Converting Above or Below Ground Pools to Salt Water Systems

"Saltwater pool conversion" might sound like there is a lot involved. If you're wondering how you convert to salt, it really doesn't involve any big procedures. In fact, it is a pretty DIY-friendly thing to do. If you can use some basic tools (or have a handy friend to help) you can do it yourself in about an hour.

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Converting from chlorine to a saltwater pool simply means installing a Saltwater Chlorine Generator. For those that are unfamiliar, these are devices that create a steady supply of pure chlorine in the pool by using a very low-level of ordinary salt in the water. Even better, it does so automatically whenever your pump system runs, so that means much less maintenance and no more buying chlorine, shock, or algeacide.

Salt water pool chlorinator systems to convert your swimming pool.
Saltwater pool systems are the preferred method of swimming pool purification

There are three main things you do when converting to a salt pool system:

  1. Cutting and gluing plastic PVC pipe to attach the system's plumbing component (called a "cell")
  2. Hanging the control box on the wall and connecting its power wire.
  3. Adding salt to the water

Adding the salt is the simplest part, you'll just pour some bags of salt directly into the pool. The pool won't be salty like the ocean (it's actually still classified as fresh water). If you're using chlorine now, your pool water is already completely compatible, it doesn't have to be drained or anything like that.

The system's cell gets installed in your return plumbing after your all other existing equipment (so the water goes through your pump, filter, etc.., then through your salt system and back into the pool). Usually this means making two cuts in your PVC pipe with a hacksaw or pipe cutters and using glue to attach a couple of unions for the cell. The cell will span the gap you cut by screwing on to those two unions.

The control box usually hangs easily enough on a couple of screws. Then, its power wire will connect to the same power source as the pump. Usually this means turning off all power, tracing the pump's power cord to where it is plugged in, and connecting the salt system's cord right there the same way. You can check this out in more detail when we cover How to Install a Saltwater Chlorine Generator.

What is a saltwater chlorine generator? These are popular salt pool systems.
Popular Saltwater Pool Systems (Chlorine Generators)

The main thing to remember is that you don't need to drain the pool, you don't need to change out your other equipment, and you don't need to spend thousands of dollars to hire someone to "convert your pool" from chlorine to saltwater. It's an easy thing to do one afternoon, and a good excuse to invite a friend over to help and check out your latest bit of home improvement.

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