How To Maintain a Salt Water Pool

WRITTEN BY:  Inyo Pools

  3.58 out of 5 stars on 12 ratings
(Click on a star to add your rating)

There are many benefits to operating a salt water pool. The benefits include softer water, lower cost of operation, and no chloramines. Many people believe that a salt water pool will be maintenance free. Although there is less maintenance required with a salt water system, there are still necessary steps required to maintain a stable pool.

Things You'll Need

Video

Step by Step

Top

Step 1

Weekly, test the pool water for Free Chlorine and pH. The water can be tested using test strips or by a drop test kit. The Free Chlorine level should be 1-3 ppm. The chlorine can be adjusted by the output control on the control box or cell. The pH should be maintained at 7.2-7.6. The pH can be lowered with muriatic acid or raised with soda ash or sodium bicarbonate. Please review your owner's manual for specific ideal levels.

Step 2

Monthly, test the pool water for Salt, Alkalinity, Stabilizer, and Calcium. The water can be tested using test strips or by a drop test kit. Please review your owner's manual for specific ideal levels and make adjustments accordingly. Note: Most salt chlorinators will display a salt reading. However, it is a good practice to test the salt yourself in case the salt chlorinator needs to be recalibrated.

Step 3

To maintain maximum performance, it is recommended that you open and visually inspect the cell every 3 months. Most salt chlorinators will remind you to do this by a flashing "Inspect Cell" light on the control box. Once removed, inspect the inside of the cell for scale build up or any debris that may have bypassed the filter. If no deposits are visable, reinstall. If deposits are seen, use a high pressure garden hose and try to flush the scale off. If this is not successful, use a plastic or wood tool (do not use metal as this will scratch the coating off the plates) and scrape deposits off of plates. If flushing and scraping are unsuccessful, a mild acid wash will be required. Please refer to your owner's manual for specific instructions. Most manufacturers suggest a 4:1 ratio of water to muriatic acid (one gallon of water to one quart of acid). Always add acid to water and never water to acid. Pour the solution into a container to a level where the solution will reach the top of the cell but not the cable (some cables can be removed from the cell). The cell should soak for a few minutes and then rinsed off with a garden hose. Reinstall cell once it is cleaned.

Step 4

Keep the filter, pump, and skimmer clean. The water flow will be reduced if the filter, pump, or skimmer is full of debris. If the water flow is reduced significantly, the salt chlorinator will stop generating chlorine.

Step 5

To winterize the salt chlorinator, most manufactures recommend that the flow switch and salt cell be removed from the plumbing and stored inside out of the elements. There are dummy cells available that can go in place of the real salt cell during the winter months. The control box can withstand freezing temperatures and can remain installed. For warmer climates, where winterizing is not necessary, run the pump continuosly if a freeze is expected.

Comments

Top
(1 to 40 of 59)

Inyopools  Posted: 05/23/2017 14:14 PM  Latest Inyo Product Specialist

BHansen - Yes, you should shock your pool when you open it. It is recommended that you have the pool water balanced before you start up the salt chlorine generator.


Inyopools  Posted: 05/22/2017 13:50 PM  Latest Inyo Product Specialist

Scott - See our guide on "How To Reduce the Salt Level In Your Pool". I would have a pool store give you an accurate read on your current salt level. Some rough numbers. If your salt level is 4000 and your SCG operates at 3500, you have to decrease your salt level by 500 ppm. To drop 500 ppm you have to drain 1/8 of your pool water (500/4000). If your pool has an average depth of 5' or 60", you will have to drain 7.5' (60/8) of your water to reduce your salt level to 3500 ppm.


BHansen  Posted: 05/22/2017 13:35 PM  Latest

I will be opening my 16x32 in-ground pool this week and will be immediately converting it to a salt water system. My question is do I still need to shock it as in previous years when I open it?


Inyopools  Posted: 05/20/2017 11:05 AM  Latest Inyo Product Specialist

Angelsun - There's a good chance that the new rain has diluted your salt level to below its operational range. After you reduce the water level in your pool, get a salt reading from a pool store and add the appropriate level of salt. See our guide on "How to Add Salt to Your Pool".


