Top 5 Saltwater Pool Maintenance Tasks: How to Care For a Saltwater Pool

Maintenance for Saltwater Pools

From fun parties to leisurely swimming in your backyard, having your own pool can be a great investment. Pools tend to come in two major categories: chlorine and saltwater. A traditional chlorine pool might have fewer upfront costs, but relying heavily on the chemical can be harsh on skin, eyes, hair, and swimwear.

Saltwater pools, on the other hand, use significantly less chlorine. They also tend to be lower-maintenance and have lower maintenance costs. However, saltwater pools have different maintenance requirements that people familiar with chlorine pools may not be aware of. This checklist will help you understand what needs to be taken care of and when, so you can freely enjoy your saltwater pool without any significant maintenance issues.

Ensure Proper Circulation

The first thing you need to consider with your saltwater pool maintenance is the circulation of the water. Circulating the water ensures that the disinfectants are spread evenly throughout the pool and that any impurities are cleared. It will ensure that any dirt, sand, leaves, and other things aren't in the general area of the pool and are moved into the filter for easy cleaning.

A pump system will suction and move the water around, while drains and filters collect outgoing water and ensure that any debris or impurities are captured and not returned to the main pool area. Your pool filtration system should run between 8 and 10 hours daily. You also want to stay on top of checking your filters and emptying them regularly, so there isn't any buildup.

If you notice debris and sediment floating in the pool or collecting at the bottom, it's an indication that your filtration system isn't working correctly. You will want to thoroughly clean out your pool and filter, then monitor the system to see if you need to run it longer. Sometimes things like temperature or the amount of debris in your pool will change how often the filtration system needs to run.

Keep Pool Clean

While the filtration system and circulation of your pool will take care of the purity of the water, it's still your responsibility to clean the pool regularly. You should skim your pool daily and make sure that any large pieces of debris that might have fallen in are taken out and disposed of. Filters should also be emptied and cleaned daily so they don't fill up and overflow, making them ineffective.

It's also important to note that saltwater pools work differently than chlorine pools. While less harsh on the skin than chlorine, salt is still abrasive to tools and equipment. That means that you need to make sure that the cleaning devices you use are designed for saltwater pools so that they last longer and are efficient.

Just because you have a saltwater pool doesn't mean you should ever see salt crystals. If you do, it's an indication that something is wrong. But salt buildup can occur outside the pool if the water splashes over the side. Using a hose, washing the exterior of the pool, and pushing the water back inside can help you immediately clean the area outside the pool.

Balance Pool Chemistry

A Saltwater Pool's Chemical Balance is Important

The chemical balance of your saltwater pool is crucial for maintenance. When your pool water is balanced correctly, there should be minimal need for intervention beyond basic cleaning. It is still important, however, to check the pool's pH balance regularly to ensure the water balance is at the right level.

For your saltwater pool to work as intended, you need to maintain a certain level of salinity in your pool. Typically you are looking for around 3,500 ppm. Test strips can help you keep an eye on your water balance. You can use salt bags to add more salt to your pool. You also want to check the pH balance with a test strip to make sure that your pool is within the 7.2–7.8 range. If your level is off, it might indicate that there is too much salt or not enough salt in the water.

Another component of your pool chemistry is the chlorine level. While your saltwater pool will have significantly lower chlorine levels, some chlorine is created during the cleaning process. You want to ensure that there is 1–3 ppm at all times. Any more than that, and it can lead to irritation. Make sure to test your water frequently and after events like rain storms or large parties where the balance might be off.

Clean Salt Cell

The salt cell is the key component in cleaning your saltwater pool. It regulates the generation of chlorine needed to clean the pool. Rather than adding chlorine tablets or liquid chlorine directly to the pool, the salt cell will convert salt into chlorine during a chemical process. Keeping it clean is a major part of maintaining your pool. Every five years or so, you will need to replace the salt cell.

You should clean the salt cell when you open and close the pool and then about once a month during the swimming season. This will help you make sure that it is working correctly. Calcium can build up inside and decrease chlorine production if you don't clean it. Running a hose through the salt cell can clear out any buildup.

After rinsing, you can use a purchased solution of Muriatic acid and water to soak the cell for about 10–15 minutes. Once the mineral scaling has completely dissolved, you can put the salt cell back and leave it for another month or longer if you are out of peak season.

Watch for Salt Damage

While saltwater pools require less maintenance and upfront costs than chlorine pools, it's important to note that salt is still corrosive and can potentially damage the area around the pool. Proactive steps are required to ensure your property is protected and maintained, just like if you live by the ocean.

Porous rocks and stones like limestone and wooden decks can be damaged over time from salt exposure. Using a hose and washing these areas can help, along with regularly checking your pool's salinity to ensure it isn't going above the recommended range. You can also use an adhesive sealant to protect the sealers to prevent damage.

Maintain Now to Enjoy Your Saltwater Pool for the Long Term

When choosing between saltwater and chlorine pools, remember that saltwater pools require less maintenance than chlorine pools. If you stay on top of your maintenance tasks, you can enjoy your saltwater pool with only a few significant chores each year. By being proactive with your maintenance, you can enjoy your saltwater pool all summer long without any reason for concern.

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