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Converting From Baquacil - Salt Water Vs. Chlorine


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We have a 26' above ground pool. Currently we're using Baquacil and it's been a nightmare - it's expensive, and we had all types of algae, mold, etc. the last few years.

I was looking into converting to Chlorine, but then realized there are also salt water systems. What is the cost to convert to a salt water system? I've found units that are close to $1000, but some others that are more like $200 - what's the difference? What's the best system? Any personal experiences?

Does chlorine actually cause the liner to fade, dry skin, etc. as the Baquacil salesman likes you to believe, or is this just marketing?

Do both systems still involve a monthly water test at my pool dealer?


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My understanding is that the salt systems generate chlorine as the sanitizing agent - it's just done via a different chemical reaction of the salt with a system component instead of your manually adding chlorine or using a tablet based chlorine system.

My reading seems to show that sanitization is achieved with the salt scheme with a much lower level of chlorine in the water which would be a good thing.

We have never had liner damage or other component damage using our inline chlorinator and chlorine tablets.

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imnay's info is correct. Saltwater chlorine generator (SWG) systems just generate chlorine from the salt in the water. They are still chlorine pools. Their chlorine levels aren't necessarily that much lower than non-SWG pools depending on how the chlorine is getting dosed. If dosed with an automatic system, such as a peristaltic pump or The Liquidator, then the chlorine levels are somewhat comparable. If the chlorine is dosed manually, then there are more swings in Free Chlorine (FC) level unless you dose frequently (more than once a day).

Liners fade mostly from UV in sunlight and from low pH conditions (which also thin them). Very concentrated chlorine can also fade them as occurs if chlorine is dumped in one place and settles to the bottom (e.g. a Trichlor puck, or some undissolved Cal-Hypo, or even chlorinating liquid or bleach dumped in with the pump off that then settles to the bottom before mixing since it's denser than water). If one adds chlorine properly, over a return flow with the pump running, then there are no problems. Also, one should have Cyanuric Acid (CYA) in the water to moderate chlorine's strength -- not just to protect chlorine from breakdown by the UV in sunlight.

The chlorine effects on skin, hair, etc. are directly related to its strength which is NOT based on FC, but on the FC/CYA ratio. Generally speaking, the level of chlorine needed to prevent algae growth in an SWG pool is an FC that is a minimum of 4.5% of the CYA level. At this strength, the chlorine effects are only slightly noticeable. If you want to use an even lower FC/CYA ratio, you can do so but need to prevent algae growth through use of a weekly algaecide (PolyQuat 60) or use of a phosphate remover.

You still need to do water testing with an SWG system. Such pools tend to rise in pH unless you do certain mitigating factors such as using a lower TA level and using 50 ppm Borates. Until you get things into balance, you will likely be adding acid once a week. You really should get yourself your own good test kit such as the Taylor K-2006 you can get at a good online price here or the TF100 kit from tftestkits.com here with the latter kit having 36% more volume of reagents so is a little less expensive "per test". You can learn much more about how to maintain your pool at the Pool School.


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