Homeowners often opt for saltwater pools because of the lower levels of chlorine, which is gentler on the skin and eyes. Saltwater pools are a large financial commitment in the beginning because they require special heaters and liners, as well as other specialized equipment. However, saltwater pools produce the chlorine they need to disinfect. Therefore, saltwater pool maintenance is easier than you might realize.
Even though saltwater pools are less costly in the long run, they still require daily, weekly, monthly, and seasonal maintenance.
Why Is Saltwater Pool Maintenance Vital?
Saltwater pools are much easier to maintain compared to pools that require adding chlorine. Pools with saltwater require minimal adjustments or modifications to continue working.
However, that does not mean pool owners are free from the chore of maintaining the pool; it is merely easier.
For instance, salt water is corrosive. Therefore, if the concentration of salt is off, there is the potential for damage to the pool liner and other pool gear. In the end, not doing maintenance is costly.
Saltwater Pool Daily Maintenance
There are a few good habits to develop that make maintenance of a saltwater pool easier. These daily habits will save you money and time in the long run. Plus, they only take a few minutes.
Clean Debris with a Skimmer
Make a point of looking for visible debris on the surface of your pool and skim it out with a skimmer net. By doing so, you are preventing problems before they can start.
Debris tends to sink to the bottom of the pool eventually, and it is easier to skim out all the leaves, trash, and other items when you see them.
There are a couple of options when you look for skimmer nets. Some are flat, which may not hold very much, but the debris is easier to flip out of the skimmer. The other option is a skimmer with a bag. These fit more but are a nuisance to empty.
In addition to skimming your pool, be sure to check the pump basket for debris, as well. The drain can suck up debris from the pool, and this basket helps keep these items from getting further into the pump system.
You may only have to check the pump basket weekly, but it becomes a daily task in certain situations. For example, during the fall, there are many more leaves with which to contend. Storms tend to turn up the debris that ends up in pools, as well.
Finally, if your pool is in heavy use during the summer, there is a larger chance of items left behind and your pump baskets needing attention.
When it is time to check the pump basket, be sure to turn off the power to the pump system. Next, remove the basket and clean it out. After cleaning, replace the lid and turn back on the power to the pump.
Saltwater Pool Weekly Maintenance
While some tasks are daily, there are also weekly tasks to complete to ensure your saltwater pool is always ready to use.
Your salt water pool does not use chlorine the same as a traditional pool. However, there is some chemistry involved.
You can buy test strips to test your saltwater pool’s pH levels every week. You want to see a chlorine level of one to three parts per million. Also, the pH should sit at 7.2 to 7.6.
If you find the levels are off, it is an easy adjustment to your generator. However, if you find your chlorine is off by a lot, retest every day to ensure proper saltwater pool maintenance levels.
Instead of using chlorine to sanitize the pool, a saltwater pool uses a chlorine generator.
These generators eliminate the need to add a chlorine chemical in the pool because the generator will make it, instead.
The swimming pool water should already have a salt concentration established. The salt concentration should be 3,000 parts per million, and as the saltwater circulates, it goes into the salt cell of the generator.
In the generator, the saltwater is exposed to the current for electrolysis.
The generator takes the water from the pool, and it works to turn the chloride ions into chlorine gas. This gas dissolves in water, and what is left is called hypochlorous acid, which sanitizes the pool.
This item is often called an in-line generator. However, there is also an offline generator that uses a large tank to make a saltwater solution. This solution is released into the pool as needed.
When you test your water, you go to your generator to increase or decrease the output until your levels are correct.
Saltwater Pool Monthly Maintenance
While the daily and weekly tasks to maintain a saltwater pool are relatively simple, the monthly job is a little more involved. There are four crucial levels to consider every month.
Also, you can buy a testing kit for the levels of your pool, or you can bring a water sample into a pool dealer for testing.
Balance is Vital
When water is your saltwater pool is balanced, it does not cause scaling, and it will not corrode the equipment or the materials around the pool. Your pool dissolves and holds on to the minerals that make up the water and having the right amount of minerals is what keeps your pool water clear and the water easy on the skin and eyes.
Calcium hardness is how hard or soft the water is in the pool. The calcium level is a measure of dissolved calcium in the water. If the calcium is out of balance, the water can become corrosive or cause scaling.
The proper level of calcium is 150 to 400 parts per million.
If you have a pool with a high calcium hardness, the water will be cloudy with the dissolved particles. Also, the water will start to scale on the pool equipment. Scaling is the mineral deposits. There is even the potential for the scaling to clog up so water can’t flow properly.
If your calcium levels are below 150 parts per million, you risk the water being corrosive. In this case, you need to add more calcium into the pool. The absence of calcium will cause the water to lech minerals from the plater, tile, stone, and even metal around the pool.
If you begin to notice the grout eroding or the pitting of surfaces, you may have a problem with your water being too soft and, therefore, corrosive.
Adjustments for Calcium
If you have low hardness, add calcium chloride to your saltwater pool. However, if you face high levels of calcium, your best option is to drain some water from your pool and add fresh water.
