Buying a pool is an exciting time. Its not just the pool shape and design that you need to think of, an important consideration is, which sanitising agent you will use to keep your pool clean. Saltwater tends to be popular amongst pool owners and a question we get asked a lot here at The Fibreglass Pool Company is “Can fibreglass pools be saltwater?” The good news is, yes they can. Fibreglass pools are highly compatible with saltwater chlorinators as the salt does not compromise the interior surface of the pool.
Many people prefer saltwater over traditional chlorine as it is gentler on the skin and eyes and does not have the pungent chlorine smell that comes with a chlorinated pool.
Having a saltwater pool does not mean that your pool will be “salty” either. To put it in perspective, a saltwater pool is 10 times less salty than the sea and for many, it is undetectable.
What is the difference between saltwater and chlorine?
The major difference between a saltwater and chlorine sanitising system is that rather than cleaning your pool with concentrated doses of chlorine, you use salt instead. Essentially both are using chlorine to sanitise your water, however the salt chlorine generator system converts the salt into chlorine via a process called electrolysis which works to eradicate the algae and bacteria to keep your pool clean. A saltwater system will maintain the water quality to the same standard that a traditional chlorine system does, it just uses far less chlorine to do so. This means you can swim without any of the unpleasant side effects such as green hair or faded swimwear.
Saltwater for concrete pools
Installing a saltwater chlorinator system in your concrete pool is not advisable. The reason for this is that dissolved salt is highly abrasive, and it can wear down and compromise the cement finish. For those that do choose to have a saltwater system for their concrete pool, they will more than likely need to get the pool resurfaced more often than normally needed which is an expensive undertaking.
Saltwater for vinyl liner pools
Vinyl liner pools, whilst they fair better than concrete are not suited to salt water. They are typically enforced with steel walls and if the vinyl liner sustains even the smallest puncture or hole it can corrode the metal parts and jeopardise the structure of the pool.
Saltwater for fibreglass pools
Fibreglass pool technology has advanced significantly over the years and they are designed to withstand the many harsh elements that pools are exposed to, saltwater included. Salt has no adverse effects on the shell of a fibreglass pool which makes them highly compatible. If you do choose saltwater for your pool, its important to factor in the pools surroundings. The area around you pool will get wet and then dry again from people getting in and out of it and it can lead to residue and high concentrations of salt building up and corroding objects that have metal or aluminium fittings. To avoid this its best to wash down the area around your pool including concrete, decking or equipment with a hose after each use.
The cost: Saltwater vs Chlorine
When deciding which sanitising solution is best for your pool, something that needs to be taken into consideration is the cost. When comparing the two there is not a significant saving either way. Saltwater chlorinators are usually more expensive to install than a chlorine system, but the salt is cheaper than traditional chlorine. Chlorine is around $150 a year whereas salt is around $20. Chlorine systems typically last longer than saltwater systems as the salt can place excessive wear on the equipment.
Saltwater for your pool comes with both pros and cons. Here are some things to keep in mind when deciding which sanitising system is best or you and your pool:
• Saltwater has no caustic effects on the skin, hair, or body like chlorine does. The salt level found in a saltwater pool is much the same as the level of salt found in the body. It is also safe to handle and store.
• Saltwater is known to feel “softer” which provides a much more pleasant bathing experience.
• Saltwater pools normally need less maintenance than chlorinated pools as the chlorinators units make chlorine automatically when the pool pumps switch on. This maintains a consistent level of chlorine which means there is no risk of overdosing the pool with harsh chemicals and making it unsafe to swim in.
• Saltwater pools are more economical to run than chlorine.
• As saltwater systems use a much lower dose of chlorine to sanitise the water, they make the water much safer to swim in. This is a big plus if you have young children using the pool and they accidently swallow the water or if they open their eyes when underwater.
• Whilst saltwater does not damage the interior of a fibreglass pool, it can corrode the surrounds around your pool. Finishes such as natural stone, plaster or objects with metal parts can get ruined by the saltwater if they are near the pool.
• If your saltwater chlorinator system is not maintained on a regular basis, the salt may erode and damage your equipment.
• Saltwater pools typically require extra effort to balance the water levels. It’s a good idea to check your water chemistry levels on a regular basis or hire a professional to do it for you. Mineral deposits can build up in the salt cell and inhibit the system from working to its full potential.
• Saltwater pool owners need to run the pool pump for a minimum of 8 hours per day, sometimes even longer for larger pools.
• The initial outlay to install a saltwater system is more than a traditional chlorine system which may be a deterrent for some in the market for a pool.
There are many factors to take in account when deciding on a sanitising option for your pool, making the decision comes down to the individual and which type they prefer.
Many prefer saltwater pools
Traditional chlorinated pools typically require more maintenance and the chlorine itself is more expensive to buy than salt, although installing a saltwater chlorinator is more costly than a chlorine system. In the time that saltwater systems have been available as a sanitising solution for pools they have become extremely popular. Many people buying a pool are opting for salt and people that already own a pool are converting their traditional system into a saltwater one as they are more economical and are not as harsh on the body. Although they are more costly upfront, the money you save on chlorine in the long term makes them a worthwhile investment. Choosing a sanitising option that is best for you can be a difficult decision.
Our team here at The Fibreglass Pool Company specialise in pools and we can offer helpful advice to help you decide whether a saltwater system or chlorine system is better suited to you. If you would like additional information regarding saltwater for your pool or if you have any questions, please get in touch with us. We are happy to help in any way we can.