Do You Put Chlorine in a Saltwater Pool?

Written by Michael Dean
October 6, 2023

putting chlorine into a pool

So, you’ve switched from a traditional chlorine pool to a saltwater pool. Congratulations! Saltwater pools are easier to maintain and better for your skin, but if this is your first time owning one, there are a few things you’ll need to learn. While your salt chlorine generator (SCG) does most of the work, sometimes, even with a saltwater swimming pool, you may experience algae growth. In these cases, do you put chlorine in your pool?

In this article, I will answer the above question and more, including when to add chlorine in a saltwater pool, how much chlorine to add, and more. 

Main Takeaways

  • You will need to add chlorine to a saltwater pool to combat algae growth, maintain proper chlorine levels, and rebalance the chlorine after heavy pool usage or thunderstorms.
  • The amount of chlorine required depends on various factors, such as the type of chlorine and the pool volume.
  • Shocking a saltwater pool, monitoring pH levels, cleaning the salt cell, and maintaining proper filtration are all essential for chlorine level management in saltwater pools.

Do You Put Chlorine in a Saltwater Pool?

Yes, you do put chlorine in a saltwater pool. There are two ways to put chlorine in a saltwater pool. The first is through the salt chlorine generator. The SWG uses electrolysis to break down salt and turn it into chlorine. This process effectively chlorinates the pool water, keeping it clean and free from harmful microorganisms. Of course, the advantage of a saltwater pool is that it generates chlorine on-site, reducing the need for manual chlorine additions. However, every now and then, you may need to put more chlorine in your saltwater pool.

When to Add Chlorine to a Saltwater Pool

Here are some situations where you may need to add chlorine to your saltwater pool.

Algae Infestations

If your saltwater pool has turned green, you’ll need to take quick action! You will need to add chlorine to your saltwater pool if your pool is showing signs of algae growth. This is a sign that your salt cell might not be producing enough chlorine to keep the water properly sanitized to keep the algae at bay.

Low Chlorine Levels

Of course, one of the most obvious situations where you would need to add chlorine to your saltwater pool is if you test the water and find that you have low chlorine levels. Whether due to maintenance issues or technical problems, if you have low chlorine, you must top it up to maintain a clean and sparkling pool.

The SWG isn’t faultless. There may come a time when it doesn’t work as well as it should due to clogs or a faulty salt cell. Whatever the reason, instead of waiting for the SWG to bring the chlorine levels up again, you can add additional chlorine to help bridge the gap until the issue is resolved.

After Excessive Use

The best thing you can do for your swimming pool is to NEVER swim in it! But, obviously, that is not an option. If you have recently hosted a pool party, you are going to need an immediate increase in the chlorine levels. This is because of all the oil, dead skin, dirt, sunscreen, and other contaminants that enter the water when people swim in your pool. The generator takes time to produce chlorine. So, I recommend adding chlorine to your saltwater pool to combat all the new contaminants and bacteria.

After Extreme Weather Events

Extreme weather events such as heavy rainfall or strong winds can contaminate your pool. Additionally, the added water will dilute your current chlorine levels. This means you may need to manually top up your saltwater pool with some extra chlorine to keep it clean and sparkling.

Cloudy Pool Water

Your pool water may be cloudy for several reasons. However, more likely than not, the reason for it is due to contaminants or low chlorine levels. So, if your pool is cloudy, check the chlorine levels, and if they’re lower than you’d like them, add chlorine to the water.

How Much Chlorine Should You Add to a Saltwater Pool?

On average, your saltwater pool should have a chlorine level between 1 to 3 parts per million (ppm). The amount of chlorine you should add to your pool to reach these ideal levels depends on several factors, such as the type of chlorine you use and your pool volume.

To determine the precise amount, look at the manufacturer’s instructions. The strength of the particular chlorine you use will differ depending on the product. You’ll then need to calculate how much chlorine to add based on the product’s strength, the volume of your pool, and your current free chlorine levels. You can use my chlorine calculator to help you determine how much chlorine you need to add.

