Converting your Chlorinated Pool into a Salt Water Pool

by Sandra Franks on January 23, 2012

An easy 5-step guide to more environmentally-friendly backyard recreation

Love the idea of having a place to cool off and relax in your backyard? Most home owners would jump at the chance to install a pool. However, many families don’t favor jumping into water that’s chemically treated in order to keep it swimmable. After all, if chlorine kills algae and other pool intruders, what is it doing to your skin and the skin of your loved ones?

Salt-treated pools, on the other hand, provide a more environmentally-friendly alternative to chlorine.  And salt water pool systems can keep a swimming pool just as safe and clean—without the harsh cleaning power of chlorinated pools.

Converting to a salt water pool system

Before I converted my chlorinated pool to a salt-water pool, I phoned a number of Houston pool builders in my area to seek advice.  I recommend you do the same as the cost to convert can be expensive if you find out afterwards that there are issues preventing conversion. However, once you get the go-ahead follow these simple conversion instructions:

1. Buy a chlorine generator: This will be added to your swimming pools plumbing system and turn salt into the active chlorine that will work to keep your pool clean of bacteria and algae.

2. Buy salt for your pool: Your pools size will determine the amount of salt you’ll add, but typically 50 pounds of salt is added per 1,200 gallons of capacity.

3. Install your chlorine generator system: Again, I recommend using a professional electrician so the job is done properly.  The electrician will wire the chlorine generator to the pool pump circuit so they work in conjunction.

4. Once you turn on the pool pump, salt will circulate through the chlorine generator to purify the water in your pool—and the process will be a continual loop.

5. To ensure pool cleanliness, test the salt levels in your pool regularly using salt test strips provided by your pool contractor or local pool/spa store.

So what are the advantages of salt water pools compared to chlorinated pools?

  • Salt water pool treatments are more environmentally friendly—i.e., they don’t contaminate the surrounding soil like chlorinated chemicals do.
  • There are potential cost benefits to a saltwater swimming pools operation—i.e., the salt you put in your pool’s system gets reused over and over again, so you don’t have to constantly buy chemicals (like chlorine) to add to the pool.
  • Water softener salt is the type of salt used in pools as well and is readily available at a low cast at most hardware stores.
  • Since you will use less salt (compared to chlorine) to maintain your pool, there will be less damage and maintenance necessary for pool pumps and equipment.
  • Maintaining a salt water pool is much easier than a chlorinated system—the generator will even automatically indicate when salt levels are too low or high.

And what are the disadvantages to salt water vs. chlorinated pools?

  • Salt water systems are a pricy upfront cost for pool owners—however since salt is cheaper than chlorine, you can expect to save money on pool maintenance costs over the long run.
  • Chlorine pools are easy to maintain by a homeowner—you simply add the proper amount of chemicals. However with salt water pools, you must wire the chlorine generator into the pools electrical system so I recommend you pay a qualified electrician to do the job properly for the safety of your swimmers and your home insurance.


6 Ways to Protect the Security of your Swimming Pool

by Sandra Franks on January 16, 2012

Keep children and neighborhood pets safe with pool fencing, alarms and chemical storage

Swimming pools are a great way to cool off and cool off as a family during the summer.  A family swimming pool in your backyard provides that instant cooling oasis—however it can be a dangerous temptation for children when there is no adult supervision.  Swimming pools can post risk to children, neighborhood pets and anyone who can’t swim. As the owner of a pool, it is your legal responsibility to install adequate swimming pool security to help keep you, your family and your neighborhood safe. When I had my own pool put in, all of the Huston pool contractors that I spoke to told me they weren’t able to begin building my in-ground pool until I had a fence erected.

Let’s start by examining the XX most popular swimming pool security options…

1.  Swimming pool fencing

Pool fencing comes in various designs and styles, so there’s no reason not to install a fence before you install your pool. In fact, you are legally obligated to fence in any pool or spa area in most U.S. states. A pool or spa fence offers a layer of protection around your pool and spa from unwanted guests—such as curious neighborhood children, your own unsupervised children or even furry critters that might fall into the pool and drown. The most popular pool fencing comes in:

  • Galvanized wire or chain link fencing
  • Study weatherproof wooden fencing
  • Colored mesh fencing with safety latches

All types of pool fencing should be outfitted with a security gate with an automatic latch that is locked when you’re pool is not in use. Locks for pool fencing vary as well. For the best peace of mind choose either a magnetically-triggered lock that can’t be pulled open by a child, or a sturdy lock with torsion springs that requires a key.

2. Pool covers

An added layer of protection—should a child or pet breech your pool fence—is a pool or spa cover. These should be put over the swimming surface whenever your pool is not in use, not just for off season. You can choose a manual pool cover that you will stretch over the pool surface by hand, or an automatic cover that secures your pool with the easy push of a button.  Locks should be fitted on most manual or automatic pool and spa covers. Pool covers are not that heavy, so without a lock, they can still be easily removed without much strength.  A pool cover will also save you from cleaning a pool constantly as it will prevent foliage and insects from falling into your pool or spa when it’s not in use.

3. Pool alarms

The final layer of security for your pool or spa should be a trusty pool alarm. This is especially useful with households with curious toddlers who have just found the joy of walking and exploring.  You know the first time your back is turned they are going to go for the pool. Most pool alarms are small units that you can equip and turn off via a remote receiver. Just let the pool alarm float on the pool’s surface. If a child or animal falls into the pool, the alarm will go off instantly.

4. Laser security

Laser pool security is a more recent type of pool or spa alarm that provides an extra layer of invisible security around the water. If a child, animal or strangers enter your pool, the laser will detect movement and sound an alarm to the detection. Again, the laser alarm is activated via a remote control. You can likewise protect individuals, like your child, from danger by fitting them with a laser alarm, which is worm around their wrist. The alarm will sound immediately if your child falls into the water.

5. Interior pool fences

An interior pool fence is like a baby fence, it blocks off the deep end of your pool as well as the powerful sucking power of your pool’s drain, which can drag a child below the surface of your pool very quickly. These durable plastic fences can create a shallow wading pool where your child is safe to cool off in the pool without danger of drowning.

6. Pool storage sheds

Pool storage structures put dangerous pool and spa chemicals safely under lock and key so you don’t have clutter on your pool deck or leave poisonous chemicals out for children or animals to ingest.


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