A saltwater swimming pool system is considerably more expensive to install but cheaper to maintain. This system requires specific steps to keep your pool equipment safe and effective. The increase in salt levels boosts the electrical activity in the water. This increase in activity turns your pool into a gigantic battery (don’t worry, it’s still safe).
Much like the effects on a car battery, galvanic corrosion can cause extensive damage to the metal fixtures in your swimming pool, creating problems structurally and cosmetically. Thankfully, there are several ways to help minimize the damage, such as zinc anodes. Below, I explain everything you should know about zinc anodes and how to use them in your swimming pool.
- Zinc anodes are active metals that prevent less active metals from corroding, making them a great way to protect metal equipment in saltwater pools.
- Types of zinc anodes include: inline anode, anode weight, bolt-on type for rails, and zinc anode for pool lighting.
- Another effective way of protecting your saltwater pool equipment is equipotential bonding.
- A final way to significantly reduce galvanized corrosion is to simply keep your saltwater pool well-balanced.
What Are Zinc Anodes?
Galvanic corrosion is an electrochemical reaction occurring when metal interacts with electrolytes in saltwater. The process ends with the metal returning to its natural state, weakening the structure.
Zinc anodes are active metals that prevent less active metals from corroding. Because zinc has a more negative electrochemical potential than the material it protects, the anode itself will disintegrate instead of the metal it defends. From pool ladders to light fixture housings, skimmer baskets to rails, any piece of your saltwater pool system composed of metal is vulnerable to the damaging effects of galvanic corrosion.
The anodes protect the metal in your pool by attracting the electrical current that flows through the water. Since zinc is a weaker metal than the other metals found in a saltwater swimming pool, the anodes will corrode before the surrounding metals.
Why Should You Use Zinc Anodes and When Is It Appropriate?
Since chlorine is salt-based, even traditional chlorine pools suffer from galvanic corrosion. However, with a salt level 10 times higher than the traditional chlorine pool, saltwater pools are much more likely to suffer from more extensive corrosion damage than traditionally chlorinated pools. Using zinc anodes prevents damage to the metal by protecting the pieces from erosion.
This zinc anode weight is a basic, reliable option for any swimming pool. It's the exact one I use to fight against corrosion.
Types of Anodes
Zinc anodes come in various shapes and sizes. From spherical devices to disk-shaped weights, each tool serves a specific purpose. However, they all provide the same high level of protection. Choose the anode that fits the needs of your saltwater pool system.
Zinc anodes are relatively easy to install with minimal instructions. The products come with clear diagrams, and you can easily find additional instructions using online resources. The devices typically last for three to four years and should be replaced when the anode reaches 50% of its original size.
You may add more than one anode to your saltwater swimming pool to increase its effectiveness against corrosion. The devices work well in both small and large saltwater swimming pools.
The t-shaped inline anode attaches directly to the bonding wire. You can install this anode in any area of the plumbing system.
Anode weights permanently connect to the skimmer basket. Attach the anodes to the inside or outside of the basket. The devices keep the skimmer basket in place. This anode type also prevents plaster discoloration.
Here’s an example of an anode weight that I found on my last trip to Leslie’s pool supply store.
Bolt-on Type for Rails
Especially useful in above-ground pools, the bolt-on type for rails is often attached to the grab rail or ladder. This device not only prevents galvanic corrosion but also alleviates plaster staining.
Zinc Anode for Pool Lighting
The zinc anode for pool lighting prevents galvanic corrosion damage to the pool’s lighting system. The anode removes the black staining around the lights. It also reduces the fading of the chrome faceplate.
Other Tips for Helping With Corrosion in Saltwater Pools
While zinc anodes effectively reduce or eliminate galvanic corrosion, equipotential bonding is another crucial process for protecting your saltwater pool equipment.
Equipotential bonding balances the electrical potential between the saltwater and the metal features. This balance stabilizes the pool system and prevents harmful electric shock.
Bonding connects each metal piece of the saltwater swimming pool to the bonding grid using a bare eight gauge copper wire. This connection allows electricity to flow freely through the metal.
Features typically bonded together are:
- All metal parts of the pool
- The metal used for reinforcement
- Mounting brackets
- Metal fittings attached to or inside the pool
- Metallic pieces of all equipment
- Underwater lighting
- Electrical controls and devices
- Metal cables
Summary of Preventing Saltwater Pool Corrosion
While both the zinc anodes and the bonding process significantly reduce galvanized corrosion, a well-balanced pool system also strengthens your efforts to protect your saltwater swimming pool from damage.
You have a balanced saltwater pool system when the water elements within your pool are at proper levels. Water with an unbalanced level of dissolved chemicals will be more acidic and will dissolve anything that it contacts. Unbalanced water can also make your pool considerably more vulnerable to increased salt exposure. Water with low pH and alkalinity levels is an excellent environment for corrosion.
Unbalanced water can cause damage to pool walls and metal features such as screws, ladders, and underwater light fixtures. Ensuring the pool water elements of pH, calcium hardness, total alkalinity, total dissolved solids, and stabilizer remain at the recommended levels will add to your arsenal of weapons for effective pool maintenance.
I recommend using all three methods when choosing the best course of action for your saltwater pool system. Use zinc anodes to face the damaging effects of galvanic corrosion and equipotential bonding to stabilize the water conductivity.
For added protection, regularly monitor your water elements for a properly maintained swimming pool.
Attacking the problem of galvanic corrosion from multiple angles provides maximum protection for your saltwater swimming pool while allowing you and your family to continue to enjoy the benefits of your investment.
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.
Questions? Let me know.