The Essential Salt Water Pool Maintenance Guide For Beginners

We understand that those who are new to salt pools may be a little confused about how to sanitize them. Don’t worry; we’ll show you how simple it is to maintain a salt pool vs. chlorine ones.

Most pool owners are familiar with conventional chlorination methods. However, using a saltwater chlorine generator is a much easier and more eco-friendly way to sanitize your pool compared to traditional chlorination methods. Explore how easy it is to upgrade to a saltwater sanctuary!

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The 4 Keys to Optimal Saltwater Pool Maintenance

Making the switch to saltwater chlorinators comes with a wealth of benefits. You will experience significant savings over time, a sparkling clear pool, easier maintenance, and more. However, saltwater pools aren’t entirely self-sufficient.

We’ve created this handy guide to saltwater pool maintenance, which shines a light on the four most important areas of care.

Staying on top of these areas of maintenance is essential to owning a beautiful and safe pool to swim in all year long. Thankfully, the salt pool ownership experience makes it even easier to accomplish a high level of care.

Salt Pool Sanitation

No one wants a smelly, green, algae-filled pool. That’s why sanitation should be a pool owner’s highest priority. If left unchecked, bacteria can overtake the water, which makes it unsafe to swim in and appalling to look at. 

How can you keep your salt pool from resembling a swamp? There’s not much to it, as your salt chlorinator does most of the work. It converts table salt into natural chlorine, which cleanses the water. You’ll just have to check and adjust your salt chlorinator on a routine basis.

As you might have guessed, it’s important to add salt to your saltwater pool. However, you won't have to add as much as you'd think. While several bags of salt are needed when you first install your saltwater chlorinator, you'll only have to supplement it with smaller amounts over time. Keep in mind that you may make adjustments seasonally or after significant storms or heavy pool usage.

Keep in mind that you may make adjustments seasonally or after significant storms or heavy pool usage.

Therefore, salt pools end up requiring cheaper maintenance than traditional chlorine pools. Plus, you’ll enjoy a fresher experience.

Salt Pool Circulation

Circulation keeps the pool water moving by way of a pump that delivers suction and pressure. Skimmers and the main drain collect outgoing water, which is sent to the pump. It’s then pushed through a filter that catches debris and cleanses the water before returning to the pool.

Most pool filtration systems should run between 8-10 hours per day, depending on size and weather. This process allows the pool water to “turn over” once or twice every 24 hours.

Additionally, you should monitor your pool water for an accumulation of debris or sediment and correct any problems that may arise. That’s because pool pumps work harder when there’s a collection of waste, which will shorten the pump’s lifespan. 

You can also add a pre-filter system to reduce how much saltwater pool maintenance is needed. Normal filters require extensive backwashing, cleaning cartridges, grids, and more. But pre-filter systems use cyclonic filtration, which cleans it out in a minute while only using approximately four gallons of water.

Salt Pool Water Balance

Many homeowners struggle to understand their pool’s water chemistry, but it’s not as intimidating as one might believe. Your pool water has particular characteristics that make it “behave” in specific ways. 

You’ll want to balance those traits, so your pool doesn’t become dirty or unsafe. Let’s break down the characteristics of a properly balanced saltwater pool.

Understanding Free Chlorine And Chlorine Demand

Free chlorine refers to the chlorine available to disinfect your pool of microorganisms and algae. Essentially, this is what keeps your pool beautiful and safe to swim in. 
We recommend monitoring the free chlorine levels every few days when initially preparing a salt system in your pool. Like other chemistry aspects of your pool water, free chlorine levels can be thrown off by a rainstorm or heavy pool use. After you have an understanding of your pool’s habits, you can switch to checking it weekly.
Meanwhile, chlorine demand is the amount of components in the water that require a reaction with chlorine. In other words, keeping your pool as clean as possible reduces the amount of chlorine the water needs. Knowing what interferes with your chlorine levels is key. 

Simply put, avoiding overworked chlorine helps ensure a clean and clear saltwater pool. 

Basic Saltwater Pool Maintenance

Salt pools, like most outdoor equipment, need regular care. Thankfully, these saltwater pool maintenance tasks are relatively easy and not very time-consuming. Here are four basic chores you can add to your calendar to help keep your salt pool looking as good as new.

1. Check the skimmer basket and pump for debris

If left unattended, a build-up of leaves, bugs, and dirt can eventually clog the pool’s filtration system. Therefore, we recommend using a pool skimming net to capture any visual debris and to empty the skimmer basket several times per week.
Additionally, robotic pool cleaners lessen the workload, so you do not always have to check manually. 

2. Clean and replace the salt cell as needed

At Discount Salt Pools, we recommend cleaning your salt cell once or twice per season. Additionally, you’ll need to replace it about every five years, depending on the brand and usage.
So, how do you clean a salt cell? It’s simple! Just follow these steps:

3. Routinely clean the pool and pool deck

You already know the importance of removing debris from the pool. But you should also clean your pool tile, pool floor, and the surrounding area. Saltwater will likely splash out of the pool and onto your deck. Simply spray water from a hose to push it back into the pool to avoid any salt build-up.

4. Keep a water-testing schedule

As stated earlier, it’s crucial to ensure that your water chemistry is balanced. The best way to do so is to have particular days and weeks of the month where you set aside time to test your pool levels. Get to know the specialists at your local pool shop, and ask for help if any of the levels are out of whack.

