Are you looking to install your own pool and want to avoid the negative health effects that chlorine pools can cause? Then you might want to consider a saltwater pool instead.
While chlorine pools are still the most common pool type, more and more homeowners are starting to adopt saltwater pools because they can keep the water just as clean while using significantly less chlorine.
The main advantages of a saltwater pool is how gentle it is on your body, whether it’s your eyes, skin, lungs, or any other sensitive area. The water also feels much softer and smoother to swim in, and though it has a higher installation cost, it can potentially save you money in the long run since you can forgo buying a lot of pool chemicals. Some downsides are that it has a higher upfront cost, and that repairs require hiring a technician.
In this article, we will look at the pros and cons of a saltwater pool in more detail so that you can make a more informed decision on whether this is the right choice for you.
Advantages of salt water pools
Better for health
Frequent and prolonged exposure to chlorine brings with it myriad health problems, from dry skin, red eyes, rashes, and even respiratory issues like coughing and asthma. It’s no secret that chlorine is a necessary evil that disinfects water with some irritating side-effects.
Saltwater pools, on the other hand, have little to no health side effects because it’s much more natural. It relies on a saltwater generator to convert dissolved salt in the water into chlorine. The difference here is that it constantly generates a small amount of chlorine rather than adding a large concentration of chlorine in one go as you would a chlorine pool.
Therefore, the negative health effects that chlorine causes are largely mitigated because you are exposed to far less chlorine, yet can reap the benefits of its disinfecting ability to keep the pool clean.
Furthermore, the amount of salt in a saltwater pool is a fraction of the amount of salt that you’d find in the ocean. Therefore, in all respects it is very mild and you won’t get the same problems as you would swimming in the ocean either.
Generally speaking, saltwater pools require less maintenance. The salt cells will generate any chlorine as needed, and all you need to do is monitor the chlorine levels to ensure it’s at the acceptable concentration.
Furthermore, cleaning a saltwater pool is a once a year event where you drain the pool, replace the filter, and scrub.
Chlorine pools require much more chemicals which makes monitoring it more complicated. You would also have to think about where to store the chemicals and all the headache that comes with that, including how to keep the chemicals from expiring, keeping it from giving off chemical pollutants, and finding the space to store them.
Where a saltwater pool can become more of a hassle is if there is a problem with the generator. A layperson probably would not have any idea how to fix this problem themselves, so they will have to hire a technician which is costly. Since this is very infrequent, overall I’d say a saltwater pool is still easier to maintain than a chlorine pool.
Saltwater pools feel silky and smooth on your skin because it contains fewer minerals and impurities. Comparatively, chlorinated water feels more abrasive on the skin.
Despite the higher upfront costs, saltwater pools should save you more money in the long run. The biggest expense is the saltwater generator which can cost around $1,400-2,000, not including installation fees.
Seems expensive initially, but the savings are to be had in the cost of chemicals. Generators can last anywhere from 3-7 years before it needs to be replaced. You can expect to spend only $20-30 for the whole season to maintain a saltwater pool.
Chlorine pool owners must buy pool chemicals on a regular basis, saltwater pools owners don’t, and over time this will translate into savings. For comparison, chemicals for chlorinated pools cost about $50-60 dollars a month (variable depending on your pool size), or several hundred a season.
That said, this still doesn’t tell the whole story. Occasionally, saltwater generators can malfunction long before its normal lifespan. Saltwater generators are too complicated for a layperson to fix on their own, so they will have to call a technician which can cost a few hundred dollars.
In spite of this, saltwater pools are likely to still be more cost-effective than chlorine pools, especially the longer you own it.
Disadvantages of salt water pools
Higher upfront cost
Piggybacking off the previous point, saltwater pools are more expensive in upfront costs. Assuming you are just converting your chlorine pool to a saltwater pool, you still need to spend approximately $2,000 to buy the saltwater generator and have it installed.
Maintenance is easier, requiring less chemicals, so in the long run this is a moot point. However, if you are not taking good care of your saltwater pool and the generator breaks really early, then you might end up spending thousands of dollars and not getting a lot of value out of it.
While saltwater pools are very safe to humans, they can wreak havoc on your decking if saltwater frequently splashes out. Be wary of anything in or near the pool. Salt can corrode metal objects, most commonly ladders, heaters, metal chairs, and more.
Be careful with what you wear into the pool as well. Any watches, jewelry, or electronics are in extreme danger of getting damaged by the pool water.
Saltwater pools can deter you from installing heaters, fixtures, underwater lights, or some types of masonry or liners that are susceptible to corrosion.
The main advantages of owning a saltwater pool are its ease of maintenance, lower annual costs, and the fact that it does not cause any health problems like skin irritation or asthma.
The health benefits of saltwater pools alone are worth switching over for. People who swim in chlorine pools have to contend with dry skin and hair and respiratory issues. It is not uncommon for people with allergies to sneeze, cough, or have issues breathing.
Competitive swimmers often need to take medications and keep an inhaler close by just to deal with the side effects of chlorine. You can avoid this problem by swimming in a saltwater pool instead.
With that said, saltwater pools aren’t perfect. They have a high initial cost, and it would take years before you save money. However, even if the math works out to be slightly more expensive, I’d say the health benefits alone are worth the cost.
However, while saltwater pools don’t harm humans, they sure can harm any metal objects nearby. Be wary of heaters, lights, chairs, ladders, and so on. Even though the salt concentration of a saltwater pool is ten times less than the ocean, it is still enough to corrode metals.