So, you have or are considering a saltwater pool. That's great! Some of the benefits of these pool types are that salt water pools require less chlorine than traditional pools, and are generally easier to clean and maintain. Not only is the saltwater better for your skin, hair, and clothes but it's also easier to actually swim in (due to the fact that salt water gives you more buoyancy).
All that being said, it's only great if properly maintain so here are the things you need to do to keep your pool in the best condition:
You should get into the habit of checking your pool, yes, every single day. You should:
- Quickly skim off any visible debris in the pool.
- Make sure that the skimmer is clear and empty the pump basket.
Twice a Week
At least twice a week, you need to clean your pool. If you have an outdoor, uncovered pool, or one in heavy use, you may need to do so more often.
- Run a pool vacuum over the surface of the pool to remove leaves, dirt, and other debris. Allow about two hours to do this by hand or save yourself time by investing in an automatic pool cleaner.
- Check that the pump and skimmer are running correctly.
Once a Week
You need to check your chemical levels and rinse your equipment.
- Use test strips or a drop kit to ensure that the pH is in the ideal range and that the free chlorine level is correct (remember, salt water pool generate their own natural chlorine) - it should be 1 to 3 ppm. If the pH is too low, you can add muriatic acid. If it's too high, use sodium bicarbonate to normalize the pH level. If you are in doubt, contact a professional pool cleaner or check with the manufacturer.
- Clean the pump, filter, and skimmer by rinsing them off with the garden hose or under running water.
Once a Month
You should test and check some additional levels every month
- Salt levels should be checked to make sure they are within the range specified by the manufacturer. They can be increased simply by adding more salt. Try not to rely on the salt chlorinator's automatic reading, as it might need to be re-calibrated.
- Stabilizer levels should be be 70-80 ppm for an outdoor pool and 0-30 ppm for indoor. If they are too high, add fresh water. If too low, add cyanuric acid.
- Calcium should be 200 to 400 ppm (calcium keeps the pool from becoming cloudy).
Every Three Months
Manufacturers recommend that you inspect the salt cell every three months. Your chlorinator generally has an alert.
- Remove the salt cell and visually inspect for scale buildup or debris.
- If you see any deposits, flush the cell with a high-pressure garden hose. If that doesn't work, scrape it with plastic or wood. The last resort is a mild acid wash (4 : 1 ratio of water to muriatic acid). Always add the acid to the water, not the other way around. Soak the cell in the acid for a few minutes, then rinse it with your hose.
- Once the cell is checked and/or cleaned, reinstall it.
At the End of the Swim Season
It is vital to correctly close and winterize your pool at the end of the swimming season.
- Remove the float switch and salt cell and store them indoors. Use a dummy salt cell in it's place. Set the salt chlorine generator to winter or neutral. This is a good time to clean the salt cell.
- Drain the water from the pool's plumbing system. If you can't drain it completely, fill the skimmer with antifreeze. Test the water remaining in the pool and adjust the chemistry as necessary. This might not seem important, but it creates the best environment for winterizing.See more on general winterizing here.
- Thoroughly clean and scrub the pool itself.
- Use a pool closing kit to help prevent algae and cloudy water. In warmer climates, it is particularly important to use an algaecide. Cleaning out algae from your pool is not fun.
- Drain the water level just enough to allow the cover to be deployed. Remove any pool accessories that can be removed and cover any that can't.
- Clean the pool cover prior to deploying it. If you have leaves overlooking the pool, consider adding a leaf net.
- Disconnect the electricity to the pump at the main control and disconnect the plumbing.
At the Start of the Swim Season
When opening your pool for the season, do the following:
- Clean and remove the pool cover. Clean all of the debris off the pool cover before removing it, so as to make sure that nothing drops into the pool. Some covers may need to have collected water drained off.
- Clean the pool thoroughly. Check that there are no metals in the water when you add new water. Metals such as iron and copper can cause corrosion.
- Inspect your zinc anode if you have one. A sacrificial zinc anode is used to protect pool hardware against corrosion. It should be checked every year to see if it has fully corroded, and the start of the season is the best time to do this.
- Clean out the skimmer basket. Remove any skimmer freeze protection devices. Reconnect electricity to the pool devices (carefully) if you chose to disconnect it.
- Add enough fresh water to bring the pool to its normal level before starting the system. Then run the pool vacuum. Test that your system is working.
- Test all of the pool chemistry. You will probably need to add pool salt. You should run the pump for at least 12 hours without the chlorine generator turned on. Turn it on only when you are happy with the chemistry levels.
- Inspect handrails and ladders for damage. If you have a diving board, inspect it and the stand, and make sure the surface has not lost its grip.
After a Major Party
If you have just thrown a pool party, consider the following:
- Check that the pool water is not cloudy. If it is still cloudy the next day, you may want to shock (super chlorinate) the pool. Test and normalize the PH, Then use calcium hypochlorite shock powder. Do it early in the morning, and keep everyone out of the pool until the level has dropped below 5 ppm. You should also do this if your pool has algae in it.
- Vacuum the pool and run the mechanical pool cleaner.
- Clean and rinse off pool accessories.
Some of the steps for maintaining your salt water pool are the same as with any pool, some are different, however, it is still important to do all of your pool maintenance to keep everyone safe and healthy.