Hidden costs of having a Salt Chlorination System?
Salt Chlorinator for your Pool?
While a properly operating salt generator is great –
Here are some things to think about. Some good and some bad?
Here are a couple of things you may or may not know. Since you are adding salt to your pool your pool’s pH it will be high on a regular basis (salt is high pH). pH stands for “potential of hydrogen”, but it could be considered to mean a Potential Hazard. It is probably the single most important test in your pool kit, and keeping the pH in the correct range is one of the most valuable things you can do to keep your pool clean and safe.
pH is basically a measure of the relative acidity / alkalinity of a substance. It ranges from 0 (most acidic) to 14 (most alkaline), with 7 being neutral. Your blood, skin, saliva, and the diet Coke you drink all have pH values. When the pH in your body falls outside a certain range, it's a sign that something is wrong. The same is true of your pool water.
The pH in your pool should generally be kept in the 7.2 to 7.8 range, although I shoot for between 7.4 and 7.6 (Ideal). If it gets outside this range, several things can happen.
Some of the first things you may notice. Stinging, red eyes and itchy skin are symptoms of an undesirable pH. High pH levels also increase the likelihood of yeast infections – bad for dogs and people alike.
The second problem is sanitation. Chlorine and bromine do not work when the pH is too far out of balance. So you could be putting in chemicals to clean the water that are having little or no effect.
ph of 7.0 has a active chlorine of 73%
ph of 7.2 has a active chlorine of 66%
ph of 7.6 has a active chlorine of 45%
ph of 8.0 has a active chlorine of 21%
So you can see that the higher the pH is in your pool water the lower the active chlorine is available to kill bacteria and algae in the water.
So you will have to add muratic acid on a regular basis to balance your pools pH – It would be a good idea to buy a case of acid to have on hand – you’ll be using it a lot!
Along with ph - Alkalinity should be checked on a regular basis. Normal levels should be between 80ppm and 130ppm. Higher levels on a Fiberglass or Vinyl Liner pools. A low Alkalinity will cause your ph level to fluctuate up and down causing the active chlorine in your pool water either working at 21% to 73% or more. (see above chart). This is could cause you to have algae problems. Finally, a pH that is too high (Base) can contribute to cloudiness in the water, while one that is too low (Acidic) can damage your pool and equipment.
CYA –Cyanuric Acid also known as Stabilizer
Cyanuric Acid has to be added to pools and especially salt pools to protect the suns UV rays from using up the chorine in the pool water. Chlorine stabilizer is essential to prolong the life of chlorine in the pool water. It acts like a sunscreen for your pool water. On conventional pools stabilizer is mostly added through dissolving chlorine tablets or chlorine sticks.
These are some things that need to be done on a weekly basis in the summer time.
Check pH, Alkalinity, and free chlorine at LEAST weekly if not more in the summer and adjust as needed. CYA should be checked monthly or after heavy rains and stabilizer added as needed. Balance water as needed.
The main reason for this is that too many builders and retailers sell these systems as a "set it and forget it" solution. Most people with salt systems will run their pH from 7.8-8.0. This is bad for two reasons. One the pool is in a scaling mode and two the chlorine is less effective in the water at high pH. It is best to run a pH between 7.4-7.6 when using chlorine.
Periodically you will have to remove and clean the cell. Turn the system off- remove the cell and look into it you will see what looks like a hard white rock. What you are looking at is a calcium/scale buildup on the plates. This will have to be removed so your cell will work properly. I would suggest a good pair of gloves and eye protection for this. Cleaning the cell is accomplished by adding a mixture of 4:1 water to acid = 1 quart of acid to 1 gallon of water. Removing the cell placing in a bucket and running the mixture through the cell numerous times or letting it soak until the cell is cleaned. NEVER ADD WATER TO ACID – ALWAYS ADD ACID TO WATER. This may need to be done on a regular basis depending on the bather load (kids, party’s or heavy use). And you will have to shock your pool no matter that your pool builder says. You can use almost any chlorine to shock your pool. However using the standard shock on the market (Calcium Hypochlorite) will quickly cause build-up on the electrolytic cell... Liquid chlorine works well but it can be messy filling chlorine jugs and taking them in and out of your car.
You might find that you have to run your pool longer because your salt generating system is only generating chlorine when it’s running. Costing you more money on your electric bill.
A big expense your builder most probably didn’t tell you is that the electrolytic cell typically only lasts for around 5 years and most warranties are pro-rated. Meaning that if in 3 years the electrolytic cell needs replacing you get 2 years credit on replacing it – not a new cell for nothing.
The cost to replace your electrolytic cell varies depending on manufacturer but you can expect to pay anywhere from $400 to $550 or more for a new electrolytic cell. That would buy a whole lot of chlorine tablets or chlorine sticks.
SUMMARY: IS IT WORTH THE ADDED COSTS?
Here are a couple of things to think about.
· You need to keep a constant watch on your pH. Adding acid to balance the water.
· With a salt system you will need to monitor your Sanitizer -(Cyanuric Acid ) level and add more sanitizer accordingly.
· You’ll need to check your salt level weekly and keep it from going to low. Adding salt as needed. Running the electrolytic cell on a low salt level can cause premature wear on the cell.
· Periodically you will have to remove and clean the cell with muratic acid.
· While you can use just about any chlorine product to shock your pool. Use of Calcium Hypochlorite will cause the scale/calcium build-up on the cell plates to happen more rapidly. Liquid chlorine is good inexpensive and also can be messy. Check your car trunk carpet after you make a few trips to the pool store. Most manufactures recommend using a non-chlorine shock. Isn’t that nice yet another expense. Using a non-chlorine shock is more expensive than alternatives.
· You may need to run your pool longer because chlorine is only being made when the pump is on. Because of bather load, parties or bad weather. Adding to a bigger electric bill.
· Most electrolytic cells only last 5 years on average. Most warranties are pro-rated for 5 years. Replacement electrolytic cells cost $400 to well over $550. That sure would buy a lot of chlorine!
· Are you seeing the added work yet? Or cost?
When the salt generating systems are NEW they work pretty well. They are good for your skin ect... And salt generators claim they are easy to operate to maintain. But I hope you don’t have any problems with your salt generator as a number of manufactures customer service people don’t seem to know much about the product they are selling. And they seem to be reading from a book. I was VERY disappointed when I called customer support about a problem I was having with a suspected bad cell. I then found out from my distributor that it seems to be that way for a number of manufactures. O’Well.
I have found that salt generators are work, constant work to stay on top of. Most homeowners don’t want to spend a lot of time on their pool. Surprise! You will be.
If you still want a Saltwater Chlorinating System for your pool at least you know going in what to expect.