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Thread: Considering SWG - Pros/Cons for pool using Softened water on Well Re Dilution

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    Swampwoman's Avatar
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    Considering SWG - Pros/Cons for pool using Softened water on Well Re Dilution

    Hi guys. Thanks to TFP during the great swamp recovery of 2012, I have learned a lot here.

    Of late, I've managed high well iron by using only soft water to fill, and my iron is now nicely diluted to .3 ppm iron..,still using sequestrant, but much less!

    Likely as a result of doubling my softener capacity with a dual tank, the water is also gently salty...like a tear. I'm getting a salt tester soon and will tell you just how salty in short order.

    NOW I am thinking about switching to SWG since I'm essentially salt water anyway. Hubby has been wary of swg idea from day 1 due to heater. I have explained it requires 1/10th of the salinity of hs saltwater aquarium, with a specific gravity of about 1.002

    When I put it THAT way, he's starting to come around...particularly now that he's injured his arm and can't carry chlorine carboys for several months

    My two concerns about switching to SWG are as follows:

    1. Dilution -- I don't yet understand fully how often I might need to dilute compounding salinity to stay within SWG operational parameters...but my only means of dilution would be the icky iron-laden well...

    2. MA is not my friend...I'm a klutz...but I could get over this if I were dealing with weekly or biweekly addition as opposed to every few days...

    3. Maintaining cel/troubleshoting -- Cost isn't really a factor as much as convenience, but adding chlorine is a simple task for me that I enjoy...I just don't enjoy the constant restocking. I would hate to trade my bulletproof crystal water and the simplicity of liquid chlorine for futzing with a piece of equipment to get it dialed in or diagnosed if it were throwing warnings or misbehaving...

    Are most swg cells truly trouble free?

    I welcome your thoughts on these issues, or contraindications as the case may be! Has anyone ever regretted switching to SWG?

    I also welcome brand recommendations.

    My gear is located in a heated pool house, which I suspect is why my hayward pump, filter and heater are all in really decent shape even though we suspect they are circa 2000. Perhaps the same would be true of a salt cell?

    Thanks for weighing in!
    In ground extended Grecian, 22,000 gal, Hayward 220t sand filter, vinyl liner, dolphin m4 supreme.
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    Re: Considering SWG - Pros/Cons for pool using Softened water on Well Re Dilution

    Here are my answers to your points.

    1. Rain is enough, but I do have to occasionally and some tap water, not much, though.
    2. MA about every other weekend, usually around 6 ounces. Its not that bad, pour it in a glass 2 cup measuring cup and dunk the whole thing in front of a return.
    3. Once you get the percentage dialed in, zero maintenance for a few years, I do keep a gallon of bleach around just in case, but so far this summer, I have only used half of it.

    As to being trouble free, Im the guy that seems to get a good product when others get lemons, so mine has been totally hands off for 2 seasons. Just like cars, YMMV.

    OOPS, forgot about salt, you will need to add bags of salt throughout the season. I buy 5 at a time at Walmart so that its not too heavy to get in and out of my trunk. I just dump one slowly into the skimmer basket over about half an hour and that seems to work well.
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    Mod Squad pooldv's Avatar
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    Re: Considering SWG - Pros/Cons for pool using Softened water on Well Re Dilution

    I love my saltwater pool. This is my second one and all of mine will be salt from now on.

    Dilution totally depends on rainfall for your area. In spring I usually add salt and summer I add water.

    Managing your PH shouldn't be too difficult by getting your TA down to where your PH stabilizes. Around 50-70 should do it. Then you can add borates to help more. I got my TA down enough this summer to lower my MA additions to less than once a week, closer to every two weeks.

    My Pentair Intellichlor IC40 has been completely troublefree for over 3 years. It hasn't even needed to be cleaned. Based on my reading here and my experience it seems to me that the Pentair SWGs are more robust than a lot of others. Having your stuff inside probably does help. But, mine is outside uncovered. A pool equipment hut is on the list.

    And my pool has been TFPC super clear for over 3 years. My water is so clear it even stays clear when I have algae and need to SLAM!
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    Re: Considering SWG - Pros/Cons for pool using Softened water on Well Re Dilution

    1. Not sure how much salt is being added to your pool due to your softner. Take a salinity reading of your current pool water and your fill water. You might be able to bring the salinity level up to make a SWG happy and never have to add more salt.

    2. How much MA do you use now? Installing a SWG doesn't mean you will automatically need MA. There are members here that have SWG's and very rarely have to add MA, JasonLion is a prime example of this. Lowering the TA to 60 tremendously helps to reduce the amount of MA I need to add.