Now You’re A Saltwater Pool Maintenance Expert

Saltwater pools are easy to maintain as long as you stick to a routine and stay on top of simple maintenance. For example, ensure your pool’s sanitation is up to par, ensure your pool is circulating correctly, keep your water chemistry balanced, and don’t forget your basic upkeep. 
Saltwater pools, especially when you’re switching to a salt pool from traditional chlorination methods, can be a little overwhelming. But in the long run, it’s worth the initial adjustment thanks to the financial savings and ease of maintenance.

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Converting your pool to salt just means adding a chlorine generator! Use our intelligent product recommendation system to see what the best choices for you might be. See more now ►

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Date 5/17/2022

You should make it a habit to clean your pool and filters regularly, as this can help you save time and money. Simply add salt and your pool's salt chlorinator will do all the work of making chlorine.

Carmen Jasmin

Date 6/23/2022

21 ft above ground pool w 52 inch walls. I have opened my pool and tested water at a pool centre nearby. Added all necessary ing. To adjust levels. My water is bueish but cloudy.

DSP Staff

Date 6/28/2022

Cloudiness typically indicates growth of micro-organisms (insufficient/inconsistent chlorine levels in water), otherwise sometimes just lots of fine sediment (which a "clarifier" chemical can help remove).


Date 1/12/2023

Our salt water pool is covered for the winter. Should I still do maintenance on it or wait until winter is over?

DSP Staff

Date 1/13/2023

Peri, since winterization of pools can be very different across the country, give us a call and let us know a little more about your pool and what kind of maintenance you mean. Our team is happy to assist: 866-766-5243 ext:2


Date 2/9/2023

Our salt water pool is located indoors within our condo complex and serves many including seniors. We would like the maintenance company currently servicing our pool to increase the water temperature from 82-83F to an average of 85 F to accommodate tenants with arthritis as the current water temperature aggravates their joint pain. We have been told by the condo board president that if the water temperature is increased this slight amount (1-2degrees) we would see a dramatic increase in micro organism growth & chemical use that would drive our condo fees up. Could you please advise what the results of a temperature increase of 2 degrees would be on our maintenance and chemicals needs. We would love for our seniors to also enjoy the benefits of a pool also.


Date 2/20/2023

In general, the warmer the water the easier it is for micro-organisms to grow, which would increase the chlorine demand of the water. Based on my experience, I'm not sure anyone can exactly predetermine how much more chlorination would be required since every pool has so many different factors (pool usage, chemical balance, temperatures, amount of sunlight, etc...), and especially if you are talking about such a slight change. It might just require the salt chlorine generator to be raised to a higher output (to make more chlorine). Food for thought...


Date 3/7/2023


DSP Staff

Date 3/7/2023

The exact answer to this would be on an individual basis according to what model salt chlorinator. Some models continue working down into very low temperatures (at very reduced rates), while some models activate their winter mode on average in the 50-60s. Regardless, it typically works out as this level of cold water inhibits microorganism growth (like refrigeration) and little to no chlorination should be required. Also, this is a beneficial function that ensure the salt chlorinator cell doesn't get used up prematurely. Should algae problems occur at low temperatures there typically is going to be a specific impurity or cause enabling this, which should be able to be addressed directly.

Linda O'Connell

Date 4/12/2023

Salt water pool new. What would be the basic salt chlorine generator output number

DSP Staff

Date 4/14/2023

The chlorine generator's setting is going to be unique for everybody based on your pool size, chlorine generator model, climate, pool use, pool chemistry, etc... The best approach is to measure the current free chlorine level in the pool, set the chlorine generator on a reasonably appropriate setting based on the results (example: a very high setting if the chlorine is low), allow the chlorine generator to run for a day or two, measure the resulting free chlorine level, and then make an adjustment to the chlorine generator as needed. Once you make a few adjustments within the first week or so, you should have the system "dialed in" to your pool's needs, and then only intermittent adjustments are needed to compensate for seasonal temperature changes or temporary things like bad weather or high bather load.

Jill hohmeier

Date 5/21/2023

This has been very helpful. Thank you

Miss Norton

Date 5/26/2023

I have a salt system in ground pool. I was told that you still have to add chlorine even though I have a salt water pool system. Is this true? Sometimes my chlorine levels are low. Please advise. Thank you!

DSP Staff

Date 5/26/2023

A properly-sized salt chlorinator is intended to provide 100% of the chlorination that the pool needs. This is what will ensure you get the full value and convenience out of having one. If chlorine levels are low, make sure to adjust up the chlorine output setting and provide as long a possible of run time in order to match the pool’s chlorine demand. If the current system isn’t able to achieve that, it is possible it’s too “small” for the pool’s needs. If you’d like to go over equipment options for your pool, give us a call at 866-766-5243 and our product experts are happy to help.

Suzanne T.

Date 7/2/2023

You mentioned measuring the “free chlorine” I’m unclear as to what the level should be. Also, the guys who maintain my pool frequently add Hasa Returnable Acid and Biodex Oil Enzyme. What are these for?

DSP Staff

Date 7/5/2023

Free Chlorine should be between 1-3ppm in any pool. I'm not familiar with the exact brand names you specify, but acid is used to lower the pool's pH, and enzyme cleaners are sometimes used as a supplement to the pool's sanitation to help deal with and break down organic materials that might be in the pool.

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