With people getting so excited about enjoying saltwater pools and hot tubs, it can be easy to miss some of the negative aspects of chlorination systems. Before you take the plunge and switch to a salt water pool, you should understand the risks associated with this particular form of sanitizer delivery. The main things you need to know about salt water systems are:

  • Salt water is not maintenance free, chemical balancing is a requirement
  • Beware of galvanic corrosion, a complicated electrical process that can ruin the pool
  • There are bylaws that regulate drainage and discharge from saltwater pools

Keeping Chemicals Balanced

The chemical balance changes when you add a saltwater system. Where regular pools have a lower pH from the chlorine, a saltwater pool will tend to register higher pH readings. Many people buy a salt water system and failing to realize that it too requires maintenance. If the steps are not taken to keep the pH down, you could have some real trouble. High pH levels, which include anything over 8.0, can cause scaling in your pool which is when corrosive scale begins to form. If you also have high calcium levels along with the high pH, then you will get excessive scaling. Scale causes damage to pool systems as well as interior finishes and can contribute to the failure of the chlorine generation cell. Before switching to a salt water system, make sure you fully understand the water chemistry and needs of the pool.

Galvanic Corrosion

This is the process where dissimilar metals are submerged in an electrolyte solution to create a current. When submerged, these metals cause tiny potential electrical differences called voltage. This is essentially how you make a battery, so if care is not taken you will end up with the 25,000-gallon battery in your yard. Because metals located in and around pools are typically made from galvanized steel, copper or nickel, they can generate this electric potential when under water. With time the voltage created can erode the metal and you end up with rotted wall panels on vinyl pools and stainless railing.

There is a solution to this but many saltwater pool owners are not aware of it. A sacrificial zinc anode can be added to the system making it a weak link which helps to protect the pool’s integral components. Zinc corrodes faster than other metals so as long as this is replaced regularly, the other metals will be safe from harm.

Draining Regulations

Most pool water is pumped to the front of the house so it runs out into the streets and sewer. Some cities now ban the draining of salt water pools into the street and implementing bylaws that state the water must be trucked away. The water can also be diverted to the home’s drainage system. Before you get the salt water system, make sure you learn the bylaws of your city so you are aware of any potential maintenance costs that may be extra. A cartridge filter is a good addition to have with salt water systems in areas where water discharge is restricted.

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