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Thread: When do I start worrying about high salt levels while using liquid chlorine?

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    When do I start worrying about high salt levels while using liquid chlorine?

    Hi all,

    I bought a new (to me) home last January, and it came with my first pool. The first two months I just used a "pool guy" while I was learning about BBB and TFPC, then I took over the duties myself. I use the Taylor K-2006, and I've added nothing except MA and 12.5% liquid chlorine for the past few months. After testing myself yesterday, I decided to bring a bottle into Leslie's to have them test just for grins. Their results were pretty close to mine, probably within the margin of error for both us. My results vs their results were: FC = 2/2, PH = 7.8/7.7, TA = 80/80, and CYA = 45/35.

    So I feel confident in at least those basic numbers.

    The store did point out my TDS were 4200, and that about 4000 of that was salt. He also told me my phosphates were at 400ppm and tried to sell me some PhosFree. Naturally, I declined until I could come back home and get on TFP.

    After researching that, I'm okay with the phosphate levels. My understanding is that I shouldn't be concerned with phosphate as long as I keep my pool sanitized with chlorine. With the salt level though, I've read several posts today and have learned my levels will go up with the use of liquid bleach and MA. The posts I've read so far basically seem to say I shouldn't worry about the salt level very much, but those replies have been in response to questions about levels in the 2500-3500 range. Is there an upper range with salt levels that I should be worrying about?

    I don't know what the salt levels were at when I got the pool, but I do remember being told my TDS were really high. I now know "TDS" doesn't mean much without knowing which solids we are talking about. I haven't done any intentional water changes, but my pool has already been diluted quite a bit over the few months I've had it, mostly by a couple of times of forgetting I had the refill valve on while topping off. I wouldn't have thought that would have a significant impact, but it diluted it enough to bring my CYA down from about 95 to 40 (if I split the difference between mine and the store's testing), and my CH down from around 850-ish to 600-ish.
    IG 22,500 gallon plaster pool (35' x 16' x 7') with spill-over spa (6'), circa 2004
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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: When do I start worrying about high salt levels while using liquid chlorine?

    Did they do an actual salt test? I would be shocked if it was that high without intentionally adding it. I think chem geek estimated that you could peak out around 1500 when using bleach ... or in that area.
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    Re: When do I start worrying about high salt levels while using liquid chlorine?

    I am willing to admit that there are some good "family" run pool stores out there. But, most horror stories I hear relate to Leslie's location. They seem to base their sales on scare tactics. Like Jason, I'm finding it hard to believe it's that high. It amuses me that thier CYA is 10 pts lower than yours. I'm not sure why, but pool stores always seem to come in low on CYA.

    I used ot take water samples to the store for the same reason you stated, but I just got tired of the sales pitch....
    TFP Moderator 39 X 18 23,000(ish) freeform gunite; built 2007ish; Pentair Triton II TR100 600lb Sand filter; 2 HP Pentair pump with 2.2 HP AO Smith single speed motor; 2 skimmers, 1 main drain, 4 returns w/waterfall, Stenner 45MHP2 3GPD running@ 60% - 15 gal Tank; heated by the sun CYA 200+ when I started - 50 now. Dolphin Supreme M5 Pool Cleaner. Hot Springs SX Spa, 285 gallon

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    Re: When do I start worrying about high salt levels while using liquid chlorine?

    right- I quit going to leslie always trying to PUSH on me their phosphorous remover!! Scare tactics! Also, their testing system is so archaic, and takes foorever!!
    16,000 gal in ground, marcite. FL.

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    Re: When do I start worrying about high salt levels while using liquid chlorine?

    Since you don't know the status of the pool water from the previous owner, it is entirely possible that they added salt to "soften" the feel of the water. I've read lots of posts of people doing that (although it's technically not "softening" the water as you are only adding more Na+ ions without removing the ions that harden water, Ca and Mg, but that's immaterial here).

    Any chance the previous owner used salt in their pool?

    In any event, you could always do some slow pool draining to lower the salt level (drain off a few hundred gallons per night for a couple of weeks) and adjust other chemicals as needed. Not sure it matters all that much though as your salt level is on the high end of SWG users. Since you don't have an SWG, then the rest of the equipment is fine. You should be concerned if you have any steel in the water (ladders, hand rails, etc) as the salt water will increase the likelihood of corrosion.

    As always, if you feel like wasting lots $$$ on an expensive RO water treatment, you can remove the salt that way too...

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    Re: When do I start worrying about high salt levels while using liquid chlorine?

