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Thread: How to check salt level

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    How to check salt level

    I will be plumbing in an Intex SWG when I open my pool up this year. We have not used a SWG in the past and I know you need to check salt levels to start. What do I need to use to check the salt levels? I saw Leslie's has test strips but they are expensive (10 strips for $12.99!). Is there a better (and cheaper?) way? Also, is it listed somewhere as to what salt to use and how much? I thought I had read it before but now I can't find it. Thanks!
    AG 24' Doughboy 13,500 gallons
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    Re: How to check salt level

    Most folks here use the Aquachek salt strips to check their salt levels in their pools. They are accurate. Salt levels are not something that you check all that often so one container should last you a while.

    You can use pool salt or water softener salt. Right around 3000 to 3200 ppm is where you want it, generally speaking.
    10K gallon IG gunite with waterfall; Pentair CC320P filter; WhisperFlo 2 HP pump
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    Re: How to check salt level

    I'm biased because i have to check salt all the time, and it has to be accurate, so test strips wouldn't make sense for me. I use a digital tester offered by Goldline. It's about 100 bucks.

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    Re: How to check salt level

    I've not had much luck with the strips. Pretty inacurate in my experience.
    14,000 gallon IG, Vinyl. Hayward 3/4 hp superpump, Penatair IC40 SWCG, Pentair automation, Hayward sand filter, Aqua Comfort heat pump, Hayward 400k Lo-Nox LP heater.

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    Re: How to check salt level

    The digital testers are very good if they are calibrated against a known standard regularly. If they are not calibrated, they tend to drift and become inaccurate fairly quickly.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
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    Re: How to check salt level

    How does the salt tester work? Is it a conductivity measurement?
    20' x 40' IG with vinyl liner volume approx. 35,000 gal.1.5 H.P. main pump, Polaris 280 cleaner W/ 3/4 H.P. booster pump
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    Re: How to check salt level

    It is a conductivity meter with a different multiplier/algorythm for salinity. The one pictured above requires at least weekly calibration. There are others that automatically self calibrate when it's started up. However, to ensure accuracy, you can't calibrate them enough, as Jason said.
    I use the Lamotte Pocket Tracer, about $120. It can store up to 20 tests, reads temperature, and does TDS and Conductivity too.
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    Re: How to check salt level

    You can save yourself a lot of money by just using the SWG itself. That is really the only measurement that actually matters. Here is the proceedure I use when refilling the pool.

    First, target a salt level that is about 500 ppm less than the required salt level in case there is some salt in the fill water then see what the SWG reads. Then add the remaining salt to reach the proper operating range.
    Mark
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    Re: How to check salt level

    I second what Mark said. The point here is to make the SWCG happy within reason. I too have had accuracy problems with strips.
    7,500 gal, IG pool, L shape 22' x 15', 1.5 hp pump, cartridge filter, AquaPlus SWG/Controller, Pebble-Tec liner.

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    Re: How to check salt level

    Quote Originally Posted by Strannik
    Pool Clown, how often do you calibrate it?
    Good question. I've had it for over two years, check it every month or so, and only had to calibrate it once (the first time i checked it). It was off by 0.1

    Jason, what kind do you have? If it is drifting, or becomes inaccurate fairly quickly, then there could be something wrong with it. We have three within the shop (including mine) And we often wonder why we bother to test them cuz they are never out of calibration!

    Mas, If you only trust your Generator for salinity readings, what happens (not if, but when) the sensor fails? It would be irresponsible for me to tell my customers they should always trust their units salinity report. If i did that, the customer would keep adding salt till he could walk across the pool. Very rarely have i seen a unit report more salt than there really is. It almost always says low on salt (when they fail). Don't get me wrong, I feel the same way, you should be able to trust your unit. But the reality is that they fail, and that blasted low salt light comes on.
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    Re: How to check salt level

    I am not saying not to test at all, only it seems to be a bit over done. I agree, when the cell is failing is usually a good time to confirm but that seems to be fairly easy to diagnose as well; salt level starts to decline and so does chlorine production. I have a drop kit myself but used it only once when I got it and it was pretty close to the SWG reading. Once a year testing and/or when you suspect a failing cell is probably the only testing that really needs to be done.
    Mark
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    Re: How to check salt level

    you would usually need to test it after heavy rains

    as far as chlorine production goes, majority of big brands are able to keep the chlorine production constant regardless of the salt level (as long as it stays within recommended range)

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    Re: How to check salt level

    The Goldline units will drop in production with a drop in salt level and/or temperature because they don't have built in compensation fot either. Something I prefer by the way.

