Traditional Chlorine vs Saltwater Pool

Traditional Chlorine vs Saltwater Pool

23 thoughts on “Traditional Chlorine vs Saltwater Pool

  1. You forgot to mention salt has a high PH and especially with a new pool you will be adding a lot of acid to nting levels down. Acid isn’t cheap and if you do not bother adjusting to 7-4,7-6 you will start to see a nice build up of scale on your tile. You then will need to hire someone to bead blast the calcium off. Not cheap. Also cleaning the cell is a pain. They don’t last etc etc. Hands down chlorine tabs in the spring and summer and liquid chlorine during the winter so you can get your conditioner levels back down. Only good thing bout salt is softer skin. Fir my clients I throw about 200 lbs of salt for softness but go with the tabs.

    1. That 200 pounds of salt probably isn’t doing much to soften the water or your skin. Salt water pools have a softer affect on your skin because the chlorine levels are lower than found in a standard chlorine pool.

      Also, my in-laws have had salt water for at least 5 years on their tile pool, never had to sand/bead blast a thing. If you keep your water levels in check and add some descaler when needed the pool will be fine. Also, cleaning the cell is a pain? The process involves unscrewing the cell and submerging it in a bucket or muriatic acid mixed with water. That doesn’t sound hard.

      1. You are so correct Matthew. We have a Salt water pool and purchased a “Compu-Pool” brand from Australia. At the time Compu-Pool was sold as Curcu-Pool, In America. This is the greatest company I have ever found, and Not ran by the Mafia like the BIG one and only pool manufactures here in America. Compu-Pool salt system last around 8-10 years, where Hayward only lasted 2-3 years and cost MORE than Compu-Pool.

  2. We have a regular chlorinated pool, we also have a problem with water bug.
    Would a salt water system have any effect on the water bug congregations population?

  3. Great summary on pros and cons, Matthew. I’m sold on a saltwater pool. However, here’s a question I haven’t read before…

    Can I even consider a saltwater pool if I have no place to drain the saltwater? I live in Oklahoma, great water is supplied by a well, my house uses an aerobic septic system. When I need to drain the pool I can’t just flush into my creek and pond with fish and other animals can I? I obviously can’t drain to a city water treatment system either.

    Seems like the saltwater is an environmental hazard in my situation so I can’t even consider it. Any solutions for me? Thanks!

    1. Your situation seems kind of strict. Are you in an arid state like Arizona or New Mexico? To lower the need for backwashing your pool, switch to a cartridge system. In reading about this, I have heard of areas of the country that offer a company to come drain your pool to the disposed of properly.

  4. I had a 40,000 gal pool for twenty years. Used chlorine tablets. Rarely had a problem. Had the same heater for twenty years.
    Now I have a 16,000 gal pool with saltwater. I had a terrible time keeping chlorine level adjusted. And I have grown weary of lugging 40 lb bags of salt. I know in theory you should rarely need to add salt. But I added a couple hundred pounds a year vs. 75 pounds of chlorine. Plus, had to spend $300 replacing the salt cell every few years. And, I’ve been through two heaters because the heat exchangers developed leaks ( in a ten year period.) I’m guessing the saltwater corrodes metal in the heater.
    I am not a fan of saltwater pools. Wife says “water is softer”. So I switched back to chlorine tablets, quit adding salt, and didn’t tell her. She never noticed the difference.
    Honestly, I think if you add up the corrosion damage, the lugging of salt bags, the replacement of salt cells, the replacement of the salt generator(they are electronic and last a limited number of years), my opinion is that saltwater pools cost a lot more to operate over time. The pool guys make a lot of money on them! So don’t rely on them for an unbiased opinion.

    1. A question on the heater, did they have copper or cupro-nickel heat exchangers? The former is not meant for saltwater installations and would likely need to be replaced several times.

