Let’s just agree that a home isn't complete without a pool!
Especially in a country like Australia with a staggering 1.2 million backyard pools, you don’t need us to tempt you for installing one. But where you will need us is while deciding whether to opt for a saltwater or chlorine pool, even if you’re planning to renovate your existing one.
That’s why we thought it’d be best to curate a guide featuring everything you need to know about saltwater and chlorine pools.
With all said and done, let’s begin!
What Is A Saltwater Pool?
One of the biggest misconceptions surrounding saltwater pools is that they don’t need chlorine for purification. Although you don’t need to add chlorine regularly as you’d do for chlorine pools, there’s still a fair bit of chlorine involved through a process called “electrolysis.” It produces just enough chlorine to disinfect the pool.
Without getting too technical, the entire process of chlorination takes place with the help of special equipment (chlorine generator) and ordinary salt. The former turns salt into a substance known as hypochlorous acid, which is also used in traditional pools.
As the hypochlorous acid combines with the remaining sodium in the water to form salt, it reduces the need for additional chlorination because salt doesn’t evaporate very quickly. As a result, the treated water is softer and negates the side effects of chlorinated water. In fact, this is a major reason why saltwater pools are becoming popular in both residential and commercial spaces.
Saltwater Pool Pros:
Aside from the aforementioned, there are multiple advantages to a saltwater pool. So, we thought of listing them down in the following sections for your convenience:
1. Gentle On The Eyes And Skin
As you may already be aware, it's not unusual for swimmers swimming in chlorinated water for long periods to develop red and itchy eyes. Moreover, compared to seawater that has around 35,000 parts per million salt, saltwater pools have significantly less salt concentration with only 3,500 parts per million. This mimics the natural concentration found in human tears, thereby being gentler on the skin and eyes.
2. Clean And Sanitized Water
Since saltwater is not entirely free from chlorine, you don’t have to worry about unclean water. The chlorine produced in the form of sodium hypochlorite and hypochlorous acid is as effective in neutralizing algae and bacteria as any other chlorine additives. At the same time, they don’t have that irritating “chlorine smell” like traditional pools.
3. Alleviates Breathing Trouble
Chlorine is known to aggravate lung irritation, asthma and allergies in swimmers. Hence, if your family members or friends are sensitive to chlorine pools, you should consider installing a saltwater pool. Mild or soft water can alleviate many symptoms associated with lung irritation. This feature will be extremely beneficial for kids or athletes who want to immerse in the water for longer periods.
4. Low Maintenance Efforts
In general, it’s easier to own and maintain a saltwater pool. Since the salt cell system is mostly self-contained, there isn't much to do except monitoring the chlorine levels. Similarly, in ideal conditions, cleaning the pool once a year should be sufficient when you’d want to drain the water and scrub the pool.
5. Reduced Soreness
Swimming in saltwater can effectively promote the body’s natural relaxation process. Likewise, exposing the muscles to saltwater can help eliminate soreness while relieving pain and stiffness from injuries or conditions like arthritis.
Due to the low amount of chlorine in saltwater pools, there’s minimal emission of chlorine gas in the environment, keeping your surroundings safe to breathe in.
Saltwater Pool Cons:
For all the good, there are certain downsides to a saltwater pool that you’d want to consider other than the cost of salt, and how much salt to add to your pool.
1. Expensive Installation
It may be helpful to know that saltwater pools have very expensive upfront installation charges. For starters, the cost of a chlorine generator can vary between $900 and $1,000 for a decent model.
On top of that, the salt cells will need replacement every 3 to 7years, which can cost between $300 and $800. However, the frequency of replacement will largely depend on the intensity of use.
Moreover, sodium hypochlorite and hypochlorous acid can cause a sudden rise in the pH level of the water. So, there’s the added cost of procuring necessary chemicals to balance the pH.
2. Complicated System
Sure, saltwater pool systems don’t have much maintenance needs, but the mechanism is complicated compared to traditional pools. This means that you have to seek professional help in case of any malfunctioning, no matter how big or small.
