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.

Previous post: