Thursday, August 18, 2016

Salt Water Pools vs Chlorine

We received a VERY informative letter from our General Manager, Kevin Flynn, regarding the issue of salt water and chlorine pools.  

Palm Creek Residents,

I have received several emails concerning our Pools. There seems to be a lot of misinformation going around about our switch from Chlorine Generators to Chlorine dispensers. This switch only involves the Main Pool and the North Pool. The new Sports Pool has always been Chlorine.
Let me give you a little back history.

The Main and North Pools were converted over to Chlorine Generators many years ago by the Former Palm Creek owners. The Chlorine Generators purchased were undersized for our community sized pools. Those generators have outlived their useful life span and are not doing the job required. They have also created issues with the pool plumbing system as a whole. The decision was made to eliminate the Chlorine Generators from our pool system to eliminate further damage to our pools. Please read the attached information so you may further grasp the situation at Palm Creek. We will continue to provide a healthy pool environment for all.

Thank You.

One of the most frequently asked questions is about “salt pools”.
After responding to this question for several years, it is evident that there is still a lot of mystery about what a “salt pool” really is. I hope this will eliminate the mystery and help people understand this technology…the good…the bad…and the ugly.

Generally, people assume that a “salt pool” means that the water is simply salt water and it is much like swimming in the Caribbean. A “salt pool” is a bit of a misnomer. A more accurate way to refer to this technology is chlorine generation. Salt (sodium chloride-NaCl) is added to the pool and as the water passes through the chlorine generator cell and an electrical discharge converts the salt into chlorine (hypochlorous acid-HOCl). I just had a gentleman today saying that he had a “salt pool” and he was shocked that it is actually generating CHLORINE. He also stated that he never had to add anything to his water. This is another person who was baffled and misled by the hyperbole of a slick salesman.

As with anything, there are pros and cons about the technology.

We want our guests to be fully informed so that they aren’t surprised at the maintenance involved with a swimming pool (or spa) equipped with a chlorine generator.

The good…
  • It is viable technology – it works
  • There is less need to buy auxiliary chlorine (in most cases)
  • People perceive that the water feels softer
  • People perceive that there is little or no chlorine smell
  • Most chlorine generators have the ability to “power boost” or shock the pool
The bad…
  • The costs of the generator can be significant
  • The generator can be temperamental – not producing chlorine when you think it is or producing too much causing excessively high chlorine levels
  • The cell needs to be cleaned which is a bit of a messy job involving Muriatic Acid
  • High calcium phosphate levels can cause the generator to malfunction
  • It doesn’t generate chlorine well in cold weather so the water needs to be treated with an alternative source of chlorine
  • pH tends to run consistently high requiring frequent additions of a pH decreaser
The ugly…
  • Salt will damage equipment (pumps, heaters, handrails) and decks which can eliminate any cost savings on chlorine

This is a well-known fact in our industry and has been well documented in recent years in our industry publications. Salt is corrosive and most people clearly understand this. Failing to manage the consistently high pH levels can cause calcium precipitant to adhere to the surface of the pool causing it to become very rough.

Unfortunately, although the technology is sound and it does work, people are misled to believe that it is a panacea to address the need for chemically treating their swimming pool. People find that they were led to believe that they will never need to buy chlorine or that there is no chlorine involved and that adding salt is all they need to do. They are not advised that salt can damage equipment, and they are misled to believe that there is no other maintenance or balancing involved.

Kevin Flynn
General Manager