If you are a new saltwater pool owner or plan to design and construct one in the future, it is important to understand how to test and maintain ideal saltwater pool salinity (or salt content). Saltwater pools are quickly becoming a favorite choice for new pool owners because they are easier and typically less expensive to maintain than conventional chlorine pools.
Olympus Pools offers services to convert your pool to a saltwater system. Even if you have been using chlorine tablets for years, you can still benefit from a saltwater system. The most important part of using these systems is understanding saltwater pool salinity.
What is Saltwater Pool Salinity?
Simply, salinity is the salt content of your pool water. Incorrect amounts can lead to unfortunate problems. Having too much salt in your pool water can result in unnecessarily increasing chemical expenses. But having too little salinity restricts the amount of chlorine being generated and can lead to algae and bacteria growth. You can see how having the ideal salinity for a saltwater pool is a core concern for people who own them.
What is the Ideal Salt Level in a Saltwater Pool?
One of the first questions many saltwater pool owners have is, “What should my saltwater pool levels be?” The correct salt levels for a saltwater pool range from 2700 to 3400 parts per million (ppm). While anything on that spectrum is a proper salt level in a pool, the ideal level is 3200 ppm, as indicated by Michael Dean of Pool Research. You can determine the salinity of a saltwater pool through testing.
How to Test Saltwater Pool Salinity
This relatively simple maintenance task will ensure a proper saltwater pool salinity level, preventing unnecessary costs and bacteria growth. You should be able to find out how much salt is in your pool through a display on your salt chlorine generator. If your generator does not have the information, there are various test kits on the market. Most of these devices require gathering a sample of water and reading the test results.
By testing saltwater pool salinity, you can determine how close you are to 3200 ppm (and at least within the safe range of 2700-3400 ppm). If the level is too low, you simply need to add salt. If it is too high, you must introduce new pool water to replace what is currently in it.
Pool Volume Leads to Accurate Saltwater Pool Salinity
By knowing the amount of water that is in your pool currently, you can determine how much water you need to replace or how much salt you need to add. To determine your pool’s volume in gallons, you just need to plug the dimensions of your pool into a simple formula. Here is how you do that:
We will explain further below, but this is the basic formula:
L x W x D x 7.5 = V (in gallons)
You just need to measure your pool’s length and width if it is all the same depth. Take a tape measure and see how long each side of your pool is, stated in feet. Multiply those numbers to come up with the surface area. Take the result and multiply it by the depth. Take that number and multiply it by 7.5. Now you have the volume of your pool in gallons.
Your pool has a length of 30 feet, a width of 20 feet, and a depth of 5 feet.
30 x 20 x 5 x 7.5 = 22,500 gallons
If your pool is freeform, in a circle, and/or does not have a consistent depth, you will need to use different formulas/approaches.
Once you know the pool volume, you can use a salinity calculator to reach an accurate amount. You just need to know the dimensions of your pool (including the depth of the water in the deep and shallow ends), as well as the current salinity reading.
The Impacts Salinity Has on Your Pool
Over time, incorrect salinity levels can deteriorate your pool water quality, leading to costly repairs and cleanings. If the level is too low, you end up with less chlorine in the pool since there is not as much salt for the generator to convert to chlorine. By not having a high enough salt content, your pool may grow bacteria and algae. If this is caught quickly and your saline levels are adjusted, the algae should come off with a pool brush. But if the growing materials begin to take over, you may have to use chemical cleaners or drain your pool to clean it. Plus, running a chlorine generator with salt at low-level results in a faster breakdown of cell plates. The system may also quit operating.
It is typically not as much of a problem if the salt level for a saltwater pool is too high. However, at very high levels – 5000 ppm and above – you will typically see issues arise, and your system may shut down.
Avoid these issues by regularly testing salinity and maintaining the appropriate levels for your pool.