    What does TDS stand for. My pool is very salty also after 3 straight years of only liquid chlorine and MA . I don't think it hurts. I think you just have to live with it. I like the salty feel but my wife doesn't.
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    Re: When do I start worrying about high salt levels while using liquid chlorine?

    Quote Originally Posted by jblizzle View Post
    Did they do an actual salt test? I would be shocked if it was that high without intentionally adding it. I think chem geek estimated that you could peak out around 1500 when using bleach ... or in that area.
    I guess I'm not 100% certain, but that is the way it appeared to me. He told me my TDS were about 4200, which he said was high, but went on to state he tested it further and that about 4000 of the 4200 was salt, so no big deal. The "canned instructions" they print out said to do a water replacement to lower the TDS, but the guy stated that since it was mostly salt that I didn't need to do anything and he recommended I leave it be. Even with the phosphate being at 400, he told me the only issue was that if I allow algae to form that the phosphates would feed it and cause it to bloom. He said the phosphates were no big deal as long as I didn't allow algae to form.

    Quote Originally Posted by tim5055 View Post
    It amuses me that thier CYA is 10 pts lower than yours. I'm not sure why, but pool stores always seem to come in low on CYA.
    I don't know if it was on Taylor's site, or the post here with the extended test kit directions, but one of them said that the CYA test had a margin of error of plus or minus 15ppm. I don't know if that margin is inherent in the test, or the tester's ability to decide when they can longer see the black dot.

    I'm not really defending the store people, especially since I had a different experience the first time I went in there and dealt with a different person. I think this particular guy was being fair though. My main concern was whether or not to believe him when he told me I didn't really need to worry about the high salt levels.

    Assuming the test was correct, should I be concerned with 4000 ppm of salt? If not, is there an upper limit I should be concerned with? I understand I am diluting the salt levels whenever I replace the splashout and evaporation, but I'm not so sure the dilution isn't being outpaced by the addition of salt through the the liquid chlorine and muriatic acid.
    Last edited by ehuesman; 08-10-2014 at 10:00 PM. Reason: Typos
    IG 22,500 gallon plaster pool (35' x 16' x 7') with spill-over spa (6'), circa 2004
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    Re: When do I start worrying about high salt levels while using liquid chlorine?

    Quote Originally Posted by SunnyOptimism View Post
    Any chance the previous owner used salt in their pool?
    Not sure on that, but I wondered the same thing. The only thing I really know about their pool care methods was they were using tri-chlor tabs, which is why my CYA was around 100 when I got the pool.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bloomfield View Post
    What does TDS stand for. My pool is very salty also after 3 straight years of only liquid chlorine and MA . I don't think it hurts. I think you just have to live with it. I like the salty feel but my wife doesn't.
    TDS = Total Dissolved Solids. Do you know what your salt levels are, or are you saying it is "salty" by taste and/or feel?
    IG 22,500 gallon plaster pool (35' x 16' x 7') with spill-over spa (6'), circa 2004
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    Re: When do I start worrying about high salt levels while using liquid chlorine?

    Something I just thought about that is sort of relevant. I have a patch of canna lily near the pool, and I noticed last week that some of the leaves have a bunch of small dead spots on them. I was guessing it was from my dog standing near the plants when he shakes the water off of him after being in the pool, and figured it was the chemicals in the pool causing the spots. While I was thinking of chlorine or acid when I thought of "chemicals", I wonder if the dead spots are caused by the salt that is left after the pool water evaporates from the leaves.
    IG 22,500 gallon plaster pool (35' x 16' x 7') with spill-over spa (6'), circa 2004
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    Re: When do I start worrying about high salt levels while using liquid chlorine?

    Salt test strips are pretty cheep to obtain in the pool section of Lowes or Walmart if you need to satisfy the curiosity of salt count in your water.
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    Re: When do I start worrying about high salt levels while using liquid chlorine?

    California

    Drought

    Hard fill water (including 50 ppm salt for us)

    Cartridge Filter

    Why wouldn't salt continue to build up?

    The occasional wild pool part might drop it a bit with splash out but other than that, I would expect it to continue to rise in this case.
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    Re: When do I start worrying about high salt levels while using liquid chlorine?

    I'm satisfied that my salt levels would be expected to rise, and under my conditions a level of 4000 ppm could be easily explained. The question remains though, should I be concerned with it? I've seen plenty on TFP about not worrying about 2500, or 3500 ppm, but haven't seen anything that states at what level I should do something, or anything that states I never have to worry about it.
    IG 22,500 gallon plaster pool (35' x 16' x 7') with spill-over spa (6'), circa 2004
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    Re: When do I start worrying about high salt levels while using liquid chlorine?

