Lately, a major trend in both public and residential swimming pools has been the conversion from traditional chlorine-maintained water to salt water. But why are so many people and organizations making the change? Is there something wrong with a traditional, chlorine-based pool?
There are some large differences between the two pools, but what many people don't realize is the presence of chlorine is not one of them. When you install a salt water pool, the saltwater is run through an electric generator that creates chlorine naturally. The level of chlorine is lower than a traditional chlorine-based pool, but the pH level is higher.
Let's take a look at the main differences in price, health benefits and concerns, and maintenance level between salt water and chlorine based pools.
Salt Water Pools
Cost: The initial upfront cost of changing your pool from a chlorine based pool to a salt water pool is high, but over time the cost to maintain this type of pool is usually less than chlorine based pools. The initial cost of set up can vary greatly depending on the size of your pool but it usually ranges anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000.
Health Benefits and Concerns: One of the main benefits that people report after switching to salt water based pool is the way the water feels "softer" on their skin in comparison to chlorine based pools.
Maintenance: Salt water pools are the clear winner when it comes to less maintenance. Although you do have to perform weekly maintenance to fight against calcium build up and check the PH levels, the maintenance is significantly less than chlorine based pools because the generator runs self-sufficiently. The problem with salt water pools is lack of proper maintenance can cause excess salt to corrode metal objects in and around the pool such as pool ladders, handrails, or even nearby lounge chairs.
Cost: In general, the long term maintenance costs of chlorine based pools are higher than maintaining a salt water pool.
Health Benefits and Concerns: Chlorine is often irritating to people with sensitive eyes or skin. Though there are experts that state chlorine should not be used in swimming pools because it is a powerful chemical agent, when used in appropriate levels, it is completely safe.
Maintenance: Due to its often inconsistent chemical balance, chlorine pools require the owner to be active and up to date with testing the pools chemical levels. In addition to checking the chlorine levels, the pH level needs to remain consistent. A high pH level will prevent the chlorine from working efficiently and a low pH level will cause the water to become acidic and make it difficult to swim. Though it is challenging to maintain, it is important to keep a consistent pH level to ensure a clean and safe swimming environment.
If you ultimately decide to make the switch from chlorine to salt water, it is important to realize that your pool will not maintain itself. While there is a significant reduction in maintenance time with salt water pools, it still requires a responsible owner to check and maintain the pool. Both pools have their benefits and drawbacks and the type of pool that is right for you will depend on your budget, needs, and pool use.