Scott  Posted: 05/20/2017 9:25 AM  Latest

Great information thank you! Our pool guy added salt this past fall and now the level is too high. We are draining the pool some and adding more water. Is there a calculation available to guesstimate how much salt to add to a 30,000 gal pool to get the salt to a desired level?


Angelsun  Posted: 05/18/2017 22:29 PM  Latest

I have a salt water pool. We have just had over 100mm of rain in twenty four hours, pushing the water level over the sides. I know I need to drop the water level, however will this affect the salt level and should I dump a bag in after I drop the water to avoid having too low salt level?


Inyopools  Posted: 05/17/2017 14:24 PM  Latest Inyo Product Specialist

Reader - You do have to have the pump run 6-8 hours a day to generate chlorine and filter the water or else the water will turn green. That can be automated with a timer, but I would have someone keep an eye on the pool to make sure the water level is maintained and the pump runs daily.


Reader  Posted: 05/16/2017 19:52 PM 

I have a question. Can I go on a vacation that is 2-3 weeks long and leave my salt water pool? Do I need to clean it everyday?


Inyopools  Posted: 05/15/2017 0:40 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

Thebratpackmom - Turn the Salt Chlorine Generator off and let the sun reduce the chlorine level in the pool to less than 8 ppm. This should happen in a couple of days.


Thebratpackmom  Posted: 05/11/2017 21:18 PM 

I have an above ground pool, 16x48. We converted it to saltwater this year. Finally got all levels right and woke up this morning, did the final test and both the free chlorine and total chlorine are too high. The Clorox app I use says to stay out and let the sun get rid of it. I don't get it. Any help?


Inyopools  Posted: 05/05/2017 10:05 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

div - Make sure your displayed cell type is the same as your actual installed cell type. See our guide on "How To Change the Displayed Cell Size on an Aqua Rite SCG". Also, try cleaning your cell again with acid. See our guide on "How To Clean a Hayward AquaRite Turbo Cell". If your cell is 5 years or older, you may need a new cell.


div  Posted: 05/02/2017 21:35 PM 

we added salt to our pool but the salt level is still showing like 1600 ,even after resetting it? also the inspect cell sign is still on even after we cleaned the cell and filter as showned. we never had a pool before so we are learning a lot from your website. your help is greatly appreciated.thank you


Inyopools  Posted: 04/04/2017 13:24 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

Pinball - Sounds like something is partially blocking the discharge side of your filter in the filter mode. Try dumping water for a short time in the WASTE mode which bypasses the filter. If the gauge is still pegged, your pressure gauge may have been damaged during the winter. If gauge reading is normal in WASTE mode you need to check for blockage in or after the filter. Did you shut down any diverter valves after the filter? Is the water in the tank partially frozen? Here's a link to our blog on "How to Reduce High Pressure in Your Pool System".


Pinball  Posted: 04/02/2017 10:35 AM 

First time pool owner.....had it installed just before winter last year and immediately closed it up for winter. Started the process to open and enjoy yesterday. Added water to correct level. Threw a few bags of salt in for good measure. And went through the cycle of "backwash, rinse, and filter.....my psi is pegging the needle.....what did I do wrong?


Inyopools  Posted: 03/10/2017 16:52 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

Mrsderby - Your pool's salt level is within the acceptable range for your size pool. I would have a pool store check your chlorine level. Their reading will be more accurate than your test strip. Also, you may just have to run your system longer. It might take a full 24 hours of continuous running to bring your chlorine level up from 0. Lastly, check the connections from your salt cell to your SCG control unit to make sure they are tight.


