How to Maintain a Salt Water Pool

In this short article, I am going to reveal the fastest and easiest way to do salt water pool maintenance. After you follow the simple steps outlined below, you will have a hygienic, clean pool, without having spent hours laboring over it!

Salt water pools require less maintenance than conventional chlorine pools, but as you will discover below, there are still several vital steps that must be followed. Failure to do this can result not only in damage to your pool equipment, but it may also harm swimmers.

The figures below are used for informational purposes only. Always use the manufacturer guidelines for your specific pool equipment, and contact a pool professional if in doubt.

Surface Cleaning (Daily)
If leaves are not skimmed off the surface of the pool, they will sink within 3 to 4 hours, where they will create bacteria. This will necessitate longer running of your pool pump and potentially clog up your filter. To avoid this, you must skim leaves off the pool surface everyday. If you don’t like the idea of doing it yourself with a net, you can use a solar powered pool skimmer.

Empty skimmer box (As required)
The rate at which you need to empty your skimmer box is predicated on the time of year and environment. In the summer it may only need doing once per week, but in the fall with falling leaves, you may need to do it everyday.

Use a Robotic Pool Cleaner (2 to 3 times per week)
Use your pool vacuum or robotic pool cleaner twice per week to clean the surfaces of the pool. If you have trees with falling leaves near the pool, you may need to do this three times per week.

Test Pool Chemistry (Weekly)
Using a 7-way test strip, check the water chemistry of the pool water. The ideal levels are listed below, however, you must refer to the manufacturers guidelines for your chlorine generator to determine the amount of each chemical to be added for corrections.

Cyanuric acid
These are the ideal levels:
60 to 80 PPM for an outdoor pool
20 to 40 PPM for a covered pool
0 PPM for an indoor pool.

To increase Cyanuric acid levels, top up with Cyanuric acid as per manufacturer guidelines.

N.B. Cyanuric acid reduces the rate at which the sun breaks down chlorine in the water, so it is not required for an indoor pool.

Total Alkalinity
The ideal level is 80 to 120 PPM
To increase total alkalinity, add Baking Soda
To decrease total alkalinity, add Muriatic Acid

Incorrect alkalinity levels can cause corrosion of pool materials, burning of eyes, and cloudy water.

Total Hardness
The ideal level is 200 to 400 PPM
To raise calcium levels use Calcium Chloride
To lower calcium levels, remove some pool water and replace with fresh water.

“Hardness” refers to the calcium levels in the water. High levels of calcium can make the water corrosive.

The ideal pH of your pool water is 7.2 to 7.8
To increase the water pH, add soda ash to the water.
To reduce the water pH, add Muriatic Acid.

Test The Salt Level (Monthly)
Firstly, we need to know the salt concentration in your pool water. Your salt chlorinator may display the salt concentration on a digital read-out, however, these can go out of calibration over time, so it is good practice to also use a salt test strip in the pool water.

The recommended level of salt in the water is 2700 to 3400 PPM, but ideally you will have it at 3200 PPM.
Humans can taste salt when it is above about 3500 PPM, so if you can taste salt in the water it is a good indicator your salt levels may be too high.

If the test strip reveals the salt level is too high, you must add freshwater to the pool until the salt level is back in range.
If the test strip reveals the salt level is too low, you must add salt directly to the pool water while the pump is running. Once you have added the salt to the water, make sure to brush it in and dissolve it.
To determine how much salt to add, refer to the manufacturers table for your chlorine generator.

Salt Cell Inspection and Cleaning (every 2 to 3 months)
The salt water cell converts salt into chlorine. If it is not kept clean it will adversely affect chlorine and salt levels in your pool, leading to a variety of problems. Some salt cells have a self clean function, others must be done manually. Please see your manufacturers guidelines for the correct procedure for inspecting and cleaning the cell.

Clean Filter Cartridges (see manufacturers guidelines)
Cleaning the filter cartridges is important because when they become blocked, it increases back pressure on the filtration system, overloads your pool pump, and reduces the circulation rate of the water.

As a rule of thumb, the filter should be cleaned when the pressure rises above 10PSI, however, it varies from filter to filter, so see the manufacturers guidelines for more information.

If you have any further questions about salt water pool maintenance, feel free to post a question in the comment section below.