How to Convert a Chlorine Pool to a Saltwater Pool

Affiliate Disclosure: When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you.

How to Convert a Chlorine Pool to a Saltwater Pool

Converting your chlorine pool into a saltwater one comes with many benefits, from making your water gentler to the skin and eyes to ensuring minimal toxic fumes.

With a saltwater pool, you will also need to use fewer chemicals, making it more affordable to maintain in the long run.

If you are considering doing the conversion, it is crucial to know how to do it correctly. Also, it is a good idea to ensure you understand the pros and cons of doing the conversion before making up your mind.

Pros and Cons of the Conversion

Converting your chlorine pool to saltwater has its fair share of merits and demerits that every pool owner thinking of doing it should understand.

Pros

1. Easy Maintenance: By converting your pool to saltwater, you will minimize the work it takes to maintain it, as you do not need to keep adding pool chemicals like chlorine. Although the pool still depletes the salt, it will take much longer before you have to add more.

2. Cheaper Operation: Saltwater pools will be cheaper to run in the long run. On average, you can expect to spend between $100 and $400 per year to maintain a saltwater pool, while a chlorine pool will cost up to $1,000 annually.

3. Clear and Smooth Water: One of the most significant merits of a saltwater pool is that it will give your clear and smooth water.

4. No Chlorine Smell: Chlorine pools often have a pungent chlorine smell as chloramines accumulate in the water. With saltwater pools, you will never have to worry about these unpleasant odors.

Cons

1. Salt is Corrosive: Salt can be highly corrosive, and so it will often corrode metal walls in the pool and on other things like the metal parts of your pool cover.

2. Salt Damages Plaster: If you have a plaster finish on your swimming pool, a saltwater system might not suit you as the salt often wears it down quickly.

3. Salt Cells Are Expensive to Replace: You will need to replace the salt cell in your saltwater system after every few years, and it can be pretty expensive. This can be a significant drawback, given it is an expense you can avoid with chlorine pools.

What You Need

  • Salt chlorination system
  • Pool salt
  • Sacrificial anode

Directions

Step 1: Audit Your Pool Systems

The first step should always be to examine your existing system to ensure it can support the saltwater system you want to install.

Here you need to check the pipes, pump, pool finish, and anything else that will touch your pool water. The reason for this audit is to ensure you do not have any fixture in your pool that the salt can damage.

If you have any replaceable parts that you think will not work well with the salt system, you must make sure to replace them before installing the chlorinator.

However, if something core like the pool interior finish is not compatible with salt water, you might have to skip the conversion until you can install a new finish or liner.

Step 2: Choose an Ideal Salt Water System

Once you ascertain that your pool setup can work with a saltwater system, the next step is to pick an ideal chlorinator.

There are many saltwater systems out there, and so you will have more than enough options. Whatever model you decide to buy should be rated for your particular pool size.

For example, the Intex 26669EG Intex-120V Krystal Clear Saltwater System is available in options for 7,000 and 15,000 gallons pools. If you have a larger pool than this, you cannot use this highly efficient chlorinator.

You should also consider other things like the cost of buying the system and replacing the salt cell in the future and ensure it is within your budget.

Step 3: Decide Whether to Drain the Water

Some pool owners will prefer to drain the entire pool and start with some freshwater, but this is not always necessary as you can still use the water you have.

Checking the current condition of the water will help you decide whether you need to drain it or not. Specific antibacterial agents like polyhexamethylene biguanide are not compatible with chlorine. So if your water has them, it is better to drain the pool and refill it with fresh water.

Step 4: Balance the Pool Chemistry

Whether you drain the pool or not, you will need to test the water chemistry and balance it before moving to the next steps.

You need to check the calcium hardness, alkalinity, free chlorine, and pH. A digital pool test kit like the AquaChek Trutest Digital Reader can be handy here as it will ensure you get more accurate readings.

Also, make sure you use a pool chemistry fact sheet to determine the optimal levels to aim for as you balance the water.

Step 5: Install the Salt System

Some salt systems are simple to install as they have clear directions and come with all the hardware you need for DIY installation. Others require professional installation, and the manufacturers can even void the warranty or penalize you if you install it on your own.

Therefore, how you install your salt systems mostly depends on the specific type that you have. However, the basic installation process will entail picking an ideal spot to set the machine, connecting it to the power supply, adding the salt cell, and connecting the cell to the controller.

Step 6: Add the Sacrificial Anode

It is a good idea to install a sacrificial anode as you convert your pool to saltwater, as it will help deal with the massive increase in salt in the pool water.

With a sacrificial anode, you will ensure minimal corrosion to essential pool components, making the conversion smoother.

Step 7: Add the Pool Salt

Some salt systems will require you to add the salt before you put the system in place. The process is simple as you only need to open the salt bags and pour them into the pool.

You can use the many online pool calculators to calculate how much salt you will need. However, for most chlorinators to work well, you need at least 3,000 ppm but having a little more than this is even better.

Also, make sure you give the salt at least 24 hours to dissolve fully. Some saltwater systems manufacturers may sometimes require you to use salt with a particular crystal size. Therefore, you need to check the manual before buying the salt.

Step 8: Test and Balance Water Chemistry Again

Make sure you test your pool water after installing the chlorinator and balance what seems out of balance. You should then test it again after a few days of running the system to determine if it is working correctly or not.

If the chlorinator is generating enough chlorine, your saltwater pool is okay now. Besides the usual pool maintenance routine, you also need to keep track of the salt levels and ensure they remain optimal to keep the system running correctly.

Conclusion

A saltwater swimming pool comes with many benefits, from softer water that is gentler on your skin and eyes to lower maintenance costs.

If you are thinking of converting your chlorine pool to a saltwater one to enjoy these benefits, the good news is that the process is relatively straightforward. All you need is a suitable chlorinator and an audit of your pool to ensure it can handle saltwater.

However, you still need to follow a proper pool maintenance routine with a saltwater pool to ensure the water remains clean and clear.