A misconception regarding salt water swimming pools is that they are naturally sanitized by the salt in the water. The truth is that the salt water in the pool is more like a saline solution with a 3,000 up to 6,000 ppm or parts per million of salt. Actual sea water has 35,000 ppm of salt.

Salt water pools are still sanitized by using chlorine. In this regard, salt water chlorinators are required to efficiently and effectively separate the sodium molecules and the chlorine in salt before reintroducing them back to the pool.  Other chemicals are required to balance the pool.

Salt water pool maintenance may be classified under daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly procedures to be ticked off.

Daily

Daily maintenance procedures include skimming the pool for debris and other pollutants, emptying pump baskets, and clearing skimmers.  Using a clean net for skimming is recommended.

Weekly

Weekly maintenance procedures entail vacuuming of the pool; checking its water level, free chlorine, stabilizer and pH levels.

The free chlorine levels should be tested weekly, more so if the pool’s alkalinity or pH level fluctuates. There test kits available commercially for measuring free chlorine.

The ideal level of free chlorine is 1 to3 ppm. If the level is low, the salinity level must be sufficient enough so the salt water chlorinator can adequately convert the correct amount of chlorine. Calcium build-up in the cell, poor circulation, or expired cell can cause low chlorine level.  Shocking the pool to temporarily boost chlorine level will prod the chlorine generator to do its job.  If the free chlorine level is a bit high, reducing the output setting of the chlorinator, or running the pool pump on a lower speed, or turning on the pool circulation system for less time, should even out the free chlorine.

Check the stabilizer level of the pool.  A salt water pool should have 70 to 80 ppm of stabilizer. Diluting the pool by adding more water or draining some will lower the stabilizer level. If the level is too low, adding cyanuric acid should do the trick.

The pH level of salt water pool should be from 7.2 to 7.8.  This level is sufficient and efficient enough to remove bacteria and germs in the water for a safe swimming environ.  pH level tends to increase or decrease over time. Adding acid or alkali in small amount over an extended amount of time should solve the problem.

Monthly

The levels of salinity, total alkalinity, calcium hardness, total dissolved solids, and metals such as copper, iron and manganese should be tested on a monthly basis.

The recommended level of salinity is from 2700 to 4500 ppm. If the salt level is too low, adding salt should correct the problem. If the water level of salinity is high, the only recourse is to add fresh water. If the salt concentration is too high or too low, the salt cell and other pool equipment could be damaged.

Total alkalinity should be in the 80 to 120 ppm range. Too low alkalinity leads to corrosion, green water or staining. Too high alkalinity leads to cloudy pool water.

Too low calcium levels could turn the pool water corrosive, making calcium seep from stone, plaster and concrete in contact with the salt water pool. Scales and clogs on pipes and filters are formed when there is a high level of calcium. Low calcium level in the pool is best remedied by totally draining the pool and replacing it with clean, fresh water.  If the calcium level is high, the addition of calcium chloride will correct this problem.

The ideal total dissolved solids (TDS) range is from 3,000 to 6,000 ppm.  The salinity level and TDS level should be the same. If the TDS is more than 1500 ppm than the pool’s salinity level, cleaning the filters or doing backwash more often is recommended.

 The presence of metals such as iron, copper and manganese are not desirable in a salt water pool.

Yearly maintenance will be quite easy if the required daily, weekly and monthly maintenance procedures were done.  In temperate climates, winterizing the chlorinator is a must. This is done by removing the salt cell and flow switch from the plumbing and stored inside. When winterizing is unnecessary, continuously running the pump when a freeze is expected is enough.