Mrsderby  Posted: 03/08/2017 23:01 PM 

Brand new 8500 gallon above-ground pool just set up Sunday. (3 days ago) sand filter.saltwater. we followed the instructions to the letter.checked and triple checked. Ran filter a day. Turned on SW monday. Ran both until this morning. Tried out timers today. Vacuumed. Panel on SW shows no problems. Tonight I tested with supplied strips. Free chlorine between 0 and 0.5. ph is 6.2. Alkalinity is below 40.How is that possible? I have checked all instruction again tonight and we did everything right...almost. we lost track when adding the salt. Should have been 210lbs but we forgot to divide the last bag and we added 240, did that cause that? But the unit says all ok. No one has been in the pool because it is a scalding 55 degrees. Please help.


Inyopools  Posted: 01/27/2017 11:12 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

LOU - Generally, I would say you do not have to add stabilizer more than 1 or 2 times a year. If that worked 3 years ago, what has changed? It could be that your new company is adding smaller amounts each time but there really is no reason to do that. Also be aware that you can have problems maintaining your pool chemistry if you have too much stabilizer in your pool. You might have an independent pool store check your stabilizer level.


LOU  Posted: 01/26/2017 14:48 PM 

I HAVE SALTWATER POOL- 6 YRS . PREVIOUS SERVICE CO. USUALLY ADDED STABILIZER ONCE A YEAR. NEW CO. DID 2 TIMES WHEN THEY STARTED 3 YRS AGO.
NOW I AM INFORMED THEY NEED TO ADD STABILIZER 4 TIMES .DOES THIS MAKE
ANY SENSE?
THANK YOU


Inyopools  Posted: 09/25/2016 11:29 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

Craigcam - You generally run a salt water pool 8 hours a day during the season and 6 hours on the off season.


Craigcam  Posted: 09/22/2016 16:28 PM 

How many hours per day should I run the pump/filter on my salt water pool?


lvmunkey  Posted: 09/12/2016 10:22 AM 

Currently, I'm looking into an automatic cleaner. My pool is free form, 16x40 at is widest and longest points. It goes from 3.5ft to 8ft deep. We have a salt system. I haven't been able to find what might be the best, AFFORDABLE, option. Any metal parts would probably be problematic due to rust likelihood. Can you recommend anything?


Inyopools  Posted: 09/05/2016 13:40 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

pool additives - You may need these extra additives if your pool has specific problems like black algae or cloudy water, but in general, a pool can be maintained by maintaining chlorine, pH and stabilizer (and salt).


Inyopools  Posted: 09/05/2016 13:24 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

Mike - It is very unlikely that your salt level is "0000". Rain will not dilute it that far. And it's likely that with the amount of salt you've added, that your salt level is now too high. If you can have a local pool store check your salt level. The salt sensor is in your cell. Make sure your cell is clean with an acid solution. Check that the connection from the cell to your control unit is tight. If that doesn't work, you may need a new cell or main PCB.


Anonymous  Posted: 09/02/2016 20:55 PM 

Does a Salt Water Pool maintenance need the following;
1. Sodium Bicarbonate Alkalinity Plus
2. Algaecide Poly 60/Black Algaecide
3. Clarifier Super Clarifier
4. Natural Chemistry Pool perfect + Phosfree 21 Enzyme & Phosphate Removal
Please advise me, I have a new maintenance company and all of the above is being added to my salt water pool.


Mike  Posted: 09/02/2016 17:59 PM 

I live along the Gulf Coast. It has been an extremely rainy year, and even more so in the last month. Due to rain, I haven't been watching the pool system closely. Yesterday, I noticed the system said "0000" Salt, and the Chlorinator was off. I've added 6 bags of Salt and am still getting the same reading from the system. I know that running the pump seems to "build" the salt level a bit over time, and have been adding salt 2 bags at a time since yesterday to avoid going too far. Pool is roughly 15 - 30 - but kidney shaped - average depth 4 1/2 feet. My guess is 15,000 gallons. Assuming a "0000" reading was accurate, how much salt is necessary to get back to 3000 ppm, and is it possible the sensors are screwed up by all the rain instead of actually having no salt? This is the deep south, so summers are very hot. With continuous cycles of hot/dry and then rain, I suppose enough evaporation could have resulted, replaced by rain water, that salt level is reduced to nothing. Thanks for you comments.


