Dolphin Pool Maintenance: Saltwater vs Chlorine

Dolphin Pool Maintenance: Saltwater vs Chlorine

Swimming pool maintenance is the most important part of owning a pool. Cost, maintenance, and health are three concerns that are a cause for debate between the two main water systems that pool owners can choose from: saltwater and chlorine pools. In this article, we will go through the steps of maintaing a pool with a saltwater system and how it differs from a chlorine system. This guide should be able to assist pool owners decide on what pool system is appropriate for their needs, desires, and lifestyle.

How Do Saltwater Pools Work?

The popularity of salt water systems to care for swimming pools has reached an all-time high and our indications are that their popularity is rising. Saltwater pools use dissolved salt instead of chlorine tablets to cleanse and sanitize pool water. One prevalent misconception is that if you have a salt water pool, you no longer use chlorine. Actually, a salt generator’s real purpose is to make chlorine from the salt present in the pool. The generator makes it easier to maintain the chlorine level in the pool. Make no mistake, a saltwater pool is still a chlorine pool.

Chlorine Level

However, the chlorine level of a salt water pool must still be monitored and maintained within acceptable ranges. You can adjust the amount of chlorine generated by regulating the percentage of output and the number of hours the filter pump operates. Each salt generator will vary on how these things are controlled so be sure to consult the owner’s manual for your system to learn more about how to regulate it.

Salt Level

The salt level in the pool water must also be tested and maintained per the salt system manufacturer’s guidelines. You can purchase salt test strips at our stores to test the level yourself. Or, you may bring a sample of the pool water to one of our locations for professional analysis and adjustment. Too high or too low salt levels will either damage the generator or force it to shut off, cutting off chlorine production.

It is important to use high quality pure salt that packaged for swimming pools. Our Aqua Salt is refined to remove excess contaminants commonly found in other salts. These contaminants have a reputation for decreasing generator’s production and may even cause staining on the pool surface. It is important to use regular doses of Poolife Intensive Stain Prevention to prevent the staining and scaling often found in salt pools. You can read more about treating scaling and stains in your pool here.


A by-product of chlorine generation from salt is the rise of pH of the pool water. The pH must really be monitored more closely than with chlorine pools, as it tends to rise more often and more sharply with a salt generator. When the pH of pool water is high, it becomes scale forming, causing the need to clean the cell more frequently, and the increasing the possibility of staining and scaling on the pool tile and surface. You will use more pH reducer or muriatic acid when you have a salt pool.

Routine Maintenance

The routine maintenance of a salt cell is of utmost importance for its production and longevity. The environment inside the salt cell is very harsh, producing scale formation inside the cell on its electrolytic plates. This reduces its efficiency and shortens its life. It should be cleaned twice a year with Poolife Cell Cleaner to ensure its maximum efficiency. The routine addition of Poolife Intensive Stain Protection will prevent the scale from forming as heavily, but it will not negate the need to clean the cell routinely.

Salt water does have an effect on soft natural rock and flagstone around the pool as well. The salt will soak into the rock along with the water that hits those surfaces, the water evaporates and leaves the salt behind. This can cause a lot of scaling on these surfaces, and can even create a “spalling” effect, which is a deterioration of these surfaces. Research should be done before choosing to use a salt system with pools that have these types of surfaces around them.

Salt water is more comfortable to swim in for most people and it makes pool maintenance a bit less time-consuming. However, don’t think that a saltwater pool will take care of itself. It is not the maintenance free system that a lot of pool owners are told. In the long run, it may save you some time, but it’s not going to save you a significant amount of money over standard chlorine treatments.

If after this, you are considering a chlorine pool instead, read our quick pool service guide for an introduction on maintaining a chlorine pool. 


About Dolphin Pool Supply and Service

Dolphin Pool Supply is an employee-owned company which has been in the business of swimming pool supply and services since 1957.  Dolphin Pool Supply values customers as the most important asset of the business taking their every need with high regard to ensure client satisfaction.

Dolphin Pool Supply provides swimming pool supplies and services in Dallas and Flower Mound.

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