Just as there are different types of pool shock, there are various types of chemicals that are available in order to maintain the chlorine level in your pool. Using chlorine tablets, a salt chlorinator, liquid chlorine, or mineral packs all have benefits, but there are certain circumstances where these methods will be ideal.
Using chlorine tablets with a floater or erosion feeder will probably require the least amount of maintenance over time. To maintain the chlorine, tabs simply need to be replaced on a timely basis as they dissolve.
Because Leslie’s chlorine tablets provide 90% available chlorine, you know that once these are dissolving in your pool, water is being sanitized. However, tablets are only good for maintaining a strong chlorine level in your pool. Because they do not dissolve fast enough, this is not a good option to kill algae.
The amount of tablets required to maintain a strong chlorine level depends on a number of variables, so make sure to ask a professional at a local Leslie’s store to see what is best for your pool.
As far as cost is concerned, if you used 2 tablets per week, on average, you are using 104 tablets per year. If you buy a 50 lb. bucket (100 tablets) of Leslie’s tablets for $139.99, you roughly spend $140/year to maintain a chlorine level in your pool.
Use this if…
You want an inexpensive, simple way to chlorinate your pool.
A salt cell is installed in your equipment. As water passes through your equipment (and therefore your salt cell) the cell uses electrolysis to extract chlorine from salt you have added to your pool. This chlorine is then available to sanitize your pool.
With this method, you do not have to manually add chlorine tablets to your pool on a weekly basis.
Many find this option appealing because of the lack of maintenance required and some find the water “softer” when there’s a higher level of salt present.
Salt cells do require maintenance though. Each cell requires that the level of salt (measured in parts per million) in the pool stays within a specific range. Typically, once the salt is outside the recommended range, the salt cell will cease to produce chlorine. Also, scale has a tendency to form on the metal plates inside the cell. This can inhibit chlorine production.
Because of these two issues, it is essential to maintain a proper salt level at all times and make sure your salt cell is clean. Cleaning can be accomplished using a set amount of cleaning solution that is poured into the salt cell, and salt level can be adjusted by either adding pool salt to your pool, or draining water. This can be prevented by using scale inhibitors like Stain and Scale 2.
In areas that have higher levels of evaporation, it is worth noting that evaporation actually leaves salt behind, further increasing the salinity of the water. Therefore, you will find that over time, your salt levels will gradually increase if, for example, you do not have to backwash.
As far as costs are concerned, a salt system like Hayward’s SwimPure Plus costs $949.99 for the cell and the controller. Pool salt is then required for $7.99/40lbs. Assuming you initially buy 6 bags of salt (the required number varies based on many different factors), your pre-tax cost would be $997.93 before installation costs are taken into account. Salt cells also have a limited life time which is influenced by a number of factors, but typically is around 5 years at the most. If you received the maximum lifetime from a salt cell, it would result in a yearly cost of a little under $200 to chlorinate your pool.
Use this if…
You want your water to feel softer and don’t mind some more extensive maintenance procedures every few months.
Using liquid chlorine to sanitize your pool on a regular basis is used as an option because of the cheap upfront cost of the product and the ease of use. However, liquid chlorine dissipates much more quickly than other forms of chlorine, so you have to use more of it to maintain an acceptable level of chlorine in the pool. Also, it is worth noting that liquid chlorine has a much lower level of available chlorine in it relative to a tablet.
If you averaged using 1 gallon of liquid chlorine per week over the year, it would cost about $250 to chlorinate your pool this way.
Use this if…
You want a cheap, upfront cost and don’t mind some extra trips out to the pool to put the chlorine in.
Mineral packs are used in a system such as Nature2 or a PoolFrog to decrease the amount of chlorine needed to keep the pool clean. Minerals in the water help control bacteria and algae. Because of this, you can effectively reduce your chlorine use and maintain a level of .5 – 1ppm instead of 1 – 3 ppm. With lower chlorine levels, skin and eyes are less likely to be irritated and the pool water can feel more comfortable. Mineral packs need to be replaced on a regular basis, although how often you need to is determined by which brand you have.
For example, a Nature2 Express system requires replacements every 6 months. The initial cost of the system is $167.99 before tax. Replacement cartridges cost $135.99. This translates to a first year cost of $303.98 with a cost of $135.99 twice a year thereafter. However, you will end up saving money on chlorine. Taking the costs used above and using half of the chlorine demand (1 tab per week on average), you would theoretically save around $60 per year on chlorine.
Use this if…
You’re sensitive to chlorine or simply want to decrease the amount of chlorine you use.