Salt Water Pools

Misconceptions About The Running Cost And Maintenance Of Saltwater Pools

There is a misconception about the running cost and maintenance of saltwater pools.  Saltwater pools are fundamentally no different than halogen (chlorine/bromine) pools except that they generate free available chlorine (FAC). Water quality is easier to maintain because the generator is constantly producing chlorine, but it is not maintenance-free.

Balancing pH

As the saltwater pool (sodium chloride) generates chlorine, the water’s pH increases over time. The chemical reaction to produce hypochlorous acid (HOCL) in the chlorine generator produces sodium hydroxide (NaOH), which has a pH of 13.5 (neutral is 7.2). This requires a weekly application of a pH decreaser (acid).

Chlorine Demand

Saltwater pools are, in fact, chlorine pools. The sanitizer is no different than adding chlorine tabs or liquid. They all form hypochlorous acid. (HOCL kills bacteria and algae). Saltwater pools slowly add chlorine and if the chlorine generator is not run long enough or is undersized or is coated with a scale on the cells,  then the water can lose its balance resulting in cloudy water and algae. Adding more salt doesn’t help because the generator cannot keep up.

Scale on cells

The more scale that builds upon a cell, the less chlorine is produced. A scale inhibitor is imperative. If calcium phosphate builds up, a phosphate remover is necessary. Adding more salt will not solve the problem. An improper salt level can damage the cells. The age of a cell will impact negatively the production of chlorine.


Saltwater pools are susceptible to algae in part due to a CO2 rich environment and out of balance water. Algaecides should be routinely added. We recommend C*Pool&Spa CLEAN & CLEAR as the best algae inhibitor around. An algae bloom cannot be handled by the generator because it produces chlorine too slow. It requires a chlorine shock.

Expensive Cost

A saltwater pool is an expensive luxury. An installed system can cost about $4,000. The salt cells used in most residential salt water pools are good for 10,000 hours of operation, or approximately three to five years. They cost about $600 to replace. The life of a generator depends on multiple factors, including the frequency of pool maintenance, salt level, water chemistry, and other factors. On average, the system ( to replace and run ) costs about $6,000 every ten years or $600 per year.

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