Nothing is as refreshing on a hot summer day in Southwest Florida than jumping into the pool to relax and cool off. Though the chlorine pool remains the industry standard, the saltwater alternative has gained in popularity in recent years as more and more homeowners install saltwater pools, or convert their existing chlorine pools over to saltwater systems. Choosing the best option means deciding up front how dedicated to your pool you are willing to be, both financially and in terms of your time. Here are a few things you should know if a swimming pool is on your lists of must haves.
First off, let’s be clear on a one major point concerning saltwater pools: they do have chlorine in them. The difference is that the chorine found in a saltwater pool isn’t added externally by you or your pool technician. Rather, salt chlorinators use, as the name suggests, salt to produce a chlorine-based sanitizer that is formed through a chemical electrolysis which occurs within a saltwater chlorinator or generator that is part of the system. The resulting chlorine levels are typically far lower than in the standard chlorine pool and therefore less drying to the skin and less irritating to the eyes.
Pool expenses continue well after the initial installation. In the case of a standard chlorine pool, you can anticipate spending several hundred dollars per year on the necessary chemicals, even if you elect to handle the weekly maintenance yourself. Because a saltwater pool generates its own chlorine from salt, many of these expenses are avoided. However, it is important to remember that salt is also extremely corrosive to ladders, concrete, decking—even the salt chlorinator itself. So, while you may see some upfront savings where chemicals are concerned, salt corrosion may wind up costing more in equipment replacement in the long run.
If you already own, or are purchasing a home with a chlorine pool and are interested in converting to a salt system, professionals suggest that you compare the money you would, or already do spend on chemicals over a three year period to the cost of purchasing and installing a salt generator. You may find that despite the monthly savings on chemical additives, the significant up-front costs of installation carry with them the additional monthly electrical costs of running your generator constantly (around six hours per day in the winter and up to twelve hours in the summer.)
In weighing all of these costs, the most important thing to consider if you are considering a saltwater pool is how long you are looking to keep it. The initial costs of installing a salt generator outweigh the costs of chlorine pool chemicals the longer you have the pool. Chlorine pools require a commitment to constant maintenance, while salt pools cost a little more up front. It’s really a question of your time versus your expenditure.
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