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Salt pool maintenance


Adrian
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Welcome to the forum Adrian, It's like so many things, there are good and bad products for anything including pools and salt chlorinators. Have you any information regarding the manufacturer of the equipment and how old it may be.

To start at the beginning, salt pool are chlorine pools, the salt water passes through the chlorinator where the chlorine is converted from the salt water. It should also have a dosing pump to administer the pH adjustment chemical.

To offer advice we really need to know some more information on the size of the pool, it's construction and type of filtration and of course roughly where abouts in france it is as water conditions vary tremendously from place to place.

The entire regime of pool management can be explained so don't panic it's quite simple once the learning curve is established. 

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See the Pool School article "Water Balance for SWGs" at Trouble Free Pool:

http://www.troublefreepool.com/pool-school/water_balance_saltwater_generator

The basic rule is that the Free Chlorine (FC) should be at least 5% of the Cyanuric Acid (CYA) level. Also, with most saltwater chlorine generator (SWG) pools, they tend to rise in pH so to mitigate that you keep your Total Alkalinity (TA) lower at around 70 ppm and you have a somewhat higher pH target of 7.7 if needed. If you have access to boric acid (not always easy to get in Europe) you can use 50 ppm borates (as ppm Boron) in your pool. You can use The Pool Calculator:

http://www.thepoolcalculator.com

for calculating dosages.
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Just about everybody I know has a salt pool and to a man they have all had huge green water problems almost every year, the one thing they are definitely not is 'fit and forget' and thinking that they are - which is what the sales blurb tells you - is a big mistake.

Don't be tempted to do what a couple of them did, chuck x bags of salt

straight into the water and turn them into mini 'dead seas'. The only

way back from that is a partial or complete refill.

My above ground pool came with a salt to chlorine generator and cartridge filter which was pants from day one and I replaced it with a proper sand filter and manual dosing, in the subsequent 5 years I've not had any problems at all and I can open it have it ready for use in 24 hours.

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Have to agree ( with Graham and Brenda),  My pool rarely gains any green even with a minuscule Chlorine content and salt at the recommended levels, I always find that knocking comments from the 'Advocates' of javel and Hydrochloric acid injection into pools soon raise their heads when discussing this subject almost as if they have some sort of commercial interest  ;-)

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No commercial interest here, just that people I know placing far too much confidence in 'fit and forget' and ending up with green water time after time.

I had it just once and that was in the very first year I had my above ground pool and foolisly thought that the pathetic salt generator and throw away cartridge filter (~€9 a pop thank you very much) supplied with it would actually work, and it sort of did for a while when I was looking after it daily but when I went off to work one time 'er indoors just fed it the prescribed amount of salt as per instructions but did nothing else, result - after just a few days of hot weather wallop - it turned green almost overnight.

I threw the generator away, bought a small sand filter/pump, started to dose it manually, predominantly with an all in one floating jobbie, and have never looked back. I covered the cost of the sand filter in the second year by not having to buy throw away cartridges every couple of weeks which didn't really work anyhow [;-)]

I don't believe there can be many out there who successfully rely on their salt system working 100% correctly 100% of the time and never have to manually intervene at all.

If so then it just comes down to the degree of intervention - not the need for it.

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Just to come back to the OP's question, how easy is it to maintain a salt pool?

If you have an adequate set up there is very little to go wrong with a salt pool, some are even fitted with a sensor and a metering pump so that the Ph is maintained. If You can come back with the manufacturer of your equipment ie Electrolyser and filter, those of us here with actual experience of running successful pools will be able to give you our tips.

When you become responsible for your pool first check the salt content and the Ph using initially test strips say 10€, if you want to become a total geek there are photometers  say 150€ to measure your parameters to two decimal places but as there is usually no standard solution for calibration with these instruments then their value must be questionable and their evidence would not, for instance, be accepted in a court of law.

Once the salt and Ph levels have been measured and adjusted if necessary run the pump and thus the eletrrolyser for the required time, for my pool 8 x 4 x 1.5 at 50% I calculate that the pump needs to run for 1 hour( over night so you benefit from lower cost leccy)  for every two degrees C water temperature. Again check the chlorine levels with the strips any thing over 1.5ppm and lower than 5 ppm will be fine. Longer will be needed if you are starting with any green in the pool in fact if you turn up the wick to 100% and leave the pump running for a day or so you should be able to clear the pool of all green stuff particularly if you have a good pool cover to restrict the amount of light entering the pool. remember that algae are plants and all plants need light, water and food, ie nitrates to multiply. already having salt in your pool will help with the plant life, cut down on the light and remove the nitrates or muck as we call it and then treat with Chlorine almost guarantees a weed free pool. Severe cases can be treated with an algaecide.

