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Salt Water Pool vs. Chlorine Pool: Which to Choose?

Last Updated: May 26, 2021

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Adding a pool to your home can have many benefits. While a great choice for a family with children who can spend hours splashing around, it can also be relaxing for adults to take a dip after a long day at work. Having a pool increases the value of your property, but they are notoriously expensive. Today, there are several kinds of pools available on the market. Is a traditional chlorine pool the right choice for you or would one with saltwater be a better option?

Chlorine Pools

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Image credit: Dimhou, Pixabay

Traditional pools use chlorine to kill bacteria in the water. Chances are your local community pool and local schools fall in this category. Chlorine pools are also the type homeowners typically choose to install.

While a pool is an expensive addition regardless of the type of system it uses, the traditional chlorine type has the lowest upfront costs in comparison to the alternatives. In the long run, however, chlorine will need to be added regularly in order to sanitize the water and this can rack up to be quite costly. Although it’s easy for anyone to add these chemicals, long term exposure can be dangerous and must always be handled carefully and stored properly. The regular maintenance, as for any pool, also includes routinely checking the pH and alkalinity of the water.

Additionally, if you run into problems with a traditional chlorine pool, it’s easy to find a fairly low priced technician to fix the problem.

With the use of a solution containing chlorine among other chemicals, it comes with a strong distinct smell that some people may dislike. While this is successful at destroying potentially harmful bacteria, it has its disadvantages. Chlorine can cause swimmers redness in the eyes and skin irritations along with a few other long term health problems. People who spend a lot of time in the pool also often have dry skin. Chlorine is quite powerful and can cause bleaching of swimwear and hair to turn green.

Pros
  • Cheaper upfront investment
  • Easy to maintain
  • Easy to find a technician
Cons
  • Chemicals are expensive
  • Chlorine can cause health issues
  • Strong odor

Salt Water Pools

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Image credit: angel510516, Pixabay

Salt water pools may be a slightly misleading name. Most people think of the ocean when they see the term, but it’s not a pool intended to mimic seawater. In fact, the water is a lot less salty in comparison, and instead the “salt” refers to a salt chlorine generator used to sanitize the water. With this system, salt is first added to the water to reach a specific concentration level of salinity and then the generator turns the salt into chlorine through electrolysis. Chlorine is still present in these pools, however, in smaller amounts compared to traditional chlorine pools.

Building a salt water pool comes with a higher upfront price tag but lower maintenance costs over time. The salt chlorine generator can be expensive and it has salt cells through which the water passes which need regular replacement. The initial cost of the salt itself required to concentrate the water also adds to the high investment of this type of pool, and varies depending on the size of the pool. Ultimately, however, purchasing salt is cheaper than chlorine tablets.

There’s less maintenance required with a salt water pool because the generator creates chlorine as deemed necessary. The basics, such as pH levels, still need to be checked routinely—similar to traditional chlorine pools. There can also be long term corrosion issues due to the presence of salt causing damage to equipment or landscape that come into direct constant contact with the pool water. Salt can destroy handrails among other things, for example. Steps need to be taken beforehand to seal off and protect any vulnerable materials in the vicinity to decrease any potential losses. Furthermore, due to the complexity of the system, hiring a technician specialized in salt water pools to fix problems typically comes at a higher cost compared to traditional chlorine pools.

Despite these costs, homeowners are choosing these pools more and more because of the potential health benefits. They can often be found at spas because of the anti-stress properties of the salt. The water itself is also a lot softer when compared to traditional chlorine pool water making it less harsh on both the eyes and skin of swimmers.

Pros
  • Lower costs long term
  • Health benefits
  • Softer water
  • Natural option
Cons
  • High initial costs
  • Salt damage
  • Expensive technician

Conclusion

Salt water pools and traditional chlorine pools have both pros and cons. Regardless of which pool you choose, unforeseen costs can be avoided by routinely testing the water and performing regular maintenance. If you’re willing and able to spend more upfront then a salt water pool is the healthier and trendier option as long as you make sure to protect against corrosion. It’s the more natural alternative as there are less chemicals used but it comes with a higher initial price tag. A traditional chlorine pool still has many benefits, however, and is also sure to be a great addition to any property.


Featured image credit: FotoshopTofs, Pixabay