Salt Water Pools: The Truth and Myths
Salt water pools are wonderful in my opinion. However, like everything else that is wonderful, there is also a down side. When people ask me about salt water filters for pools, first I have to clarify. There is no such thing as a salt water filter, they are chlorine generators. Generators produce chlorine, filters do as their name states, they filter the water. I just looked and there are NO chlorine generators on the market that also filter the water. The reason I’m telling you this is because I just had a customer in my store asking about a salt filter that her sister had. The person her sister bought her pool from told her she had a salt filter and didn’t need to backwash or do anything else. Unfortunately, she will probably damage her pump or something else before she finds out she was misinformed. Sorry, but I just hate it when people lie about a product in order to sell it.
Moving on, for a salt generator to work, you have to add swimming pool salt to the pool. I am stressing swimming pool salt because there are differences in the different grades of salt, which is a whole other debate too. Through the process of electrolysis, the salt molecule in the water is split apart making gas chlorine. So instead of having to add sticks or tablets to a chlorinator or skimmer, you are making the chlorine. Less maintenance, less product to buy. It’s wonderful. However, what does salt water do to anything metal? It corrodes it. I have seen in the last 2 years above ground pools that used to last 15 – 20 years only lasting 8 – 10 because of the corrosion. That is not a manufacturer’s defect. That means it is not covered under any type of warranty. I just wish I had been told this could happen 12 years ago and I wouldn’t have pushed them for above ground pools. In ground pools are another story. In vinyl liner pools, if the walls are steel, we do NOT recommend salt. If the walls are polymer or fiberglass, then we recommend it, but there are other things to consider as well.
One last thing, the generators are not full proof. We used to sell a lot of them. I would say 1 in 4 go bad within the first 3 years. This was when they had a 5 year pro-rated warranty. Now, some brands only have a 1 to 3 year warranty. Basically, if you switch to salt, you will need to purchase a new generator every 3-5 years. That is something the other guys won’t tell you. And they cannot clean up a severely cloudy or green pools. You will still have to add shock and algaecide and vacuum the waste.