How to Maintain a Saltwater Pool: 6+ Tips for Success

Maintaining a saltwater pool is crucial for a great pool experience. Clean daily, check pH and chlorine levels weekly, and winterize when needed.

how to maintain a saltwater pool

TL:DR: Knowing how to maintain a saltwater pool is essential to getting the most out of your pool experience. Ensure you complete maintenance on time by cleaning your pool, checking the pH and chlorine balance, and winterizing as needed. 

Everyone loves the feeling of swimming in the ocean. That floating feeling isn’t easy to forget. You can experience the same sensation at home by having a saltwater pool

Saltwater pools require maintenance, although some may be different from freshwater pools. With a few tips, you’ll be on your way to floating in your sea of saltwater.

Read on to learn how to maintain a saltwater pool. 

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Main Difference Between Saltwater and Freshwater Pools

Freshwater pools, which most people have in their backyards, use chlorine for cleaning the pools. Saltwater pools do not need chlorine added because they use salt and a process called electrolysis to create their chlorine.

It is important to remember that as water is added to the pool, either through rain or the garden hose, the level of salt in the water will change. Therefore, the levels need to be regularly monitored.

Daily Maintenance

body of water
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One of the most important things to remember is to clean your pool. This should be done daily with a skimmer to remove debris, like leaves, bugs, etc.

Clean the pump basket & cover daily to eliminate debris that might have gone through the filter and landed there. All this cleaning will help the pool to last longer and the equipment to run better.

Check the water level in your pool daily, as rain and use will increase or decrease the amount of water over time.

The amount of water in the pool will affect other factors such as pH and chlorination, which we will discuss later.

Weekly Maintenance

what does alkalinity do for a pool

Check pH level and free chlorine levels weekly. The test kits to do this maintenance are available to buy at your local big box store or can be ordered online.

The normal free chlorine level should be between 1 and 3 ppm. If your chlorine level is above or below those parameters, adjust your generator to get the proper level.

The pH level should be between 7.2 and 7.6. If the level in your pool is too low, you can add baking soda to raise the level. If the level in your pool is high, sodium carbonate can be added to lower it.

It is essential to check these levels. Keeping these levels at the optimal numbers will help ensure that bacteria growth is kept down as well as keep the pool healthy for the family to enjoy.

Monthly Maintenance

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Every month, it is necessary to check chemical levels. There are four levels to be checked. They are salinity, alkalinity, stabilizer, and calcium levels. It sounds like a chemistry class, but it shouldn’t intimidate you.

Salinity is the amount of salt in the water. It makes sense to check this level monthly. With a saltwater pool, the salinity changes with the amount of water in the pool.

So, if it rains a few times, that could lower the salinity level in your pool. The ideal level should be between 2700 and 4500. This depends on the size of the pool and the model. Check your owner’s manual for the exact level of your pool.

The alkalinity of your water should be between 80 and 120 ppm. Like the pH level, baking soda can be added to raise it and sodium carbonate can lower it. PH level and alkalinity work together in the pool.

Saltwater pools use a stabilizer to help stop ultraviolet (UV) rays from breaking down the free chlorine. That stabilizer is called cyanuric acid. The level of the stabilizer will depend on the size of your pool, so again, check the owner’s manual.

The calcium hardness of the pool should be between 200-400 ppm. High calcium levels can cause issues with your pool. High levels have caused problems with scaling water lines and burning up salt cells of pools.

If the calcium level is high, the most common and effective way to lower it is to lower the water level or dilute it by adding more water.

Other Maintenance

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The salt cell of the pool needs to be inspected every three to six months. This sounds much more difficult than it is. Open the cell and look it over.

If there is scaling in it, then give it a good cleaning. If you see any debris in there, remove it. This simple, quick, and easy step can help you enjoy your pool for a longer time with fewer issues.

Depending on where you live, winterizing your pool may be necessary. If your pool is one that you take down every year and put back up in the summer, winterizing is as easy as draining the pool and giving it a good cleaning before putting it away.

If your pool is a permanent structure and you live in a climate where you experience snow and cold temperatures, follow the below steps to prepare your pool for winter. 

