Converting In-Ground or Above-Ground Pools to Salt Water Systems

Saltwater pools have become the standard way to maintain pools1. Do you currently have a chlorine pool and are looking to convert to a saltwater system but it sounds like a daunting task?

You’ll be happy to learn that saltwater pool conversion is actually a very simple procedure and you can actually do it yourself in about an hour and only requires the use of a few basic tools. Some models allow easy DIY install in as little as 15 minutes!

Converting from a chlorine to a saltwater pool simply means installing a Saltwater Chlorine Generator, a device that creates a steady supply of pure chlorine in the pool by using a very low-level of ordinary salt in the water to create a strong, safe sanitizer that keeps the pool clean and beautiful. 

Even better, it does so automatically whenever your pump system runs, so that means much less maintenance.

Saltwater Conversion Made Easy

Converting to a saltwater system does sound like there is a lot more involved than there is, but really it just means you’re installing a saltwater system, dumping in a specific amount of salt, and that’s all! There is no need to drain your pool in most cases and a salt water system will work with any of your existing equipment. 

The saltwater system  is designed to work automatically whenever your pump system runs, and supplies a consistent natural sanitizer and ensures a beautiful pool! As mentioned before, a pool  can be converted in under an hour, and then you will no longer have to continually purchase any expensive chemicals like chlorine and shock to maintain your pool. 

This not only saves you money, but saves you from the harsh chemical effects of chlorine, like red eyes, itchy skin and bleached swimsuits. Another bonus to saltwater systems is that because it runs automatically, that means A LOT less maintenance and hassle for you. 

Saltwater Conversion

The first thing you’re going to want to do once you’ve decided to take the plunge into converting your swimming pool into a saltwater pool is picking out a saltwater system that is right for your pool’s size and how often you use it. For more information about how to pick out which system is right for you, check out our guide here

Installing salt system yourself

After you’ve chosen your system, there are three main things you do when converting to a salt pool system:

  1. Cutting PVC pipe and applying glue to a few pieces that will attach to the salt cell

  2. Mounting the salt system’s controller and connecting it to power

  3. Adding salt to the water

However, before you jump right in, make sure you have all the tools you will need on hand. Things you will need will be:

  • PVC Glue

  • PVC Primer

  • A cutting tool — pipe cutters or a hacksaw will do just fine

  • A screwdriver

  • A Sharpie

  • Your template guide

Cutting Stage

The system's cell gets installed in your return plumbing after all of your other existing equipment, which essentially means the water goes through your pump and filter (and heater if present), then through your salt system and back into your 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 to hold the cell. The cell will span the gap you cut by screwing on to those two unions. 

To do this, you will need to line up the template marker on your PVC pipe and use your Sharpie to make marks for where you will need to cut and then take your pipe cutters or hacksaw and cut directly on those marks. Pro tip: be sure to use sandpaper or a file to remove rough cuts and smooth gluing surfaces.

Gluing Stage

Next is priming and gluing!  First, take the collar and with the flat side facing out and put it on the PVC pipe. 

Then, just take your primer and apply it to the ends of the pipe and union, and make sure to wait a couple seconds to give it a chance to dry. 

Lastly, apply an even coat of your glue to the surfaces of  the pipe and on the union. Slip it on and hold it firmly in place. Once you’ve done this on the other side, take your salt cell and place it between the unions and turn the collars clockwise to screw the cell in place on the plumbing. 

Setting Up Your Control Box

Depending on the model, 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 (so that they turn on and off together). 

Usually this means disconnecting all power for safety, tracing the pump's power cord to where it is plugged in, and connecting the salt system's cord right there the same way. Be sure to follow all instructions in the manual, follow all local safety codes, and ensure this is done by a qualified person. You can also check this out in more detail in a future update, when we cover How to Install a Saltwater Chlorine Generator!

Adding Your Salt

Adding the salt is the simplest part, you'll just pour some bags of salt directly into the pool. Purchasing the salt is easy as well. You can purchase the salt at any home improvement store at about $5-$7  for a 40 lb bag. To figure out how many bags of salt you’ll need, as a general rule of thumb, you’ll need 30 lb of salt for every 1000 gallons. 

The pool won't be salty like the ocean — the salt levels will be extremely low, like what is still classified as fresh water. 

Most people don’t even taste the salt in the water — it has a lower salt level ppm, or parts per million, than your tears! In fact, the majority of people can’t taste salt under 4500 ppm, and the water in a pool with a saltwater system is 3000 - 3500 ppm. In comparison, the ocean is 35,000, which is usually what comes to mind when people hear “saltwater”. 

Additionally, if you're using chlorine now, your pool water is already completely compatible, it doesn't have to be drained and you can still just toss the salt straight into the water. 

Super Simple Conversions!

