DIY Guide to Installing a Salt Water Chlorinator

Instructional Video: Saltwater Chlorinator Installation

For a more visual demonstration of the saltwater chlorinator installation process, we have provided a helpful video showcasing the installation of the CircuPool CORE Series saltwater chlorinator. This step-by-step video guide walks you through the specific installation steps for the CircuPool CORE Series, offering valuable insights into the process for all models.

Please note that while the video focuses on the CircuPool CORE Series, the instructions provided in this comprehensive guide can be applied to various saltwater chlorinator installations. So, whether you choose the CircuPool CORE Series or opt for a different model, our guide will equip you with the knowledge and steps needed to successfully install the saltwater chlorinator you choose.

1. The Unbeatable Benefits of Installing a Saltwater Generator

Before we delve into the process for installation of a saltwater chlorinator, let's take a moment to further explore the multitude of benefits that installing a saltwater generator provides. This understanding is not just informative but also motivating, as you'll have a clear idea of the value installing the saltwater generator will add to your swimming pool:

Constant Chlorine Levels: One of the major advantages of installing a saltwater generator is that it guarantees a continuous supply of chlorine, ensuring consistent sanitation levels. This keeps your pool water clean and safe in a predictable, reliable manner, preventing algae growth even if you’re gone for a bit on vacation!

Reduced Maintenance: A saltwater chlorinator installation automates the pool chlorination process. The system runs automatically everyday when the pump runs. This automation translates into less time spent on maintenance as you no longer have to manually add chlorine to your pool. Since the chlorination is consistent you don’t get trapped in battles between low and high chlorine levels, requiring extra shock followed by periods when the pool isn’t swimmable. It's a time-saving solution that allows you to enjoy more leisure time in your pool rather than working on it.

Improved Swimming Comfort: Saltwater chlorinator installations produce softer water and eliminate the harsh chemical byproducts of traditional chlorination, which means the water is gentler on your eyes, skin, and hair compared to traditional pool water. This results in a more comfortable and enjoyable swimming experience that feels more like swimming in a natural body of water.

Long-Term Savings: Although the upfront cost of installing a saltwater chlorine generator might seem high initially, it's an investment that pays for itself in the long run. When you compare the amount of chlorination that a salt chlorine generator provides to buying the equivalent amount of chemical chlorine, industry estimates are that the chlorine generator can save as much as 50% or more over its lifespan. Apart from the initial saltwater chlorinator installation, the only ongoing thing that the system requires is a small amount of salt - over the course of the year a typical pool may only require $15–$40 worth.

For more information on the benefits of converting your pool to saltwater and more, be sure to check out our comprehensive guide to saltwater chlorinators.

2. Preparations Before Salt Generator Installation

Before you start your DIY salt chlorinator installation, it's crucial to have a comprehensive understanding of your current pool setup and to gather all the necessary tools and supplies required. Being prepared and qualified to do the job is critical anytime you are working on your pool, and salt chlorinators are no different.

Tools and Supplies for Salt Generator Installation:

For a seamless and stress-free installation of your salt generator, it is important to have the following tools and supplies readily available. Having these items on hand will ensure a smooth installation process without any unnecessary interruptions:

  1. Saltwater chlorinator: The central component of your saltwater pool system, responsible for converting salt into chlorine. Salt chlorinators typically come with the needed unions to connect them to your plumbing.

  2. Pipe cutters or hacksaw: Used to precisely cut the pipe sections where the salt cell and connectors will be installed. In case you do not have access to a pipe cutter, a hacksaw can be used to cut the PVC pipes (be sure to sand or file smooth the edges of pipe cut with a hacksaw).

  3. PVC primer and glue: PVC primer and cement are vital for securely bonding the pipe sections together, ensuring leak-free connections.

  4. Measuring tape & marker: Used to accurately measure and mark the pipe sections for cutting and installation.

  5. Reducer bushings (Maybe): These may be required if the diameter of your pool's existing pipes is 1.5” (inner diameter), as many saltwater chlorinator models come with 2” unions (inner diameter).

