When adding a pool to your outdoor living environment, there are many factors to consider even before your backyard project begins. At Dell Outdoor, we suggest starting with choosing the type of pool water that will fit your outdoor living style. The type of pool water you choose can dictate what type of materials are used for pool construction and design enhancements. Your upfront costs and long term spending budgets are directly affected by your pool water choice. Whether you choose a chlorine pool or a saltwater pool will dictate the level of maintenance required on a daily, weekly and yearly basis.
Research is the first step to making a decision that will get the ball rolling in your design planning phase. Dell Outdoor has put together a list of highlights and challenges for your two main pool types, chlorine pools and saltwater pools.
Having gorgeous, sparkling, clear water is an essential ingredient for the enjoyment of your pool, whether it is the centerpiece of your outdoor living area, or just a beautiful accent to your outdoor environment. Keeping the water inviting involves taking the proper steps to sanitize the pool and prevent any health or aesthetic problems.
It’s All Chlorine
First off, despite the common notion, both a chlorine pool and a saltwater pool use chlorine to keep the water clear, sanitized and bacteria free. It is the level of chlorine found in each that lends to the differences in a chlorine pool and saltwater pool environment.
Chlorine is the standard chemical used to keep pools free of bacteria that can be harmful to humans. In a chlorine pool, the chlorine is purchased in highly concentrated levels and added directly to the water, either manually or through purchased equipment.
In a chlorine pool, the chlorine, whether in a tablet, liquid, gas or granular form, is added directly to the pool water. When added to the water, the chlorine forms hypochlorous acid. It is the presence of this acid in the water that kills many forms of harmful bacteria and knocks out the most common of viruses. When the chlorine pool water is maintained within the appropriate ranges, chlorine will literally tear apart germs.
In a saltwater pool, the pool draws on the dissolved salt in the water to generate chlorine. The salt cell, more commonly known as the salt generator, utilizes the natural process of electrolysis to break down or separate the salt. When the water containing the proper amount of salt enters the salt cell, the powered salt generator converts the dissolved salt into a chlorine gas. The chlorine gas then dissolves into the water. Fresh chlorinated water is then returned into the pool, establishing the chlorination needs of the pool.
Educating yourself on the highlights and challenges of a salt water pool and a chlorine pool will guide you in making the right choice for the fullest enjoyment of your outdoor living space.
Chlorine Pool Upfront and Long Term Cost
A chlorine purification system is the perfect choice if you are looking for an option with lower upfront expenses. In addition, with less equipment, parts and components potentially in need of repair, in the long run you could save money on repair costs by choosing a chlorine pool. With that said, a chlorine pool requires frequent use of chlorine tablets, which results in a long term, continual expense for chemicals.
As the most commonly used pool sanitizer, chlorine comes in several forms, such as tablets, liquid, gas and granular.
Chlorine Pool Highlights
- Chlorine is the most effective way to sanitize water and maintain a clean, crystal clear pool.
- Chlorine is less likely to corrode adjacent pool furniture, surrounding masonry, or structures.
- Proper chlorine levels can be easy to maintain if testing is performed at the recommended frequency.
- A chlorine generator uses less electricity than the saltwater counterpart.
- Chlorine can be used with all types of pool construction, whether it be concrete, fiberglass, gunite or vinyl.
- Equipment in a chlorine pool does not require regular maintenance.
- Chemical controllers can be purchased to reduce the amount of manual chemical balancing required.
- Chlorine acts as a residual sanitizer; it can remain in the pool at effective levels long after it is introduced.
Chlorine Pool Challenges
- Water testing and chemical adjustments require vigilance and can be required up to two to three times per week, and in some instances daily, in order to maintain adequate water balance and sanitizer levels.
- Shocking the pool on a regular basis is recommended to eliminate the bacteria buildup, ensuring the water remains clean and clear.
- For optimal maintenance and sanitation, you must add chlorine tablets manually and directly into the pool water each week.