The 'experts' on here advocate the use of a stabiliser to increase the apparent Cl content of your water, studies I've seen seem to provide a contra indication, sterilisation should be carried out at night so there is no UV effect and the Stabiliser actually inhibits the oxidising power of the Chlorine produced. 

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The basic difference between a salt and a chlor pool is that the chlor pool does not have salt in it. They both use chlor as the sanitiser. The idea of the cyanuris acid is to protect the chlor from UV light. Chlor in a pool with no cyanuric in it is burnt off quickly by UV so you have to put more in, in my case liquid chlor, javel,  or in your case salt. So to say, in so many words, that cyanuric is not needed is true I suppose, but if it's going to cost more in salt/javel then to me it is a total no brainer.

Retread, what do you do with the water in your pool during the day? Sunlight and chlor, whether or not you are sanitising, are not a very good mix unless you are protecting the chlor with cyanuric. 50 ppm is the ideal and I measure mine with a photometric tester and the test is started by puting a sample of water in the unit to calibrate the tester, then adding the reagent tablet, disolving it and then testing it. So, have you ever seen one? I do not consider myself as a geek.

Only if you go over the 50ppm for the cyanuric will you start to mask the chlor and you have to go a fair way over to block it totally. The only way to reduce the cya is to change water and dilute it.

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I think there is a difference of attitude between my approach to my pool and the accepted theories. for instance while we both want to achieve a clean pool, I do not see the proof of that in a high chlorine reading during the day, rather I prefer to sanitise during the night when there is no UV to burn off the Chlorine. that being said I regularly achieve readings of 0.75 to 1.3ppm in the afternoon! A salt pool uses chlorine generated in the sanitiser to destroy any nasties in the water as its pumped through rather than having a higher level of partially inactive chlorine in the pool itself, as I said earlier the use of Cyanuric acid actually decreases the activity of the chlorine so the actual breakdown of bacteria takes much longer. My major cost is electricity to filter the water in the pool overnight, now my model may not be suitable for heavy use but on this forum I believe we are talking to others with domestic pools used by themselves and occasionally a few friends. To be sociable, and I admit to make the pool experience a little more enjoyable to those who stand close to the outlet jets, I normally run the pump (and thus the sanitiser) and the Skimmer while the pool is in use. I keep the pool clear of leaves and grass cuttings, as well as keeping the overnight temperature loss to a minimum by judicious use of the cover.

As for your test methods, as an engineer I cringe, A Standard should be obtained i.e. a definite amount of Cyuranic acid dissolved in a measured amount of distilled water and then tested using your kit, this will then show you how accurate your system is, its not only the meter which can be erroneous but also the concentration of the reagent which can vary from batch to batch.

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A salt pool also has a chlor level in the actual pool and if it were to rely on what goes through the pump then some of the water that is being 'contaminated' in the pool by swimmers could and will take up to 3 hours to go through the pump if you have a system that circulates the water once every 3 hours, which is a very good circulation time. So, if you are relying on your system to 'kill through the pump'? 3 hours?????

No, your salt pool has the chlor IN the pool and not just through the pump. Where the hell else is going to go after it has left the pump may I ask?

My sstem checks and adjusts the chlor and Ph levels every 3 minutes. If the chlor level drops or the Ph starts to rise because several people have entered the pool then it puts 100ml of chlor or sulphuric acid, Ph minus to pool shops as they have n idea what sulphuric acid is, into the pool every 3 minutes if needed to bring it back into balance.

Yours?

"a definite amount of Cyuranic acid dissolved in a measured amount of

distilled water and then tested using your kit, this will then show you

how accurate your system is"

Your test strips do just this and use a set parameter to do it? They are very cleaver test strips you have there retread? All to an exact standard too [blink]

And all this for 10€ ?

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All I can say is that it works my way, if you like boys tools then that's up to you but 10€ test strips are perfectly adequate for the job so long as the water chemistry isn't wildly out of kilter the system will work, don't go believing the scare stories spread  by purveyors of meters and systolic pump. Just remember which side their bread is buttered!

As as for checking every three minutes...why? how much contamination can family add to a pool? how can you duplicate that lovely soft feel you get with a salt pool.

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[quote user="retread"]Have to agree ( with Graham and Brenda),  My pool rarely gains any green even with a minuscule Chlorine content and salt at the recommended levels, I always find that knocking comments from the 'Advocates' of javel and Hydrochloric acid injection into pools soon raise their heads when discussing this subject almost as if they have some sort of commercial interest  ;-)
[/quote]

So you are off on your jaundiced crusade again are you retread?

