Ultimate Guide to Maintaining a Saltwater Pool

Contrary to what many people say about a saltwater pool, it does need some tender loving care just like a regular pool, but of course, it’s not as intensive as maintaining a regular pool. Yes, there are some pool maintenance aspects that are totally different, but majority-wise, it’s the same.

Maintaining your Pool Pump in a Saltwater Pool

No matter how you look at it, a saltwater pool is still basically a swimming pool. The pump maintenance routine you’ll need to do is the same, clean up your pump baskets regularly, listen for any “strange” sounds coming from your pool pump, and grease the o-ring of your pump lid regularly.

Maintaining your pool filters in a saltwater pool

Again, nothing special really about a saltwater pool that you’ll need to radically change your pool filter maintenance regimen. Sand filters need to be backwashed when the pressure gauge reads above the normal levels. Your cartridge filters will need to be rinsed and soaked in some filter cleaning solution every once in a while. So yeah, there’s no difference in maintaining your pool filters when you have a saltwater pool.

Maintaining your chemical levels in a saltwater pool

Now, this is where the maintenance of a saltwater pool and a regular pool start to differentiate from one another. There are certain chemical levels that we need to take extra special care in monitoring when we’re using a saltwater chlorinator.

  • Free Chlorine Levels - While we actively monitor the free chlorine levels in our pool, we don’t necessarily add chlorine to counter this but just adjust the output settings on our chlorinator control panel to compensate.
  • pH levels - It’s perfectly normal to see rising pH levels in a saltwater pool so this is not something to be worried about. Sodium hydroxide is the byproduct of electrolysis, since it’s a very alkaline substance, we can expect our pH levels to rise. To control this, simply make sure that your total alkalinity levels are where they’re supposed be and apply so pH down tablets when the pH level is reaching the high points.
  • Cyanuric acid levels - This is pretty easy to maintain as the only time your cyanuric acid levels will rise is when you add more. Maintain cyanuric acid / stabiliser levels at 60ppm to 80ppm. You’re thinking, WAIT why is that higher than the recommended levels of 30ppm to 50ppm? The reasoning behind this is that in regular pools, you’re adding large amounts of chlorine at one time. With a saltwater chlorinator, you’re constantly generating small amounts of chlorine for your pool which means that they need more protection for them to properly sanitise the pool. Don’t worry though, once you get the right levels and settings, it’s clear sailing from there.

Additional tasks involving a saltwater pool

There’s an additional task that’s unique to saltwater pools (don’t worry! This only has to be done once or twice a year!) and that is to check and maintain your salt cells! Even if your chlorinator is marked as “self-cleaning”, you will still need to check and maintain your saltwater cells and remove any calcium buildup on the cells themselves. We have an in-depth guide on how to clean your chlorinator cells here which you can check out as a handy reference. Need a dedicated cleaning kt for your saltwater cell? Check out the Aussie Gold Clean A Cell below!

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Saltwater Pool Maintenance Q&A

Over the years we’ve gotten a number of questions regarding maintaining saltwater pools and we’ve decided to compile these questions (and their answers, of course) into a comprehensive Q&A list!

Question: My saltwater chlorinator keeps on flashing the “no flow” or “low flow” warning but the pump is turned on and the water seems to be flowing properly.

Answer: There are a couple of reasons why your chlorinator might be showing a low flow warning. The first can be dirty filters which reduce the flow of water to your salt cell. Do a backwash if you have a sand filter or give your filter cartridges a good rinse to see if that fixes the problem. If that doesn’t fix the flow warning, the next thing you can do is to check the cells themselves. Calcium buildup inside of your salt cells can also to a low flow reading and cleaning them should take care of the low flow reading.

Question: My saltwater chlorinator suddenly isn’t producing enough free chlorine, it was working fine before.

Answer: Check your salt level to ensure that the level is within the recommended levels for your specific saltwater chlorinator model. If your salt levels are fine, check the salt cell itself, it may need cleaning.

Question: I did my math wrong and I added too much salt and now my salt levels are way over the recommended levels, how do I fix this?

Answer: Partially drain the pool and add fresh water to dilute the salt levels in your pool. Don’t forget to check and balance all of the other chemical levels in the pool as you’re effectively diluting everything in your pool.

Question: My saltwater chlorinator is crazy! It shows wildly varying levels of salt every day!

