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Saltwater vs Chlorine Swimming Pool: Which One Should You Choose?

It’s summertime, and you know what that means… pool season!

But, not all home pools are created equally. And, you’ll want to consider all the options carefully before making a decision.

Before you get down to the details, there’s one major decision that you’ll have to make. Do you prefer a chlorinated pool or one that uses saltwater?

In this article, we’ll walk you through all the differences between a saltwater vs chlorine pool, and help you decide which is best for you. Keep reading to learn more! 

How Does a Saltwater Pool Work?

Contrary to popular belief, saltwater swimming pools do use chlorine. A salt water pool will have far lower levels of chlorine than a traditional chlorine pool, but it won’t function properly completely chemical-free.

But, how does it work?

In a saltwater system, chlorine is kept at a steady level rather than added to the pool via chlorine sticks or tablets. Instead, salt is added to the pool, and a saltwater generator produces hypochlorous acid for sanitation through the process of electrolysis.

By passing electricity through the saltwater solution, the salt is broken down. Then, it releases this powerful natural cleaning agent. 

And saltwater pools aren’t nearly as salty as you might expect. They have about one-tenth the salinity of seawater, making them gentle on eyes and skin. 

Comparing Costs

One of the biggest differences when comparing a salt vs chlorine pool is the cost of construction and upkeep.

A saltwater pool will require a much larger initial investment due to the upfront cost of a saltwater generator and installation on top of the traditional pool building budget. But, this spending may soon balance out!

A saltwater pool will require very little spending on chemicals, typically under $100 per year. Traditional pools, on the other hand, may rack up chlorine costs between $300 and $800 per year depending on size, climate, and frequency of use.

While you may spend a bit more per month on electricity for your saltwater generator, you will likely still wind up saving money in the long run. And, keep in mind that you’ll still have monthly electrical spending to operate your pool pump, filtration system, and any extra water features you choose. 

Maintenance Matters 

Another major point of comparison when it comes to a saltwater pool vs chlorine is the required upkeep. 

One of the greatest benefits of choosing a saltwater system is the low amount of maintenance it will require.

In fact, most modern systems will stay sparkling clean for up to two weeks without any intervention. A traditional chlorine pool, by contrast, requires once-a-week maintenance and the addition of chlorine tablets or sticks.  

No matter which pool system you choose, you will need to test your chlorine levels and make adjustments regularly.

A saltwater pool’s chlorine level is adjusted via the generator control box, and by adding salt to the water. A chlorine system, on the other hand, must be manually adjusted by physically adding chlorine.

A chlorine pool will also need periodic “shocks” of concentrated chlorine. This process wards off algae and helps to maintain consistent chlorine levels. Shocking a pool involves dissolving chlorine in a small amount of water and adding it slowly to the pool.

A saltwater pool will require this shock treatment far less often, if ever. And, the process is usually only needed after very heavy rain or during an algae bloom, which threatens to turn any pool green.

Pool Features

One major concern when it comes to saltwater systems is how the salt may effect pool parts and features.

This goes for your lighting, liner, masonry work and more! And, it’s especially important to take note of if you are converting an existing chlorine system into saltwater. After all, those initial pool features probably weren’t designed to work well with salt.

Some features, like artificial rocks and fountains, will need to be constructed out of fiberglass rather than concrete. And, your pool may require more frequent resurfacing. 

You’ll also need to consider your yard’s landscaping. A saltwater pool may damage grass or other nearby plants, even if a small amount of salt gets on them. And, a slow leak or overfilled pool can kill even the heartiest of lawns.

Health Concerns

Because saltwater pools use less chlorine, they are gentler on skin, hair, and eyes. And, won’t irritate sensitive swimmers as easily. This is especially important for anyone with allergies or existing skin conditions. 

Especially just after shocking, chlorine pools can discolor your hair and swimsuits, and cause itching, burning, or dry skin. 

You’ll also need to keep in mind that chlorine is a potentially hazardous chemical. It requires careful storage, and caution during use. Breathing chlorine fumes can cause a variety of health concerns including nausea, dizziness, coughing, and a sore throat.

Always handle chlorine in a well-ventilated area, and avoid contact with your skin and eyes.

While a saltwater pool contains far less chlorine than a traditional system, it’s still enough to kill most harmful germs and bacteria. And, the microorganisms strong enough to survive your saltwater system likely wouldn’t be affected by a higher concentration of chlorine. 

Saltwater vs Chlorine Pool –  the Big Decision

Now that you know a bit about the differences between a saltwater vs chlorine pool, you’re probably excited to get your home’s newest addition underway! 

Be sure to keep all the above factors including costs, chemicals, and health concerns, in mind when you choose. And, hire only a reputable local contractor to complete the job.

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