Houston Saltwater Pool Systems
Many questions revolve around salt-water pools and chlorine free pools. Salt-water pools are NOT chlorine free pools. A salt-water pool is simply one that utilizes a chlorine generator. Chlorine generators have been around for decades. As technology and materials continue to evolve, chlorine generators continue to improve in performance.
Why a Salt Water Swimming Pool?
The ocean has a salt content of around 35,000 parts per million (ppm). Humans have a salt taste threshold of around 3,500 ppm. Most chlorine generators require a salt content of 2500 – 6000 ppm in the pool. A unit that needs less than 3500 ppm to operate effectively is optimal.
Swimming in a mild saline solution is much like taking a shower in soft water. Generally, when you exit a pool that is not salt-water your skin dries a lot dryer and you typically see a white residual on the skin. In a salt-water pool the water feels smoother and your skin feels smooth when you exit the pool. You feel refreshed!
What Does a Chlorine Generator Do?
A chlorine generator’s main function is to produce chlorine for your swimming so you do not have to purchase it, store it, or handle it. These are big advantages for many swimming pool owners. Chlorine generators, when functioning properly, produce chlorine constantly for your swimming pool from salt. This helps in the prevention of algae growth. The secret of all this is the salt cell. The cell itself is made up of precious metals and it must be maintained so it can continue to produce chlorine. Maintaining the salt cell and keeping it free of calcium and mineral deposits is fairly simply and something your pool service company can do for you usually for an extra charge.
Through the process of electrolysis, water passing through the chlorine generator cells produce chlorine that is instantaneously transformed into Hypochlorous acid. When any type of chlorine is added to water it ALL makes the same thing, Hypochlorous Acid. Hypochlorous Acid is the active sanitizer in swimming pools that use chlorine. This is what kills algae and other harmful bacteria in your swimming pool. Its effectiveness is 100% predicted on the balanced water conditions and, more importantly, proper pH. So, even with a salt generator you must still maintain your water balance chemistry properly.
Types of Chlorine Generators
There are two types of chlorine generators used today in residential swimming pools. The first is a brine unit. This type of unit does not require you to add salt to your swimming pool. A tank or chamber at the pool pad has a predetermined amount of salt in it and through electrolysis chlorine is produced and immediately injected into the pool circulation system. These units typically produce by-products that are not simple to dispose of and are less commonly used out of the two types of chlorine generators.
The most commonly used system on residential swimming pools are the generators which are installed and salt is than added to the water in the pool and the generators produce the chlorine from that salt. There are two types of these systems. One has a chlorine-producing cell and the electronics are installed at the equipment pad. The other type has the cell installed in the deck near the pool with the electronics usually installed near the pool pad (where the pool equipment is located). The deck unit works on the principal of convection and it makes chlorine even if the pool pump is off while the more commonly used unit only makes chlorine as water passes through the cells when the pool pump is on and the water is being circulated. In both cases the cell must remain free of mineral deposits or it will not work properly. Of these two units, the inline unit with 24-hour circulation is the preferred choice. Did you know that every commercial swimming pool in the United States requires 24-hour circulation?
Chlorine generators can help fight against water-line scum build-up. They create a healthier swimming experience for most people. It is not necessary for you to buy and handle chlorine, and if the unit is functioning properly chlorine residual is always present in the pool eliminating algae. Even with a chlorine generator you must still maintain your pool and you must maintain correct water chemistry balance and the chlorine generator. The best pool will have 24 / 7 circulation, correct hydraulic design with an in-floor cleaning system for bottom up cleaning and circulation, a quality ozone system, and a chlorine generator for sanitizer residual.
You can expect to pay around $1500.00 and up to several thousand dollars for a quality chlorine generator unit.
If you do not maintain a chlorine generator or maintain your pool water chemistry you can destroy your pool’s interior finish, pool deck, and pool equipment. Chlorine generators are great and a very good choice, in my opinion, but they do need to be maintained and require care. If the chlorine generators are maintained you should not have to add chlorine to your pool but you will have to add salt (usually a 40 lbs bag will run about $6 – 8 dollars and can be found at your local pool supply or hardware store). If the system is not maintained you will have to add chlorine to your pool and it is recommended you call your swimming pool service company.