liquid or crystals that come with the associated strong odor.
No chlorine smell
You won’t get out of a salt water pool and feel the need to go for a shower to wash the chlorine or bromine smell off. There isn’t one.
And your clothes also won’t smell like chlorine either. Saltwater is very clean in the sense that it’s natural without chemicals and the associated smell of chlorine or bromine.
The salt that you can use in your salt water pool is the same as the salt you use in a water softener. So the water is soft, certainly not harsh like chlorinated water. You really do notice the difference.
And this salt is widely and easily available in large bags at a reasonable price.
I dumped a 20lb (40kg) bag of salt into the pool in the spring and typically would have to add another 10lb (20kg) later on in the summer to top it up. Your salt usage will depend on the amount of water in your pool, the temperatures you experience and the amount of pool usage.
- Salt water pool benefits include both maintenance ones from the pool owner’s perspective and also from the swimmer’s perspective. Less maintenance, lower cost and softer water with less chemicals, are key benefits for both parties.
- Salt water pools tend to have less maintenance than chlorine pools. From personal experience and comparing notes with chlorine pool owners, salt water pools make it easy to maintain proper chemistry.
- With salt water pools, you only need small amounts of chlorine when opening a pool and perhaps throughout the year in very hot weather if the pool needs to be shocked. I never keep chlorine stored as I have no need for it.