Although saltwater pools have many benefits, there are also some specific problems that can arise. Saltwater pools have additional equipment that other pools don’t have that on the one hand, deliver more automation and functionality.
On the other hand, it means that there are more things that can break and a few other unique issues that can arise, that you should be aware of.
Here are some common issues that are specific to saltwater pools:
- Corrosion: Salt water is very corrosive so it’s certainly more of an issue than it is with chemically chlorinated pools. Saltwater pools can be more corrosive than traditional chlorine pools, which can lead to damage to pool components, such as metal fixtures, ladders, and railings.
- Cell scaling: The salt cell in the chlorinator can develop scale buildup over time, which can reduce the efficiency of the chlorinator and require cleaning or replacement.
An auto-cleaning feature (reverse polarity) is a handy benefit as it auto cleans the cell as required without you doing anything. Otherwise you may have to clean the cell manually which tends to involve use of chemicals.
- Salt buildup: Saltwater pools can accumulate high levels of salt over time, which can lead to staining, cloudiness, and reduced chlorine production. If you stick to the recommended 2,700 ppm – 3,400 ppm salt range, you can usually avoid serious problems.
Don’t exceed the 3,400 ppm range however unless your specific chlorinator model calls for you, which it most likely will not.
Saltwater pools are the only ones that use salt in any way.
- Chlorine production issues: The salt chlorinator cell can become less effective over time, reducing the amount of chlorine produced and leading to ineffective sanitization. Each salt cell has a lifespan and can only produce a certain amount of chlorine in pounds and will eventually wear out. It often happens suddenly and will just die without warning.
This means you need to quickly replace it and might need to use chemical chlorine in the meantime to keep the water clean.
- Electrical issues: The salt chlorinator uses electrical components, which can be prone to failure or damage due to weather, lightning strikes, or other factors. The chlorinator control box is the computer that runs the pool functions and automation and if it goes, you won’t be able to start the pump or produce chlorine.
- pH balance: Saltwater pools can be prone to pH imbalances, which can affect water quality and require adjustments to prevent corrosion or scaling. Specifically, saltwater pools tend to see pH run higher than chemically-chlorinated pools. Chlorine raises pH but the chlorinator produces by products that further raise it.
You need to keep an eye on pH to ensure it doesn’t run too high, which tends to be a bigger issue than a lower one.
- Cost: The initial cost of installing a salt chlorination system will be higher than traditional chlorine pools, and ongoing maintenance costs, such as replacing the salt cell, can add up over time.
Having said that, saltwater pool tend to require fewer chemicals and need less maintenance so you are paying for convenience.