    3. Keep in mind all SWG brands have some inherent flaw, but not all SWG's will have those flaws. The Hayward AquaRite is a solid performer and I would recommend the T-15 cell. The known issue with this SWG is the current limiter and is an easy and cheap fix for most people. I'm not sure what is the cause of the current limiter going bad, but keeping the SWG cool and indoors would be a good thing.

    I've always had a SWG pool and have had issues with my old Jandy SWG, but I would not switch over to using bleach. I have switched over to a Hayward unit and have not had a single issue with it since I got it this year.
    16k gal plaster with raised spa, Jandy DEV60 filter, 2 HP 2-speed SHPF Jandy Stealth pump
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    JoyfulNoise's Avatar
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    Considering SWG - Pros/Cons for pool using Softened water on Well Re Dilution

    +1 for Pentair SWG.

    One caveat though - without the Pentair automation panel, the IntelliChlor output is limited to 20% increments from the on-board SWG controls.

    Also, in general with SWGs, you tend to run your pumps a whole lot more. The reason is because SWGs only work with water flowing through them. This can be annoying at first for folks that have done manual chlorination.

    Do you have Single-speed pump or a 2-speed?


    Matt
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    Re: Considering SWG - Pros/Cons for pool using Softened water on Well Re Dilution

    Hi Swampwoman.
    Here is my take.

    Dilution - Backwashing your Sand Filter may help a lot with this. Depends on how often you have to backwash I guess. Rain also will help. SWGs work on a wide range of salinity. 3000 - 4000ppm are generally recommended by the SWG manufacturers, but they have been known to work at higher levels of salt without any ill effects.
    If adding salt via the softener is of any concern, then start out on the low side at 3000ish giving you some headroom.

    MA - managing your pH and TA on the low will be of importance. Perhaps Borates are in your future. Im one of those guys with a SWG who got lucky I guess. I have only added MA to my pool once in the last 2 years. ITs easier to control pH rise with lower TA with Liner Pools I guess becuase we dont have the dreaded etching of plaster to worry about, which lets us keep our TA lower. I keep mine at about 50.

    Maintenance - almost zero once you are dialed in. You may have to clean calcium scale from the cell plates periodically, but again, depending on the pool chemistry, you may not. But its an easy to do thing.

    As for brands, as mentioned the IC40 is a good candidate. The drawback is as FJN mentions, without a controller, you can only adjust the output in 20% increments. I dont find that to be problematic for me, but it might you. The other drawback, is that if the cell needs replaced, the replacement cost is higher than others because the electronics of the SWG system are built into the cell (online price for IC 40 cell is about 600).

    The Hayward system is also a good system and the replacement cost of a cell is around 400.
    The controller has boards in them and they may eventually *years from now* need to be replaced and its a easy DIY. Going price today is around 250.

    As a hint, and I learned this from personal experience.... You might consider a Timer to control the SWG instead of simply powering it by the pump. I find the timer on my SWG invaluable because I no longer have to vary my swg output depending specifically on pump run time.
    This lets me keep my FC to my linking independent of the pump run time. (I change my pump run time quite a bit, because Im just odd, and with the Timer, I dont have to fool with changing output and continual testing)

    I love my SWG and would not have a pool without one.

    just my .02
    Divin Dave,
    IG Vinyl, 15' x 30', 3 1/2' - 6' deep, Oval, ~15K gal, Intelliclor IC40, Intelliflo VS pump, Clean and Clear 420 Filter, auto-fill-disabled, Retrofit LED Color Light, Dolphin Nautilus Robot, TF100 Test Kit, Taylor K1766 Salt Test Kit, Tftestkit Pressure Gauge.
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    Re: Considering SWG - Pros/Cons for pool using Softened water on Well Re Dilution

    Thanks guys for all the tips.

    (BTW re running pump...which is a single speed that has not yet died after 15 years, but will be variable once it does...no prob here in that regard...run mine 24/7 due to high debris load from pastoral, heavily treed setting. If anything, I'd need a timer or low % to back off the amount of FC produced...)

    I just stopped by my pb's store to pick up 8 gal chlorine (they recycle the bottles) and had a chat

    My salt level NOW is 3500 as I suspected based on taste. My fill water via the softener is about 450 ppm.

    So on one hand, I'd never have to add salt Downside is I might have to do periodic drains and refill with the evil iron-laden well....that is the drawback giving me pause.

    Second drawback is the godforsaken cost PB wants for the Aquarite (his first pref with my system but he sells Pentair too) which he quoted at $2100 plus labor, no timer, not fancy controller.