Winterizing a Saltwater Pool

Living in a climate that experiences winter in all its beauty requires preparation for all parts of property maintenance, including that of a saltwater pool.

With proper attention, your pool (or hot tub) will survive the winter months and be there to enjoy in the summer.

First, make sure it’s clean. It seems obvious, but before closing the pool for the season, make sure the water is clean and free of debris.

Check the pump bucket for debris. Make sure everything is ready to be put up for a winter nap.

Second, check your chemical levels and adjust accordingly. You will also want to add anti-staining and winterizing agents. Think of this as adding antifreeze to your car.

When water freezes, it expands. Water lines and other components cannot handle the expansion. This is when you should lower the water level in the pool.

Third, you should winterize the pump, filter, and other equipment. The attention to these intricate details will make all the difference in the summer. 

Finally, cover your pool. Winter is harsh. With storms come debris that you want to keep out of your pool. Also, a cover will prevent any wildlife from attempting to use your pool as their water supply.

Having a cover will also protect you, your family, and any pets from accidentally falling into the pool and getting hurt. 

Should you live in an area that receives heavy snow, be prepared to dig out your above ground pool to keep it from being damaged by the excess weight. 

Benefits of Saltwater vs. Freshwater Pools

If the few extra steps seem like a lot, take a moment to remember the benefits of a saltwater pool. After reviewing them, the minor maintenance differences may not seem as daunting. 

Saltwater pools have a few benefits over freshwater pools. Saltwater pools require little to no chlorine due to the salt. This means there are fewer chemicals in the water, which translates to less money spent. Also, less chlorine means fewer red eyes and less skin irritation. 

Saltwater also has health benefits over freshwater pools. The saltwater helps to exfoliate the skin, making it feel softer. Saltwater pools are also easier on the joints than freshwater due to the bromide found in saltwater. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Read on for some of the most frequently asked questions about maintaining a saltwater pool. 

What maintenance does a saltwater pool need?

A saltwater pool needs the same maintenance as a freshwater pool. A saltwater pool needs a little extra attention in testing the water. Salt levels need to be tested, while freshwater doesn’t. The equipment needs to be checked for salt build-up and scaling. Again, this is a little different than freshwater pools, but should not detract from the overall attractiveness of the saltwater pool.

How often does a saltwater pool need to be serviced?

A saltwater pool does not need professional servicing any more than a freshwater pool does. As with a freshwater pool, if the equipment has malfunctioned and it isn’t something that cleaning will fix, it’s always best to call a professional. However, with proper regular maintenance, a saltwater pool should not need professional attention any more frequently than a freshwater pool would.

Is a Saltwater Pool Less Expensive to Maintain?

A saltwater pool requires fewer chemicals than a freshwater pool. Therefore, most people find it less expensive for a saltwater pool. Pool chemicals are probably the most expensive part of owning a pool, after the initial installation. By reducing the number of chemicals needed, the price of maintaining one is also reduced.

Maintaining a saltwater pool is not more difficult or time-consuming than a freshwater pool. Chlorine has to be added to freshwater pools. Since saltwater pools do not need this additive, there is less money spent. The extra steps of checking for scaling in certain parts of the pool equipment amount to just a few minutes.

There is always the option of hiring a professional pool company to maintain your pool. However, it is much more cost-effective to take a few minutes every day to clean your pool yourself and regularly check all your chemical levels and equipment. It also allows for a little extra time in the summer sunshine.

Following these few easy steps will keep your pool clean all summer. It will also ensure the equipment is working to its highest potential for maximum enjoyment. Taking proper care of it during the off-season will ensure you’ll have the pool for many fun summers. You do not need to be a professional in the pool industry to keep your saltwater pool maintained the right way.

More FAQs

Is it easy to maintain a saltwater pool?

Maintaining a saltwater pool is relatively easy when you establish a regular maintenance routine and consistently address simple upkeep tasks. It is crucial to maintain proper sanitation levels, ensure proper circulation of the pool, balance water chemistry, and not overlook basic maintenance requirements.

What are the disadvantages of salt water pools?