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 just for labor  to "convert your pool" from chlorine to saltwater. 

Most people successfully install their systems in around forty-five minutes or less on average. 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. In a short amount of time, you’ll be saving yourself lots of money for years while you enjoy the crystal clear and consistently blue water that salt water pools can provide. 

As always, we are here for you when you need us! Just give us at Discount Salt Pool a call and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have. 

 1 According to Pool & Spa News, as of 2016 7 out of 10 new pools in the US used salt pools systems 

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john allen

Date 4/3/2019

I have a 20x40 pool im interested in over to salt what would u recommend for doing this

DSP Staff

Date 4/4/2019

Leslie Armstrong

Date 5/30/2020

Please share the information on the capacity for small, medium and large pools. Our pool will hold 8,640 Gallons.

DSP Staff

Date 5/31/2020

robert f steffen

Date 8/29/2020


DSP Staff

Date 8/30/2020

Give us a call and we may be able to help you figure out what you are looking at, 866-766-5243. We have salt systems that can get installed in as little as 7-10" of space.

Paul McCarty

Date 3/3/2021

I live in central Alabama. I Have an above ground 15 x 30 x 4 oval pool. Calculates out to be about 12,000 gal water volume. Right now I have a 1.5hp jacuzzi pump with a sand filter. We have been using Clorox Xtra Blue 3 inch chlorinating tablets. What salt system do you think will be adequate for this system. And is there a need to reduce the current chlorine level when converting to salt?

DSP Staff

Date 3/5/2021

If your pool is current up and running, there is not typically anything else that you need to do beside installing the salt chlorinator and adding the salt to the water

At that pool size, you may want to pick out a salt chlorinator rated for at least a 20-30,000 gallon max capacity or more.

We're happy to go over all the details about the pool and help you pick out the right system if you call: 866-766-5243.

In the meantime, you can read more about that here:

Ben Vasquez

Date 4/1/2021

I want to convert my pool to a salt pool what do I need

DSP Staff

Date 4/2/2021

Jeffrey Wells

Date 4/14/2021

Would like to switch my 21.120 gal in ground pool to salt.

DSP Staff

Date 4/21/2021

At that pool size, you may want to pick out a salt chlorinator rated for at least a 30-40,000 gallon max capacity or more.

We're happy to go over all the details about the pool and help you pick out the right system if you call: 866-766-5243.

In the meantime, you can read more about How To Choose The Right Salt System For Your Pool

Lewis Agin

Date 5/5/2021

What do you do when your pool is 40,000 gallons which is above the 20,000 limit for a salt chenerator?

DSP Staff

Date 5/21/2021

If you already have a salt system, and for some reason its too small for the pool, its worth checking if that model can accept a larger capacity cell on it. Some can, some only work with one cell type.


Date 5/15/2021

You would want to look at a 60,000 max gallon model like the RJ60+ system


Date 5/11/2021

I have a inexpensive clomen pool (300.) Is there a converter I can use to make this a salt water pool. The pool is 10ft. by 16ft and 4 ft. deep. Is it worth it for me to use salt water verse convention. Thanks


Date 5/15/2021

You may like the easy to use MegaChlor model which is less expensive too.

Justin Adams

Date 5/30/2021

I have 2 return lines, one to each side of the pool. Which side should it be installed on? Does it matter?

DSP Staff

Date 5/30/2021

Justin, ideally you would put the salt chlorinator "upstream" from where the return line splits to go back to different return jets. Sometimes due to the space available you may need to do a little plumbing to achieve this. If that is impossible, then adding the salt chlorinator after the split would mean that the chlorinated water would just be coming back to one "side" of the pool.

Dawn stevens

Date 5/31/2021

My gunite pool was built in 1967, with a stainless steel pool filter. Will I be able to convert to salt water???


Date 6/1/2021

Gunite pools and stainless steel components are very common in swimming pools. As long as your plumbing is PVC, you should likely be just fine.

Terry Sanders

Date 6/1/2021

We have a 300 gal. vinyl Intex spa and woud like to change over to salt. Can we do this and what would you recommend? Thanks

Russell Harmon

Date 7/4/2021

I have a 15 foot round, above ground pool. That holds about 6,400 gal. What system would be the choice & how much would it be?

DSP Staff

Date 7/5/2021

You typically want a salt system that can handle at least 1.5x to 2x the water in your pool. You can see a little more sizing information here: Based on the size you mention, one of the systems on this page would likely be a good fit:


Date 7/26/2021

I have 18,000 gallon 24*52 round above ground pool what kind of system would i need

DSP Staff

Date 7/27/2021

You typically want a salt system that can handle at least 1.5x to 2x the water in your pool. You can see a little more sizing information here: Based on the size you mention, one of the systems like the CS30 or Universal25 on this page would likely be a good fit:

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