      Unless you are backwashing your filter a couple times a week, there should be no cause for you to add that much salt yearly. Especially for a pool that is 16,000 gallons. The salt does not leave your pool unless it is backwashed or swimmers taking it out when they exit the pool or splashing. And going by the price of your replacement cells, it seems like you got the 20K gallon cell. Because the cell would have to be running at atleast three-quarters its top output, you are going to deplete the cell quicker. Most pool people would have told you to oversize it to save wear and tear on the cell, and increase its life expectancy. To your comment you added below, if it is so hot that the water is 90-degrees, then yes you are going to need to add stabilizer to offset the effects of the sun. The cell creates a pure form of chlorine, which means it does not have the mixed-in stabilizer you would find tablets.

  5. Forgot to mention the GALLONS of muriatic acid I use in a year. Would much prefer to handle chlorine tabs than all that acid.
    I am a scientist by training. I understand pool chemistry better than the pool guys I’ve had, and watch my pool chemistry closely.
    I live in Oklahoma where my pool temp reaches 90 degrees and requires close monitoring in hot weather. I just got fed up with the salt system.

  6. I wouldn’t never recommend a homeowner install their own salt water chlor generator.
    The electrical connections must be made by a electrical or a qualified pool professional (should be licensed). These power centers take 120/220 vt.
    A homeowner is not gonna be able to do that and shouldn’t attempt it.

    1. I think you are underestimating the capabilities of a lot of homeowners. There are plenty of “handy” men and women out there who are more than capable of reading an instruction manual, following directions and staying safe. A homeowner should honestly assess their capabilities, comfort, and do their research before tackling any DIY task. The latter being the reason we provide so many how-to guides, blog articles, and technical support.

      Also, going by the screen name, it seems you may be a tad bias on this subject.

  7. Matthew,
    Thanks for your insight on the pros and cons of both. I am looking to install a new pool and spa at my house. One of the quotes I received from one of the large pool installers in my area said he would not recommend salt. He said that there is definite damage to the gunite, pool equipment and decking (granite stone) caused by the salt. He stated that if I chose salt it would change the warranty on the gunite from life time to 7 years.

    Another big pool builder in the area said he installed 98% salt water pools last year and does not have any appreciable problems and has a lifetime warranty on the gunite, He has been in business for 25 years and the feedback is overwhelmingly favorable to salt. Almost everyone I have talked to who has owned both prefers salt.
    Who is correct? Should I be worried about the salt damage.


    1. Just going by the evidence you have accrued it seems clear, salt is the way to go. You have one guy against saltwater and everyone else you have talked to who has experience with it is for it. I haven’t seen any issues in salt pools that have been prepared properly; there should be salt-friendly railings, ladders installed and the correct paints and sealants should be used.

    2. We switched from salt to chlorine. Love chlorine! No more dumping in acid all the time, adding expensive stabilizer, adding salt often ( I know it doesn’t evaporate but I don’t know where it went because we added several bags every year). Salt cell needed replacing every 2-3 years for $250 each. Salt computer needed replaced twice in 10 years for $1100.

      Then there the build up of salt on my waterfalls that will need a professional to get off. The pitting of my deck and how often we went through pool motors.

      We are in DFW and it’s always hot and sunny so I don’t know how much that affects it.

      I love the new chlorine tabs with the algaecide in them. Fill the dispenser twice a week and we are done. Rarely even need to shock anymore.

  8. Very informative, Matthew. We will be moving to AZ soon and this will be our first in-ground pool. It’s a salt water pool, and I am now convinced that’s what it will remain. I think the key is to hire a competent pool company to provide regular maintenance, and that’s what we intend to do.

  9. I bought a 15′ above ground last year and decided to go with salt since I’ve used chlorine in the past. So far, I love how easy it is to care for! All last season, I added chemicals TWICE and just one bag of salt. I have a Saltron generator– a little guitar-shaped thing that hangs over the lip of the pool but beneath the top. I’m very happy with this setup!

  10. Seems like salt water is just another way for them to make more money on you.
    Like brushing your teeth with this expensive tooth paste not the one that has been doing the job for years. lol
    the iphone of pools salt water!

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