- Sunlight speeds up the the chemical process of the chlorine breakdown; Chlorine must continue to be added to the pool as it breaks down the chlorine.
- Chlorine can be harsh, drying out hair and irritating skin and eyes.
- Chlorine pool water can causes many fabrics to fade.
- Chlorine must be stored in a cool, dry space. Chlorine stored outside, even in a sealed or closed bucket, can be damaged due to to sun exposure or moisture.
- In order to reduce human exposure to toxic fumes, chlorine must be carefully stored in a well-ventilated space.
Saltwater Pool Upfront and Long Term Cost
At first glance, the initial cost of a saltwater pool is higher than a chlorine pool. Due to the cost of the saltwater chlorine generator, the initial investment will be costly. The salt chlorine generator may need to be replaced every few years, but regular maintenance can extend the life of the cell. However, in time, money saved on weekly chemical chlorine maintenance will continue to make up for the higher initial investment the longer you keep the pool.
Saltwater Pool Highlights
- Modern saltwater pool systems keep a crystal, clear pool for up to two weeks without required maintenance.
- Saltwater pool water is less abrasive on the swimmer; due to lower levels of chlorine, if properly maintained, the water will feel silky smooth.
- There are reduced amounts of chloramines found in saltwater pools, reducing the build up of the “chlorine” smell.
- The cost of pool salt is significantly less expensive than chlorine in any form.
- The salt used in a saltwater pool is more natural than chlorine and this makes for a healthier option for people that are concerned about making more organic and natural lifestyle choices.
- The salt water generator maintains chlorine levels for you, so that you don’t have to monitor, test and balance it as regularly as with a chlorine system.
- Pool salt recycles itself in the salt water generator for prolonged periods.
- A detailed cleaning of your saltwater pool is only required once a year.
Saltwater Pool Challenges
- The salt can be corrosive to certain pool liners, pool lights, heaters, ladders, metal features, as well as surrounding structures and masonry.
- Even minor repairs often require an experienced technician due to the complexity of the saltwater system.
- Increased utility costs come with the requirement to run the saltwater generator up to twelve hours a day during the pool season.
- The salt chlorinator cell needs to be cleaned approximately every three months to properly maintain and increase its lifespan.
- Salt bags can be heavy and cumbersome when adding salt to pool during maintenance.
- When adding salt, the salt needs to be poured across the steps or pool floor and brushed in until it is fully dissolved.
- Salt water is aggressive; therefore, not all swimming pool structures are ideally suited to salt chlorination.
Effects of Metals
It is not chlorine that turns your hair green. It is actually the presence of metals, such as copper, in your pool water. High levels of copper in either a chlorine pool or a saltwater pool can have the tinting effect on a swimmer’s hair. The copper in the water is oxidized by chlorine, which then binds to the proteins in the hair strands. Since chlorine is present in both a saltwater pool and a chlorine pool, this reaction and therefore, hair tinting, can occur in either type of pool water.
Metals occur naturally in municipal water, as well as well water. Iron and Copper are metals most commonly found in pool water. These metals can be transferred into the pool while the water supply is passing through metal pool plumbing, pool heat exchangers or headers. Algaecides and floating ionizers which fight bacteria and algae can also contain copper or silver, elevating the levels of these metals. If your pool is surrounded by grass or mulch, a spike in the level of metals can occur following a significant rainfall. Water running through the lawn and mulch can carry with it heavy metals found in certain lawn fertilizers and mulch.
Trust in the Quality of Dell
Whether you are ready to take the plunge or are still inquiring, Dell is here. We welcome questions. Our seasoned staff will guide you through our process from concept to completion, while addressing any concerns that may arise. With over 35 years of experience, Dell Outdoor will take you from design concept to completion, including exterior elements such as property irrigation, perimeter fencing and pool covers.
Please call for a free in-home consultation, estimate and references: 973-636-6777 or complete our online form.