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The Ultimate Guide to Maintaining Your Saltwater Pool Year-Round

Kelly Weimert
Written by Kelly Weimert
Updated August 5, 2021
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This saltwater pool maintenance checklist will make caring for your pool a breeze

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Many people love saltwater pools for not only being easier on the skin and eyes than chlorine pools but also requiring less maintenance. That said, low maintenance doesn't mean no maintenance. Saltwater pools do require some upkeep, but it's totally manageable, especially with a few simple tips in your toolbelt. 

This saltwater pool maintenance checklist covers each step you should take to keep up your pool year-round, including daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly maintenance tasks.

Maintaining Your Saltwater Pool During the Swimming Season

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Most climates don't lend themselves to year-round swimming, so chances are that there are certain seasons when you do a lot of diving into the pool and others when you don't take a dip at all. Your pool’s maintenance requirements will change based on how often you use it. 

The following sections outline the daily, weekly, and monthly maintenance tasks you should perform during the swimming season.

Daily Saltwater Pool Maintenance Tasks

  • Skim the surface of the pool with a net to remove visible debris, like leaves

  • Clear the pool skimmer

  • Empty the pool pump's basket

  • Clean the pool filter

Weekly Saltwater Pool Maintenance Tasks

  • Test the pool's pH level. A well-balanced pool will have a pH level between 7.2-7.6. If the pH level falls outside of this range, then you can use baking soda to raise the level or sodium carbonate or muriatic acid to lower it. 

  • Test the pool's free chlorine level. You want your free chlorine level to be between 1-3 ppm. If your current level isn't within this range, adjust the output of your chlorine generator accordingly.

Monthly Saltwater Pool Maintenance Tasks

  • Check the water's salinity, aka salt, levels. Typically, your salinity level should fall between 2,700-4,500 ppm, but this number can vary based on the type of salt cell generator you have. Check your generator's instructions to verify the appropriate salinity level. 

  • Test the water's alkalinity levels. A normal alkalinity level is between 80-120 ppm. You can use a sodium bisulfate product or muriatic acid to lower alkalinity and sodium bicarbonate to raise it, depending on your needs. 

  • Check the cyanuric acid (CYA) levels. Ideally, your pool's CYA level will be between 70-80. You can raise CYA levels by simply adding more CYA. To lower it, you'll need to dilute your pool water by draining a bit of it and adding fresh water.  

  • Test the calcium hardness. Calcium hardness should fall between 200-400 ppm. You can raise the calcium hardness level by adding calcium chloride. To lower it, you need to drain some of your pool water and add fresh water to dilute it a bit. 

Quarterly Salt Cell Generator Inspection

Every three or four months, inspect your salt cell generator for any buildup. This will help ensure it performs well throughout the year. If you notice any buildup, then scrub it off with a brush and spray it down with a high-pressure hose. If you don't notice any buildup, then just rinse it off and put it back in the basket.

How to Winterize Your Saltwater Pool

If you live in a cooler climate and don't love the idea of plunging into your pool with frigid temperatures outside, then it's a good idea to winterize your pool for the off-season.

Clean the Pool

Spend some time giving the pool a good cleaning to save yourself from dealing with a big mess when the next swimming season arrives. You can tackle this yourself or hand it over to a local pool cleaner.

  • Use a net to skim any debris from the surface of the pool

  • Grab a nylon pool brush and give the walls a good scrub

  • Vacuum the pool

  • Run the filter for an hour after vacuuming

  • Clean the filter

Balance the Chemicals

Make sure each of the four main chemical levels in your pool falls within the following ranges. If not, adjust the chemicals as necessary.

  • pH level: 7.2-7.8

  • Alkalinity level: 80-120 ppm

  • Salinity level: 2,700-4,500 ppm

  • Calcium hardness level: 200-400 ppm

Apply Winterizing Agents

Many pool retailers sell pool closing kits with chemicals that you should dump into your pool to protect it during the off-season. Make sure you factor one of these kits into the cost of maintaining a pool. Purchase a kit that's specifically designed for saltwater pools and make sure it includes the following:

  • Algaecide: This will help prevent algae from growing while your pool is closed.

  • Anti-staining agent: Use this agent to prevent metal, mineral, and scale stains.

  • Slow-acting enzymes: These enzymes help to remove and destroy contaminants in the water.

Winterize the Saltwater Chlorinator

Saltwater chlorinators vary quite a bit, so you should check with the manufacturer to learn specific steps for winterizing yours. Some manufacturers suggest draining all of your pool's water, while others recommend leaving a little bit of water in the pool and adding pool antifreeze to it. And if your unit is removable, your manufacturer will likely recommend that you detach it and store it somewhere inside until the next swimming season.

Cover the Pool

After going through the previous steps, it's finally time to cover your pool for winter. Placing a couple of inflatable pillows in the pool will help support the cover throughout the off-season. After adding the pillows, secure the cover and weigh it down with water bags.

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