We are looking at getting away from chemicals and are considering converting to SWG. Our concern is the wear it can have on our pump and other metal things like our ladder etc. How big of a problem is this and is there anything that can be done to prevent it?
First off, running a SWCG will not get you away from chemicals so to speak. Rather, you will just be generating your own chlorine. It's still a chlorine pool. You will also still need to control pH with acid additions, add stabilizer (CYA), and maintain calcium to an extent. You will also need to do the same testing that you would with a non salt pool.
Having a salt pool will not cause problems with your equipment. Regular equipment is compatible with salt pools as long as your pH and salt levels are kept where they need to be. The salinity of a salt pool is around 3200 ppm which is not near as corrosive as seawater which has around 33,000 +/- ppm of salt.
I knew about it converting to a form of chlorine but wasn't aware that stabilizers and acid would still need to be used. Is there a way to go chemical free? We really want to get away from the harmful chemicals that we are currently using.
No, there is no way to avoid chemicals in a swimming pool. There are only two alternatives to chlorine that the EPA supports. These are bromine and PMHB (Baquacil). For different reasons, they run a distant second to chlorine for sanitizing pools.
What is it about the chemicals in pool water that you believe is harmful?
If you switch to a SWCG try to never add too much salt to your water because you have to drain the pool to fix that problem. I have learned the hard way that you cannot go by the ppm result on the monitor display. I highly suggest that if you get a SWCG you also get this salt test kit. Trust me on this. If you read my latest posts you will understand why I say these things.
Every now and again, this question comes up. "How can we run a chemical free pool?"
My question would be, why would you want to?
These chemicals that we add are done in order to add a degree of safety to the pool environment. Not to make it less safe. Pure water, in a hole in the ground, is fine...for a few minutes. Once the water is exposed to the environment (not a sterile one, by the way), pathogens begin to come alive in the water. They will multiply, unchecked, until the water is heavily colonized with them. Unless things are added to the water (chlorine) to kill them and keep them from multiplying, this becomes a very unsafe place for humans to exist. Some of these pathogens, well, like Naegleria fowleri for example, will downright kill you.
Balanced pool water offers virtually no threat to you. Water without sanitation however is a very real and proven threat and has been since humans have walked the earth. Skimp on the sanitizers and you will do more to harm yourself and others than anything.
Okay I think I used poor word choice in what I was saying, btw, love the jack hammer comment! I meant without harmful chemicals...a more natural approach. From what I have read the chlorine that is the result of the salt water is less harmful to humans than the chlorine tablets that we currently use. Is this true?
Btw, I know the pool has to have something to sanitize it to make it safe to swim in. We are just simply trying to figure out the safest way to do this for our family.
The chlorine from a saltwater chlorine generator (SWG) system is identical to that from other chlorine sources. Chlorine is chlorine when it gets into the water. The only differences from the sources is what else they may add to the water and their effects on other water chemistry parameters (pH, TA, CH, CYA).
An SWG system may let you use a somewhat lower chlorine target level, but I wouldn't characterize that is being very much safer since the difference isn't huge. If one wants to minimize the chlorine level, one can do that even with manually dosed chlorine, but would need to supplement with some sort of algae prevention at extra cost.
We generally recommend avoiding use of Trichlor tabs/pucks as the sole source of chlorine since that will usually build up Cyanuric Acid (CYA) too quickly and often lead to problems with algae or dull/cloudy water or unusual chlorine demand, etc. You can read the Pool School to learn more about how to easily manage your pool.
That said, an SWG is certainly a valid option for chlorination, but is mostly chosen for its convenience, not for its safety.