Is it Time to Switch to a Salt Water Chlorinator?

For decades, chlorine was the only way to keep bacteria from taking over a pool. It comes in liquid, granular, or tablet form. But, chlorine products are toxic, caustic, and stinky. They can irritate the eyes and make hair turn an odd shade of green. In some situations, chlorine can even affect a competitive swimmer's lungs. But, more pool owners are renovating their pools, and one of the top renovations for swimming pools is a salt water chlorinator.

How a salt water chlorinator works

 Two-year-old Kady Heverly, left, and her mother, Lisa Heverly/U. S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue

Two-year-old Kady Heverly, left, and her mother, Lisa Heverly/U. S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue

By using electrolysis, a salt water chlorinator changes salt into chlorine. The control board controls the electrical portion of the chlorinator, and the cell is where the change takes place.

The control board hardly ever needs to be replaced as long as it isn’t compromised by a power surge, such as lightning. A cell needs to be replaced every 3-7 years.

While a salt water chlorinator doesn’t eliminate the need for other forms of chlorine to be added to the pool, it cuts out almost all of the added chlorine requirement because the salt water chlorinator creates it.

Salt doesn’t dissipate

Unlike chlorine, salt in the pool water doesn’t dissipate. The difference to swimmers is that instead of irritation caused by chlorine, the salt is beneficial and a healthy medium in which to swim. The best thing to compare it to is something like Epsom salts or bath salts.

Plus, since the salt mostly stays in the pool, when more salt needs to be added, it isn’t a lot, maybe a bag or two at the most for the whole season.

Pros and cons

Some people don’t want to make the switch. Said one customer, “First I buy the chlorinator and then I have to keep replacing the cell. For $700 a year, I can buy a lot of chlorine!”

We don’t know how she came up with that figure or why. But, she’s obviously not on board with the idea of switching.

 Competitive swimmers can suffer from various problems as the result of chlorine.(U.S. Air Force photo/John Pennell)

Competitive swimmers can suffer from various problems as the result of chlorine.(U.S. Air Force photo/John Pennell)

In all fairness, whether you switch to a salt water chlorinator can depend on how much you use your pool and who is swimming. If you have a lot of people swimming in the pool, a salt water chlorinator makes sense because people bring bacteria.

People with circumstances in which a lot of contaminants entering their pool (we think: neighbor with a deciduous tree) have more vested interest in a system with lower maintenance requirements. Others are those who are away quite a bit or are tired of fighting green pool problems.

So, while a salt water chlorinator can be very convenient in some circumstances, every situation is different. If you want to know more or have questions, talk to your pool care professional.

If you need pool maintenance for your Phoenix, Arizona pool or spa, call us here at Serenity Pools. Our services include new installation set-up, professional maintenance of pools and spas, water features, and fountains. Call today! 480-370-0579.