Saltwater Systems For Swimming Pools..High Calcium & Iron..

by Sheri Deering
(Brookfield Wisconsin)

We have high levels of calcium and iron in our water.

If we purchase a saltwater system will that help that problem?

If not, if I add the "Iron Out" that I now do to our swimming pool once a week will that hurt the saltwater system, and also will the saltwater system reduce the cloudiness in our pool water.

Sheri Deering

Thanks for the question Sheri

There are basically 2 kinds of salt systems:

In-line chlorine generator

Free standing chlorine generator

The first one is you add the salt directly to the pool. This makes the water feel a bit softer, but in my experience it dulls the water clarity just a bit. The YMCA has a salt pool and this is what I've found, as well as taking care of several salt pools in Arizona.

If you want to add salt I would encourage you to not get any decorative rocks (Flagstone) or decking as the salt will eat away almost anything it touches.

The 2nd is you add the salt to the chlorinator, it makes the chlorine then passes that into the pool through the return lines. The water clarity is the same compared to a regular chlorine pool.

Salt Water Swimming Pools

Chlorine Generator

If you go the salt pool route I would recommend a Myron Salinity Analog Meter to test the salt pool. A picture of that is in the link above. It's the exact one I use at the YMCA pool and can be purchased through TMI Salt Pure.

A salt system will not help the calcium level. The only ways to reduce the water hardness is to replace 1/3 - 1/2 of the water with fresh water, or call a local pool water delivery service. The pool water is already treated and balanced.

Pool Water Delivery

Iron Out should not hurt the saltwater system if used properly.

The biggest concern with high calcium/hard water is the calcifying of the salt cell. Be sure to check it on a monthly basis and clean it when needed, normally 2 - 3 times during the swimming season.

I clean the salt cell at the Y every month with 4 parts water to one part muriatic acid. Allow it to sit for about 5 minutes, then rinse. You can also get a soft brush to loosen up any debris in the salt cell.

Ask TMI or your local pool store about a plug for the salt cell. You plug up one end to keep the acid solution in the cell to allow it to soak.

A saltwater system will not help the cloudiness of the water.

Keep you pool well balanced and check out these other pages:

Swimming Pool Chemistry

Water Testing Kit

Cloudy Pool Water

Hope this helps and have a great Spring and Summer


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Replacement Chlorine Pump & Filter Suggestion For A 28x56 foot x 7.5 Depth & 3.5 Depth Inground Pool?

by Mac

Great advice for the 65,000 gallon salt water pool

I was hoping that you could advice on my pool size as well.

I think that I would prefer a cartridge filter and a variable speed pump, but I am not sure what brand is most dependable.

Also, I was wondering if I should replace the 1 1/2" plumbing wherever possible to 2" or 2 1/2"?

I am assuming the main drain would be impossible to change as well as the skimmers, so I think I will need to use adapters at these points.

Thank you for any advice that you would be able to offer.


Thanks for the question and comment Mac

I personally think a cartridge filter is the best way to go. Although a sand is the least amount of maintenance, it doesn't filter as good as a cartridge.

A DE filter is the best for filtration, but what a mess to clean and maintain.

You pretty much can't go wrong with either a Hayward or Pentair cartridge filter and variable speed pump motor. Many of my customers have had them and, with the exception of age for the filter, I've never had a problem with them.

I burned up the hot tub Hayward pump motor, but this was because I didn't clean out the pump basket for a month and it clogged up with cotton from people wearing T-shirts in the hot tub. Now I clean it out every week.

It's always better to oversize the filter, not the pump. Many guys think that the "bigger is better" works for everything.

That's not so.

Many pools have much too large motors. You get this "whirlpool" effect when the water comes out the returns too fast.

You pretty much have a cloud of dirt rather than a nice gentle flow of water. You can also destroy the cartridges and grids by the water moving too fast.

Most pools can get away with a 1/2 - 3/4 HP motor.

If it were my pool I would go with the largest reasonably priced pipe and a variable speed pump. It's easy to add resistance if needed, but it's pretty hard to lower resistance without re-piping.

Flow resistance in pipes is measured in feet of head. Every pipe and all fittings have resistance. They all contribute. Larger pipes and fittings have less resistance than smaller pipes

If you have a 2" pipe for the entire run except for the ends at 1.5", the total head would be less than if you used 1.5" pipe throughout the run. Smaller pipes force the water through at a higher speed and could tear cartridge filters or DE grids.

Low head is good because it means resistance. Less resistance = greater flow rate. This = less electricity used to circulate the water.

In my opinion the pipe size is more important on the suction side of the pool. I would use at least 2.5" on the suction side and 2" on the return side.

A good chart to look at is this one:

You can also contact the California Energy Commission for specs. on variable speed pumps. I looked for a link but can't find it.

Look at the motor efficiency percentage. You should find it goes from 58% to 92%. This depends on the make and model.

Here's a good chart to look at as well:

Pool Pump Operating Cost

Pool VolumeGPMkWhApprox. Cost/24 hours
<15,000 20.8 0.105 $7.56
20,000 27.8 0.140 $10.07
25,000 34.7 0.190 $13.68
30,000 41.7 0.283 $20.38
Pump SizeGPM kWhCost/8 hours
1 HP 80.1 1.81 $43.44
1.5 HP 86.9 2.21 $53.04
2 HP 91.5 2.34 $56.28

Hope this helps and good luck with your pool.

Have a fun and safe swimming season.


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