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Can I Put a Salt Chlorinator in My Own Pool?

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The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Salt-Water Pool Chlorination Systems

The mystique that formerly surrounded saltwater pools has swiftly faded, and the do-it-yourself crowd has thought, “That looks like something I can do myself!” This is typical of new technologies’ reception: rapid adoption and widespread use. Thankfully, they’re right, and individuals with even rudimentary home-handy abilities are converting their pools to salt in record numbers. Read this article to see if you have what it takes to take on this challenge.

Switching from a traditional chlorine pool to a saltwater pool is accessible by installing a chlorine generator. Surprisingly, the pool industry hasn’t settled on a term for this set of tools. They are also known as salt chlorinators or chlorine producers. Some people call them saltwater systems, while others use the term saline. They are commonly referred to as electrolyzers in various regions. The common denominator is that all machines disinfect pool water by dissolving salt. They all share two main parts: a source of electricity and a generating “cell” that the water flows through. Users can adjust the sanitizer dose by turning a dial on one of the system’s components. Electronics and cell design are the primary areas where different brands diverge from one another.

Digital circuitry in modern salt chlorinators is set to automatically adjust power output based on the water’s salinity and temperature. The displays tell the pool owner when to add salt and show them everything is running smoothly. Power is supplied to the cell in a way that promotes its longevity thanks to the circuits. In addition, all modern units include circuitry that lessens the frequency with which the cell has been cleaned, and they function at low salt levels that are generally safe for all modern pool equipment and finishes. Old salt brine tanks with high salinity levers are as obsolete as floppy disks, but the unsettling tales still reverberate in some quarters. Modern saltwater pool systems require water with a salt concentration lower than the solution used to clean human contact lenses. There is no taste and no natural feeling to the water. All in all, there’s no need to replace any pool gear already there. Don’t be a wasteful person!

You’ve probably already taken care of the first step in installing a salt chlorinator, ensuring the water in your pool is balanced correctly. Bring out the meter and see how acidic, alkaline, and hard your water is. Alter things as necessary.

The next step is to pour the salt into the pool. The amount of pure salt needed to treat a thousand gallons of water ranges from 30 to 40 pounds, depending on the brand. You’ll have to do the math if you want to know how many gallons of water are in your pool because there is no “standard size.” Multiply the average length by the average width by the average depth of a rectangular pool, then multiply that result by 7.5. You can find many different formulas for other forms in various web resources. Nowadays, pool salt can be found pretty much anywhere. It’s available at every hardware store, home improvement center, and even certain supermarkets. You can also use water softener salt, but avoid those containing extra chemicals like rust inhibitors. Ensure the salt you use is not iodized if intended for human consumption. Don’t be frightened if your contribution seems like much salt in the water. There’s only a teaspoon in a gallon, but you have much of it. If dumped overboard, the salt will dissolve within a few hours and be completely forgotten.

The time has come to put the cell and control module into place. While subtle variations in the plumbing and electrical hookup are required for each brand, most installations are identical. It’s pretty basic stuff, but you might want to read the instructions before you start hacking things up.

In my opinion, you should begin with the plumbing. Next, you’ll decide where to put the power module so that the “cell cord” can reach the cell, which the placement of your filter, heater, and control valves will primarily determine. This proprietary plug and soldering make it impossible to lengthen the electrical connection between the power source and the cell. Most in-ground pools have 2″ plumbing, but some only have 1.5″, so measure yours before you head out to the store. Some models of chlorine generators are compatible with both sizes without using bushings. However, they can be purchased separately if necessary. Find the pipe leading from the filter (or heater, if you have one), and cut off a part of it long enough to reach the cell. The chlorine cell is often installed in place of the plastic tablet dispenser previously used to dispense chlorine. You can connect the cell to the return pipe with as many elbows and couplings as you need. Keep the route simple and the traffic behind you to a minimum.

For the same reason, a straight pipe about eight inches in length should be provided between turns. Finally, if an additional line is needed, use it to increase the cell’s height for convenient access during inspections and maintenance. (Or invest in some sturdy knee guards.) Gluing PVC pipe is simple, and most people have done it before so I won’t go into specifics. Some helpful videos are available on Google and other search engines if this is your first time. Gorilla PVC Glue or Red Hot Medium Duty PVC Cement are two high-quality types of cement that I endorse. Before applying glue to the actual cell fittings, it is recommended to dry-fit the components to ensure a proper fit. Please take note of the water’s path as it passes through the cell. It’s essential for specific brands but not for others.

After the cell, cement may be removed without cutting any piping, thanks to the threaded unions that come standard on all high-quality chlorine-generating cells. Finally, a flow switch is a feature of some models that requires plumbing. Again, paying attention to the direction of the water flow will ensure that your unit turns on.

The next step is to securely fasten the control module (power supply) to a wall or other convenient location close to the electrical cord that supplies juice to the cell. The necessary hardware to mount it in the usual place on the wall adjacent to your timer or pump switch will be included in the shipment. Sometimes a mounting post for the controller is required to ensure accessibility.

While many or even most do-it-yourselfers may find connecting AC power to the unit a simple task, I would advise calling an electrician if you are not entirely at ease with working with electricity. A select few manufacturers provide models that can be used with any GFCI-protected wall outlet. While most models are intended for permanent installation, a plug costing around $4 at any hardware store makes them suitable for temporary use. Most salt chlorinators and other pool gadgets are prewired for 220 volts, a standard voltage supply everywhere except the American South and a few pockets of Florida. Make sure your supplier is aware whether you will only have 110v available at the equipment pad before placing your order. Most stores will gladly convert it to 110v for you before delivering. There is a good rationale for the existence of electrical codes that may govern the connection of pool equipment, but that topic is outside the scope of this essay. You need your equipment to be securely grounded and wired so the elements or a curious toddler won’t damage it. If you’re unsure how to proceed, hiring a professional electrician is best.

Turn on the pump and let the system get up to pressure before inspecting for leaks. Once satisfied with the plumbing, you may begin setting up the salt chlorinator.

Congratulations. The salt pool is now complete! Give your brother-in-law your unused chlorine tablets so he can put the money toward a chlorine generator. A job well done!

Don Uhle, president of Pace Research Ltd. in Houston, Texas, kindly supplied the above data. Don Uhle and his brother Ken run PoolBids, the first online resource connecting homeowners with professional pool contractors. With a network of over 200 pre-screened pool builders across the continental United States, PoolBids has assisted over 10,000 clients in finding their ideal backyard pool since 1997. Discount Salt Pool, a parent firm subsidiary, sells specialist pool equipment to pool builders and individual customers through the domain name. Discount Salt Pool sells conversion kits, parts, and tons of free assistance for well-known brands. You can reach them at any time by dialing 866-766-5243 with any inquiries.

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