Salt Water System Care for Vinyl Inground Pools

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Salt water pools require regular maintenance to avoid contamination.
Salt water pools require regular maintenance to avoid contamination.

Salt water pools use salt (sodium chloride) to generate chlorine, which eliminates contaminants such as algae and bacteria. The salt level in these pools is low enough so swimmers don't notice a salty taste or smell, and the water is not cloudy. Care for saltwater pools is similar to chlorine pools, but salt is added less frequently. In addition, salt is gentler on vinyl pools than chlorine.

  1. Monitor Salt Level

    • The most important step in the maintenance of a vinyl inground salt water system is checking regularly to ensure the salt level is high enough to generate enough chlorine. Check the owner's manual for your system to see how often additional salt must be added. Also make sure the filtration system runs the entire recommended time to eliminate algae. Generally, the filter should run six to eight hours each day. Many systems can be set to run a for certain amount of time.

    Maintain Proper pH

    • One difference between salt water pools and conventional chlorine pools is that the pH is higher in salt water versions. The pH should be between 7.4 and 7.8. The pH should be tested one or two times weekly. To test the pH level, use test strips specially formulated for pool water. Take a sample of pool water and put several drops on the strip. Compare the color the strip turns to a color key provided with the test kit to determine if the pool's pH is in the correct range. To keep the proper pH, add muriatic acid if needed.

    Clean the Salt Cell

    • Check the salt chlorinator cell regularly for build up of calcium on the cell plates. The cell should be cleaned according to the instructions in the owner's manual.

    Maintain Proper Conditioner Levels

    • Cyanuric acid is used as a stabilizer or conditioner in the pool. The conditioner protects the chlorine in the pool water from the sun. Cyanuric acid levels should be between 20 and 60 parts per million. The level should be checked every few months. Strips to test the stabilizer are similar to those used for pH. They're dipped into the pool's water; the color they turn indicates if more cyanuric acid should be added.

    Remove Debris from the Water

    • As with any other type of pool, leaves, grass and other debris regularly finds its way into salt water pools. The pool should be skimmed at least twice a week to remove floating objects or debris that has sunk to the bottom.

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