Calcium scaling on the electrode plates

Are salt chlorinators good to use on swimming pools in Arizona? Can the high levels of calcium hardness found in our tap cause issues to salt systems? The simple and easy answer to this question is yes. Salt chlorinators are typically sold to customers because they mention ease of maintenance and the feel of the water will be better. As some of these are true, we want this blog post to explain how having a salt water chlorinator in the Phoenix area can be challenging and what you will need to do to make them work efficiently.

If you own a salt system in our area the biggest issue you’re going to deal with is controlling your calcium hardness. Typically, calcium coming out of the tap water in our area is a minimum of 400 parts per million (ppm) and higher. Currently, most salt systems on the market want your target calcium hardness to be between the range of 200-400ppm. That means most systems will not operate optimally in our area. Please also keep in mind that as water evaporates, calcium and the other hardness minerals remain in solution and gradually increase. When this happens, scaling on your water tile line, the interior finish of your swimming pool and filtration equipment occurs. This also means that scaling will occur on your electrode plates of your salt cell preventing the system from working optimally and generating chlorine. At this point, you can take apart the salt cell and acid bath the electrode plates to remove the calcium but if you don’t change out the water the calcium will just come back. Keep in mind that the more acid baths you do the more life of the system you remove. That’s why we see so many salt systems unplugged and the pool is maintained with normal sanitation procedures. This is also one of the main reasons why so many customers call us with salt chlorinators. The biggest complaints we get are the following:

  • The calcium hardness levels are too high and the electrode plates are calcified over
  • I’ve acid bath the salt cell but it’s still not working
  • The cyanuric acid (CYA) levels are too high for the system to function
  • The salt levels in the pool are too high and they need to come down

First and foremost, even though our calcium hardness levels are high doesn’t mean the system can’t work. It basically means that you need to change out the water more often. Using Reverse Osmosis (RO) Mobile Filtration will definitely improve how the system works. With RO filtration it can bring the calcium hardness levels in the swimming pool down to levels that are optimal for the system and even below (150ppm). This can’t be done with a typical drain and refill. With that said, Monarch Pool Service recommends having your swimming pool water tested every year and to recycle your swimming pool water when scaling occurs. Depending on what city you live in this could be once a year.

Monarch Pool Service can install salt water chlorinators and we will with customers that want them but we also want to educate them on ways that they can prolong the lifespan of the salt cell and prevent it from being unplugged. If you should have any questions, please contact us today!