The disadvantages of salt water pools include the need for specialized technicians to ensure proper maintenance and the potential corrosion of metal pool parts. While salt is less harmful to the body, it can still be detrimental to the pool structure.

How often should I shock my salt water pool?

You should shock your saltwater pool once a week, especially during the busiest parts of swim season, as recommended by many pool maintenance professionals.

Do you have to drain a saltwater pool every year?

The need to drain a saltwater pool every year depends on several factors. If you close your pool annually and replace the water with fresh water to some extent, it may be necessary. Additionally, the water chemistry plays a role as the more chemicals you add, the higher the total dissolved solids will become, potentially requiring a drain and refill.

How long should salt water pool run daily?

The salt water pool should be run for 12 hours daily to ensure the pool remains clean and free from debris and algae. This duration is determined based on the turnover rate of 8 to 12 hours, which is necessary for proper filtration and circulation.

How do I keep my saltwater pool crystal clear?

To keep your saltwater pool crystal clear, you can prevent cloudy water by performing regular maintenance. This includes cleaning or replacing the filter and using a calcium reducer to eliminate excess calcium. Additionally, make sure to brush and vacuum the pool regularly to remove any algae growth. It is important to maintain a chlorine level between 3-5ppm and shock the pool when necessary to increase chlorine levels.

How often should you add salt to a saltwater pool?

The recommended frequency for adding salt to a saltwater pool is usually once a year as part of the pool opening process, with occasional instances where additional salt is required to adjust the salinity level in order to meet the requirements of the chlorine generator.

Can a salt water pool be heated?

A saltwater pool can be heated using various methods, such as a solar heater, solar blanket, heat pump, or an electric, gas, or propane heater. Among these options, the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly choice is solar heating.

Is it cheaper to run a salt water pool?

Running a salt water pool may not necessarily be cheaper due to the increased electricity consumption. However, the difference in cost is relatively insignificant, amounting to an additional $50 per year. On the other hand, salt is considerably less expensive than chlorine sanitizers.

What is routine maintenance for salt water pool?

The routine maintenance for a saltwater pool involves servicing it at least once a month. This monthly service includes the checking of chlorine levels, testing the pH balance, cleaning filters, and inspecting all equipment for any indications of wear or damage.

Do you need to shock a salt water pool?

The question transformed into a statement: “Shocking a saltwater pool is necessary?”Rephrased answer: While it may seem counterintuitive, shocking a saltwater pool is possible. Although saltwater pools are designed to be self-cleaning, shocks are not typically required for water sanitization. However, many individuals still opt to periodically shock their saltwater pools to maintain even cleaner water.

Do you still need to add chemicals to a saltwater pool?

The misconception that saltwater pools do not require additional chemicals is completely false. Not using other chemicals could potentially harm your pool and cause damage. It is important to note that a salt-chlorine generator alone does not magically balance pool water. Regular checking and balancing of all parameters is necessary to maintain a healthy pool.

How often should you backwash a salt water pool?

You should backwash a saltwater pool when the pressure gauge indicates levels above the normal range. Additionally, it is necessary to rinse and soak cartridge filters in a filter cleaning solution periodically.

How long after adding salt to pool can you turn on chlorinator?

The salt chlorinator can be turned on after running the pump for 24 hours to ensure even distribution of the salt in the pool. It is important to test the salt level using salt test strips or a pocket salt tester before starting up the salt chlorine generator. Salt chlorinators have the ability to produce chlorine from salt.

How often do you add acid to a saltwater pool?

The recommended frequency for adding acid to a saltwater pool is weekly. Opting for small, regular additions is beneficial for the water quality and can potentially lead to long-term cost savings.

What is the best shock for salt water pools?

The best shock for saltwater pools depends on the specific needs and conditions. For regular maintenance, it is recommended to use either dichlor shock or non-chlorine shock. In case of algae issues, cal-hypo shock is more suitable. It is important to shock saltwater pools every week or two, especially after heavy rain or high usage.

What chemicals are needed to maintain a saltwater pool?

