Calcium Buildup On Chlorinator Cell - Why? How To Clean It?
Regardless of whether you have a traditional chlorine or a saltwater pool, you will have dissolved calcium in your water. While this is a good thing (and typically known as water hardness) it can occasionally be a nuisance when it starts building up as a solid on your chlorinator.
In this article, we will discuss the causes of calcium buildup on chlorinator cells, how to remove this buildup, and how you can prevent calcium buildup from occurring on your chlorinator cell in the future.
Why Does Calcium Buildup Occur On Chlorinator Cells?
Calcium buildup on your chlorinator cell can occur when there are high pH levels or high water temperatures present. Under these conditions, calcium can deposit in your salt cell during the electrolysis process in the form of flakes.
Calcium buildup is more likely to occur if your pool has higher calcium hardness than is recommended.
How To Remove Calcium Buildup On Salt Cells
To remove calcium buildup on your salt cell, you can either use a salt-cell cleaning solution, hydrochloric acid or as a last resort, vinegar (a mild acid). If you choose to work with hydrochloric acid, it is recommended that you take safety precautions such as wearing gloves and protective eyewear.
To begin, shut your chlorinator and pool pump off, and then remove the salt cell from its housing. You should then prepare your cleaning solution in a small bucket that is large enough to submerge your salt cell.
If you are using a salt-cell cleaning solution, follow the instructions provided on the bottle. If you are using hydrochloric acid, dilute the acid by adding one part acid to a bucket containing fifteen parts water.
Being careful to keep any electrical connection points dry, submerge the salt cell in your prepared bucket of cleaning solution. Leave your salt cell to soak in the solution. If you are using hydrochloric acid, this soaking period should not exceed 20 minutes.
If you are using a salt-cell cleaning product, you can find the recommended soaking time in your product’s instructions. This period usually will be around 10-20 minutes depending on the product used.
After removing the salt cell from the cleaning solution, dispose of the cleaning solution and rinse the salt cell with fresh water.
You can then attempt to gently scrape away leftover calcium deposits using plastic instruments. You should never scrape your salt cell with metal as this can cause damage to the electrolysis plates.
When you are finished, reinstall the salt cell and turn your pool’s pump and chlorinator back on.
How To Prevent Calcium Buildup On Salt Cells
To prevent calcium buildup on salt cells, make sure that your pool’s chemistry is kept within the appropriate ranges. Appropriate pH levels in a swimming pool range from 7.2-7.6, and should not exceed 7.8.
Similarly, alkalinity should be kept between 80-120 ppm. Exceeding the upper range for alkalinity increases the likelihood of calcium carbonate (scale) forming in your pool. To lower pH and alkalinity levels in your pool, you can use hydrochloric acid or sodium bisulphate.
You should also ensure that your pool does not contain too much calcium hardness. Ideal calcium hardness levels range from 200-400 ppm, but this range is typically lower for saltwater pools.
Removing excess calcium hardness from your water can prevent calcium from building up on your salt cell and can also reduce the likelihood that scale will develop.
If you need to remove excess calcium from your pool, this typically must be done by partially draining and refilling your pool with fresh water.
You can also use a calcium remover product as a stopgap solution, but be aware that these products do not actually remove calcium from the pool. Instead, they simply discourage the formation of scale deposits.
Salt chlorinator cells use electricity to create free chlorine for your pool.
This process, known as electrolysis, can cause dissolved calcium to slowly build up on your salt chlorinator cell, preventing it from functioning normally.
Luckily, it is easy to remove calcium buildup from your salt cell by soaking the cell in an appropriate cleaning solution.
Do you have any questions about calcium buildup on chlorinator cells or how to remove it? Reach out to us in the comments section, we’d love to help answer any remaining queries you may have!
A chemical engineer by trade, Louis is committed to debunking myths in the pool industry by explaining the underlying chemistry and making it accessible to all.