For most of us, a swimming pool would be a truly valuable addition to any home. It isn’t just the fun pools bring to the backyard recreational space -- they add value to Santa Barbara property listings when it comes time to sell. For many years, homeowners could choose their pool’s size and shape, but that was about all. The water was going to be fresh, and the maintenance method, chlorination.
But that was before the saltwater pool began to come into its own as a popular choice. One of the reasons is that most people have misconceptions about the plusses and minuses of the saltwater variety: it’s not, as you might think, an attempt to create ocean water in the backyard. ‘Saltwater’ is not ‘seawater.’ The water in a salt pool does not look, smell or taste different from that in a traditional pool, and chlorine is used in both systems. However, Santa Barbara homeowners who are considering having their own pool should consider the few distinct differences between chemical chlorine and saltwater pools.
Saltwater pools continuously monitor themselves to insure that the chlorine level is sufficient to control microorganisms and sanitize the water. Many of these systems will automatically start the pool pump to infuse more chlorine if the chlorine level drops. That means less time testing and maintaining the water than is generally required by a freshwater chlorine system.
However, saltwater pools do require homeowners to run their pool pumps significantly longer than traditional chemically chlorinated pools. Sunlight depletes the chlorine in any body of water. Chemicals used for traditional freshwater chlorination include cyanurates, which slow the photochemical reduction to keep a pool disinfected more effectively. Saltwater pools do not rely on these added chemicals – they have chlorinators (called ‘salt cells’) that use electrolysis to break down the salt to produce the same effect. So the pool pump must operate more frequently, with higher energy costs as a result.
The absence of chemical compounds is a side benefit with saltwater systems. They operate with a lower chlorine content than do traditional pools, so they are easier on the eyes and skin of the swimmers. Though homeowners must purchase salt, it’s an additive that is a good deal less expensive than the liquid or solid chlorine additives used in traditional pools, and it’s applied less frequently.
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