Salt Water Pool Maintenance is a bit different than traditional pool care.
While you don’t have to add as many chemicals to the saltwater pool, you do have to balance your water and care for your pool equipment a little differently.
So here are nine common saltwater pool maintenance mistakes, and how to avoid them.
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It’s a totally free, easy-to-use guide to help you keep track of taking care of your pool.
Mistake number 1: Thinking a saltwater pool has no chlorine.
When you add salt to your pool, your saltwater generator uses that dissolved salt to create chlorine.
That’s right. Your salt water pool is still a chlorine pool.
The only difference, you’re adding salt instead of chemicals to make that chlorine happen.
Your saltwater generator also produces a steadier, lower level of chlorine than a typical pool.
That means the water is gentler on your skin and eyes.
Mistake number 2:Not testing your free chlorine levels each week.
Like we said, your saltwater generator produces chlorine, and that means you need to test and balance your free chlorine levels to
keep your water sanitized.
Your free chlorine levels should be between 1 and 3 parts per million, with 3 parts per million being ideal.
Test your water weekly with test strips or a liquid test kit.
Then adjust your generator accordingly if your chlorine levels are off.
You can keep your chlorine levels a little higher than you would with a traditional pool because of how chlorine is produced and dispersed by your saltwater generator.
Just make sure that your saltwater levels are high enough for your generator to work properly and that you don’t have any calcium buildup on your salt cell.
Mistake number 3: Not keeping your pH levels in check.
Your pH will run on the high side in a saltwater pool because your saltwater generator naturally raises your pH as the system runs.
High pH levels above 7.6 can lead to skin irritation and burning eyes and cause scaling on your pool equipment.
So be sure to test and balance your pH every week.
You can add pH decreaser to lower your pH levels or muriatic acid.
If you have a chronically high pH problem, make sure your other levels are balanced, like your CYA, and check the runtimes on your saltwater generator.
Remember, it’s your system running that produces higher pH levels.
Mistake number 4: Adding too much salt too quickly.
The upside of a saltwater pool: Well, once you add the salt, it stays in the water.
Salt doesn’t evaporate, and that means it can continuously flow through your saltwater generator and produce chlorine.
The downside is if you add too much salt, it’s a pain to lower your levels.
Your salinity levels only go down with rain, splash out, or by diluting your water manually.
So be sure to add your salt slowly and test your levels as you go, especially if it’s the beginning of the pool season.
Mistake number 5: Not testing your salinity or salt levels by hand.
Most saltwater generators display your water’s salinity level, but it’s always smart to test your saltwater levels manually,in case your system is producing a false reading.
Check your salinity levels at least once a month during the pool season.
You’ll also wanna check after a heavy rain, heavy use, or if you’ve drained out lots of water.
You can use saltwater test strips, or we recommend using a digital salinity reader.
Check your saltwater generator instructions for the right salinity levels for your system.
Mistake number 6: Not testing and balancing your alkalinity,stabilizer, and calcium levels each month.
In addition to testing your salinity levels once a month, you’ll wanna test and balance your alkalinity, stabilizer, and calcium hardness levels once a month as well.
Your alkalinity helps buffer your pH from fluctuations and your alkalinity levels should be between 100 and 150 parts per million.
But like we said, your pH levels will rise naturally with a saltwater generator.
And that means alkalinity is a bit less important and it’s okay if your alkalinity levels run a bit lower than 100 parts per million.
If you need to raise your alkalinity levels, you can use an alkalinity increase or baking soda.
If you need to lower your alkalinity levels, you can actually use pH decreaser or muriatic acid.
Your stabilizer, aka CYA levels, should be between 30 and 50 parts per million in a traditional pool, but many saltwater pool owners find it helpful to maintain CYA levels of 80 parts per million, especially if you’re having trouble keeping chlorine levels up in your pool.
Now, most salt water systems recommend that you keep your calcium hardness levels between 200 and 400 parts per million.
High calcium hardness levels can calcify and burn up your salt cell or cause scale at your pool’s waterline.
If your calcium hardness levels are too high, you’ll need to dilute or drain some water out of your pool.
Be sure to fill up your pool using a hose filter to avoid adding any hard water.
And if you have a vinyl liner pool that you drain and takedown at the end of the season, you do not need to add any calcium hardness to the water.
Mistake number 7: Forgetting to shock your pool regularly.
Shocking your pool is the process of adding an extra boost of chlorine to help raise your free chlorine levels.
Regularly shocking your pool also helps destroy extra contaminants, algae, and bacteria.
If your saltwater generator has a boost mode, it can disperse extra chlorine from your system.
You can also shock your pool by manually adding granular dichlor chlorine or liquid chlorine.
Just be sure to check your CYA levels after using stabilized chlorine, and try to avoid using calcium hypochlorite or cal hypo shock that can cause calcium buildup in your salt cell.
We recommend using the boost mode or shocking your pool at least once a week during the peak pool season, or after a heavy rain, or heavy use.
Make sure to add this extra chlorine at night and let it dissipate so the sun doesn’t burn it away.
Then retest your water the next day.
Mistake number 8: Letting high salt levels break down your pool equipment and surfaces.
Saltwater isn’t harmful in normal concentrations, but if your salinity levels get too high, or if it builds upon surfaces, it can start to break down your pool equipment, your pool liner, and your pool cover.
Use a pool lube to prevent o-rings from breaking down.
For pool lights and ladders, rinse them with a garden hose at least once a week.
Splash out can lead to high concentrations of salt on the outside of your pool liner.
So rinse this off as well.
Splash out can also erode limestone or any other soft stone coping around your pool.
And if you have an automatic pool cover, salt residue can corrode your cover’s components.
So rinse off your cover’s tracks and hardware with a garden hose every few weeks.
Mistake number 9: Forgetting to inspect your salt cell.
Things like calcium can build up over time on a salt cell.
You’ll wanna inspect and clean your salt cell every three months and at the beginning and end of the pool season.
Open and inspect your saltwater cell to check for scale buildup and deposits.
If there are deposits, use a high-pressure hose to flush them off.
You can also use a diluted solution of muriatic acid to get rid of the tougher deposits.
And be sure to follow any cleaning directions that come with your saltwater generator.