If you are new to maintaining a swimming pool or spa and/or you are stuck using chlorine to sanatize the water, then this article may help give you an idea of what using a chlorinator is like and how to use one.
A salt water chlorinator (also known as a chlorine generator) uses salt in the water to generate chlorine. This is completed by a chemical reaction called electrolysis which is performed by what is known as a chlorine cell. A another result of the electrolysis, and this is such a benefit, is that a chemical named sodium chloride is produced which is basically common salt. This means that all things being equal, salt does not need to be continuously added to your pool or spa.
Many units come with a control unit and the chlorinator cell. The control unit needs a power supply and the cell usually needs to be plumbed into the return pipe (outlet) to your pool or spa, and placed after the filtration system. Fitting the control unit and cell is normally not overly difficult and if you're somewhat handy you could do it yourself. Please just check with the manufacturer though – some manufacturers are strict and will void your warranty if the unit is not fitted by a certified pool expert.
If the chlorinator is new to the pool or spa, salt must be added and dissolved in the water. Each unit and manufacturer are slightly different so please refer to your manufacturer's instructions for the quantity of salt to add to the water. A general guide though is 25 bags (40 pound bag) of salt for every 40,000 gallons of water. Check the salt is entirely dissolved before operating the chlorinator.
Setup and operation of the control unit is typically straight forward. Again, check your manufacturer's instructions for specific instructions. Typically though, most units will have a timer, level of chlorine output, indicators to display salt level warnings and/or cell fault warnings. More advanced units can also measure and monitor PH levels, temperature, and log operating events.
Start by setting the timer on the control unit. Some brands have a feature to have multiple timer settings which allows you to operate your chlorinator multiple times in a 24 hour period. The recommended run time is approximately 8 hours per day which suits the filtration run duration. Many people tend to break up the 8 hours into two 4 hour cycles, one in the am and one in late afternoon/evening.
Second step will be to adjust the chlorine output level. This can be a little trial and error over time until you have had the chlorine generator running for sometime. Typically you'll want more output during warmer months than during colder months. You should get advice from your local pool shop to get the levels correct and of course follow the guidelines of the operator manual.
When the chlorinator has been setup, leave it alone and let it run for a while. Then keep an eye on the indicator lights and displays checking for any issues. Test the water for salt and chlorine levels, and PH levels. You'll find after a short while things will stabilise and you will be so happy you do not need to maintain your pool or spa on a daily basis anymore.
Often take your water to have tested to ensure the chlorinator is performing well and your chlorine levels, salt levels, PH etc. are all fine. Also as mentioned, regularly inspect the chlorinator's control unit status for any errors or other feedback that indicates action is required. It is also important to regularly visually check the cell for calcium build up that will impact performance and also shorten cell life. If there is a presence of calcium (a white, milky chemical) then you may have to manually clean the cell and remove the build-up.
Various brands have different ways of cleaning the cell – nearly all are automatic these days which is achieved by a process called reverse polarity. However sometimes a manual clean is required. Most pool shops will carry a chemical solution for cleaning the cell but you can also make one using hydrochloric acid. Just check that operator manual again before carrying out any such cleaning as you may void your warranty if done incorrectly.
You will be so happy with using a chlorine generator as it makes life so much easier. So little maintenance and not having a chlorine smell or kids complaining of red eyes is such a plus. If you don't already have one and are in the market, then head on over to Salt Water Chlorinator to see reviews on the most popular chlorinators on the market for both pools and spas/hot tubs.