Salt Water Pool Disadvantages & Dangers - What Are They?
Saltwater pools are an increasingly popular alternative to traditional chlorine pools.
Even when compared to magnesium and related mineral pool systems, many pool owners prefer saltwater pools, and this is with good reason. However, despite the benefits and popularity of saltwater pools, they do have their own disadvantages.
In this article, we will discuss the disadvantages and dangers of salt water pools that you may not have considered. Once you have educated yourself about the cons of saltwater pools, it will be easier for you to determine if a saltwater pool is the right pool type for you and your home.
Salt Water Pool Disadvantages
One disadvantage of a saltwater pool actually comes from a misconception, this misconception being the ideal that saltwater pools are ‘chlorine free’. In fact, saltwater pools contain just as much chlorine as traditional pools, but the source of this chlorine is different.
In saltwater pools, chlorine is produced through the saltwater chlorine generator (or SWG for short), rather than being added manually. This is not technically a disadvantage, but we have chosen to include this information as it is a common misconception.
Higher Start-Up Costs
Saltwater pools carry a higher start-up cost than traditional chlorine pools. This is due to the investment in the saltwater chlorine generator, which can easily cost upwards of $1,000, depending on the size of your pool and how hi-tech you want your chlorinator to be.
There is also the initial dose of salt that is required in saltwater pools. This is not significantly more expensive than adding chlorine to a traditional chlorine pool, and after the initial dose of salt is added, only small adjustments will need to be made to maintain ideal salinity levels.
The saltwater chlorinator component of saltwater pools is fairly complex and operates in a high wear environment.
They tend to scale over with calcium fairly easily, which means regular cleaning with hydrochloric acid or vinegar is a necessity. They can also suffer from technical issues, such as no flow errors and control panel malfunctioning.
Many of these issues you can solve on your own, but they can be a bit of a time drain.
Salt Cell Maintenance
Salt cells, the inner part of a saltwater chlorinator that performs electrolysis and produces free chlorine molecules that sanitise your water, is a consumable.
Although these cells can last multiple years, they will eventually need replacing. Expect to pay a few hundred dollars for a replacement, plus installation costs if you are unable to do it on your own.
Reliance On Electricity
Saltwater chlorinators rely on electricity. Although this can also be said about mineral pool systems, and is equally true for all pump and filter systems of pools regardless of type, there are things to consider.
Saltwater chlorinators may increase your electricity bill. This is because additional machinery is being operated other than your pool’s pump. Additionally, if you experience a prolonged power outage, your pool will not receive sanitation.
In a traditional pool, chlorine products can be added in this type of situation, but with a saltwater pool, you may not have chlorine products on hand to sanitise your water in the event that your chlorinator fails.
If your chlorinator were to go without power for a few days, you would likely experience a significant growth of algae in your pool.
That can be expensive and time consuming to fix.
Prone To Scale And Stains
Pool water, like all other water, has a concentration of dissolved metals and minerals present in the solution.
These different compounds maintain the health of your pool water, and many minerals, such as calcium, are actually necessary to have in your pool in the right amounts. The problem occurs when too many minerals are present in your pool’s water.
Because water has a maximum amount of dissolved minerals and metals than it can hold, once this threshold of solids is reached, you are likely to develop stains.
This risk is doubly increased in saltwater pools, because the dissolved salt content of the water greatly increases the amount of minerals present when compared to traditional chlorine pools.
Saltwater pools are more likely to develop calcium scale, which can be difficult to remove. If you are interested in operating a saltwater pool, it is necessary to avoid using products which may add extra calcium to your pool, such as cal-hypo shock treatments among other chemicals.
Salt is a highly corrosive element. More so than with traditional chlorine or mineral pools, saltwater pools have an increased chance of causing damage due to the corrosive properties of the salt.
The salt from your pool water will lead to increased rates of deterioration for the surfaces in and around your pool, pool equipment and machinery, swimwear, and related pool toys.
As water is splashed out of your pool, the water evaporates away, leaving highly concentrated pockets of salt that can and will corrode metal surfaces around your pool. A quick hose down of metal surfaces with fresh water can wash away the salty water.
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.