The Essential Salt Water Pool Maintenance Guide For Beginners

This article and video goes over the four pillars of pool maintenance and what to expect with a saltwater pool. The goal of this guide is to go over the essentials to help keep that pool looking good with minimal work. You might be surprised to find that a lot of this is great info if you’re still manually chlorinating your pool.

What makes this specific to salt pools is that we’re assuming you’re using a salt chlorine generator for your method of sanitation. So for those that made the switch to a salt pool, good for you. it is easier to maintain than traditional chlorine pools but OF COURSE it is not maintenance free. Alrite, that’s a common misconception. The following 4 things are key to your pool maintenance. And if you learn these basics trust me, it will make your life a whole lot easier:



The 4 ESSENTIAL Basics are:  

  1. Sanitation
  2. Circulation
  3. Water Balance
  4. Basic Upkeep


1) Sanitation

Sanitation is the difference between a pool and a swamp. Put simply, you have to continuously kill off the bad things that are trying grow in your water. If you don’t do that, the water is going to turn cloudy and green. You either need to manually buy and add chlorine to the pool, or use a salt chlorine generator to provide that sanitation. This is the foundation of a clear blue pool.

We’ll get more into the details in a minute when we talk about “water balance”, but practically speaking, for salt pools this simply means setting your chlorine generator to match your pool’s needs. If you still have a chlorine pool, this means manually adding chlorine to the pool on a frequent, regular basis.

2) Pool Circulation

Now to get that water crystal clear and keep it clean, you’re gonna need regular circulation in the pool. This is your pump and filter system, which keeps the water moving and captures the dirt and debris.

Like any body of water, the more the water circulates, the easier it is for the water to stay clear. Think of a fast moving stream versus a stagnant pond. Getting adequate circulation allows you to capture those impurities through filtration. With a standard pump & filter system, the typical pool usually needs 8-12 hours of run time a day – though of course there may be some variance depending on your pool’s unique setup. If you want to get more advanced and measure your pool’s flow rate, your goal is to “turnover” all the water in the pool 1-2 times a day. Ensuring proper circulation is another critical element to maintaining a clean pool.

3) Monitoring Water Balance

Monitoring water balance. This is one most people struggle with. It also tends to be pretty intimidating to new pool owners but it doesn’t have to be.

You might ask, what are you even balancing – isn’t it just water? Well, your water has certain characteristics that make it behave a certain way. And the whole goal is to balance those characteristics so your pool doesn’t behave unexpectedly. And there are A LOT of “characteristics” that go into water balance. What were gonna do is highlight a few important ones that can have the biggest impact on your pool.
a. So the first one is Monitor your chlorine level. This is the end result of your pool sanitation –. You should typically measure about 1-3ppm in a pool. Too low, and your pool grows algae & other harmful microorgansims. Too high, and it can be harmful to you and your pool.
b. Monitor your pH level. Ok, this is how acidic or alkaline the water is. If it doesn’t stay balanced, it can also lead to swimmer discomfort, or impact scaling or corrosion. Imbalanced pH also makes that sanitation power of your pool’s chlorine MUCH less effective. You’re typically aiming for a level of 7.5. Most people struggle with high Ph, meaning that if you fall into this group the majority of the time you will just be adding muriactic acid to the pool to keep it lowered. Theres also PH balance systems out there to do this for you so keep that in mind.
c. Monitor your cyanuric acid or stabilizer level. Think of this as your sunscreen for your chlorine. An ideal number is about 40 - 60ppm. If its too low, all of that pure chlorine produced by your salt system will be eatin up by the sun. But if its too high, it makes your chlorine ineffective! That’s one reason to stop using chlorine tablets – most have built-in cyanuric acid so you’re basically guaranteed to develop “chlorine lock” and have to drain your pool!
d. Minimize your chlorine Demand. THIS IS HUGE FOLKS. ELIMINATE issues that multiply the amount of chlorine needed to keep the pool clear. In other words, get to the root of the problem. This is always less expensive than dumping in bucket after bucket of chlorine. For example if you have high phosphates, remove them with phosphate remover so you don’t need as much sanitation.
e. If you use a salt chlorine generator, monitor your Salt level. Most people have to add between 2 and 4 bags of salt a year. Obviously much of this depends on rain fall and how much water is lost out of your pool. You need to maintain a minimum amount of salt in the water for the salt system to generate chlorine. For most systems, that’s around 3500ppm. If you don’t have salt strips to test this, pick up a set, you’ll be happy you did.
Make it a habit to check your water balance regularly. This is key, making small adjustments frequently is much easier than making big adjustments later. In the beginning we recommend checking your water every few days but after you find a good setting, move to checking weekly and ensure your water chemistry levels are staying in range.
You’ll also want to check your water balance after rain storms, after people have been using the pool, after dusty or windy conditions, or whenever else its likely that impurities have been introduced to the pool. Those are the most common things to check about your water balance.

4) Basic Upkeep of your Pool and Equipment

If you have an outdoor pool, there's gotta be a little regular maintenance. This includes checking your pump and skimmer baskets regularly. You don’t want your system to get plugged up with debris. Same goes for leaves and debris floating on top of the pool, and stuff that’s accumulated at the bottom of the pool. Don’t let those leaves stay in the pool too long or it can affect your chemistry. And remember, if you want to save some effort here, a robotic pool cleaner can help tremendously with this.

Finally, be sure to clean out your pool filter when it gets too full. You’ll know its getting full by checking the pressure gauge on the top of the filter. Pressure will build as the filter gets dirty. Once you see the pressure go up by about 10 psi, its time to clean the filter. But you need to know your filter’s baseline pressure – what it reads when it is clean. If you don’t know this number, no big deal, clean it out and then take note.

Alright - so there you have it, the four essential basics. Maintain proper pool sanitation, make sure you get enough pool circulation, keep your water chemistry balanced, and check for when your pool needs a little basic upkeep. And believe me I know it can be a little overwhelming at first, but if you’re still a little confused or have any questions please just call us and we’ll be happy to go over with you. Trust me, after you get a groove going and a good schedule, there's really nothing to it. Sometimes all you need is some simple reminders set in your phone!

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