Swimming pool choices are endless. Not only do you have your pick of different styles and sizes, but you can also decide whether you want to spend your hard-earned dollars on a fresh water or a salt water swimming pool. Fresh water pools are the most popular type, but salt water pools are becoming increasingly prominent. However, before you invest in a pool that uses salt, there are some advantages and disadvantages to consider.
Swimming pools that use salt are often believed to be chlorine-free pools, but this is not entirely true. Chlorine is the most effective way to prevent algae, viruses, bacteria and other harmful organisms from accumulating in swimming pools. But instead of actual chlorine, salt water pools use chlorine generators that turn pool salt into chlorine. Thus, owners of salt water pools don't have to purchase, handle or store chlorine in their homes.
Buying a swimming pool is a big deal; no matter which type you choose, the out-of-pocket expense can be tremendous. Although there is a larger upfront investment for a salt water pool, the pool becomes cheaper to maintain over time because you don't have to foot the bill for expensive pool chemicals like chlorine. Also, chlorine has a reputation for being harsh on the skin and hair. People who use salt water swimming pools don't have as many complaints about dry hair and skin because pool salt doesn't produce the same drying effects as chlorine.
Although there are some advantages to using salt water pools, there are a few disadvantages as well. Salt is corrosive, and it can quickly deteriorate the metal parts of your swimming pool. Salt can also cause corrosion of the heat exchanger on a heated swimming pool.
Proper salt water pool maintenance requires the chlorine pump to operate long enough to generate enough chlorine to keep the pool clean and maintain the water balance (pH, chlorine, alkalinity). This means the pump may need to run for hours on end. Unless you find other ways to reduce energy use in your home, running the salt water pool purifier can increase your utility bill each month.
At the end of the day, though, a salt water pool is a great option for families who don't like the feeling of dry hair and skin, or the idea of handling and storing chlorine in the home. However, if the possibility of corroding metal and an increased utility bill turns you off, then a salt water pool may not be the right choice for you.