Salt Chlorine Pool Problems

As salt chlorine generation becomes more popular, problems are abounding due to a lack of consumer education and dealer / installer education.  What are the problems? There are FOUR general issues.  They deal with water quality as well as equipment maintenance.  The issues are water quality, general misunderstanding of the product and process, lack of education (installer as well as pool owner), and finally equipment problems.

Let's first say that the overwhelming majority of customers are ecstatic with their salt-chlorine pool -- the first season, then reality sets in (that's somewhat facetious).  And that's true with virtually any pool care system. Why? Because normally the first season you have a freshly filled pool (new water) and zealous care by the new pool owner. In subsequent years, routine sets in, lack of zeal is the norm, and novelty is lost (these are general statements - not all pool owners are this lax).

\"Mineral Springs\"

The first general issue with salt - chlorine pool care is water quality.  Water quality is just that: how the water looks, feels, tastes, and performs.  All of these are connected to water balance and products used.  Saline pools tend to run with a higher pH, so a dry or liquid acid must be added to the pool on regular basis to maintain proper pH.  Most saline pools are started on "plain salt," that is salt without any additives.  In a swimming pool, these additives are necessary to 1) buffer the water, 2) shield the chlorine from UV degradation - stabilizer, 3) stain and scale prevention - staining and scaling of pool surfaces and equipment especially in areas of typically "hard water".  Often times, pool owners neglect maintaining proper levels of salt in the pool, either high or low.  Low levels prevent proper chlorination.  High levels add to scaling and "salty" taste, not to mention wasted product.  High levels of salt can cause the water feel "thick" and look dull.  This we have noticed to be especially true with indoor pools (lack of fresh water additions is one cause).  All of these sub-issues leads us to the general misunderstanding of the product and the process.

Salt Chlorine Pool Problems

When set up properly, saline generation is a fantastic way to treat a swimming pool.  The key is proper set up.  And the fault often lies with both pool owner and builder-installer.  As far as product goes, using the correct product in the correct amounts makes all of the difference. Pool owners, know the correct volume of water that your pool holds.  Incorrect knowledge is the cause of over or under dosing.  Make sure that the system is operating 10 to 12 hours every day the pool operating.  Test the water twice each week - chlorine level, pH, total alkalinity.  Add algaecide periodically.  Contrary to what your builder told you, no saline system is "set it and forget it," there is upkeep and maintenance needed.  Builder-installer, don't oversell what the product and system can do.  The saline system can not maintain water balance.  Use the best salt products available.  There are different kinds of salt available: mined versus "solar."  What kind of other minerals or impurities are present in the salt, etc.  For example, depending on where the salt is mined from, there may be "excess" amounts of magnesium or potassium that scale differently on pool surfaces.  So called "solar salt" is salt that is harvested from ponds adjacent to the ocean.  A great idea but what is flying over head and making deposits in the salt?  That's one form of impurity.  The actual equipment to convert the salt to chlorine: the bottom line is you get what you pay for.  The name brand equipment with a proven track record is the best to use.  There are newer, cheaper "cells" that may work the first year (see above), but will be disappointing in subsequent pool seasons.

All of what has been just said ties directly to education of the product by all of the parties - pool owner, builder, installer, service person.  Know what saline generation can and will do.  If what you hear sounds too good, it probably needs further explanation or investigation.  A saline pool system is a big investment.  Do the necessary homework.

Finally, there are equipment problems.  More than anything else, these problems can be almost eliminated or at least marginalized. What do we mean by equipment problems?  Scaling of cell - where the chlorine is actually generated. The cell needs to be cleaned on a regular basis to optimize the chlorine generation process.  Keep in mind that the inside of the generating cell is one of the most hostile environments on planet earth - pH alone is incredible with one side of the plates having a pH of less than 1 (purely acidic) and the other side of that same plate having a pH of almost 14 (purely basic).  Never mind a local electrical charge. That's a harsh environment!  That's why thorough, regular cleaning of the cell is imperative and water balance must be maintained.  Other equipment issues to watch for: be sure that the pool is and has been properly electrically grounded. Stray electrical currents from the salt generator can lead to early degradation of ladders and railings (including stainless steel), heaters, and excess scaling and staining on pool surfaces including vinyl liners.

All of that said, saline generation, salt - chlorine generation, Mineral Springs, whatever you choose to call it is an excellent way to sanitize and treat your pool.  But now you know and understand full the picture.

Salt Chlorine Pool Problems