    For me, my CH gets way too high and at some point I have to replace the water. Does that not happen to you as well? That will help cap the salt level.

    As to what is too high, I would say that it would probably be a taste issue before it becomes a problem with anything else. Or perhaps it is starting to leave salt stains on the waterfall. As long as you don't have soft stone around the pool, I think everything else can tolerate fairly high levels.
    Mark
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    Re: When do I start worrying about high salt levels while using liquid chlorine?

    What I do to keep salt levels in check is to use winter rains to dilute the water in the pool. The pool may have been high in salt when you moved in and it just increased from there especially if you have a cartridge filter so don't backwash. If you add 2 ppm FC from chlorinating liquid or bleach every day, then this adds 100 ppm salt per month to the pool. The acid adds some more.
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    Re: When do I start worrying about high salt levels while using liquid chlorine?

    I'm hard pressed to believe that number without having added salt. I would question how they get that number in the first place. The home salt tests are not expensive and I'd want to test it myself. As far as how high is too high?.....I can't answer that as far as equipment but I have a SWG and keep mine in the 3000-3500 range. It seems to take about 100-150 pounds of salt a year to maintain that as we do have to backwash due to rain which is why the pool store numbers don't seem to make sense.
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    Re: When do I start worrying about high salt levels while using liquid chlorine?

    For reference, 4000ppm equates to 753 pounds of salt in your pool. At 40 pounds bags (what I get for my salt pool), that's 19 bags. If people here say that's possible, I believe them, but that's a lot of salt.
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    Re: When do I start worrying about high salt levels while using liquid chlorine?

    That does seem like a lot. My pool tested at 2400 ppm salt before I added the SWG. That's checked multiple times via the Taylor salt test kit.

    I can only assume that long term liquid chlorine contributed to rising salt levels. Yours is probably the same.
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    Re: When do I start worrying about high salt levels while using liquid chlorine?

    The high salt levels that people experience are more of a concern for the troubles it would cause against running the salt cell itself. Since you don't have a cell, I wouldn't think your worries should be founded. As another poster mentioned, I wouldn't be worried at all in case you have soft pebbletec walls for instance.
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    When do I start worrying about high salt levels while using liquid chlorine?

    I run my SWG pool between 3000-3200ppm. And have heard of people adding salt to "soften" the water. Only thing that I would say it could hurt is metal parts. I keep sacrificial anodes on my ladder and one in the skimmer and one by the equipment and have to replace them every few years from being eaten up. There is no doubting that salt eats metal, you have to give it something to eat other than your equipment.
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    Re: When do I start worrying about high salt levels while using liquid chlorine?

    Quote Originally Posted by mas985 View Post
    For me, my CH gets way too high and at some point I have to replace the water. Does that not happen to you as well? That will help cap the salt level.
    The CH is pretty high. The first time I tested it in March, I got around 850 ppm. I tested it last month and got around 650 ppm. Leslie's test yesterday showed 540. I don't really doubt the change from three weeks ago because since then I left the refill on way too long, plus I've been refilling the spa by using the hose (had to wait for a leak in the plumbing to get fixed. Either way, it's definitely in the high range, and there is a significant amount of scaling present. Dealing with the high CH levels was one of those things I thought I could put off until next year. I'm hoping to have the money to do an acid wash then, or something like that (I haven't started researching that topic yet).

    In regards to the salt, 19 bags sure does sound like a lot! On the other hand, if people with SWG are running at 3500 ppm, then my guesstimate is they have around 17 bags of salt, which also sounds like a lot! I guess the difference is those with SWG are intentionally adding that much salt.

    Thanks everyone for the information and replies. I think at this point I'll get some salt test strips and see what they say, then go from there. As far as the surrounding stone, I'm not sure what is considered "soft" stone, but I don't think I have any. The deck is concrete with pami pebbles. I'm not sure what the coping material is, it looks like bull-nosed bricks, but they are much smoother than actual brick. There is tile at the water line, but it appears to be ceramic tile.
    IG 22,500 gallon plaster pool (35' x 16' x 7') with spill-over spa (6'), circa 2004
    2HP WhisperFlo pump w/Pentair Clean & Clear Plus Cartridge Filter
    3/4HP WhisperFlo for two sheer arc waterfalls
    Suction-side Poolvernuegen
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