For 32 years, the voice of the pool and spa service professional.

Time for techs to get hung up and salted

By Marcelle Dibrell

Though common today, for thousands of years, salt was considered one of the earth’s most precious resources, rare and highly prized. In early human civilization, underground salt shafts were out of reach, and scarcity kept the mineral prized. 

In the 6th century, Moorish merchants traded salt ounce for ounce for gold. At one time, Roman soldiers were paid part of their wages in salt, which is the origin of the expression, “worth your salt.” Salt was used as an antiseptic, and derives its name from Salus, the Roman goddess of health. 

Saltwater bathing also has a long and rich history, long been believed to have therapeutic benefits, with supposed curative powers against arthritis and other health problems.  

Even today, the idea of the health benefits persists, and nowhere is it more evident than the prevalence of “saltwater swimming pools” — that is — saltwater chlorine-generated pools. 

Since the early ‘80s when the technology entered the U.S. market, chlorine-generated swimming pools have surged in popularity. By some estimates, 75 percent of all newly constructed pools are equipped with a chlorine generator.  They are popular for a number of reasons. 

Many consumers believe that they have a chlorine-free pool, and that the water is more natural and healthy. Many consumers believe that the salt content makes the water better for their skin, hair, and eyes.  The fact is: pool owners love them. For service professionals, the reception hasn’t been quite as warm. While they enjoy carrying fewer chemicals, for some, the benefits don’t always outweigh the costs. For example, service technicians have claimed to have issues with equipment corrosion or deck deterioration. 

They say they don’t like the dealing with problems (scale) associated with the elevated pH that chlorine generators cause. In addition, the cells go bad, are expensive to replace and some service professionals feel bad for their customers. But not all service technicians dislike them. Some have pointed out that chlorine generators have more maintenance components and that increases monthly service costs. 

For those who charge extra for salt cell cleaning, the extra maintenance is seen as a bonus. Many pool professionals are aware that there are ways to mitigate some of the unique features of saltwater pools. 

For example, if deck deterioration could become a problem, apply a sealer. Determine that metallic pool equipment is bonded. Update heaters to cupro-nickel or titanium. And as far as the water chemistry goes, it might make sense to balance the water a little differently. Look out for related articles in this issue of Service Industry News.

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