Do you remember back in your chemistry days there was this thing called the periodic table? On this table was the abbreviation for each element. We are going to talk about a simple combination, the one for salt. Salt is made up of sodium chloride (abbreviation NaCl). The way a salt chlorine generator or salt gen for short works is to separate this combination. So when you put pool salt into your pool, it goes in as the form NaCl. Your pump allows for circulation of the water, which helps the NaCl dissolve so that you no longer see the granules and you just see the water. This NaCl is still connected but it is floating around in your water. Once the water goes back to the pool equipment, it goes through the pump and filter. When you have a salt gen, it also goes through the salt cell. Depending on the brand, this salt cell can be clear or opaque. However, the interesting part is what is going on at a molecular level in that salt cell.
The electrolytic cell takes the Na--Cl and breaks the bond. The final outcome (in easy terms—we don’t want you to have nightmares of chemistry class) is that you get free chlorine (the natural kind, not the manufactured kind), and that is what helps to keep your pool clean.
So yes, you do still have chlorine in your pool! You also still have to test the water and pay attention to your salt cell and the “board,” the brains of the unit. Testing your water allows you to make sure all your chemicals are properly balanced, and reading the board tells you if you need to add more salt or if you have too much. If you don’t check the board and you don’t have salt, you can’t generate chlorine! This is not a maintenance free system; someone still has to look at it approximately once a week.
The other important part about having a salt chlorine generator is the salt cell itself. It needs to be cleaned. Many minerals can stick in the cell, and they need to be cleaned. We suggest cleaning it once a year at closing. If the cell becomes too overloaded with minerals, it can stop working. You can buy a new cell, and cells do need replacement every so often, but they are expensive. Protect your investment by cleaning the silly thing. If you don’t take care of it, we can guarantee your pool will be dirty and you will not be happy.
We like happy customers, so ask one of our representatives about the type of salt generator and size that is appropriate for your pool.