How Does a Saltwater Pool System Work?

When most people think of pool water, they think of chlorine. However, saltwater pool systems have become an increasingly popular alternative to these standard chlorine pools in recent years, for a variety of reasons.

Here’s a quick overview of how saltwater pool systems work and why people might opt for saltwater pool construction in Madera, CA over other options.

What to know

A saltwater swimming pool involves dissolving salt in the water to generate chlorine, rather than adding chlorine directly into the water. A pool set up in this way features a salt cell or generator, which uses a process known as electrolysis to break down and separate the salt (sodium chloride) in the water. The resulting chemical reaction creates chlorine in the form of hypochlorous acid and sodium hypochlorite.

Those two sanitizing and disinfecting agents are the same as the chlorine that is frequently used in swimming pools in both powdered and solid forms. In other words, you should not take “saltwater pool” to mean “chlorine-free”—it’s just that the chlorine is generated rather than being directly added. It’s a different method of disinfecting a pool, while still using chlorine as the primary disinfecting agent.

So, what’s the point of having a saltwater system if the result is essentially the same? The big difference is that a saltwater system will result in reduced amounts of chloramines, a byproduct of oxidation (or a breakdown of substances) in pool water. Chloramines are the biggest cause of irritation to the eyes and the unpleasant over-chlorinated smell you might associate with certain pools. By cutting down on the number of chloramines in a saltwater pool, you’re able to get the benefits of using chlorine as a disinfectant without having to deal with some of the negative side effects. The electrolysis process results in those chloramines being oxidized, sort of like what happens when you perform a chlorine shock.

In most cases, a residential saltwater pool system will require salt levels to be somewhere between 2,800 and 4,200 parts per million. This is significantly less salty than seawater, which has salt levels of approximately 35,000 parts per million. Keeping the salt at this level ensures a proper ongoing generation of chlorine in the pool to keep it disinfected.

Keep in mind that you should never pour heavily concentrated salt into a pool skimmer. This could result in blowing a fuse in the salt cell due to over-conductivity. Instead, you should add salt by pouring it across the pool floor or steps, and then brush the salt in until it is fully dissolved into the water. Regularly adding more salt to the pool is important to ensure proper chlorine levels, so make sure you are regularly tracking the salinity of the water if you hope to get the best results out of your saltwater pool system.

If you’re interested in learning more about saltwater pool construction in Madera, CA and the various benefits of saltwater pools over standard chlorine pools, contact the team at Pools by Ricketts today.

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