SALT WATER POOL MAINTENANCE: Checklist, Cost, and Detailed Guide


Because they are gentler on the skin and eyes than traditional chlorine pools, saltwater pools are popular among homeowners. They’re also easier to maintain, so you won’t be spending your summer tinkering with chlorine levels. Nevertheless, low maintenance does not imply any maintenance. For you to relax rather than worry, this guide explains the ins and outs of salt water pool maintenance, including a checklist, cost, and schedule.

What is a Salt Water Pool?

Let’s start by making sure everyone knows what a saltwater pool is and how it operates. You’ll need this information if you’re considering purchasing a swimming pool, so stick with us. If you already know the fundamentals, proceed to the next section.

Salt is converted into chlorine in a saltwater pool using a salt-chlorine generator. Salt must be added to the machine for it to work. This differs from a traditional chlorine pool in that it does not require the addition of chemicals.

Contrary to popular belief, a saltwater pool does not have an oceanic flavor or texture. The water instead has a very “silky” texture and a mild flavor. Saltwater in a pool has a salinity that is roughly one-tenth that of ocean water.

It’s more like what you’d find in contact lens solution or a natural teardrop. Saltwater pools contain less chlorine, making them gentler on the skin and eyes. This is a significant benefit if you have children at home or plan to swim for extended periods.

Why Must I Maintain My Salt Water Pool?

Have you ever seen a stagnant pond that is covered in green algae? Not much different is a neglected pool. Nature always finds a way, and that includes algae and the potentially harmful microorganisms that feed on it. A pool may turn green overnight in some cases.

This is why salt water pool maintenance is crucial, but it involves more than just the perfect chemical balance. Filtration and circulation are also important. The pH and salinity of your system may be off due to a lack of maintenance. This can attract harmful organisms because too much salt corrodes equipment, resulting in expensive repairs.

Cost of Salt Water Pool Maintenance

Saltwater pool maintenance can be handled by a professional monthly cleaning and maintenance package for $80 to $95 per month (one monthly visit), or by doing it yourself for around $45 per month.

Water still needs to be tested, chlorine levels need to be adjusted, and additional chemicals need to be added as needed. Unless you have a self-cleaning salt system, salt cells also need to be cleaned regularly to remove buildup.

You only need to keep your pool’s filter, pump, and surface clean as long as your generator cell is sending the correct readings. Maintaining proper salt levels in the water as well as preventing metal stains and corrosion are the main goals of salt water pool maintenance. To descale corrosion buildup, generator cells will require a mild acid wash every 3-4 months.

  • The price of a 40-pound bag of pool salt is $50.
  • Saltwater Maintenance Pack – $45
  • Saltwater test strips range in price from $11 to $25.

Saltwater chlorine generators can cost around $330. They use cells, which cost anywhere from $200 for a basic one to $1,400 for a high-tech one, to send you readouts of your water’s salt levels, cleanliness, temperature, and flow, saving you time on testing. With an electric charge, generator cells chemically convert salt to chlorine.

Salt Water Pool Maintenance Checklist

For salt water pool owners, we’ve put together a maintenance checklist. Keep in mind as you read that not all pools, generators, and water quality are the same, posing unique maintenance challenges. We have also created a comprehensive hot tub maintenance checklist with helpful tips and advice tailored specifically for salt water pool.

#1. Weekly Saltwater Pool Maintenance

The pool and all filters should be cleaned as frequently as possible by every pool owner. Simple tasks like these can save pool owners time and money. The skimmer must be cleaned as part of any saltwater cleaning. Empty the pump basket and skim the area around the pool for any debris that may be visible.

Make testing the pool’s pH and free chlorine a weekly task. If the chlorine level is slightly off, adjust your generator. To raise the pH, use baking soda, muriatic acid, or sodium carbonate.

Weekly maintenance of your salt water pool should include the following:

  • Examine the water to see if it has changed in clarity or color.
  • Clear the area of any debris.
  • Empty the skimmer and pump strainer baskets.
  • Start the pool cleaner or the pool vacuum.
  • Verify the pool’s backwash and filter.
  • Check water level.
  • Test the salt concentration level.
  • Check the level of free chlorine.
  • Check and adjust the pH level.

#2. Monthly Saltwater Pool Maintenance

Every month, check the salinity, stabilizer, alkalinity, and calcium levels. Refer to your owner’s manual to determine where all levels should be. To increase the alkalinity level, baking soda can be used once more.
The saltwater cell should also be inspected regularly. The pool professionals suggest that the cell be checked every three months. Visually inspect the pool for scale or deposit buildup.

Conduct the following saltwater pool maintenance tasks every month:

  • Determine the Total Alkalinity (TA).
  • Check the level of Total Dissolved Solids.
  • Check the level of Stabilizer or Cyanuric Acid.
  • Determine the level of calcium hardness.
  • Check to see if any hard materials, such as iron or copper, are present.

#3. Yearly Saltwater Pool Maintenance

Depending on location, yearly maintenance will, of course, vary. For example, pool owners in Arizona are not required to winterize or close their pools. However, in most other parts of the country, these tasks must be completed by the owner’s manual.

Do the following saltwater pool maintenance tasks every year:

  • If necessary, carry out the proper winterizing and/or closing procedures.
  • Open the pool properly in the spring.
  • Clean and store inside the salt cell.

Salt Water Pool Maintenance Guide

The chemistry of saltwater pools is delicate, but you can help by using a liquid pool testing kit or testing strips. Testing strips are simpler, but liquid kits are typically more accurate. Some saltwater pools require weekly checks, while others require monthly checks. Here is a step-by-step instruction manual.