    I discussed my ability to get it on Amazon for a fraction of that, and he said they'd be willing to do the install which is only a few hrs. The tech guy wasn't in. I may see if he'd go along with this plan I don't mind a bit o margin for warrantied work, but can't quite figure out how he's getting to $2100...

    Hubby, however, is now less enthused....he's asking me if I really want to spend what he's predicting will come in around $2500 when for the same money we could install the sprinkler system I wanted for the terrace beddings but delayed the project due to his recent arm surgery and med bills. In other words, that's h-speak for "pick one"

    (His thinking is the pool water is beautiful and the pool gal is motivated to keep it that way without investment )

    Using liquid chlorine takes me one bi-monthly trip and a hand truck and the strength to lift about 40 lbs...but mere minutes daily.

    Watering my terrace off the well now that my backyard spigot is soft water involves about 40 min. of shenanigans and 200 feet of hose every coupe of days....and is a PITA.

    But we're gettin old around here so at some point I think I'll do both...as each move increases convenience...just gotta decide what I want fastest!

    If I wait til next year, if hubby's arm ever truly heals (there's some chance he won't regain full strength) it would be obviously way cheaper to DIY on the swg...I am one of those lefty klutzes with plumbing and electrical but hubby is a trained ENG so he'd be a good candidate.

    I think I will track my salt for a while and just see how fast or slow it raises. In my mind, I was almost ready to just buy the swg this weekend...and your collective input has helped me feel that its a direction that makes perfect sense. Just gotta decide where it stacks in the priorities now...
    In ground extended Grecian, 22,000 gal, Hayward 220t sand filter, vinyl liner, dolphin m4 supreme.
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    Re: Considering SWG - Pros/Cons for pool using Softened water on Well Re Dilution

    A SWG DIY is extremely simple to do for anyone with some basic DIY skills.
    Divin Dave,
    IG Vinyl, 15' x 30', 3 1/2' - 6' deep, Oval, ~15K gal, Intelliclor IC40, Intelliflo VS pump, Clean and Clear 420 Filter, auto-fill-disabled, Retrofit LED Color Light, Dolphin Nautilus Robot, TF100 Test Kit, Taylor K1766 Salt Test Kit, Tftestkit Pressure Gauge.
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    Re: Considering SWG - Pros/Cons for pool using Softened water on Well Re Dilution

    Good to know. I just read the specs on the aquarite pro package with the orp controller and co2 for controlling ph...that co2 dispenser would REALLY excite me a great deal...I better stop reading because the more I read the more I want
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    Re: Considering SWG - Pros/Cons for pool using Softened water on Well Re Dilution

    See this thread on CO2 injection.

    Honestly speaking (just my 0.02 opinion) ORP control is a waste of time and money for residential pools and CO2 injection is cumbersome and long term will cause you more troubles than MA additions will.

    It's really not that hard to add MA safely to water. You just have to be calm about it and realize that a short term exposure to the vapors in a wind driven outdoor environment represent little to no health risks. As long as your wear simple eye protection like glasses, you will be fine.


    Matt
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    Re: Considering SWG - Pros/Cons for pool using Softened water on Well Re Dilution

    Quote Originally Posted by Swampwoman View Post
    Good to know. I just read the specs on the aquarite pro package with the orp controller and co2 for controlling ph...that co2 dispenser would REALLY excite me a great deal...I better stop reading because the more I read the more I want
    Too bad, ORP control leaves a lot to be desired. I would suggest you stick to the basic Hayward AquaRite unit. You can buy it for about $1,000. DIY install is pretty easy. If your husband isn't physically able to install, maybe he can just get a lawn chair and oversee someone else following his instructions.
    Do you currently have a pump timer? If so, you will power it of that same source. If and when you change to a VS pump, you just move the pump power to the hot side and leave the SWG on the switched side. That's how mine is set up and it works like a charm.
    I don't think you will have an issue with salt buildup due to softened water. Splash out and rain should cover that. The unit has a very wide operating range. It will work fine from 2500 all the way up to around 4,000.

    I have been using an AquaRite T-15 for over 10 years. I had to replace the cell once after 7.5 years of service at $400. The input resistor failed at about 8 years, $2.50 part and 15 min with a soldering iron to repair. So once the unit was installed (mine was part of the original pool build), the operating cost has about $57 per year. I can't think of a cheaper way to chlorinate a pool. Other than the cell replacement and the one repair, it has been just a matter of set the % output and that's it. I would never have a pool again without a SWG. And from everything if seen and read the Hayward is the one to have. Maybe I'm a little prejudice, owning one, but you don't argue with success.

