Profile picture for Connie Klemme

Converting a pool to salt water?

Just looking for some feedback on the pros and cons of converting a pool to a salt water pool.  Of course the pool store that wants to sell us the stuff has a lot to offer about it.   If you have a salt water pool...comment on what you like and don't like on it.   We just bought this house, the pool was DARK green - so it was a lot of effort and expense to get it not green (still not clear).   So my perspective on cleaning effort is tainted right now.   What about the swimming experience...how is that different?  I don't care about resale value (never moving again).
  • August 26 2011 - Tuttle
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Answers (12)

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Profile picture for user6209465
The active chemical in both is chlorine. The material make up of the hardware is critical (marine brass is the preferred metal) but regardless there are systems (catholic protection) that have been used for decades in marine and pipe lines that greatly reduce the impact of chlorine in both standard and saltwater systems.

(My professional training is as an EE my work was in the marine and oil patch for near 50 years so *I* have both theoretical and real world practical knowledge of how the stuff works.  As to circuit boards and electronics proper protection. 

Encasement/enclosing the electronics it vapor proof cabinets is a plus.  We had a salt water pool on property that was hit by Katrina.  The only thing working after the (salt) water went down was the pool equipment.

As to the physical impact of salt on the human body salt water pools are much better than chlorine as the sanitation process is (mostly) contained within the system.  Chlorine as a chemical is disbursed throughout the water. 

Without going into the chemical process the saltwater pools are considered 'normal saline' which is what is used in hospitals to hydrate patients.  I.e. no more salty than tears.
  • March 31 2013
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Profile picture for Connie Klemme

I've had several people contact me because of this thread to ask about it.
so here's another update

1.  NO REGRETS!!!
2.  Cost to convert was about $1200 for equipment and another $200 or so for the initial salt -50.000 gallon pool, a bit larger than an average home pool so it took a bit more salt.

3.  No need to add chemicals, it's more than a year later, I think we added $10 worth of this spring.

We are not brave enough to go through an Oklahoma winter without winterizing it- there's no pool heater and even if we had one...ice storms take out electricity for days so we just are willing to take that risk and we drain the water below the skimmers and winterize it all- which means in the spring when we add water we have to add a tiny bit of salt to balance it out. 

Still love the salt water experience.  I like not spending the whole summer just trying to keep it clean, I'd rather spend that time swimming in it.


I do have ONE lesson learned for those planning to do this.
- we bought the salt for water softeners which are the big pellets because we could buy those in bulk and saved a few pennies on each bag, I think the TOTAL cost difference between those and the granular salt for swimming pools was $50.   IT WAS NOT WORTH IT to save these few dollars because the pellets took longer to dissolve into the water and we were out there till all day with a brush moving the salt pellets around to dissolve them into the water for fear of them laying on the vinyl liner in a clump causing damage.  If I had it to do over I'd have spent the extra $50.  Husband tries to say it was a "free workout"   - I don't buy that.

  • June 30 2013
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Profile picture for Connie Klemme
just an update on this.   The salt water conversion was a FANTASTIC idea and I'd never go back to a Chlorine pool again.  Yes the salt water system has a unit that converts the salt to Chlorine but it's not nearly as harsh or as expensive as buyign chlorine.
The water is crystal clear...it's amazing.
Somethign interesting is that dirt seems to separate quicly in the water and sink to the bottom rather than stay stirred into the water.  (dead dry summer, wind blowing....plenty of oklahoma red dirt getting in pool).  so we do find ourselves running the vac more often than with a chlorine pool but it's easy and the water is still more clear.

the only specialized equipment was the salt chlorinator added in teh return between the pump and the pool.   pump interallly is plastic and sand.  Piping is all pvc.   salt no more corrozive than chlorine pool.
much cheaper, easier and nicer.
anybody that says "you don't taste the salt" has a taste bud issue or didn't really get in a salt water pool. You do taste it but it's not particularly unpleasant. It's less salty that the ocean. (I don't know the percent...husband does all that).

we put in the initial salt and were good for the summer, no managmeent of chemicals.

there isn't waste water unless we backwash to clean the filter which is minimal and acutally i have that running out to the area where the swingset is with gravel under it.  My thinking was...the salt water over the gravel would help keep weeds out but that doesn't turn out to be true.  I still gotta pull weeds.  No need to winterize if you have a means to keep pump running.  we will still winterize because fear of power failure.- so that will produce some waste water but not into septic and it's minimal waste.
  • October 04 2012
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Ultimately, the salt water system has a chlorine generator that breaks the salt water down in chlorine.  So essentially, if you want to avoid chlorine, this is not accomplished by this type of system.  There are other systems that use ionzation and copper to accomplish clean water, but they too are pricey.   
  • October 27 2011
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Profile picture for blue screen exile
So is chlorine supposed to be that much better for plant and animal life?  Or does one just dilute the chlorine?

And how is running the salt water through a septic tank and leach lines supposed to be better for the plants, animals and rivers?

I haven't seen such an ordinance in Pasadena; but that doesn't mean it isn't there.  But it appears to me that much of the waste water after treatment is just discharged in the ocean in Long Beach.
  • October 27 2011
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They are illlegal in many areas in Southern California as draining a pool destroyes wildlife in local rivers and streams....

http://www.lacsd.org/info ... rpool.asp

http://www.ecosmarte.com/ ... rban.html
  • October 27 2011
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The salt requires specialized pool equipment.  It will eat the regular equipment to pieces.  Extremely corrosive.
  • October 27 2011
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From my experience a salt water pool has been great.  My family has had that type for almost 5 years.  It is easier on your eyes and is cheaper in the long run.   
  • August 30 2011
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Profile picture for SoCal Engr
You might also want to look at the idea of a "natural pool". I just recently ran across it, and it seems interesting.

Bottom line is that it uses a combination of plants and sand/gravel beds to clean the water. Surely less corrosive than salt water.
  • August 27 2011
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Profile picture for ABBAUSA
I am about to close on a 5 year old house with a salt water pool.
I have educated myself on this. I have listened to friends who have converted to salt.(the chloride is released from the sodium chloride by the element discussed in another post on this subject.) but the element is the preferred way. Once it is set and the ph is within range, this type of pool needs very little maintenance for 3 months or so. This particular one has an automatic fill valve, an automatic vacuum running all the time and two skim buckets (always full of grass and worse). The element is costly. The inspector did a great job and my buyers were present. He explained it all to them and I was impressed with inspector and he said this is the best type of pool. Low Upkeep.

Good Luck!

James Callas - Realtor
  • August 27 2011
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I have a salt pool. It was lovely when it worked. But now it sucks. The cells aren't very reliable and very expensive to replace. Like $300-400 bucks. My pool technician always recommends against them and would not buy one himself. Now I have a pool full of salt that makes loud beeps every 5 minutes to tell me that it's not working, leaves salt residue around the tile, and tastes like salt. And I have to put chlorine in it still. If you do get a salt chlorinator, get a loooooong warranty!
  • August 26 2011
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Profile picture for the_country_hick
If you add enough salt it increase buoyancy. I would think more salt would make it more corrosive to everything and would leave a salt film on you when you get out of the pool. Metal and salt is a bad combination. Many cars I have had in the past proved that when the bottom fell out of them.
  • August 26 2011
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