Saltwater Pool Maintenance

A grouping of pool cleaning and maintenance supplies.

Many people are drawn to the idea of a saltwater pool in their backyard because it's associated with low maintenance and low costs while having a range of benefits that chlorine-based pools don't have. For example, saltwater is easier on the skin and eyes than water with chlorine in it. However, saltwater pools do need some upkeep. In this article, we explore how to take care of your saltwater pool in a step-by-step guide, including some handy tips and tricks.

Check Your Pool’s pH Weekly

A hand holding a chemical test strip over a pool.

The first step in maintaining your pool is to check its pH level weekly, much like with a chlorine pool. Use test strips or a drop test kit to ensure that the free chlorine level is between 1 and 3 ppm. If that proves it needs to be adjusted, do so using the output control on the control box or cell. The pH level should remain between 7.2 and 7.6 at all times. If it should need adjustment, lower it with muriatic acid or raise the level with soda ash or sodium bicarbonate.

Test the Pool Monthly for Various Items

Monthly, you will need to test your pool for various levels of salt, alkalinity, stabilizer, and calcium. This is another case where you can conveniently use test strips or a drop test kit. Once you do so, consult your owner’s manual to learn how to adjust any levels as needed, as it can differ from pool to pool. Also keep in mind that although most chlorinators display a salt reading, it’s still recommended to test salt levels monthly to decipher whether or not your chlorinator requires recalibration.

Regularly Clean Pool Components

A pool skimmer sitting on the deck outside a pool.

A big part of maintenance for any pool is to keep its different components and devices clean. The filter, pump, and skimmer should be monitored and cleaned regularly. Debris can easily become stuck in any of these components, which can interrupt the cleanliness or chlorination of your pool. To keep everything in tip-top shape, simply check them every few days and clean as needed.

Inspect the Cell Quarterly

Every three months, saltwater pool owners should open and visually inspect the cell. This is also known as the salt generator or salt chlorinator. Luckily, these components are commonly designed to remind owners to do this via a flashing “inspect cell” light on the control box.

Start by removing the cell and checking the inside of it for scale buildup or debris that may have made it through the filter. If it looks clear, then simply reinstall the cell and your work is done. If you do see some dirt and gunk in there, use a high-pressure garden hose to flush it clean. If this doesn’t work, use a small plastic or wood tool to scrape the grime and deposits off of the plates as needed. Avoid using a metal tool as this could damage the coating.

Finally, if that method doesn’t work, use a mild acid wash to clean the plates. You should be using a 4:1 ratio of water to muriatic acid, adding the acid to the water and then submerging the cell in the solution. After a few minutes of soaking, rinse the device with your garden hose and reinstall it.

Tips and Tricks to Caring for Your Saltwater Pool

Now that you’ve got the basics of how to care for your pool with salt water, here are some tips and tricks for keeping it in pristine condition.

Clean the Bottom

A man holding a long handled brush over a pool.

Salt has a tendency to settle at the bottom of a pool, forming an unsightly yellow or brown stain. To prevent this from occurring, use your pool brush to clean the bottom and to remove excess salt. Doing this regularly can help to mitigate the risk of buildup and staining.

Protect Your Deck

While saltwater is easier on your skin than chlorine, it’s not necessarily friendly towards your deck. If your pool is near a deck, be sure to correctly seal the area whether it be made out of wood, stone, or concrete. This will prevent expensive damage to its surface over time.

Care for Your Lining

The lining of your pool could be at risk if you have a saltwater pool, but it can be protected in a few easy steps. To prevent the lining from becoming dry, brittle, and frail from its continued exposure to salt, either scrub it thoroughly every four to six weeks or coat it with an anti-salt solution. Either way, you’ll be able to put the worry of a lining disaster out of your mind.

Although saltwater pools only have about a tenth of the salt present in the water of the ocean, its presence makes a big difference in your swimming water. Use this guide to keep your pool clean, healthy, and safe all summer long.