A clean, well maintained swimming pool in your garden or backyard can be a great luxury, even if you just use it to hide from the brutal summer sun. Unfortunately, pools don't feel so luxurious when you're wrestling with automatic chlorine dispensers, or dealing with the grime in your skimmer basket so you can add more chlorine tablets.
As such, saltwater chlorinators have become increasingly popular in recent years, offering a safe and reliable way to dispense chlorine into your pool's water automatically. These devices can be great labour savers and offer a number of advantages over more traditional chlorination methods; however, using a saltwater chlorinator also has its disadvantages, so you should make sure that a chlorinator won't cause more problems than it solves before you invest in one.
What are the advantages of using a saltwater chlorinator?
- Automatic chlorine generation: Most methods of chlorinating pool water involve adding chlorine directly to the pool water, but saltwater chlorinators differ in that they generate their own chlorine. When added to a pool containing the proper concentration of salt (check the manufacturer's guidelines to determine which concentration of salt is right for your chlorinator) the chlorinator charges water with a mild electrical current as it is filtered through it. This electrical current causes the salt to automatically turn into chlorine over time and eliminates the need for chlorine tablets, dispensers or other sanitising equipment.
- Even chlorine distribution: This gradual method of pool chlorination means that your pool water will be very evenly chlorinated, with no larger deposits of chlorine lingering near filters or skimmer baskets. This reduces the damage that can be caused to fittings and certain pool liners by excessive chlorination, and prevents accidental overdosing which can cause eye or skin irritation.
- Non-toxic: Automatic chlorine generation also means that you do not have to handle actual chlorine (a potent toxin if handled improperly) at any time. Instead, all you are required to handle is the chlorinator's salt supply, which is identical in composition to ordinary table salt.
- Eliminates algal growth: The end result of a properly functioning saltwater chlorinator is pool water that contains both salt and chlorine; this presents a very unwelcome home for algae and other potential pathogens.
What about the disadvantages?
- Price: Since saltwater chlorinators only require regular table salt and a modest power supply to function, they are very cheap to run; however, this is counterbalanced by their high purchase price. You should expect to pay significantly more for a saltwater chlorinator than for other chlorination devices.
- Salty taste: While a pool using a saltwater chlorinator contains a significantly lower concentration of salt than that found in ordinary saltwater, it is still distinctly salty to the taste. This can be unpleasant at first but generally becomes unnoticeable once you have used the chlorinator for some time.
- pH problems: Properly adjusting the pH level of your pool water is vital in any pool, but more so in a pool serviced by a saltwater chlorinator. This is because particularly high or low pHs can cause significant damage to the chlorinator's electrical cells, which can lead to expensive repairs or replacements.