As I have often stated on here and other places you frequent, I am for the truth and so the information I put on the forums doesn't change. I do have a problem when people who do not know what they are talking about publish even more wrong information to someone who is already suffering with issues and could be hard up against it time wise with guests arriving etc.

When I first came over to France there were far more issues with salt pools than with direct dosed pool, so yes I look at what works for a trouble free life. 

What IS your problem?  Hydrochloric acid can just as easily be used to dose a salt chlorine pool to keep the pH adjusted as it can with direct javel dosing.  The cost of basic dosing units is similar and the replacement cell for the salt chlorine generator has a cost attached which depending on the distance you have to travel will have an effect on the overall cost of running the system. For a domestic pool you can use either, for a pool rented to guests you are required to use direct dosing due to the sanitation requirements laid down by the French authorities.

As Ernie says there can be issues, not always the fault of the chlorine generator many times down to other equipment like test equipment.  You however seem to have a chip on your shoulder about anyone earning a living in the pool industry.  Whilst a decent tester does have a capital outlay attached there is no real profit attached to them. What they really do is give proper information to the pool owner as to what their pool is doing.  Your argument falls away with test strips, one minute you want calibrating fluid the next you accept the results from dip strips where the vagueries of the printers ink and the same batch issues could occur.  As I tell people aways check your new batch of test reagent results against the old ones so you can see if the readings are the same.

[quote user="retread"]When you become responsible for your pool first check the salt content and the Ph using initially test strips say 10€, if you want to become a total geek there are photometers  say 150€ to measure your parameters to two decimal places but as there is usually no standard solution for calibration with these instruments then their value must be questionable and their evidence would not, for instance, be accepted in a court of law.
[/quote]

Source?  As the French authorities use same/similar equipment and not dip strips how do you know as a French lawyer/Avocat that would be the case?

[quote user="retread"] remember that algae are plants and all plants need light, water and food, ie nitrates to multiply. already having salt in your pool will help with the plant life, cut down on the light and remove the nitrates or muck as we call it and then treat with Chlorine almost guarantees a weed free pool. Severe cases can be treated with an algaecide.
The 'experts' on here advocate the use of a stabiliser to increase the apparent Cl content of your water, studies I've seen seem to provide a contra indication, sterilisation should be carried out at night so there is no UV effect and the Stabiliser actually inhibits the oxidising power of the Chlorine produced. 
[/quote]

So having salt in your pool will aready help with the plant life?  Really, so they don't grow in sea water then, the sea being around 10x more salt content than your pool.  

http://algae.ucsd.edu/potential/environmental-benefits.html

Now how do you get rid of the nitrates?

It is not the helpful knowledgable people on here that advocate the use of stabilising cyanuric acid it is the chemistry people, "studies you've seen", Source?

[URL=http://s701.photobucket.com/user/picturebouquet/media/chlorine_photolysis_half_life_zpsfbb00b25.jpg.html][IMG]http://i701.photobucket.com/albums/ww13/picturebouquet/chlorine_photolysis_half_life_zpsfbb00b25.jpg[/IMG][/URL]

Thanks to Dryden Aqua and Richard Falk.

The action of cyanuric acid stabilser is not a permanent one, chlorine bonded to the cyanuric acid will also un bond if required for sanitising.

Choc dosing is better carried out at night for the reason stated but leaving your pool all day in water above 20 deg when bacteria can double ever 15 mins is fool hardy.

[quote user="Jonzjob"]The basic difference between a salt and a chlor pool is that the chlor pool does not have salt in it. They both use chlor as the sanitiser. The idea of the cyanuris acid is to protect the chlor from UV light. Chlor in a pool with no cyanuric in it is burnt off quickly by UV so you have to put more in, in my case liquid chlor, javel,  or in your case salt. So to say, in so many words, that cyanuric is not needed is true I suppose, but if it's going to cost more in salt/javel then to me it is a total no brainer.

[/quote]

Not strictly true Jonzjob, they are in fact both salt pools, chlorine when it breaks down reverts to salt in both pools, re used in a salt pool but dormant in a directly dosed one so stopping the soft water in a salt pool argument, and retreads algae growth comment.

[quote user="retread"]I think there is a difference of attitude between my approach to my pool and the accepted theories. for instance while we both want to achieve a clean pool, I do not see the proof of that in a high chlorine reading during the day, rather I prefer to sanitise during the night when there is no UV to burn off the Chlorine. that being said I regularly achieve readings of 0.75 to 1.3ppm in the afternoon! A salt pool uses chlorine generated in the sanitiser to destroy any nasties in the water as its pumped through rather than having a higher level of partially inactive chlorine in the pool itself, as I said earlier the use of Cyanuric acid actually decreases the activity of the chlorine so the actual breakdown of bacteria takes much longer. [/quote]

The differnce in the disinfection speed at the levels of satbiliser described on the manufacturers information for all salt chlorinators and direct dosing units does not have a massive effect and falls within the guidelines laid down from governments as far Australia, The US and EU member states, that is why it exists.   From the graph earlier you can see the half life of chlorine with 0 cyanuric acid stabiliser in the water is around 35 minutes in bright sunshine so to have your sketchy dip strip reading showing 0.75 to 1.3ppm you must logically be starting with a considerably higher chlorine level and warm water will also react stronger with the test reagent so may well over read anyway.

