Salt water pools have become increasingly popular in recent years as an alternative to traditional chlorinated pools. While salt water pools offer some advantages, they are not without their downsides that can lead some pool owners to dislike them. This article will explore some of the main reasons people may not enjoy their salt water pool.
One of the biggest deterrents for some homeowners is the high initial cost of installing a salt water pool. The chlorine generator and salt chlorination system can add thousands of dollars upfront compared to a traditional pool. For homeowners looking for the most budget-friendly option, the higher installation costs may make them shy away from the salt water route.
While salt water pools require less overall chemical maintenance than traditional chlorinated pools once up and running, they do require some unique maintenance that can be bothersome to pool owners. The salt cell has to be cleaned and replaced periodically, which requires handling harsh cleaning chemicals. The salt levels have to be monitored and augmented regularly to keep the chlorine generator functioning properly. For homeowners who want a lower maintenance pool, these specific requirements of salt water pools may be unappealing.
The salt in a salt water pool can unfortunately cause accelerated corrosion of metal components. The high salt content corrodes stainless steel parts much faster than fresh water pools. This means you may have to replace things like metal railings, ladders, light fixtures, and drains more frequently. The cost of these replacements and the chore of having to repair them more often has led some pool owners to view salt water pools as more hassle than they are worth.
Skin and Eye Irritation
While the chlorine byproduct created by salt water pools is gentler than traditional chlorine, the high salt content itself can cause skin and eye irritation in some swimmers. The salty water can leave skin feeling dry and itchy. Eyes may feel irritated and sensitive after swimming in a salt water pool. These reactions understandably deter some people from wanting to make the switch from a traditional chlorinated pool.
Pool Surface Staining
Salt water pools have gained a reputation for causing discoloration and staining of pool surfaces much faster than normal chlorinated water. The salty water tends to etch and leave mineral deposits on pool walls and floors, giving it a dingy, dull appearance. Re-plastering and re-surfacing costs thousands of dollars, so it’s understandable why pool owners want to avoid this accelerated degradation.
The higher salt content in salt water pools impacts the water’s density, which reduces natural buoyancy. This makes it more difficult to float effortlessly, and creates more resistance when swimming. For competitive or lap swimmers who rely on buoyancy, this change can greatly hinder their enjoyment. Even recreational swimmers may find it less pleasurable exerting more effort against the denser water.
For eco-conscious pool owners, there are some environmental considerations that may give them pause about salt water pools. While the salt itself is not harmful in low concentrations, the periodic dumping of old salt cell cleaning chemicals does put harsh chemicals into waterways and groundwater that could damage the environment if not disposed of properly. The salt can also oversaturate the ground and stunt vegetation growth around the pool perimeter.
Some pool owners complain about the strong salty taste of the water, finding it unpleasant to swallow while swimming. This is primarily an issue in salt water pools with salt levels on the higher side of the recommended range. But for homeowners very sensitive to taste, it may deter them from wanting to make frequent use of their salt water pool.
Effect on Hair and Swimsuits
The salt and minerals in salt water pools can leave hair feeling sticky or dry after swimming. The salt water can also prematurely fade and degrade swimsuits with frequent use. These cosmetic effects of swimming in a salt water pool may not make a huge difference to all swimmers but can influence some homeowners in their decision.
While most salt water pool systems effectively keep water clean and sanitized, some pool owners struggle with keeping their salt water pools disinfected properly. If the salt or chlorine generator levels are not maintained diligently, the water can easily become unsanitary. The high salt content can also make it more difficult to shock the water for superchlorination when needed. These challenges provide yet another reason some pool owners decide salt water pools are not for them.
Some swimmers complain about breathing discomfort or irritated sinuses after swimming in salt water pools, even those with properly balanced chlorine levels. This respiratory irritation may result from a sensitivity to the byproducts created when the salt interacts with the chlorine generator. For these sensitive swimmers, salt water pools pose too much discomfort for frequent use.
Homeowners seeking more unique pool designs may be restricted with salt water pools. Most salt chlorine generators require a standard shaped pool of adequate size to function properly. Heavily customized pools with water features, infinity edges, or very small plunge pools often cannot accommodate a salt water system. Homeowners desiring an elaborate pool with special attributes usually must go with a traditional chlorinated pool instead.
Harder to Balance
Achieving well balanced water chemistry in a salt water pool can prove more difficult than with a traditional chlorinated pool. Getting the right pH, alkalinity, calcium hardness, and chlorine levels takes practice along with diligent chemical testing and monitoring. For some busy homeowners, this aspect of maintaining proper balance in a salt water pool may not seem worthwhile compared to their current pool.
Certain individuals appear predisposed to being extra sensitive to the chloramines present in salt water pools, even when the water is properly sanitized. These bather’s experience symptoms like itchy skin, runny noses, and stinging eyes when swimming despite normal chlorine residuals. For these uniquely sensitive swimmers, the discomfort makes salt water pools an unacceptable option no matter how meticulously maintained.
Reduced Winter Hardiness
In areas with cooler winter temperatures, salt water pools may be more prone to algae growth and other issues when closing the pool for the season. The salt does not properly winterize on its own, allowing contaminants to multiply more rapidly in cold water. This gives some homeowners in northern climates one more reason to pass on converting to a salt water pool.
Difficulty Removing Salt Buildup
Over years of operation, salt water pools accumulate salt residue on pool surfaces and equipment that is challenging to remove and clean completely. This gradual buildup looks unsightly and can begin to negatively impact water circulation. Even with acid washing, scrubbing and thorough rinsing, removing every trace of salt residue proves virtually impossible.
While salt water pools provide some advantages that make them enticing to many pool owners, they still come with downsides ranging from high upfront costs to specific maintenance hassles. For certain homeowners prioritizing lower maintenance, environmental friendliness, gentler sanitization, or other factors, these drawbacks outweigh the benefits of salt water pools. There are valid reasons someone may think twice about taking the plunge with this chlorine alternative after weighing their specific needs and concerns. When considering any pool installation, it is wise to thoroughly research both the pros and cons to make the most informed decision for your particular home situation.