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Are Saltwater Pools hard to maintain?

Posted by Jeff Holloway

First, a clarification.

The water in a saltwater pool is nothing like the water you find in the ocean. This is important to remember, if only for the fact that the oceanic image adds to some of the common misconceptions about saltwater pools in general. Saltwater swimming pools get their name because they use of sodium as a healthy alternative to the direct application of chlorine. There’s a lot of literature out there about the benefits of sea salt, saltwater baths, salt spa treatments, etc. While some of this is true, the image of dumping a bunch of salt into the pool and having everything take care of itself is a fallacious one. The truth is that saltwater pools, while easier on the eyes and skin of your swimmers, still require maintenance — just a different kind of maintenance.

Every responsible pool owner should have a list of things to keep in check. This is true of regular pools. It goes double for saltwater pools. While there are many pros to owning a saltwater pool, the cons can sneak up on you. Knowing just what can go wrong and how you can prevent it can save you more than just heartache.


As you may know, pH is a measure of acidity or basicity in a liquid. A high pH indicates the water is basic, or alkaline. A low pH means the water is more acidic. Chlorine pool owners know to keep pH levels balanced at all times. Saltwater pools tend to have a higher pH level. A high pH could result in heavy mineral build-up, which in turn could result in clogged pipes.

  • An application of muriatic acid can help keep pH at optimum levels.


The caustic properties of salt should never be underestimated. Salt has the ability to corrode pool equipment such as ladders, lighting fixtures, not to mention the lining of the pool itself.

  • Aluminum is resistant to saltwater corrosion. Look for materials made from such.


Splashing water hits the coping, the water evaporates, the salt gets left behind. Not really a problem in the short term, but over time this simple chemical process has the potential to escalate into a nightmare. A buildup of solid salt residue, as mentioned above, can not only eat away at ordinary fixtures, it can also damage the filter, salt cell, and decrease your chlorinator’s overall functionality.

  • A routine washing-away of salt residue can be the best investment a pool owner makes.

Very few new car owners neglect to bring their car in for routine service and maintenance. A saltwater pool is an investment with a similar responsibility. Properly cared-for, both can bring many years of usefulness and joy. A saltwater pool can be the perfect fit for your home, as long as you do your homework before diving in.

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