Everything to Know About Saltwater Vs. Chlorine Pools
Updated: Feb 24
The two most popular pool water system options are traditional chlorine and saltwater. It’s important to consider the pros and cons of each before choosing the type of system that’s right for your swimming pool or spa.
Saltwater systems still have chlorine, but at much lower levels than traditional chlorine pools. The chlorine is balanced by a saltwater generator, which sanitizes the water by producing hypochlorous acid through electrolysis, which uses electricity to break down the salt solution.
Saltwater is gentler on skin and eyes, and can be the preferred option for those with sensitive skin or allergies. Traditional chlorine pools can cause skin to dry out or itch, and chlorine must be stored carefully to prevent inhalation hazards and to make sure the chemicals are still effective. Saltwater systems don’t require special precautions. Click here for more swimming pool and spa safety information.
The initial cost of installing a saltwater generator is much more than that of a traditional chlorine pool, but this initial investment can be made up in a few years because saltwater maintenance is much less expensive. If consistently maintained, saltwater only requires around $100 a year for salt and chemicals while chlorine pools cost around $300 to $800 in yearly maintenance. However, in warmer climates, both systems require more chlorine and this increases maintenance and electricity costs.
Saltwater systems require less maintenance, and can often go up to two weeks without needing attention. Traditional chlorine pools require weekly maintenance, and the chlorine must be manually adjusted by adding chemicals to the water itself in order to maintain the correct levels. They can also require periodic “shocks” of more concentrated chemicals to ward off algae and maintain consistent levels.
Saltwater can affect a pool’s features and construction, and this should be considered when installing a new pool and when converting from a traditional chlorine system to a saltwater system. Landscaping, soil, and plants can also be affected by saltwater. Traditional chlorine pools do not typically have any adverse effects on swimming pool features or landscaping.
Have a conversation with your contractor about the long-term costs and maintenance requirements to determine whether saltwater or traditional chlorine is best for your swimming pool or spa.
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