  6. PVC pipe & fittings (Maybe): If your current pool system is very “tightly” plumbed and there is little space in which to place new components, you may need to extend sections of the plumbing using additional PVC pipe and fittings to allow room for new pool equipment.

  7. Wiring & Wiring Accessories (Maybe): Many models come with a pre-installed power cable, and some even come ready to be plugged into a weather-protected outlet. A small number of models however do not come with a power cable pre-installed, and depending on your local code you may want to protect your wiring with conduit for added protection. Saltwater chlorinators typically get wired to the same circuit as the pump.

By having these tools and supplies at your disposal, you can ensure a hassle-free installation process and enjoy the benefits of a saltwater chlorinator in your pool.

If you have not yet selected your new saltwater chlorinator, be sure to reference our article on how to choose the best saltwater chlorinator for your needs.

Understanding Your Pool's Plumbing Before Installing a Saltwater Generator

Understanding your pool's plumbing is a critical consideration before installing a saltwater generator. The type of plumbing in your pool can affect the way in which you install a saltwater chlorinator.

Most inground pools use 2” Inner Diameter (ID) Schedule 40 (Sch40) PVC pipe, some inground pools and larger above ground pools use 1.5” ID Sch40 PVC pipe, and other above ground pools will use flex hoses. Identify your plumbing type so you can be prepared for installation. Most chlorine generators come with female slip unions that have 2” pipe glued inside; you may need reducers for smaller pipe or adapters for hoses that clamp.

Salt chlorine generators typically get installed as the last piece of equipment that the water passes through before returning to the pool (see graphic overview below). This is after the pump, filter, and heater (if present). Identify the area of your pool system where the salt chlorine generator will go.

This guide will go over a typical retrofit installation in 2” plumbing in a section after the pump and filter of the pool system with room to install the salt chlorine generator.

3. Detailed Steps to Saltwater Chlorinator Installation

Here are the detailed instructions that generally apply to most saltwater chlorinator installations. The step-by-step guide will help you understand what's involved in the process and prepare you for a successful installation of your saltwater chlorinator:

Step 1: Identify, Mark, and Cut the Pipe

The first step in installing your new saltwater generator is to identify a suitable section of the pool system pipe to install the salt cell. This is typically going to be the last section of the return plumbing before the water goes back to the pool; be sure to read and follow the product manual’s specifications. Accurate measurements and precise marking on the pipe segment are crucial for ensuring a perfect fit for the salt cell. You want to ensure this is correct the first time, so take your time with this step. Use pipe cutters for a clean, easy cut; if only a hacksaw is available to you, this will work, but be sure to sand or file down the cut pipe so the outside and inside of the PVC does not have any jagged edges or hanging PVC debris.

Step 2: Install the Salt Cell

Once you've removed the marked section with your cutting tool, use PVC primer to prepare the outside of the remaining pipe ends and the inside of the salt cell’s couplers. . Before gluing the couplers, be sure to slide the salt cell’s threaded connectors over the pipe, with the female threads facing where the salt cell will be. Then, one coupler at a time, apply the PVC cement on the pipe and the coupler, attach them to the pipe ends ensuring that the pipe slides all the way into the coupler, and then firmly hold the coupler in place for a moment. Ensure that the o-rings that go between the salt cell and the couplers are in place, then use the threaded connectors to secure your salt cell in place. Tighten the connectors by hand only (don’t over tighten with tools). Make sure the cell is firmly attached and that there are no leaks. If your salt chlorinator model has a flow switch, at this point you would temporarily remove the salt cell, plumb the flow switch adjacent to the cell, and then connect the salt cell back in place.

Step 3: Install the Control Unit

The control unit is essentially the brain of the system. It should be mounted on a vertical surface, at least a few feet above the ground, in an easily accessible location with good ventilation. The manufacturer's instructions will guide you on how to correctly connect the control unit to power.

