Startup With A Saltwater Pool

by Cathi
(Garden Grove, CA)

I have a saltwater generator for my 5000 gallon above ground pool.

How long should I need to run my chlorine generator to establish the chlorine level needed, now that I have filled the pool with fresh water for the season.

I have run it already for ten hours. I have tested the salt level with test strips and that shows correct.

The 3-way test strip when placed into the stream of water coming from the pump indicates the presence of chlorine.

But when tested from anywhere else in the pool, I get a zero chlorine reading.


Thanks for the question Cathi

First, I'd like to have your complete chemicals readings:


CYA (cyanuric acid/stabilizer)



Calcium Hardness

It makes troubleshooting much easier.

It's best to use a Taylor FAS-DPD K-2006 pool test kit. This will give you the most accurate readings:

Pool Water Testing

Water Testing Kit

A salt generator will not produce a stabilizer which you need to buffer your chlorine against the sun and heat.

You need to get some CYA in the pool, if you don't have any already, with some Dichlor shock.

For every 10ppm of chlorine added with Dichlor, it will raise the CYA 9ppm

You can maintain that with weekly Trichlor tabs.

For every 10ppm of chlorine added with Trichlor, it will raise the CYA 6ppm

Many salt cells are controlled using the percentage. Your salt cell might be producing well, but the chlorine is getting eaten up because you may not have any CYA.

This is why having a list of readings is important.

For maintenance, most pool owners with salt cells run them at about 20%.

Yours might be different because of heavy use, lots of organic debris going into the pool, etc...

It's best to run it at a higher percentage, then test after one full turnover of the water. This is normally about 8 hours.

Set it in the evening and check the chlorine level in the morning.

You may have to play with it until you get the right percentage.

I keep the YMCA salt pool set at 45%, but we get nearly 5000 swimmers per month.

It took me about 2 weeks to get it right, but once I got it dialed in right, I never had to touch it again.

Contact me with your readings so we can get your pool up and running quickly.

To post a reply, or if you have a similar question, you can see your post on the Q&A page in the "Start Up/Opening A Pool" category.

Check back to this post for answers.

Swimming Pool Questions and Answers

Hope this helps and have a fun and safe swimming season.


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Salt Water Above Ground Pool Start Up Treatment

I am getting ready to purchase an above ground pool and I was wondering if there was a start up kit using the salt treatment?

Thanks for the question

To the best of my knowledge, there's no "start up" kit specifically designed for a salt pool.

If you have salt and a chlorine generator, you will open your pool in the same manner as a regular pool.

You'll need to know your pool size (# of gallons) and the salinity range for your salt cell.

Have a great Summer and good luck with your new pool.


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