How to maintain a salt water swimming pool

Updated November 21, 2016

A salt water swimming pool uses a chlorine generator to transform ordinary salt (sodium chloride) into chlorine, which sanitises the water. Because the chlorine produced combines with sodium and once again becomes salt, chemicals do not need to be continually added to the pool. For this reason, a salt water pool is much easier and more economical to maintain than a traditional chlorine- or bromine-treated pool.

Clean debris from your salt water pool daily. Foreign substances in your pool water can change the pH of the water.

Test the free chlorine level in your salt water pool weekly. Chlorine should be maintained at 1.0 to 3.0 ppm. Adjust your chlorine generator to run for shorter or longer periods of time if the free chlorine level is lower or higher than these levels.

Test the pH of your salt water pool weekly. The pH should be maintained at 7.2 to 7.6. Lower pH can cause corrosion of the pool, filter and generator. Higher pH levels can cause scaling, which is unsightly and can prevent your chlorine generator from functioning. Several chemical treatments are available at pool stores to increase or decrease pH levels.

Check the pool's salt level periodically. The salt level should be maintained at 2,700 to 3,400 ppm for best results. You may need to add additional salt once or twice a year, or more often if you experience heavy rainfall or need to replace water due to splashing.

Shock your salt water pool after very heavy use--as in a pool party--or if the water becomes cloudy. You can use a regular chlorine shock treatment for this step. Some chlorine generators include a "super-chlorinate" feature that temporarily increases the amount of chlorine produced.

Remove and clean the chlorine generator cell once every three months. Use a hose rinse away mineral build-up (scaling), or scrape it off with a plastic or wooden tool. If you are unable to remove the scale, soak the cell for a few minutes in a mixture of one part muriatic acid and four parts water.


Excessively high salt levels usually mean that water has evaporated from the pool. Simply add more water to further dilute the salt. Wait at least 24 hours after adding salt or a pool treatment before retesting and making adjustments.


If you use muriatic acid to clean your chlorine generator cell, wear goggles and rubber gloves. Do not allow the solution to come in contact with your skin.

Things You'll Need

  • Pool water test kit
  • Soda ash or other pH-raising pool chemical
  • Muriatic acid or other pH-lowering pool chemical
  • Chlorine shock treatment (if needed)
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