Remember that adding too much chlorine can be just as problematic as having too little, so careful monitoring is essential for maintaining a healthy saltwater pool. If you accidentally add too much, you can use a chlorine neutralizer to reduce the levels. If needed, you should also adjust your SWG to ensure it generates enough chlorine on a general basis.

Do You Need to Shock a Saltwater Pool?

Yes, you do! While many people may think that saltwater pools don’t need shocking, they absolutely will need a good dose of pool shock every now and then. Shocking a saltwater pool helps maintain water clarity, remove contaminants, and prevent and kill algae and bacteria. While saltwater pools typically require less frequent shocking compared to traditional chlorine pools, they are not entirely exempt from the need for occasional shock treatments.

During peak swimming season, you should be shocking your saltwater pool every week, alternating between a chlorine shock and a non-chlorine shock. Additionally, you should shock the pool after a rainstorm or pool party – just like you would a traditional chlorine pool.

When shocking your saltwater pool, follow these steps:

  1. Test the water to determine the appropriate shock dosage.
  2. Always add the shock treatment in the evening or when the sun is not intense to prevent chlorine loss due to UV rays.
  3. Run the pool pump and filter for several hours to circulate the chlorine throughout the water.
  4. Retest the water to ensure the chlorine levels return to the desired range before jumping back in.

How to Maintain the Chlorine Level of a Saltwater Pool

Ideally, you shouldn’t have to add chlorine to your saltwater pool often. Maintaining the chlorine level in your saltwater pool is crucial for water quality and swimmer safety. Here are my top tips for keeping your saltwater chlorine levels constant.

Monitor Water pH and Chlorine Levels Regularly

pH can greatly affect your chlorine’s efficiency, so it is very important to maintain both chemical levels. Keep the pH of your pool water between 7.4 and 7.6, as pH significantly impacts how effective chlorine is at sanitizing your pool. And make sure to add the required amount of salt to the pool to let the salt chlorine generator convert it into chlorine. Check out my pool salt calculator for more on this.

You should use testing strips, water testing kits, or a digital water tester to check your chlorine and pH levels weekly. And, of course, always top up your chlorine or adjust your pH when necessary.

For more on this, check out my pool chemistry guide.

Clean the Salt Cell

Make sure to periodically inspect and clean the salt cell of your salt chlorine generator. A dirty cell will not be as efficient and will cause a reduction in chlorine production. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning. Generally, you’ll need to remove mineral buildup on the salt cell and soak it in muriatic acid. I cover this step in-depth in my saltwater pool maintenance guide.

Maintain Proper Filtration

A well-functioning pool filter is essential for water clarity and cleanliness. Regularly clean and backwash your pool filter to ensure it operates efficiently. 

What to Do If Your Salt Cell Isn’t Producing Chlorine

If your salt cell is not producing enough chlorine, you’ll need to troubleshoot it to figure out what the problem is. Here are a few common reasons:

  • There’s not enough salt. Generally, once you add salt to your pool, it won’t need any more, as the salt does not dissipate. However, if you miscalculate or if your pool water becomes diluted, you may need to add more salt.
  • Your salt cell may be clogged. A clogged salt cell won’t produce enough chlorine. The salt cell should be checked and cleaned every 500 hours, which means every 2 to 3 months. With proper maintenance and careful handling, salt cells can last up to five years.
  • Your salt cell needs replacing. As I said, salt cells can last a pretty long time, but they will eventually need to be replaced. Check out my guide on salt cell replacement for info on when and how to do this.

Keep an eye on the plates of the cell as they are prone to getting blocked due to buildup. Clean them gently; this cleaning ensures the longevity of your salt cell.

Get My Free Pool Care Checklist

Download my free, printable pool maintenance checklist to help you accomplish regular pool care tasks for any type of swimming pool.

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Balancing Chlorine Levels in Saltwater Pools

Your salt chlorine generator does much of the work in a saltwater pool, but occasional adjustments and additional chlorine may be necessary to ensure your pool’s hygiene and clarity. With careful monitoring, cleaning your salt cell, and maintaining proper filtration, you can enjoy the advantages of a saltwater pool without compromising water quality. 

Do you have any more questions about taking care of a saltwater pool? Send me a message!

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