How Salt Water Pool Systems Work
Salt Water Pool Systems create their own hypochlorous acid. Ever hear of hypochlorous acid? I never even thought of it until I looked into how chlorine is used to sanitize and clean a pool. Everyone thinks that chlorine is what sanitizes the water in a pool but in reality it is hypochlorous acid that is doing the job. Chlorine reacts with the water in the pool to form hypochlorous acid. This is the easiest and safest way to introduce hypochlorous acid in a pool.
There are two ways to introduce chlorine in your pool. Probably the most common is to purchase chlorine in some form (liquid, tablets, or powder) and carefully mix it in your pool. Of course this means that you need to go out and purchase and handle the chemicals and most importantly, remember to be around to maintain the proper chemical levels in the pool. Salt water pool systems offer another option, which is to use a chlorine generator.
A chlorine generator creates chlorine so you do not have to buy it, store it or handle it. When functioning correctly, a chlorine generator constantly generates chlorine using electrolysis. When the water passes through the cell of the generator, chlorine is produced. The chlorine dissolves into the water and produces hypochlorous acid. It does not matter if you add the chlorine by hand or if it is generated, it does the same thing, creates hypochlorous acid.
When using a chlorine generator, salt has to be added to the water in your pool. Ocean water has a salt content of around 35,000 parts per million. Your threshold for tasting salt is around 3,500 ppm. A typical chlorine generator requires a concentration of salt less than 3500 ppm to operate, which means you will not even taste the salt in the water.
Swimming in a pool with a mild concentration of salt feels like taking a shower in soft water. That’s what makes salt water pool systems so popular.
There are two types of chlorine generators in use today. A brine unit does not require the pool to have salt added to it. Instead, the salt is added to a tank connected to the generator. These units can be messy and produce by products that are not easy to dispose of. The most common type of chlorine generator requires that salt be added to the pool and typically come in two varieties.
The first has the chlorine producing cell and the associated electronics installed at the equipment area of your pool. The other has the cell installed in the deck near the pool with the electronics usually located at the equipment area. The deck unit works on the principle of convection. It makes chlorine even if the pump is off, while the other more common unit makes chlorine as water passes through the cell when the pump is on.
For both systems, the cell must remain free of mineral deposits or it will not work properly. The cell is made up of precious metals and must be maintained properly so it continues to make chlorine. You can expect to pay at least $1,000 and up to several thousand dollars, for a quality chlorine generator unit.
Salt water pool systems can help fight against waterline scum build up and create a healthier swimming experience. As the maintainer of the pool, it is no longer necessary for you to handle or buy chlorine, and, if the unit is functioning correctly, some chlorine will always be present in your pool, eliminating algae.
Even with a chlorine generator, you must still maintain your pool. You have to ensure the correct water balance, and maintain the generator itself.
It can be complicated deciding which chlorine generator is best for your pool. Many questions revolve around salt-water pool systems or chlorine free pools. Salt-water pool systems do NOT create chlorine free pools. A salt-water pool is simply one that utilizes a chlorine generator. Chlorine generators have been around for decades, and as technology and materials continue to evolve, they continue to improve in performance.
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