Salt systems have gained popularity over the last few years, but a lot of information on how to properly operate salt systems and what is still entailed in order to keep your swimming pool crystal clear is usually left out. If you have been having issues with your salt system, here are a few facts about how your salt system operates and what you need to do to keep it working properly all summer long!
Proper Salt Level
It is extremely important to keep the proper salt level as per your salt system manufactures recommendations in order to keep the system working properly. The normal range for most salt systems is 3000 ppm – 4000 ppm. If the salt concentration is too low in the pool, the cell will be unable to produce it into the pure chlorine we are looking for to keep the water sanitized. Too much salt usually does not cause an immediate issue, however high levels of salt over a long period of time can be harsh on your pool surface, filter system, pumps, seals, and heaters. Over salting can also lead to more calcium deposits on the salt cell, causing it to not have good contact to produce chlorine.
Don’t use regular pool salt
It is important to use a reputable brand of pool salt as many mixtures you find at the “big box stores” are a very low grade of salt, similar to water softener salt, which can be very corrosive to your pool salt cell. Your salt system can easily be damaged and become defective if the proper salt is not used. You should test your salt level in your pool at minimum once per week. Do NOT rely on the read out on your salt system to indicate the accurate amount of salt in the pool as many factors can make those readings inaccurate.
Stabilizer is a must
With a salt system, there is no “sun block” in the chlorine that we are producing through the salt system, which is why stabilizer must be added and maintained between 30-50 ppm. If the stabilizer is lower this range, every bit of chlorine that is being produced through the salt cell is being burnt off by the sun almost immediately. This could be why you are unable to get a chlorine reading when testing your pool water. Stabilizer or CYA (Cyanuric Acid) levels that are higher than ideal, especially upwards of the 150-200 ppm range, can cause cloudy water and can actually lock up any of the chlorine being produced. The chlorine would then not be active to kill any bacteria in the water and your pool may start to turn cloudy and or green quickly. Stabilizer level should be tested on a regular basis, at minimum once per week.
Water must be tested on a regular basis
It is very important to test not only your Chlorine level, but your pH, salt and CYA (Stabilizer) level on a regular basis. Salt systems only work effectively if all the levels are kept in the proper ranges at all times. The only true way to know what the readings are is to test the pool with an at home test kit for these 4 items.
Additional chemicals are still required
Unfortunately there is a lot of incorrect info out there in regards to how easy and “maintenance free” salt systems are. Not only does the chlorine, pH, salt and cya levels need to be monitored several times a week at minimum and product added to adjust any of those levels; but there are a few other items that are needed as well.
* A salt water pool should still be shocked on a weekly basis (after dark) with a high grade pool shock. The shock finished the kill off of the dead bacteria that the chlorine (salt) has killed but left dead in the water. Shocking the pool gases the dead bacteria out of the pool to wipe the slate clean.
*A professional grade clarifier should be added on a weekly basis, or every time after you clean the pool filter. This will insure that your filter is working properly and pulling out the finest particles in the water, that may go right through your filter system and back in the pool.
*A Sequestering agent (or metal remover) is extremely important on a salt system as it will help to protect and prevent the calcium build up on the salt cell. Once the cell has been coated with calcium, it can no longer operate properly and produce the chlorine level we are looking for to keep the pool clean.
Cleaning of the salt cell
The salt cell will need to be cleaned on a regular basis as well. It is recommended to take off the salt cell and rinse with a garden hose gently up and down the plates to remove any calcium or mineral build up. If the garden hose does not get all of the build up off, a special cell cleaner solution is recommended to use to remove it.
Please let us know if you have any additional questions in regards to properly maintaining your salt system. Always refer to your owners manual for proper protocol as each manufacture is slightly different.