Salt cells aren't lasting as long as I'd hoped

jallison86

New member
Mar 27, 2021
3
La Habra Heights, CA
Hi all,

We redid our pool in early 2018 and went with a SWG. For the most part it's been great, but I've had difficulty with the salt cell. I'm currently on my third cell, which seems like a far too frequent replacement rate. I think the first one, a Hayward that came with the system, I didn't clean often enough. The current one, though, I've cleaned monthly. But I noticed yesterday the FC level was low, and I checked and the system was telling me to clean the cell and check the salt level (the usual symptom of the cell failing). I gave it a good cleaning this morning and am waiting to see if it gets better.

My question for the group is whether I'm doing something wrong. Maybe I'm not cleaning well enough? Maybe these replacement cells I've bought are poorly made? The last two were both generic replacements rather than Hayward brand (they cost about $300 less, but if they only last 1/3 as long...).

I know my water is hard and buildup is probably happening more frequently than it might be for others. Just looking for some tips on maintaining the cell for longer life. Pool chemistry from tests done yesterday:

FC - 5.6
CC - 0
pH - 7.6
TA - 110
CH - 680
CYA - 70
SALT - 3900
Water Temp - 82

Thanks!
 

mknauss

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
May 3, 2014
43,982
Laughlin, NV
Pool Size
6000
Surface
Fiberglass
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
Welcome to the forum!
Cleaning a SWCG removes some of the rare earth metals coating the plates that creates the chlorine.
Your current water chemistry indicates a CSI of 0.24. That level is too high for a SWCG and will create scale. I assume you see white flakes of scale in the pool near the returns. You should not have to clean your cell, especially every month. My cell is 7+ years old and has never needed cleaning.
You also have a large pool for a 40K cell. So life of the cell will be less than we normally should see as you are running it at a higher % and longer each day to create the chlorine you need.
I suggest you read ABC's of Pool Water Chemistry.
 

cowboycasey

Gold Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 3, 2013
8,647
Southern OK
Pool Size
15000
Surface
Vinyl
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
CircuPool SJ-40
Welcome to TFP :)

My last cell was 7 years old and I never cleaned it once.. If you keep your CSI between -0.30 and 0 you should not have any scale on your SWG...

You are correct on the cheaper cells not lasting as long as the actual ones from Hayward.. Like Mknauss said, every time you cleaned them it took a little bit away from the cell... You can use PoolMath and it will give you exactly where your CSI is.. :)
 

YippeeSkippy

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Jan 17, 2012
17,528
Evans, Georgia
My first cell lasted 9 years and was never cleaned (it has a reverse polarity function that helps). But my replacement generic cell seems to be weaker and not putting out the chlorine the original did. I am having to run it at a higher percentage than I ever had to do before. So you may be finding the same if you purchased generic replacement cells also?

Maddie :flower:
 

Oly

Gold Supporter
Jun 28, 2017
2,314
Fresno, CA
Pool Size
27000
If you keep your CSI between -0.30 and 0 you should not have any scale on your SWG...
This is not my experience and is (my opinion at this point) a blanket statement that does not factor in specific water chemistry beyond TA, CH, pH and calculated CSI. Yes I have been experimenting with lowering CSI with some success but not in the range you listed. I have only experienced some scale relief when my water CSI is below -0.5 and while the scale is softer it is still an ongoing issue.
I am now looking at the levels of SO4 and Mg and if they may impact scaling issues in the SWG cell. Possibly a high TDS may provide a clue?
 

cowboycasey

Gold Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 3, 2013
8,647
Southern OK
Pool Size
15000
Surface
Vinyl
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
CircuPool SJ-40
Interesting.. I have crazzy high CH water but I run my hoses through my water softener so no issues there...
 

setsailsoon

Gold Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Oct 25, 2015
4,226
Palm City/FL
Pool Size
12800
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
CircuPool RJ-30 Plus
Cleaning your swg monthly will definitely shorten the life. I was on my 3rd year when we sold the house and never cleaned the cell. Ran it at 40% since I got it and never had a problem. One of our experts indicated it may have been partly due to the borates. I used boric acid (30-50 ppm) to help with pH stability. I also ran TA ~50 and was meticulous about keeping CSI between 0 and -.30. Probably ran -.2 average. I would focus on CSI and I think you'll see longer life. If you end up replacing the cell be sure to at least follow the TFP 2x guideline. Incremental capacity is much cheaper on a new unit than replacing with a new cell.