Besides, saltwater tends to be corrosive for related fixtures like pipes, lights, ladders, etc., leading to frequent renovations. Likewise, the water can damage the deck if it’s not built with saltwater-resistant material.
What Is A Chlorine Pool?
Widely referred to as “traditional pools”, chlorine pools are named after the most common chemical that’s used for treating the water. A majority of homeowners prefer having a chlorine pool, simply because they are easier to maintain and cheaper to install. That’s why it’s a popular choice among first-time homeowners who might not want to spend a fortune on installing a pool.
On that note, let’s take a look at the notable advantages of having a chlorine pool.
Chlorine Pool Pros:
We possibly can’t start the list without mentioning how easy it is to maintain a chlorine pool! In the absence of any equipment like a chlorine generator, users don’t have to fret over facing faulty machine operation. Plus, a chlorine pool will consume less electricity, thereby saving on your bills.
Chlorine is readily available, and you can add either tablets or liquid chlorine to the pool to disinfect, and you’re done! Many users believe that this form of chlorine is more effective in killing bacteria and algae than the naturally produced sodium hypochlorite and hypochlorous acid. And most manufacturers provide sufficient application instructions.
Apart from that, it’s easier to find a pool contractor specializing for installation or annual maintenance purposes.
Unlike saltwater, chlorine water doesn’t corrode pool fixtures. Now, we are not saying that having chlorinated water will negate the need for fixture replacement, but they won’t be degraded as rapidly as in saltwater. Additionally, you don’t need to rack your brain finding compatible accessories as most of them are built for chlorine water. And most repairs can be done the DIY way.
3. Doesn’t Harm The Deck
With a chlorine pool, there are no restrictions on splashing sessions! Like in-pool fixtures, chlorinated water doesn’t have significant detrimental effects on practically any deck material and furniture.
Chlorine Pool Cons:
The user-friendliness of chlorine pools bring along certain disadvantages, namely:
1. Not-Self Regulating
Chlorine pools aren’t self-regulating, meaning you have to keep a constant eye on the water conditions before chlorinating. In this regard, it's advisable to always test the water pH balance before adding any form of chlorine. This is because the chemical tends to lose its effectiveness if the pH is 7.8 or higher. In that case, there’s the added hassle of applying pH balancing chemicals.
Furthermore, without a chlorine stabilizer like cyanuric acid, chlorine can quickly evaporate under the sun, forcing users to add more than is actually required.
2. Health Hazards
Contrary to expectations, it’s not the free chlorine that emits a peculiar odour or causes irritation to the eyes or skin. When chlorine is added to water, it undergoes a change in the chemical composition to become chloramine, which is the main reason behind the familiar, unpleasant chlorine smell. Over time, the fumes can contaminate the surrounding air to harm plants and animals.
3. Careful Handling
Being an inherently toxic chemical, chlorine should be handled with utmost care. Always wear proper protective gears, such as glasses, masks, and gloves while dealing with chlorine. Never inhale it directly and store it in a cool and dry place to avoid fire hazards. Similarly, keep it out of reach of children.
4. Higher Upkeep Costs
As we have already mentioned, chlorine may often need the help of additional chemicals to kill excess bacteria or fungi. Aside from that, stocking up chlorine, even with proper storage, may strip the chemical of its effectiveness. Hence, users end up spending more despite owning a good amount.
So, Chlorine, or Saltwater Swimming Pool?
That’s it from us for today’s guide! And at the end of it, there’s only one last thing left to do-answering which pool type is a better option? But to speak the truth, this isn't a “one policy fits all” scenario.
Choosing the ideal pool will require you to compare the pros and cons, so take your time before making a decision. While there may be some cons, you’d want them to be as feasible as possible. And when you reach a decision, set aside ample time to hire the best professionals for the job.
With that, we will take our leave. Hopefully, our assistance will eventually help you make the right decision.
Till the next time, adios!