[quote user="retread"] My major cost is electricity to filter the water in the pool overnight, now my model may not be suitable for heavy use but on this forum I believe we are talking to others with domestic pools used by themselves and occasionally a few friends. To be sociable, and I admit to make the pool experience a little more enjoyable to those who stand close to the outlet jets, I normally run the pump (and thus the sanitiser) and the Skimmer while the pool is in use.[/quote]

Oh yes, have you actually worked out how much your electricity costs yet?  My setup has vastly improved from last year and I am proud to say I am pumping the correct flow for my pool at 67watts/hour, that maybe a Guiness world record!  Certainly energy "A" rated.

[quote user="retread"]As for your test methods, as an engineer I cringe, A Standard should be obtained i.e. a definite amount of Cyuranic acid dissolved in a measured amount of distilled water and then tested using your kit, this will then show you how accurate your system is, its not only the meter which can be erroneous but also the concentration of the reagent which can vary from batch to batch.
[/quote]

Here you go again, as an engineer, that's a wildly over used statement. The testers are fully calibrated when they leave the factory and can be re calibrated should there be a varience which over time is only logical. Other test kits are available it's just photemeters are a convenient one unit tester but I still have my comparitor but that requires new disks every so often as the colours can bleach with age. There are titration tests but no as an "engineer" you prefer the non standard tiny drop of water on a tiny square of reagent placed next to other reagents so the chemicals can all run into one another.......oh please.

 [quote user="retread"]All I can say is that it works my way, if you like boys tools then that's up to you but 10€ test strips are perfectly adequate for the job so long as the water chemistry isn't wildly out of kilter the system will work, don't go believing the scare stories spread  by purveyors of meters and systolic pump. Just remember which side their bread is buttered!
[/quote]

You wouldn't know if the water parameters were out relying on dip strips, what have YOU got as a reference?  The huge number of hours I put into trying to straighten out mis information.  I would be quite happy to offer a customer a salt chlorine generator if that is what they have decided on.  Both sytems require perastaltic pumps to regulate the pH so it doesn't matter a jot, your arguments just fall away.

[quote user="retread"] how can you duplicate that lovely soft feel you get with a salt pool.
[/quote]

That's not science, it's you repeating what the sales blurb told you, as I said ealier all pools be it chlorine directly dosed or salt conversion have salt in them. Far more is down to the water in the area. I was working on two pool not far from you and the water is naturally very soft so they "feel" nice, different in a hard water area.

 

 

 

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That is quite a comprehensve reply TP and ta for it!

Your quote  "Not strictly true Jonzjob, they are in fact both salt pools, chlorine

when it breaks down reverts to salt in both pools, re used in a salt

pool but dormant in a directly dosed one so stopping the soft water in a

salt pool argument, and retreads algae growth comment."

I have to admit that I hadn't realised that we had salt in our pool? I must start this dipping business myself, but with chips [:D] I had obviously realised that they are both chlor pools though.. After all, almost all of the sanitising methods use chlor, even the active oxygen and UV ones don't they.

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  • 2 months later...
Hmm! Frightening isn't it?

Let me tell you my experiences of a 10x5 salt pool over the last nine years:

Once the salt level is correct it needs very little topping up.

Our pool has an 'abri', so I never drain it. I run the pump for 8 hours/day in the season and an hour in the winter. It needs a good vacuum in the spring, then I do it as decided by the number of insects that commit suicide - about every 3 weeks on average. If the top is open in the summer when it's dusty I need to clean more frequently as the dust settles as a fine powder.

I have never used cyanuric acid, and adjust salinity by 'taste' - a bag per year as topping up dilutes the salt content, and I need to top-up about 1" per week.

I must admit to never checking or rectifying the pH for 7 years! This resulted in a slightly green pool this spring, and on my friend's advice I checked pH and found it very alkaline. A good dose of pH minus soon did the trick so I bought a meter for 18 euros on Fleabay, and now check and regulate pH religiously!

The electrode finally expired last autumn, and as it is a Monarch system I couldn't source a replacement [went bust a few years back] but I found a pattern replacement in the States for a fraction of the French price.

The only other issue is keeping the water line clean.

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