Daily Salt Water Pool Maintenance 

#1. Regularly clean your pool

You should perform a few daily saltwater pool cleaning tasks as long as your pool is open. This is a minor task that ensures your filters, pump, and skimmer do not clog or malfunction. Every morning:

  • Skim the surface of the pool with a net to remove visible debris, such as leaves.
  • Remove the skimmer from the pool.
  • Take out the basket from the pool pump.
  • Clean the pool filter

Weekly Salt Water Pool Maintenance 

#2. Vacuum frequently

At least once per week, vacuum your pool with a pool vacuum. By hand, this takes about an hour, but an automatic pool vacuum will save you time.

#3. Rinse the pool deck with a hose

Saltwater can wear down your patio or pool deck because it is corrosive. Rinse the pool area with a garden hose once a week, and remember to hose down the pump, filter, and skimmer.

#4. Check the pH level every week

A pH level of 7.2 to 7.6 is ideal for a well-balanced pool. If the pH level is higher than this, then use:

  • Baking soda to raise the pH of the pool
  • Sodium carbonate or muriatic acid to reduce the pH of the pool

#5. Check free chlorine levels every week

Chlorine is present in salt water pools. Instead of being added directly, it is simply produced through electrolysis. Every week, check your free chlorine levels. The ideal reading is between 1.0 and 3.0 parts per million (ppm). If your current level is not within this range, adjust the chlorine generator’s output accordingly.

Monthly Salt Water Pool Maintenance 

#6. Conduct a monthly salt test

Your salinity level should typically be between 2,700 and 3,400 ppm, but this can vary depending on the type of salt cell generator you have. Use a pool salt calculator to determine how much salt you need after checking the instructions for your generator to ensure the proper salinity level. You’ll need to add more salt if the levels are too low. If the levels are too high, you must drain some of your pool and refill it with fresh water.

#7. Conduct monthly alkalinity tests

Between 80 and 120 ppm is considered normal alkalinity. Depending on your needs, use sodium bisulfate or muriatic acid to lower alkalinity and sodium bicarbonate to raise it.

#8. Monitor Cyanuric Acid (CYA) levels every month

The ideal CYA level for your pool is between 70 and 80. CYA levels can be increased by simply adding more CYA. To reduce it, dilute the water in your pool by draining some of it and adding fresh water.

#9. Check the calcium hardness every month.

Between 200 and 400 ppm of calcium hardness is ideal. Adding calcium chloride will increase the calcium hardness level. Drain some of your pool water and add fresh water to dilute it slightly to reduce it.

Inspect and Clean Your Salt Cell Generator

#10. Examine the cell generator

Check for mineral deposits that need to be cleaned in your salt cell generator. The salt cell generator’s power should be turned off first. To increase safety, flip the power button or switch. It is also a good idea to unplug the generator entirely. Also, turn off any pumps or devices that are directly connected to the cell generator.

Remove the salt cell from the generator while the power is off. Unscrew both ends and carefully remove them. Examine the metal plates inside the cell for mineral deposits. Look for a flaky or scaly, white substance.

If mineral deposits are discovered on the salt cell, proceed to the next step to clean them off. If you don’t see any, replace the salt cell and check again in a few months. Every two months, inspect the cell generator for mineral buildup.

#11. Salt cell generator maintenance

To clean mineral deposits off a salt cell, begin with water and elbow grease. Large chunks of minerals should be carefully picked up and removed from the salt cell with your hand. Just clean the outside; don’t go inside. After removing the larger pieces, rinse the outside of the cell with a garden hose.

#12. Use chemicals to clean

If there is still mineral buildup after removing the large pieces and rinsing the cell, chemicals can be used to help. Before you begin, put on latex gloves, safety goggles, and coveralls to protect your skin and eyes from the chemicals.

By combining five parts of water and one part of muriatic acid, you can make a mild acid wash. Instead of beginning with the acid, pour the water into a bucket first. Connect the salt cell to the cell stand by capping it. In the salt cell, pour the acid wash solution and let it soak for 15 to 20 minutes. It will foam up. During this process, do not cover the electrical connections of the cell.

After the timer goes off, return the acid wash solution to the bucket and use your hose to rinse the salt cell. Reinstall the cell to use it again. Dispose of the acid wash solution at a hazardous waste collection site or store it safely for future use.

Is a saltwater pool easier to maintain?

Yes, saltwater systems are easier and less expensive to maintain. Because salt cells in a saltwater system only produce chlorine when it is required, the pools require less maintenance than traditionally chlorinated swimming pools.

What are the disadvantages of salt water pools?

They are more complex than traditional pools and frequently require experienced technicians even for minor issues. You may need to avoid using certain types of heaters, fixtures, underwater lighting, liners, and even some types of masonry work because salt can damage some materials.

How often should a salt water pool be serviced?

Every six months, you should clean your saltwater pool. You may need to service your pool more frequently if you use it frequently or live in a warm climate. Salt cells must be inspected and cleaned regularly (at least once every three months), and they must be replaced every three to seven years.

Do saltwater pools need weekly maintenance?

Not really, but you should test the pH and free chlorine levels in your saltwater pool every week. You can buy test strips or test kits for this.

How long do saltwater pools last?

The answer is dependent on the usage conditions and how frequently you maintain your pool. The safe bet is that they typically last five to seven years.

How long does a saltwater pool system last?

A salt cell typically has a lifespan of five to seven years or approximately 10,000 hours.


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