Inyopools  Posted: 08/31/2016 10:51 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

mlberg - Your pH level is way low if it is between 3.0 and 3.5. It should be maintained at 7.2 to 7.6. Add soda ash to increase the pH level.


mlberg  Posted: 08/31/2016 0:18 AM 

We have a new indoor saltwater pool. We were told that it would be easier on our eyes, and bathing suits, but that is not the case. If I open my eyes underwater for only a few minutes, my eyes burn. My husband has been checking the pH level, and it has been between 3.0 and 3.5 and the salt is at 3500 ppm. The water is clear. We just don't know what we are doing wrong.


Inyopools  Posted: 08/02/2016 12:48 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

chlorine tablets - It might be that your SCG is not large enough to generate the chlorine required during the summer months, and your pool maintenance man is adding tablets to supplement your chlorine requirement.


Anonymous  Posted: 08/01/2016 16:29 PM 

I pay a company to clean my salt water pool, and the last month or so, the guy has been adding chlorine tablets to it. Is that normal? It seems like that is wrong to me, and I'm never home to talk to him when he comes.


Inyopools  Posted: 07/25/2016 15:24 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

John - I believe you would treat such a pool like any other swimming pool. You would need to circulate and filter the water, chlorinate it to sanitize the water, and maintain the other chemistry, in particular, pH. If you are filling it with actual sea water, you will have to use a regular chlorinator since an SCG will not operate at that level of salt.


John  Posted: 07/25/2016 11:46 AM 

I have a question probably no-one before ever asked and hope you will be able to answer me. In a few months, I will be retiring near the ocean and wanted to know whether one needs to clean a swimming pool filled with seawater from the ocean that has a radius of 4 meters and a depth of 5 meters for a total of 66000 US Gallons and shaped as a cylinder? How often does it needs cleaning since it is impossible to renew filling it several times would be much too costly. What kind of equipment do I need, if any to maintain the pool in perfect swimming condition without having to fear to get any disease? Thank you, awaiting your answer.


Inyopools  Posted: 07/21/2016 11:57 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

salt pool vacuuming - You don't have to vacuum a salt water pool any more frequently than a standard chlorine pool. The debris that you are vacuuming is the same in either pool.


Anonymous  Posted: 07/20/2016 14:07 PM 

HOw often do you need to vacuum a salt water pool? My husband says that we need to do it daily, but that seems excessive. Do salt water pools need vacuuming more often than chlorine pools?


Inyopools  Posted: 06/27/2016 15:36 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

Worried - If your pool is clear, it sounds like your pool should be in good shape. If it still has a green tint, you may have to shock it a couple of more times and backwash the filter several times to clear out the residual algae.


Worried  Posted: 06/26/2016 15:58 PM 

Unfortunately we let our conditioning drop to zero which in turn led to our chlorine dropping to zero and our PH was at 8.0 We lowered PH and it is now 7.2. We also added 8lbs of conditioning (26,400 gallon pool). And we shocked the pool using 26 oz of pool brite. Chlorine is still at .5. Our chlorinator shows it is making chlorine and the salt level is a little high at 4,000 ppm. what should we do next?


Inyopools  Posted: 06/14/2016 16:06 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

pattycakes - I'm told that baking soda works for some. Most use a clarifier like Concentrated Clarifier 1 Qt.


pattycakes  Posted: 06/14/2016 13:35 PM 

I have a brand new salt water system,swam the the first day yesterday ~ water is cloudy, can i use baking soda to clear it up???


Inyopools  Posted: 06/12/2016 13:35 PM  Inyo Product Specialist

Railer20 - Your salt water system only generates chlorine. You will still need to add chemicals for pH, hardness, CYA, and Alkalinity.


Railer20  Posted: 06/11/2016 9:40 AM 

I just bought the intex sand and saltwatersystem for our 2100 gal above ground pool. Do I just need salt and CYA or do I still have to use other chemicals?


Inyopools  Posted: 08/11/2015 10:19 AM  Inyo Product Specialist

DiverDan - I would slowly pour the chemicals in front of the port going to the pump.