    Also, the SWG drops the salt reading with rain so again, I don't think testing would be required in that case either since it would give either a low salt warning to simply read at a lower salt level. I have been very successful on relying upon the SWG to tell me when I need salt. I just don't see the benefit of regular salt level testing and I certainly don't see the need for an expensive salt tester.
    Mark
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    Re: How to check salt level

    I'll i am saying is, and i have pointed this out on another thread is:
    If your pool starts out with enough salt, then one day your unit shows a significant drop in salt, it means that there is something going on(other than usual rain dilution) and that you may want to get another test, independent of your system. To see if you have low salt, or some kind of failure within the Cl generator.
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    Re: How to check salt level

    Quote Originally Posted by mas985
    I just don't see the benefit of regular salt level testing and I certainly don't see the need for an expensive salt tester.
    In a way, you already have an expensive salt tester... the SWG/controller. To abate the anxiousness that comes naturally to a pool owner with OCD tendencies who sees widely varying salt levels and error messages as indicative of something gone terribly wrong, a second opinion can be of great comfort.

    I bought test strips to verify the SWG controller’s frequent reports of low salt, being assured that the low cost strips would help me determine whether the cell was malfunctioning or that additional salt was needed. Unfortunately, I found that the inexpensive test strips were far off in calculating whatever it is that the SWG was measuring, providing results that were sometimes 1000 ppm over the SWG. Strips purported to measure TDS were likewise unhelpful.

    This was resolved by changing test methods. Taylor’s K-1766 sodium chloride test validated the SWG cell’s output right from the start. Further confirmation was obtained by testing the sample with a lab test meter (calibrated for the occasion).

    The “benefit of regular salt level testing” (it’s now part of my weekly regimen) is primarily peace of mind – for that, I think $23 is a sound investment.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pool Clown
    If your pool starts out with enough salt, then one day your unit shows a significant drop in salt, it means that there is something going on(other than usual rain dilution) and that you may want to get another test, independent of your system. To see if you have low salt, or some kind of failure within the Cl generator.
    Point well taken.
    14,555 gal in-ground 16'x29' white plaster Pool w/spa (2007); Goldline Aqua Logic AQL-PS-8 control w/Aqua Cell 15 Salt Water Chlorination (SWCG); Hayward TriStar 1HP (1.85 SF) main / 1.5HP (1.60 SF) spa pumps; Hayward Swimclear cart filter C4025, ColorLogic LED lights; Tankless SP-18-4 electric heater; Polaris 280 cleaner.
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    Re: How to check salt level

    Just to point out to the casual or new reader that the posters above are a mix of 1) professionals who probably test (and need to) daily and 2) residential pool owners who only need to keep track of their own pools.

    I'm an old clorox guy so have no educated opinion whatsoever.
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    Re: How to check salt level

    Quote Originally Posted by mas985
    The Goldline units will drop in production with a drop in salt level and/or temperature because they don't have built in compensation fot either. Something I prefer by the way.
    Interesting, I didn't know that. Out of curiosity, why would you prefer your chlorine generation to float along with the salt level/temperature?

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    Re: How to check salt level

    Quote Originally Posted by Strannik
    Interesting, I didn't know that. Out of curiosity, why would you prefer your chlorine generation to float along with the salt level/temperature?
    I was refereing more to the change with temperature than salt level. My salt levels don't change much so chlorine production is pretty consistent.

    But the reason I prefer to have chlorine production fluctuate with water temperature is that lower water temperature occurs primarily in the winter when the chlorine demand is reduced due to lower UV extinction and reduced algae growth. So bottom line is that if it didn't drift lower, I would reduce it anyway as the chlorine level would start to climb. Without temp compensation, chlorine level stays about the same throughout the winter.

    The opposite is true as well. For very warm water mid summer where chlorine production increases, extinction is the highest and so more chlorine is needed. It just seems to work out well.
    Mark
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    Re: How to check salt level

    i guess there's logic there

    one point to note though is that in units like that you miss out on some of the cell life.

    as I assume they just supply fixed voltage to the cell all the time (you regulate the voltage with controls)
    when the cell starts dying the will keep supplying the fixed voltage, which won't be enough to produce same amount of chlorine anymore, so you'll end up replacing the cell.

    whereas in units with compensation, they will compensate for a failing cell by increasing the voltage, which allows you to squeeze a bit more juice out of it.

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