The chemicals required to maintain a saltwater pool include pool salt, a chlorine stabilizer, pH decreaser or muriatic acid, and a calcium hardness increaser. It is also important to have non-chlorine shock and dichlor shock or liquid shock available for manual pool shocking.

Do salt water pools get algae?

Salt water pools can indeed get algae if proper water chemistry levels are not maintained. Algae growth can become a significant issue once these organisms contaminate the pool, as they have the ability to rapidly spread and multiply. Therefore, it is crucial for both chlorinated and salt water pools to ensure that the water chemistry is properly balanced in order to prevent algae growth.

How often do you add salt to a saltwater pool?

The frequency of adding salt to a saltwater pool depends on the dilution of the pool water, usually caused by heavy rain or partial draining and refilling. Salt does not evaporate or break down, and the salt used by a salt chlorine generator (SCG) to produce chlorine does not deplete. Therefore, additional salt is only required when the pool water is diluted.

How often do you maintain a salt water pool?

The saltwater pool should be maintained every six months. However, if the pool is used frequently or if you reside in a warm climate, more frequent maintenance may be required. It is important to inspect and clean the salt cells regularly, ideally every three months, and replace them every three to seven years.

How do I keep algae out of my saltwater pool?

To keep algae out of your saltwater pool, you should regularly test and rebalance the pool water, scrub the walls and floor, shock the pool, vacuum and scrub again, re-test the water, and clean and replace the filter.

Is it expensive to maintain a saltwater pool?

Maintaining a saltwater pool can be costly. On average, you can expect to spend approximately $100 annually on pool salt and chemicals. Additionally, monthly cleaning expenses can range from $80 to $100. Moreover, every three to seven years, you may need to invest around $800 for a new salt cell. It is important to note that the salt in the pool can potentially cause damage to the pool equipment, leading to additional repair costs.

How often should you change the water in a salt water pool?

The water in a salt water pool should be changed at least every 6-8 years, allowing for a complete drain and refill.

Do you have to add salt to a saltwater pool every year?

The statement is: “You do not have to add salt to a saltwater pool every year.” Rephrased answer: Salt in a saltwater pool does not evaporate or break down, and the salt used by a salt chlorine generator (SCG) to produce chlorine does not get depleted. Therefore, the only time you need to add more salt to a pool is when it gets diluted due to factors such as heavy rainfall or partial draining and refilling.

How long does a salt water pool system last?

The lifespan of a salt water pool system can vary depending on maintenance and usage. A well-maintained salt chlorine generator typically lasts between 3 to 7 years. If the salt cell needs replacement, it can cost anywhere from $700 to $1100, while replacing the control board can range from $500 to $900. However, by consistently maintaining the salt level, cleaning the cell only when necessary, and utilizing the reverse polarity function, you can potentially extend the lifespan of the system.

What is so great about a salt water pool?

A saltwater pool is great because it has lower chlorine levels, making it more gentle on the eyes and skin. Studies suggest that saltwater systems may be safer than chlorine pools as they eliminate the need for pool owners to store and handle harsh chemicals. Additionally, saltwater pools provide a softer-feeling water, which is often preferred by many.

Is it cheaper to have a chlorine or salt water pool?

It is more cost-effective to have a saltwater pool compared to a chlorine pool. While the initial setup for chlorine pools is cheaper, the annual cost of sanitization is higher. This is because store-bought chlorine is 3 to 8 times more expensive per month than using salt. On average, a saltwater pool costs around $70-$120 per year for salt, whereas a chlorine pool costs $300-$800 per year for chemical chlorine.

Do saltwater pools need weekly maintenance?

Saltwater pools require weekly maintenance in order to ensure proper water quality. One important aspect to monitor is the free chlorine level, which should be maintained at 1-3ppm at all times. This residual level acts as a protective barrier, preventing the growth of micro-organisms and keeping the water clear and blue.

Do you need a special pool for saltwater?

Rephrased answer: Yes, a special pool is not necessary for saltwater. Converting a traditional chlorine pool to a saltwater swimming pool is a simple process that requires minimal additional equipment. In fact, the transformation from a traditional chlorine pool to a saltwater pool can be completed within a single day.

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