Maintenance Monday: How to Maintain Salt Water Swimming Pools

How to Maintain Salt Water Swimming Pools

It’s Maintenance Monday again here at Today we are going to discuss Salt Water Swimming Pool Maintenance and the best practices when it comes to the upkeep of your pool. Owning a salt water pool can be a wonderful experience, however, without the required maintenance it can turn into quite a costly endeavor. In this article we will break down the basic steps to properly take care of your salt system and extend the life for many summers to come. Let's dive in!


1. Weekly Chemical Test (Chlorine & pH)

Use an accurate testing method such as Test Strips or a Drop Test to test for Free Chlorine and pH level weekly. Free Chlorine should measure around 1.0-3.0 ppm. Chlorine can be regulated using the System Control Box or via the indicator on the Salt Cell itself. Liquid chlorine is safe to use with all salt systems for a quick boost in the chlorine level. Ph level should measure anywhere between 7.4-7.6 to remain in the ideal range. To raise the pH level, use Soda Ash according to manufacturers directions. To lower the pH level, start with 1/2 gallon of muriatic acid added directly to the pool away from any skimmers, vacuums, and steps. Wear proper eye & lung protection when handling muriatic acid. 


2. Monthly Chemical Test (Salt, Alkalinity, Stabilizer, & Calcium)

When it comes to testing salt, we recommend using an approved drop test or certified electronic meter. Required salt level will vary with each system; consult your manufacturers handbook for the specified requirements. Larger pools will require more salt and a larger cell so keep that in mind when looking for the right system. Alkalinity is most ideal around 100ppm and can be adjusted using muriatic acid and sodium bicarbonate to raise or lower the level. Make your adjustments minimal so they do not effect the pH level adversely. Stabilizer (otherwise known as Cyanuric Acid or CYA) is what keeps the chlorine in the pool and gives it something to latch onto. The stabilizer level will vary with each system but generally you want to stay around the 30-50 ppm range. Too high will cause the chlorine to fall out of suspension and the water will become solute. Lastly, but one of the most important, comes Calcium. Ideal calcium levels fall between 200-600 ppm but lower is better. More calcium equals more deposits and buildup, bringing us to the next step. 

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3. Visually Inspect Cell for Buildup & Debris (Quarterly)

Disconnect power and unthread the cell from the union assembly. Inspect the metal fins for debris and calcium buildup. For minimal debris, use a high-pressure sprayer to wash it away. For more stubborn items, we recommend a wooden popsicle stick to scrape and loosen deposits. DO NOT USE METAL AS IT WILL DAMAGE THE CELL. 

In extreme cases, a mild acid wash may be required. Use a 4:1 ratio of water to muriatic acid combined in a 5-gallon bucket, adding acid to water. DO NOT ADD WATER TO ACID. Remove the power cord from the cell if possible and soak for a few minutes, swishing occasionally to clear debris and rinse with a garden hose. Reinstall the salt cell when clean. 


4. Regular Pool Maintenance

Empty all pump, skimmer, and debris baskets regularly. Backwash/Clean the filter when necessary to ensure proper pressure and water flow. Zero flow equals zero chlorination.


5. Winterize if Necessary

Disconnect the flow sensor and remove cell from the return line. Install the cell bypass assembly. Store the cell indoors and use liquid chlorine accordingly through the winter.


Salt systems have recently become a popular addition to swimming pools due to the excellent water softness and low cost of maintenance. With proper care they can provide lasting quality for years to come. By following the steps in this guide, you will be able to easily care for and diagnose any issues pertaining to your salt water chlorinator. If you have any questions regarding the steps found in this article, please feel free to contact us directly. Our team of Pool Professionals is happy to assist you via email or telephone. We look forward to hearing from you!


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