How To Convert Your Pool To A Salt Water System In 5 Easy Steps
So, you’ve either just installed a brand new pool or you’re thinking of converting from traditional chlorine sanitization to a salt chlorine generator. Where do you begin? What products do you need to get started, and how do you maintain your pool once it’s up and running? Don’t fret; I’m here to get rid of the guesswork.
Step 1: Choosing The Right Salt Chlorinator
Salt chlorine generators convert plain table salt into chlorine that sanitizes your pool. There are a number of reputable brands and salt chlorinators available. My personal favorite is the Pentair IntelliChlor series. No matter what system you choose, the key in getting the right amount of chlorine into your pool is choosing the right size of salt chlorinator.
Let’s say I have a 25,000 gallon pool. I always recommend over sizing your salt system. You don’t want to install a chlorinator made for pools up to 15,000 gallons because it wouldn’t be able to generate the amount of chlorine my pool needs. I would steer clear of a chlorinator for a 25,000 gallon pool, even though it says it’s good for pools up to 25,000 gallons. Why not a 25,000 gallon system? Chlorine demand in a pool can increase due to a variety of factors.
Primary factors that raise chlorine demand are
- Direct Sunlight
- Increased Usage
A chlorinator designed for pools up to 25,000 gallons will have to work at 100 percent output just to keep up with normal chlorine demand, which can put a lot of strain on the salt cell causing it to need replacement more frequently. Once I start using my pool in the hot summer months, the chlorine output of a 25,000 gallon salt cell won’t be able to keep up with the chlorine demand of my pool. I recommend getting a cell that is rated for a pool at least 1/3 larger than your pool size. For example I would use a 40,000 gallon system for my 25,000 gallon pool.
If you’re unsure how to calculate the gallon capacity of your pool, there is a simple way to get a fairly accurate estimate. Take the width of your pool multiplied by the length, multiplied by the average depth, multiplied by 7.5.
For example a 20 X 40 pool with a 3 foot shallow end and an 8 foot deep end would be
20 ft. wide * 40 ft. long * ((8 ft. deep + 3 ft. deep)/2)) X 7.5 = 33,000 gallons.
Step 2: What Kind Of Salt Do You Use, And How Much?
The proper salt for a salt water pool is non-iodized salt — plain old table salt. You can purchase it in bulk from a local home goods store or hardware store. It is often sold in large bags labeled pool salt as well.
As far as how much salt you will need to add, follow the recommendations in the manual for whichever salt system you decide to use.
Any time you add salt into your pool water, walk around the pool distributing it evenly, and use a pool brush to stir the salt until dissolved.
Step 3: Eliminate Phosphates
Phosphates are the primary food source for algae, but also act as glue for contaminants that can cause scale build-up inside your salt cell.
Phosphates can enter your pool from
- Body fluids
- Lawn fertilizers
- Decaying plants
- Various other sources
Phosphate test kits are inexpensive and easy to use. Any phosphate level below 200 PPB is safe, but it should be below 100 – 125 PPB. You can never completely remove phosphates, but the closer you can get to zero, the better.
You can maintain “near zero” phosphate levels using Natural Chemistry PHOSfree products. PHOSfree products are administered directly to your pool skimmer, and start working as soon as they hit the water.
Step 4: Maintain
In most cases, a salt cell will last anywhere from three to five years, when maintained properly. Adding a Natural Chemistry Salt Water Magic Monthly Maintenance Kit upon first starting-up your salt water pool will get you started on the right foot. The Salt Water Magic Monthly Maintenance Kit consists of one 1 liter bottle of Natural Chemistry Liquid Salt Water Magic and one 5-1/2 pound bag of Salt Water Magic Salt/Mineral Mix.
After start-up, the Salt Water Magic Monthly Maintenance Kit should be added on a monthly basis.
If your phosphates are in check, use of a Salt Water Magic Monthly Maintenance Kit is all you’ll really need, but a great complement to it when starting up a salt water pool is Natural Chemistry Foundation.
Foundation is a combination of all-natural enzymes, borate technology, metal deactivator and a phosphate remover. It softens pool water while helping to stabilize your pH level, and helps prolong the life of filters and salt cells. In addition, it’s compatible with all sanitizers and pool surfaces. Again, you don’t have to use Foundation, but if you do, use a full five pound container per 6,000 gallons, or the 16- 1/2 pound container for 20,000 gallons.
If you run into an issue where your water has a high metal content, before adding Foundation, use a 1 liter bottle of Natural Chemistry METALfree. METALfree is a product that quickly and easily chelates metals without adding phosphates, and helps prevent metal stains and water discoloration.
The last thing you may want to do to get your new salt water pool ready for action is to add Natural Chemistry Cell Protect. Cell Protect is a unique, phosphate-free formula that reduces maintenance by preventing calcium buildup on the cell’s plates. One 1 liter bottle should be used per 20,000 gallons of pool water on a monthly basis.
Step 5: Enjoy!
Now that your salt water pool is up and running just kick back, relax and let your salt chlorine generator do all the work! You’ll want to add salt when your chlorinator reading gets low, and clean your salt cell when it needs it (check your manual for guidelines). You also need to continue testing your pool regularly. The easiest way to keep a pool in check is through constant testing with an FAS-DPD test kit such as the TF-100 kit or the Taylor K2006 kit.
If you have any additional questions let me know in the comments and I’ll be happy to help!