Salt is actually Sodium Chloride. Salt Chlorinators work by breaking up the salt molecules and releasing the chlorine into the water. This is how they chlorinate your pool for you.
By keeping a level of salt between 0.4% and 0.7% (depending on brand) they can produce 15 – 30 grams of chlorine per hour. As a side effect the chlorinator cell will clog up with a calcium residue which needs to be cleaned regularly (fortnightly to monthly). Due to the way salt chlorinators work they also increase the pH of the pool by creating Sodium Hydroxide (a base). The means that you will need to add acid to the pool more frequently to compensate.
The best way to test your salt level is to take a sample to your local pool shop, however test strips are now available.
Cells should be cleaned vary carefully. If cleaned regularly while any calcium deposits are soft they can be simply washed under a tap. Warm water can help. If the deposits are harder you may need to soak the cell in either a 10/1 or weaker water/acid solution or a cell cleaner (an organic acid). This will help soften the deposits. Do not leave the cell in this solution for longer than necessary as this will shorten the life of your cell. A paddlepop stick or similiar wooden or plastic instrument can be carefully used to remove calcium deposits. Do not brush or scrub the cell. Chlorinator cells are plated in Titanium and Platinum, hence the cost, like Jewellery. This plating is what makes your cell produce adequate amounts of chlorine. If it wears too much the cell will go black in color and will not produce enough chlorine. You must treat your cell like jewellery when cleaning to ensure it lasts.
Self cleaning chlorinators are available but check the life expectancy of the cell and it’s replacement cost as many are worth almost double the cost of a normal cell and do not last as long due to their self cleaning process. Self cleaning chlorinators save you from maintenance of your chlorinator at a small premium. Some cells like the Watermaid Ezy-Clean are so simple to clean that a self cleaning unit is unnecessary. The new Watermaid power supply is self-cleaning as standard and it’s patented design will not reduce the life expectancy of the cell.
Make sure you have a stabiliser (isocyanuric acid) level of 50-100 in your pool. Due to the slow production rate of chlorinators on a hot day the sun can remove chlorine faster than your cell can make it. Stabiliser holds the chlorine in the water.
Some plumbing is required to install a new salt chlorinator and it might be worth letting the professionals install it correctly. Otherwise ask us for advice and we can show you how. It is essential that self cleaning chlorinators are plumbed correctly. Incorrect plumbing can impact on the self cleaning effect.
Salt chlorinators save you having to dose the pool with chlorine daily however they do still require regular maintenance. They are not cheaper than just using chlorine but they can look after your pool when life is busy.