What Happens If The Salt Level Is Too High In A Pool?
Saltwater pools are appealing for many reasons, but they are prone to developing different issues than salt-free pools. For example, salt levels that are inadequately maintained can lead to unsanitary conditions or even damage to your pool.
In this article we will discuss the ideal salt levels in swimming pools, how to test your salt levels, the negative effects of high salt, and how you can lower the salt level in your swimming pool.
Ideal Salt Levels In Swimming Pools
In a saltwater pool, the correct amount of salinity for your water can vary depending on your model of saltwater chlorine generator. For the most part, these levels fall between 2,700 - 3,400 parts per million (ppm).
Most sources indicate that 3,200 ppm is the ideal salt level for your pool, but there is a lack of good evidence explaining why this number was chosen.
For this reason, we believe that any levels within the aforementioned range are adequate unless otherwise required by your salt chlorine generator.
How To Test Salt Levels In Your Swimming Pool
There are many different methods you can use to test the salt levels in your swimming pool. These include testing strips, liquid testing kits, monitoring your chlorine generator’s readings, or using an electronic salinity meter.
Testing strips work well enough to allow you to keep your pool’s salinity within the ideal range, although they aren’t precise enough to let you determine the exact concentration of salt in your pool.
Liquid testing kits are more precise, but also leave more room for user error. Although this type of test kit for salt levels is somewhat harder to come by, it makes a great option for those that have experience with other test kits.
Chlorinator Salinity Meter
Your chlorine generator will have a salt meter on there that you can check as required. Be aware that these meters are typically not calibrated after they have been purchased, so the readings may drift as your chlorinator ages.
If you suspect that this number may be incorrect for any reason, you should confirm these results using another testing method. If the results do not match up, you may want to contact a technician to review your saltwater chlorine generator for any operating issues.
Handheld Digital Salinity Meters
Electronic salinity meters make for an expensive initial investment, but they may be worth it in some cases. These devices allow you to determine the amount of salt in your pool down to 1 part per billion, providing extremely high levels of precision. Electronic salinity meters can also be used as often as you’d like without the need to conserve and repurchase testing kit supplies.
Negative Effects of High Salt Levels In Your Pool
Salt levels that get above the range we mentioned earlier are typically harmless for your pool. However, at levels above about 5,000 ppm, you may begin to see problems.
Because salt is a corrosive element, most negative effects of high salt levels in your pool involve damage to your pool’s lining, machinery, or other related equipment.
High amounts of salt in your pool can also lead to corrosive damage of concrete platforms that surround many in-ground pools.
Metal equipment especially is in danger of corrosion at these levels, and this effect can be highly exaggerated if these metal elements are already showing signs of age-related wear such as rust.
Plastic pool elements including vinyl pool liners can also be affected by high salinity levels. Plastic and vinyl tend to become frail and brittle after being exposed to high amounts of salt for a period of time, and may also show signs of etching, which appears as scratches on these surfaces.
Depending on the type of chlorinator you have, high salt levels can either cause the unit to stop working properly (resulting in low free chlorine in your pool), or go into overdrive (resulting in high free chlorine in your pool).
To avoid these issues, it’s best to keep your salt level within the recommended range outlined above.
How To Lower Salt Levels In Your Pool
In order to lower the amount of salt that is present in your pool, you will need to drain some of your pool’s water and replace it with fresh water.
Unfortunately, there is no cost-effective way of reacting the salt with a chemical to solidify it and filter it out. It must be removed by draining and refilling some of your pool water.
How To Calculate How Much Water To Drain And Refill
Before you take this next step, it is necessary to find out how much water needs to be replaced in order for you to achieve the ideal salinity level you are aiming for.
To do these calculations, you will need to know the current salt level of your pool in parts per million. If your test kit only indicates a range of values, we recommend assuming that your salt level is in the middle of these value ranges. For example, if your test kit shows that your pool has levels between 5,000-6,000 ppm, use the number 5,500 ppm when doing your calculations.
Take your current salinity readings and then subtract the number that represents your target salinity (after draining and refilling). For this example, we will use the ideal level of 3,200 ppm. After making this subtraction, divide your answer by your pool’s current salinity readings. You should then end up with a decimal number.
For example, if your pool has salinity readings of 5,500 ppm and you are aiming for 3,200 ppm, your answer would be 0.418.
Once you receive this decimal number, multiply it by the total volume of your pool. This formula works whether you have measured your pool volume in litres or gallons. Following our example, we will assume that our test pool has a volume of 50,000L.
After multiplying 50,000L by 0.418, you get approximately 20,900L. This is the final answer, showing you the number of litres of water that you will need to drain and replace in order to reduce your pool’s salinity to the appropriate levels.
If doing maths isn’t your thing, you can also use this handy-dandy calculator to perform the same arithmetic.
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.