In recent years, many customers have asked me about the advantages of putting a salt system into their swimming pools. As with many things, there are pros and cons – good points and not so good points.
To begin with, a salt system has a high initial investment of anywhere from $900 to $1500 on average. However, monthly costs for salt can be as little as six dollars - which is obviously very inexpensive when compared to conventional pool chemicals. Another advantage is that you are not lugging around hazardous chemicals in your car or storing them in your garage or anywhere else in your home.
After all, many people have forgotten that chlorine is actually what used to be called "mustard gas” during World War I - so it’s hardly safe. In fact, most pool owners will notice that wherever they store chlorine, everything made of metal in that area may become badly oxidized. With all that in mind, switching to a salt system can save you a lot of hassle.
It has also been my experience that a salt system keeps the pH and alkalinity in pool water in closer balance without wide swings. That is not to say that the salt system is not without its own hassles. Most of the salt systems out there have an LED readout that lets you know when you need to add salt. This makes life easy. But there is also an LED display that tells you when you must check and service the catalytic cell. That is the in-line piece that houses the metal plates through which electricity is sent to convert the salt to sodium chloride.
Once a buildup occurs between those plates, the cell must be soaked in a dilute solution of muriatic acid to break up those deposits – and you must then flush the cell before reinstalling. However, I hope you won’t shy away from a salt system just because of that one problem – because those cells are usually installed with quick connect unions, and a large pair of vise grips or small pipe wrench can easily open both sides. Considering that the whole process should take less than 20 minutes, it’s not that big of a deal.
In the end, it’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons of traditional or salt systems – then decide which is best for your swimming pool and your family’s needs.