The average age of a pool in the United States is 21 years old, no that does not mean we should fill them up with beer, but it does mean that many pools are in need of an equipment upgrade. Typically, there are two types of pool: chlorine and salt water. Traditional chlorine systems use chlorine in either tablets or through auto-chlorination to sanitize the water in your pool. Pool owners with chlorine systems understand they have to store and handle chlorine, a hazardous chemical at their homes. But what about salt water pools? So what is a Salt Water system and how does it differ from these traditional chlorine systems? Salt water pool systems actually still use chlorine as the sanitizer to keep algae away but they do it differently. What happens in a salt water system is that chlorine is not added externally by you but rather is generated by a salt cell which converts the salt into chlorine through a process called chemical electrolysis. This process means chlorine levels are generally lower and the water is less drying to the skin. Additional benefits include easier maintenance, and generally less chemical required. Salt does not dissolve out of water, so you only need to add salt when there is heavy rain causing dilution or water is being splashed out of the pool and requires refilling and again dilution. Adding salt, which comes in 40 pound bags that cost about 10 dollars each, is simple and once the pool is balanced should not be needed often in comparison to a manually chlorinated pool where the pH balance need to be constantly monitored and alerted. But how does the water feel to me and my children? Salt water pools traditionally have less chlorine in the water which can be easier on the eyes and less drying to the skin. Because of lower and more regulated chlorine levels, the odor of a salt water pool is less prominent than that of a traditional manually chlorinated pool. What about the cost? The addition of a salt cell includes a control panel. Both items require electricity and professional installation. The cost to convert a traditional 25,000 gallon pool to a salt system (not converting the filtration system) can run between $400.00 to $2,000.00. If you don not have a control panel already, expect cost to be on the higher end. The labor to install a system should run between $300.00 to $500.00 dollars depending on the plumbing and electrical needs. Ongoing maintenance and chemical use, as mentioned earlier, are usually cheaper with a Salt System. The one drawback of a Salt System is that the salt cell typically needs to be replaced every 3-5 years and the cost to replace the cell is between $200.00-$700.00. Ask yourself a few questions when making the conversion decision:
- How long am I going to be in my house?
- How much time do I spend on my pool and how much money do I spend on chemicals?
- Do I want to store chlorine in my garage or shed?