The alkalinity of a saltwater pool is how a pool can buffer against sudden pH changes. It helps keep your pool stable.
The alkalinity level of a pool should be around 80 to 120 parts per million.
When a saltwater pool has low alkalinity, the overall pH of the pool becomes unbalanced. You won’t notice the same type of corrosion as you would with low calcium, but you may experience itchy skin and eyes telling you the alkalinity is low.
Furthermore, if your saltwater pool shows low alkalinity, it impacts the efficiency of your chlorine. If you notice your calcium levels are off, be sure to test for the alkalinity levels before proceeding.
If you notice your water is cloudy, you may have a problem with high alkalinity. High alkalinity allows for particles to float around freely, thus the cloudiness. Also, this problem leads to issues with the circulation of water and clogged filters.
Adjustments for Alkalinity
To raise your alkalinity, add baking soda to your pool. If your problem is high alkalinity, look for acid to add to your saltwater pool to bring your levels back in line.
Salinity is how much salt is in your pool water. Salt cleans the pool water.
Since you are already watching your generator weekly, you likely already have a handle on your salinity. However, when you check your chemicals monthly, you want to take the time to ensure your salinity is in balance, as well.
You can add salt to raise your salinity. However, if you need to lower your salinity, consider adding fresh water to your pool.
A healthy pool is stable. Stable means all the chemicals need to balance, including cyanuric acid.
Cyanuric acid keeps the free chlorine protected from damage from the sun and high temperatures.
If you live somewhere there is less light and lower daily temperatures, you may find you need less cyanuric acid compared to someone who lives in a hotter climate. The rays of the sun absorb chlorine in the pool, which leads to an unbalance.
You want your free chlorine to be between 1 and 3 parts per million. Also, the cyanuric acid levels are between 30 and 80 parts per million.
If your stabilizer is at the correct level, you will have an easier time keeping your pH level in line. Also, you will not worry about bacteria building up in your saltwater pool.
As the weather warms up, it is time to get your saltwater pool ready for the season.
Fortunately, the task of opening your pool is relatively easy.
Saltwater Pool Maintenance at the Beginning of the Season
Your first step is to check the plugs for the drains and the filter. You want to make sure to add Teflon tape to the threads and lubricate the gaskets on the plugs.
Ensure your lines and skimmers are plugged in and check your pressure gauge on the pool’s filter.
Also, the salt cell for your generator might need replacing. Make sure the o-rings are lubricated and check the generator for loose clamps and connections. Open the valves so water can flow through the system.
Next, start up your pool system by filling the pump with water and make sure your backwash hose has no buildup. When you let your pump run, you can flush the pump of any gunk and water you do not want in your pool.
Before the generator can make the chlorine, your pool water should be in balance.
The testing you are used to doing monthly should occur when you open your pool for the season, as well.
Once your levels are in line, your salt cell in your generator can get to work. It is time to turn on your generator and adjust your sanitation levels to what you know to give you consistent readings for the summer.
Saltwater Pool Maintenance at the End of the Season
When the weather becomes colder, there are steps to take to ensure your pool is ready for the winter. The week before you close your pool for the season, make sure your water is balanced. Your pH, alkalinity, calcium should be in balance, and your water well-circulating.
Be sure to clean your pool very well before closing it up for the season. If you do not, you are likely to face a more challenging time cleaning it in the spring.
Be sure to skim your pool, brush, and vacuum the residue on the sides of the pool, as well. You want your pool clean as possible when you close it up.
You will remove your pool equipment at this point. The ladders and rails can all be stored. Also, if you have a diving board, that should come down, as well.
In some cases, you can cover these items if removing them is difficult. However, leaving them could cause damage to your pool cover.
After removing equipment, you must shock your pool to address any possibility of bacteria and algae hanging around during the winter.
Next, you will add winter chemicals. There are kits available that have a pre-determined amount of winter chemicals to protect your pool further.
The next step is to remove the salt cell from your generator for the winter. Be sure to turn off the circuit to all the pool equipment first. Inspect your generator for any damage, and clean off any scaling and residue.
Also, you need to drain the water form all the pool’s equipment, including the pump, filter, and heater, if you have one. Be sure to lubricate any o-rings, so they do not crack or warp in the cold weather.
Lastly, cover your pool for the winter.
Making Saltwater Pool Maintenance a Habit
Maintaining a saltwater pool is not challenging. However, it does involve developing good habits for daily, weekly, and monthly tasks.
The daily work involved in a saltwater pool covers cleaning and removing visible debris. By doing this work, you save yourself time and money down the road. Also, daily cleaning makes weekly and monthly maintenance tasks easier to manage.
You also need to keep your chemicals in balance for your saltwater pool. If you do, your skin and eyes will not be irritated, and your water will remain clear instead of murky and cloudy.
At the end of the season, there are a few extra steps to get your pool ready for the winter. Also, you repeat the process in reverse in the spring to begin to use your pool again.
A teacher by trade, Victoria splits her free time between freelance writing, her camping blog, and (frantically) guiding her teenagers into becoming functional adults.