Are you curious about the advantages and disadvantages of a salt water pool? Here are some key points to understanding a salt system.
Most homeowners I encounter don't realize that a salt water pool still contains chlorinated water, in fact they are shocked to find out that a salt system produces chlorine. I like to say, you have a mini chlorine production plant in your backyard. In a nutshell, salt is sodium chloride. A chlorine generator splits salt into it's two components, sodium and chloride, thus creating chlorine. This form of chlorine is what we call 'free available chlorine', the good stuff.
Far below the salt concentration of the ocean, salt water pools are about as salty as a human teardrop. Roughly, 3400 parts per million salt content. Therefore the term salt pool is often referred to as a saline or mineral pool. Both of these terms more accurately describe a 'Salt Water Pool'.
The biggest advantage to the salt system is that it's a healthier form of sanitation. A salt water pool is more pleasant to swim in because the water is softened, and contains a lower level of combined chlorine. Combined chlorine is the culprit of burning eyes, itchy skin and the overwhelming chlorine smell.
Manufactured chlorine contains all sorts of additives that can be harmful to the pool and it's users if not properly managed. When a pool is under-chlorinated, it can cause health problems, among other unsightly issues. Finally, when properly maintained, a salt water pool is less likely to be vulnerable to algae growth.
On the downside, salt is corrosive in nature and can cause premature failure of equipment and plaster if not maintained properly. Other areas of your water chemistry change rapidly with the process of producing chlorine, in particular PH. When your chemistry is out of balance, other issues can arise. Electrolysis can also deteriorate any metal that is in contact with your pool without the proper use of a zinc anode.
In my experience, a salt water pool is generally less problematic aesthetically than your standard pool. However, the overall upkeep and maintenance to these systems is a bit more costly than a pool maintained with traditional chlorine. Considerable regular maintenance must occur for these systems to function properly and protect your investment.
Overall, Salt Water Systems preform well in our valley, particularly on troublesome well water pools. What I like most about a Salt System is that we can achieve a plateau of chlorine levels, meaning we don't have the 'bounce effect' of low and high sanitizer issues, leading to a happy, healthy sparkling pool (and customer)!