How To Start Up a Salt Water Pool

This page provides a short tutorial on how to start up a salt water pool. The start up of a saltwater pool is simple. If the salt water chlorinator is being installed on an existing pool, the water does not need to be drained. However, the water needs to be tested and properly balanced before the salt chlorinator is turned on. Note: Please refer to your owner's manual for specific ideal levels.

1. The first step will be to test the chemical levels of the pool water. The water can be tested by a pool professional or with a home testing kit. The water will need to be tested for Free Chlorine, pH, Cyanuric Acid (Stabilizer), Alkalinity, Calcium Hardness, Metals, and Salt. Note: An existing pool may have a salt level if liquid chlorine has been used.

2. Before making any adjustments, it is necessary to calculate the gallons of the pool. Please see the chart to the left for directions on how to calculate the gallons. The total gallons will determine how much of each chemical needs to added.

3. The first level that should be adjusted is the Alkalinity. The Alkalinity should be in the range of 80-120 parts per million (ppm). Low or High Alkalinity can affect the pH level. Low Alkalinity requires the addition of sodium bicarbonate. High Alkalinty requires the addition of muriatic acid.

4. Once the Alkalinity is in the correct range, the next level that needs to adjusted is the pH. The pH level is the foundation for all other chemicals. The normal range for pH is 7.2-7.6. Low pH requires the addition of pH Increaser (soda ash) or Alkalinity (sodium bicarbonate). High pH will require the addition of pH Decreaser (sodium bisulfate) or Muriatic Acid.

5. After the pH is adjusted, the chlorine will need to be at a level of 1-3 ppm. If the chlorine level is low, it can be raised by adding Zappit Pool Shock (calcium hypochlorite) or Chlor-Burst (dichlor). If the chlorine level is high, it can be lowered by Chlorine Reducer or by draining 2"-3" and adding fresh water.

6. Cyanuric Acid protects the chlorine from being instantly diminished by the sun. A normal level for Cyanuric Acid is 50-80 ppm. Adding Stabilizer will raise the Cyanuric Acid level. Stabilizer will need to be added directly to the skimmer. Draining 2"-3" inches of water and adding fresh water will lower the Cyanuric Acid level.

7. A low calcium level can cause pitting or etching of the surface. High calcium can cause cloudy water and scale build up on the walls. The normal range for calcium is 200-400 ppm. The calcium level can be raised by calcium hardness. The calcium level can be lowered by draining 2"-3" and adding fresh water.

8. There should be no metals (0 ppm) in the water. Metals can cause staining on the surface of the pool. Metal Control can lower the metals in the water. Jack's Magic Magenta Stuff will prevent staining and scale build up on salt cells.

9. Finally, once all the other chemical levels have been adjusted the salt can be added to the pool. All salt chlorinators have a suggested range for salt. The average salt level will be 2700-3500 ppm. It is important to use only sodium chloride (NaCl) salt that is greater than 99% pure. This is common food quality salt or water softener salt and is usually available in 40-80 pound bags. DO NOT use rock salt, salt with yellow prussiate of soda, salt with anti-caking additives, or iodized salt.

10. The salt water chlorinator can be turned on once the chemicals are balanced and the salt level is in the ideal range. Note: Please refer to your salt water chlorinator's manual for specific instructions.

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