Should I make the switch from chlorine to a saltwater pool?
Don’t know what type of pool is safest for your family? There's an ongoing debate, with many opinions on each side. As you begin to research the question, recognize that you not only have to consider the short-term implications of chlorinated and salt water pools, but also the long term ones before you jump in and make the switch.
Each type of pool has its own fan base, but saltwater pools are the hottest trend for this summer. Chlorine pools have long been the standard, but because of health concerns as well as newer technologies they've taken a dive, leaving people to wonder if saltwater is the way to go. One thing you might not realize is that there is still some chlorine in saltwater pools, but it is in controlled amounts.
We got the details on saltwater from Kris Schmitt of Neave Pools in New York and Connecticut, a company that provides innovative, holistic design visions for backyard pools and will integrate them seamlessly with surrounding landscapes. A salt chlorinator works through your pool's power center. You'll need to have a salt flow cell installed within the pool's plumbing system, but it's the power center that controls the salt cell and allows it to work. Some automation systems already have the capability to run a salt cell without the need to add a separate power center.
One of the best things about these systems and the reason why so many people are switching over is because they take the human error out of sanitizing the pool, says Kris. He relates saltwater pools to putting your car on cruise control: you can think of adding about 1 oz of chlorine to the pool every 90 minutes, this constant addition of chlorine allows you to run a very low amount of chlorine in the pool due to the constant creation of chlorine by the flow cell. A traditional pool will require you to keep the pool at .9 ppm chlorine to allow for dropping and bounce while with salt you can lower the concentration to .3ppm. This lower amount makes the water softer, less damaging to the skin will not bleach your hair and will be softer on your eyes.
To help you decide what pool is best for you, use this pro and con checklist.
- Have an extended tradition of use
- Are cheaper than saltwater pools
- May use a floating disbursement device in the water or through a pump-like system
- Have a choice of different pumps to regulate the pool – distribution floatation devices, ozone generating systems, super pumps, single-speed pumps and more
- Pumps cost roughly $40-$1000
- You can turn the pool pump on and off as you wish
- Can lead to an abundance of algae and bacteria growth if you don't keep up with maintenance
- Must implement a strict schedule to maintain the cleanliness, safety and life of the pool
- Must run a chorine test to know how much chlorine should be put into the pool
- Must be careful about putting in the exact amount of chlorine needed, no more and no less
- Need to "shock" pool once every three to four weeks to kill any extra bacteria
- Chloramines form when chlorine mixes with sweat, saliva and other bodily fluids and can irritate skin and eyes
- Respiratory, skin and nasal reactions are all common from chlorine pools.
- Better for your health
- Equipment called salt chlorinators produce a steady flow of chlorine when needed, so you don't have to handle it, and generators are very easy to install
- Reduces algae and bacteria growth
- Cleaner than chlorine pools
- Less damaging to your skin and eyes with the chlorine moderation
- Less (or no) chloramines are formed
- The salt acts like a sanitizer, reducing the number of tests that typically need to be performed for maintenance
- Saltwater feels better on the skin, with less of the dryness and flaky residue that's typical with chlorine
- Some studies show that saltwater clears up some skin conditions such as acne, eczema and psoriasis; it also may help diminish joint soreness, release pain and promote relaxation
- The price to set up a saltwater system is between $1000 to $5000
- You must run the pump 24/7
- There are more costs associated including the pump and chlorine generator
- If you fail to maintain a saltwater pool, salt may build up and can corrode the metal on a pool ladder or the bars at the stairs
- It can create rust on the screws and on some pool panels
- Salt speeds up the wear and tearing of the pool
- Sometimes the salt can attract bees and kill certain plants
The ultimate decision is up to you, but research does point to saltwater as being healthier for you, your pets, and your family. Though the upfront cost may be higher, you should save money and time spent on pool maintenance in the long run. Kris states, “We always install a salt chlorinator on all of our new pools and add them to about 20-30 pools a year.”
The Ford Family from Putnam Valley, New York recently switching over from their chlorine pool and loves it. They were happy they did not have to handle any more stinky chemicals and enjoyed not having burning eyes after they swam in their pool. The family also felt that the saltwater in their swimming pool did not ruin their bathing suits as much as chlorine pools have in the past.
Photos Courtesy of Neave Pools: http://www.neavepools.com/