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Thread: Salt level question and white flakes

  1. Back To Top    #1

    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Southern California

    You seem to know a lot about SWCs and we're new at this pool stuff and are having some trouble. We noticed some white flakes coming from the inflow when the filter cycle first starts, and that got us looking at the salt generator. Here's what I can tell you about our situation:

    The salt test kit strips gives us one reading (a too high reading of 4000 PPM) and the SWC gives a different reading (a a still high range reading of 3600 PPM), and the owner's manual says it should be 3250 for our size pool. We get a trouble shooting code on the SWC that indicates there is a salt level problem.

    When the pool kicks on for filtering, we've had recurring spurts of white flakes, which, just this morning, we've discovered build up of same on the salt cell, and cleaned it off using a water hose with a power nozzle.

    The water temp was less than 55 F for a little while recently (over the past couple months) and we turned the SWC off for a period of time, then chlorine got a little low and the air temp bumps up to the 70s during the day, so with the solar, we can keep the pool temp above 55 and have been running the SWC regularly with an average pool temp of 60 F.

    Aside from a few occasional spa sessions using the gas heater, there's been little pool activity since the beginning of November.

    Our other test kit shows chlorine, free chlorine, PH, etc., to be fine.

    We live in an area of southern California where the water is quite hard.

    Bottom line, we're trying to determine what the PPM should be and how to minimize this buildup on our cell. Our pool is basically rectangular with a some 45 degree corners and a spa that juts into it and takes up some of the rectangle. Overall the pool part measures 30X14, with a depth of 5ft in the center, 3.5 feet on the shallowest end and 4.5 ft at the other end. The spa is 7 x 6.

    Any ideas?


    Colette & Tom in Santee, CA
    Tom & Colette

  2. Back To Top    #2
    Please post a full set of test results so we can get a better idea of what is going on in your water. Saying that the readings are "fine" tells us nothing. Also tell us how you are testing and what testkit you are using. All these things can make a difference Also the equipment that you have (particualarly the SWG that you own), the surface of your pool and how new it is. You might also want to take some time to read the 'stickies' from the menu at the top of every page. There are some good articles on water balance including one on SWGs.
    Once we have enough information we will be better able to help you.

  3. Back To Top    #3
    JasonLion's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Silver Spring, MD
    The salt test strips are usually more accurate than the salt sensor in the SWG. Frequently it is possible to calibrate the SWG so that it's reading agrees with the test strips.

    I am not sure that high salt levels are causing the problems you are having, see lower down. A salt level of 4000 is a bit high, but not drastically high. Most brands of SWG can handle high salt levels without problems, though a few brands will shut off when the salt level gets too high. I didn't see you mention which brand/model you have. The only practical way to lower the salt level is to replace water.

    White flakes coming from the SWG plates are calcium flakes. Calcium in the water can deposit on the plates of the SWG. Every few hours the SWG will reverse polarity, which causes any accumulated flakes to come off the plates and go into the pool. If the calcium levels in the pool are properly maintained then there will usually be very little calcium accumulation on the plates and so no visible flakes. So, it seems likely that you calcium levels are too high. It would be great if you could post a complete set of test readings so we could see what your calcium saturation index is and thus get an idea of what to tell you to do about it.

    Low salt readings often happen when the water is cold and/or when there is calcium buildup on the cell plates, even when the actual salt level is reasonable. If your diagnostic code does not distinguish between low salt and high salt, it seems likely that the combination of cold water and calcium buildup is causing the SWG to believe that the salt level is too low. Some brands can distinguish between cold water, low salt, and calcium buildup, but many group them together into a single error light/message.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
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  4. Back To Top    #4
    Well, I have had problems with the dreaded white flakes from the beginning. It hasn't seemed to matter what my calcium hardness level is. I've had levels from 350 all the way down to 260 and still had about the same amount of flakes. I always try to keep my PH around 7.4 - 7.6, this more than anything seems to help. If you find a solution I would be very interested!!!!!

    By the way, what SWG do you have? I have an Aqua Rite. I called Goldline about it and they said I needed to get my Calcium levels down to around 200. Kind of impossible when my fill water is testing 240.

    Anyway Good Luck!!!!

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