Step 4: Connect the Salt Cell to the Control Unit

Connect the cell’s cable to the control unit. If your chlorine generator model has a flow switch, be sure to also connect its cable to the control unit.

Step 5: Add Salt to Your Pool

Once you have successfully installed the saltwater chlorinator, it's time to add salt to your pool. The required amount of salt will depend on the size of your pool and the manufacturer’s recommendations - as well as on any naturally occuring salt level that may already be in your pool. The amount of salt that you add at installation is for all intents and purposes a one time thing, unless you were to completely drain your pool. However, you'll continue to periodically check and add small quantities of salt in order to maintain the salt level after rain storms or other things that dilute the pool.

Step 6: Initial System Startup and Testing

With the installation of your saltwater chlorinator almost complete, now power up the system and allow the system to run for 5-10 minutes, ensuring that there are no leaks or warning lights on the system. Measure your water chemistry and take note of what your current free chlorine level is in the pool; allow the system to run on your pump’s daily schedule for a day or two, and then test your water again. Take note of your resulting free chlorine level is - if your chlorine level is high turn your chlorine generator down, or if your chlorine level is low turn your chlorine generator up. It's expected that you’ll make a number of adjustments the first week or so, so don't be discouraged if everything isn't perfect right away. Once you get the system “dialed in'', you’ll likely only need to make infrequent, seasonal adjustments.

4. The Importance of Maintenance After Installing a Saltwater Generator

To ensure optimal performance and longevity of your new saltwater chlorinator installation, it's still important to regularly test your water chemistry and adjust the water chemistry just like you would before. However, you should see that the chlorination of your pool is now consistent and predictable, without the need to regularly add any more chlorine or shock. Regular testing allows you to easily address water chemistry problems before they get out of hand, and to make timely adjustments to your chlorine generator to meet seasonal needs. For the chlorine generator, it's important to follow its instructions and provide some basic maintenance throughout the year. For the chlorine generator itself, thisusually involves checking the control unit for any warning or status lights, ensuring the water has a proper salinity (typically after rain storms) and cleaning the salt cell (to remove mineral scaling that may build up inside, which may occur a couple times a season). By ensuring your chlorine generator is working properly, you can enjoy a well-maintained and consistently clean pool, and ensure that you get a long lifespan out of your system and that you won’t have to replace your chlorine generator cell anytime soon!

If you are having issues with your equipment, be sure to check out our thorough guide to troubleshooting your saltwater chlorinator.

5. Saltwater Chlorinator Installation: Your Questions Answered

6. Final Thoughts: Your Saltwater Generator Installation Made Simple

This comprehensive guide is designed to help you navigate the idea of DIY salt chlorine generator installations and provides you with the essential knowledge to install a saltwater chlorinator in your pool. By converting salt into chlorine, saltwater chlorinators offer a convenient and efficient way to sanitize your pool while reducing maintenance tasks.

The benefits of saltwater chlorinators are undeniable: constant chlorine levels, reduced maintenance, improved swimming comfort, and long-term cost-effectiveness. This guide provides step-by-step instructions for the saltwater chlorinator installation process, covers plumbing considerations, tools and supplies needed, and the key salt generator installation steps. This guide is not a substitute for the installation instructions and warnings found in the product manual or the salt chlorinator model that you purchase!

Additionally, we addressed common questions about saltwater chlorinator installation, such as compatibility with different pool types and the need for additional equipment - but if you have any questions our support team of friendly pool experts is waiting to assist you at 866-766-5243. The importance of proper equipment sizing, proper installation, and regular maintenance ensures optimal performance and longevity.

We hope you have enjoyed this guide to DIY saltwater chlorine generator installations, but as always, if you have any issues or you just aren’t comfortable with any of these steps, never hesitate to call a professional. Any pro with knowledge of saltwater pools should be able to assist with installing a saltwater generator.

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