    Update: I just noticed that you have a sand filter. With backwashing you definitely will never have an issue with salt level rising.
    Last edited by chiefwej; 09-05-2015 at 04:05 PM. Reason: Update
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    Re: Considering SWG - Pros/Cons for pool using Softened water on Well Re Dilution

    Thanks guys for the info about the CO2...never knew it existed and sounded exciting to me but if its touchy, raises TA etc. then I'll stick with "keep it simple stupid"

    Yes, I have a pump timer!

    Chief, the guy at the PB-store said the same thing about his Aquarite - he's had it 10 years and hasn't even had to replace the cell yet. And of course he has access to all the 12% liquid chlorine he could ever need, but would never run his pool anything other than swg

    One thing interesting about all this is I now understand why unlike most "pool stores" this particular store (and showroom, since they're also installers) sells the 12% in recycled bottles...turns out they all hate pucks and all have swg themselves

    Also interesting that as builders, they love swg...where I hear of so many who don't.
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    Re: Considering SWG - Pros/Cons for pool using Softened water on Well Re Dilution

    If my pool was in Michigan, as opposed to sunny Tucson (where our pools are open year-round), I'll bet my cell would last longer than 7 years.
    chiefwej
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    Re: Considering SWG - Pros/Cons for pool using Softened water on Well Re Dilution

    You should be able to get an AquaRite and self install it for about $1000 total with buying it on the net and misc parts needed at the hardware store. If you need new valves that might be a slight bit more.

    You will not need it until next year, so you might want to try and find someone that can install it for you for much less than $1000-$1500 worth of labor. Start putting away so much $$ every month for the SWG and in the spring you will have saved enough for it.

    If I was your neighbor I'd install it for you since you have helped all of us for nothing all these years.
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    Re: Considering SWG - Pros/Cons for pool using Softened water on Well Re Dilution

    ^Thanks, Ping! I'll send the swamp jet down to get ya

    But seriously, I do think I'll do it in spring when hubby's arm has healed...I think i even have a PVC pipe cutter around here somewhere used in some Bricoleur shenanigans once....
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    Re: Considering SWG - Pros/Cons for pool using Softened water on Well Re Dilution

    Quote Originally Posted by Swampwoman View Post
    ^Thanks, Ping! I'll send the swamp jet down to get ya

    But seriously, I do think I'll do it in spring when hubby's arm has healed...I think i even have a PVC pipe cutter around here somewhere used in some Bricoleur shenanigans once....
    Sounds like a great spring time project. Let us know when you pull the trigger on the SWG purchase and we'll all be happy to give you lots of unsolicited advice


    Matt
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    Re: Considering SWG - Pros/Cons for pool using Softened water on Well Re Dilution

    This is my first summer to have a pool and its a saltwater. Once I got the water balanced, there was not much to do but vacuum and brush. I have Intellichlor IC40. Wished I would have done a little research and bought and installed it myself. Would have saved some bucks. I've only had to add one bag of salt this summer. Highly recommend.

    18x36 Rectangle, 8ft deep end, 26k gallons, vinyl liner, Intellichlor IC40 Chlorinator, 1.5 HP Superflo Pump, Hayward Tigershark QC Robotic Cleaner

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    Re: Considering SWG - Pros/Cons for pool using Softened water on Well Re Dilution

    Thanks for sharing, Jbsalt

    Another thing that as dawned on me thanks to tips here and actually thinking through the math is that via backwash I don't really have to use the well water to dilute if my salt gets too high since my softened water at 450 ppm salt will still dilute in water that is 3500 That removes a big mental obstacle for me!
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    Re: Considering SWG - Pros/Cons for pool using Softened water on Well Re Dilution

    Backwashing will help control the salinity and if you keep a cover on the pool to eliminate evaporation you shouldn't have any problems with high salinity. Dealing with a cover can be a pain though.
    16k gal plaster with raised spa, Jandy DEV60 filter, 2 HP 2-speed SHPF Jandy Stealth pump
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    Re: Considering SWG - Pros/Cons for pool using Softened water on Well Re Dilution

    Yes, actually, due to our footprint I don't use a cover at all, crazy as that sounds. So I do lose a lot due to evaporation. Our pool was built in a "bowl" at the bottom of a terrace and backs up very close to the house, and only has the smallest walkway before the raised terrace starts. So any way you cut it, a cover presents a path obstacle we just don't want on the deck. I am so used to the open water and aesthetics now short of a built-in automatic cover I don't think I'd adjust even if I were to figure out a way not to block the terrace stairway The extra heating cost and water demand is a trade off for the joy of looking at the open water and having easy access for spontaneous dips in the wee hours by the light of the moon
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