Saline Levels Dangerous To Pools and/or Kids Post-Superstorm Sandy?

by Matthew

I'm posting this in response to my family's first trip to the grandparents home in Brielle NJ where the inground vinyl lined pool was 4 feet under water for an hour during Sandy this past Fall.

While only open for a few weeks - my wife and 3 kids (20 months-9 years) and dog were the first ones to use it...and it tasted like ocean water. Not that we were making daiquiris with it but you get the idea.

I had no idea that they'd not drained and cleaned the pool post Sandy but they'd been told that it wasn't an option as the pool would collapse and/or the vinyl liner would need to be replaced. It also seems like their pool professional is a bit clueless as my parents were totally unaware that the saline levels (no measurement from what I was told) would cause the pool to "taste" like ocean water.

The water is perfectly clear and seems clean but in reading further it seems that ocean water contains anywhere from 10-30 times the amount of saline found in a salt water pool - though my parents pool is NOT a salt water pool to begin with. My questions are many - but is there any danger firstly to people, especially kids and animals (the dog had what appears upon further investigation to have been beach diarrhea). And secondly is the salinity damaging to any of the pools materials including the vinyl liner, new filter and/or pipes?

The pool heater has yet to be replaced due to the volume of heaters on order! Many thanks - my greatest fear is that the professional that my folks are relying on seems clueless and as we're a family born and raised in Manhattan - we know little about pools to begin with!!

Thanks for the question Matthew

I'll first direct your attention to these posts. They're about flooding of a pool such as yours:

Sea/Salt Water In My Chlorine Pool

Cleaning A Pool After A Flood

The short answer is this, although there is much more info. in the links above. They're both from Sandy.

Swimming in a pool that was flooded is, in my opinion, very dangerous. Not only is the pool filled with salt water, but everything else flood water can pick up, including sewer water and waste. This is a breeding ground for all kinds of disease. You can find the list in the above links.

Next, ocean water is much higher than a regular salt pool. The salinity of a salt pool is about 3500ppm which is virtually undetectable to taste. Ocean water can be 35,000ppm. A regular salt pool can be corrosive on the pool and equipment. Ocean water can definitely wreak havoc on a pool if it's not removed.

You can drain a vinyl pool, but you need to use a certain technique. When most people think of draining a pool they think of doing a complete drain and refill. This is not the case with a vinyl pool. You'll need to drain and refill at the same time. Close off the skimmer(s) and put the multiport valve on WASTE, then fill from the opposite end. Scoop everything out and remove as much physical debris as possible.

Another way to get a submersible pump and put that in the deep end, then fill at the shallow end.

Either technique will work. You'll want to keep any eye on the water level and not allow it to get lower than 6" below the top of the vinyl. This will happen if you're draining faster than you're filling. Turn off the pump and allow the water level to come up. This may take a while to do a complete water change.

Once this is finished you'll want to sweep the pool very well and repeatedly shock it over a period of at least a week. You'll want to first lower the pH to 7.0. Chlorine acts better at a slightly lower pH.

Again, the above is only my opinion. Doing a complete drain and clean would be optimal.

If you feel your situation is more complex than this, I do phone consultations for $35 per hour. It makes things go much faster and many people have found it extremely beneficial, saving them time and money in the long run. All your questions will be answered. I have nothing to sell you so you know I'm not bias.


Hope this helps and have a great Summer.


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