How to Maintain a Salt Water Pool: An Ultimate Guide
There has been a steady shift to salt water pools in recent years as new and existing pool owners try to work around the many shortcomings of chlorine-based ones.
Salt water pools are gentler on the skin and eyes. Also, there are easier and more affordable to maintain in the long run than chlorine pools as they often require fewer chemicals and less frequent pool chemistry balancing.
Although salt water pools will give owners an easier time, it is still crucial to know how to maintain them properly.
This guide breaks down salt water pool maintenance into daily, weekly, and monthly maintenance routines. It will make it easier to know what you need to do to ensure your salt water pool remains in great shape with this breakdown.
Daily Saltwater Pool Maintenance
Like with chlorine-based pool types and those that use other sanitizers like biguanide, you need to check the condition of the pool every day.
Once you decide to own a pool, you should be ready for the work that comes with it, as maintenance will be a daily task during the swimming season.
Before opening the pool for daily usage, you should always start by skimming off any debris you can see floating in the water. Also, you have to check the skimmer and empty any debris in the basket.
Some pool owners will also prefer to vacuum the bottom of the pool every day. However, this is optional as it might not be possible to do it daily if you have a large pool or use a manual vacuum.
Weekly Salt Water Pool Maintenance
You need to give your salt water pool a thorough cleanup every week, whether you use a cover or not. The weekly cleanup will entail doing your daily cleaning routine and doing the following.
1. Vacuum the Pool: You need to run your automatic vacuum or use a manual one to clean the pool at least once a week. Vacuuming will take around an hour depending on the pool size and the vacuum type you are using but make sure you leave the pool floor debris-free.
2. Inspect the Filtration System: Check whether your pump and filter are in good condition. You can tell if your pump is working correctly from its efficiency at circulating water or even its sound when running.
For the filter, a physical inspection is the best, and you need to check for things like whether it is clogged or dirty. Backwashing or spraying the filter with a hose might be necessary to clear out a clog.
3. Test the Water Chemistry: After checking that the filtration system is working correctly, the next step is to test the pool chemistry just like you would when using a chlorine pool.
You can use test strips or get a liquid test kit like the WWD POOL Swimming Pool Spa Water Chemical Test Kit to check the pH and chlorine levels.
Remember that these pools will still produce chlorine to sanitize the water, and you need the level to be between 1 and 4 ppm for optimal sanitation. Any pH between 7.2 and 8.0 is okay, but 7.4 to 7.6 is the recommended range.
4. Check the Salt Cell Generator: The salt generator is the most crucial element for salt water pool sanitation, and so it is vital to inspect it at least once every week to ensure it is working okay.
The key things to check on your salt generator are the salt level and its physical condition. When it comes to the salt levels, you need to make sure you have at least 3,000 ppm as this is what most salt generators require to work, but keeping it at over 3,400 ppm is a better idea.
When doing a physical inspection of the salt generator, you have to check for calcium build-up. Calcium often builds up on the salt cell and can affect its performance, so it is crucial to remove it.
Monthly Salt Water Pool Maintenance
There are some maintenance routines that you might not need to do as often, but they are still essential to do at least once every month. Here is a breakdown of some of them.
1. Check Stabilizer Level: Make sure you check the pool stabilizer levels in your salt water pool at least once every month.
Like chlorine pools, salt water pools also require a stabilizer to ensure they do not use the chlorine they generate quickly. Remember that a pool can lose up to 90% of the free chlorine in just a few hours without a stabilizer.
Note: If you notice that the chlorine levels in your salt water pool keep dropping, and it uses up a lot of salt within a short time, this is a sign of low stabilizer levels. In such cases, you should test the stabilizer levels more often.
2. Test Calcium Hardness: Some people prefer to test their calcium levels weekly as they do other tests. However, it is not always necessary because they remain relatively stable for long periods in most salt water pools.
Testing calcium hardness helps prevent etching of plaster finishes when they are too low or clogging filters when the level is too high. The optimal calcium hardness is between 200 and 400 ppm.
3. Check Alkalinity: It is always better to check your alkalinity as you test other things like the pH and chlorine levels. However, if you do not do it, make sure you test it at least once a month and ensure the level is between 80 to 120 ppm.
Other Saltwater Pool Maintenance Tips
1. Remember to shock your salt water pool occasionally. At least once a week should be enough for most pool types, and granular shock seems to work better for these pool types.
2. Brush and vacuum your pool at least once every week or even twice a week for heavy usage swimming pools.
3. Make sure you shock the salt water pool before and after periods of heavy usages, such as when hosting a pool party and after inclement weather such as a rainstorm.
4. Always clean your pool toys, floats, and all equipment you use to clean the swimming pool to ensure they do not add dirt or algae to the pool.
5. Keep your salt water covered when not in use to prevent debris and animals such as ducks and frogs from getting in.
6. Use a pool closing kit when winterizing the pool to help prevent algae blooms and ensure the water does not get cloudy.
7. Always remove the salt cell and other things like the flow switch when closing the pool for winter and keep them indoors.
A salt water pool is easier and cheaper to maintain than the chlorine pools or those that use other sanitizers. However, it still takes quite some work to keep it safe and clean, but it is crucial to understand what you need to do.
That said, with these pools, maintenance is all about maintaining good daily, weekly, or monthly maintenance schedules that entail regular cleaning and water testing.