Answer: Test your salt levels with a test strip as a too low or too high level can trick your chlorinator’s built-in sensor to give out a false reading. If your levels are where they’re supposed to be, the next step would be to clean your saltwater cell. If cleaning your cell doesn’t work, then it’s probably time to replace your saltwater cell altogether. See our collection of genuine and replacement saltwater cells here.

Question: One of the kids had an “accident” in our saltwater pool, what do I do?

Answer: Don’t worry too much. Scoop out as much of the “accident” as possible, crank up your saltwater chlorinator to its maximum level and leave your chlorinator and pump running for at least 24 hours to totally sanitise your pool water and it should be fine.

Question: Our hair is turning green! Is this from the saltwater chlorinator?

Answer: Partly yes! But before you run out and yank out your saltwater chlorinator, a regular chlorine pool will also turn your hair green! This is chlorine reacting with copper in your pool water, oxidising the copper and turning your hair green! This is usually common in pools that use well water or is in an area where metals are present in the water. The solution to this is to use a chelating agent on your pool or add a metal sequestrant to keep the copper in solution and not tint your hair green.

Answer 2: A copper-based algaecide could also be the culprit for turning your hair green if you didn’t have this type of problem before. Check the labels of your algaecide to see.

Question: My free chlorine levels are above the recommended levels! Help!

Answer: This is an easy problem to fix. Simply lower the output levels of your chlorinator and re-test your water until you get a steady free chlorine reading that’s within the recommended levels.

Question: All of the chemical levels in my pool are within the recommended/optimal levels but my pool water is still cloudy, what could be the cause?

Answer: The cloudiness in the water could be coming from particles too small for your filters to catch or your filters might not be doing their job properly. Try backwashing your sand filter or soaking your filter cartridge in some filter cleaning solution. Also take note of when you last replaced your filter elements, it might be time to replace the sand in your filter or your filter cartridge itself. If that doesn’t work then you may need to do something more drastic like using a flocculant on your pool to remove the cloudiness.

Question: My pH level in my saltwater pool is always high!

Answer: As we mentioned earlier, it’s normal for pH levels in saltwater pools to go high. Just make sure to keep an eye on your total alkalinity levels and add some pH reducer to deal with high ph levels

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Question: My free chlorine levels never reach optimum levels even if the chlorinator is cranked up to maximum!

Answer: The sun’s UV rays may be burning out the chlorine faster than your chlorinator can pump it out. Check your cyanuric acid levels if they’re up to the recommended levels. Now if your chlorinator could reach the recommended levels before, it may be time to replace your salt cells. If this is a new chlorinator and it has NEVER hit the recommended chlorine levels then it is possible that your chlorinator is too undersized for your pool and you may need to supplement your pool with manual doses of chlorine or replace the chlorinator altogether.

Question: I accidentally added too much cyanuric acid to my saltwater pool! How do I fix this?

Answer: The only way to lower cyanuric acid levels is to partially drain your pool and add fresh water to dilute the levels left. There is another way of course, which is to get a reverse osmosis machine/filter, but those cost an arm and a leg, and it would be much easier (and cheaper) to just partially drain and refill your pool.

Question: I started seeing corrosion on my metal pool accessories ever since we installed a saltwater chlorinator

Answer: This is due to electrolysis in the pool and is to be expected. To prevent it, look up “sacrificial anode” on eBay or your favorite online store. The sole purpose of this sacrificial anode is to be corroded first before your other pool components, hence the sacrificial name.

Conclusion

That about covers it for maintaining a saltwater pool! We also have a number of other blog posts covering other topics regarding saltwater chlorination like this helpful post on demystifying saltwater chlorination and this helpful post on how to convert your traditional pool to a saltwater pool. If you have any questions that you think might be helpful to others or you just want answered, feel free to send us a message on the form below!

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Thinking of changing or getting a new salt water chlorinator? Check out our product spotlights for our top saltwater chlorinator picks! The Water TechniX Atomic and the Vapure Salt Mineral Chlorinator. 

Do you have any questions about this topic or the featured products? No worries, we're here to help! Drop us a question down below and we'll get back to you ASAP.

Happy swimming :)

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Post author:

Tom Hintze

Head of eCommerce & Operations at Mr Pool Man,
Co-Founder at Water TechniX

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