I hope this helps.

Chris
 

ping

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jun 24, 2011
3,156
Long Beach, CA
You can only get a cell that is rated for 40,000 gallons, T-15, with your system so you are stuck with that size of cell which is undersized for your pool. Like the others have said cleaning the cell shortens the life of it and the need to run it longer than compared to a larger sized cell is the other reason for short life.

To keep the scale down with the higher calcium level you need to keep the TA about 70 or lower to prevent the pH from rising too fast. You will most likely go through a lot of acid to keep the pH in range but by keeping the TA lower it will reduce the speed of rising pH. Search the forum on how to lower TA.

For your next cell you might consider an extended life cell from Hayward and you'll get a longer warranty. This will be a brick and mortar store purchase, but it the long run with the extended warranty you will be glad you did. Or, switch to a Circupool 60,000 gallon system.

If you don't have solar electricity on your house, switching to a variable speed pump will save more money than anything you can do right now.
 
  • Like
Reactions: cowboycasey

slidingsky

Member
Jun 5, 2017
14
Las Vegas
Pool Size
22000
SWG Type
Hayward Aqua Rite (T-15)
Im in the same boat. Installed aquarite t15 in about 2017 or so. The original cell lasted about 2 yrs, warranty gave me a replacement cell that lasted 1 yr. I replaced that with an optium and it just died.
I have hard water. Acid inj pump fights ph creep, but its always pretty high. Im about done for now. Cell prices are really high.
I have a dark pebbletec and trees all around, so the cells do work hard. I think the pebble makes it harder, lots of places for Darn to grow. I cant believe the amount of acid this pool wants to stay low.
How do i share my poolmath results? Anyways. Im disappointed. I wish i could get 3yrs.
 

Enjoying this content?

Support TFP with a donation.

Give Support

mas985

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 3, 2007
14,686
Pleasanton, CA
Pool Size
20000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
How often are you testing? Your logs show only two tests in August. Most of your tests are well above 0 CSI so you will have scaling issues. Target a CSI closer to -0.3.
 

slidingsky

Member
Jun 5, 2017
14
Las Vegas
Pool Size
22000
SWG Type
Hayward Aqua Rite (T-15)
I work offshore. I test when im home. I have a waterguru that i use to adjust acid run times and chlorine output. I also have a pool service company since im gone for work. They strip test.
I dont really have scaling in the cell. Its been pretty clean its 1 yr of life. The original haywards were pretty scaled.
Its very hard to get my csi down during summer. Naturally hard water, very hot summers. I have fought it before, pumping acid daily about 1 gal of 15% a week. I could get lower ph, but i was reading about finding a more balanced ph. It seems to take tons of acid to keep the pool at 7.6, but significantly less for 7.8. So ive let it stay a bit higher this summer.
Either way, im having heck with these cells. I wish i could see an hours of cell usage. I guess i could roughly calculate it. Its just frustrating. Ive put so much money and time in to this and these cells are killing me.
Im just weighing options again.
 

mas985

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 3, 2007
14,686
Pleasanton, CA
Pool Size
20000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
How are you adding acid to the pool? Hopefully, not via the skimmer.
 

slidingsky

Member
Jun 5, 2017
14
Las Vegas
Pool Size
22000
SWG Type
Hayward Aqua Rite (T-15)
No. I put a stenner 15gal pump that pumps into the jet returns. Theres a generic aquarite flow switch that is tied into the relay to verify it doesnt pump when flow is diverted to the other actuators.
 

Chuckiechan

Well-known member
Jun 10, 2014
520
Roseville, CA
Hi all,

We redid our pool in early 2018 and went with a SWG. For the most part it's been great, but I've had difficulty with the salt cell. I'm currently on my third cell, which seems like a far too frequent replacement rate. I think the first one, a Hayward that came with the system, I didn't clean often enough. The current one, though, I've cleaned monthly. But I noticed yesterday the FC level was low, and I checked and the system was telling me to clean the cell and check the salt level (the usual symptom of the cell failing). I gave it a good cleaning this morning and am waiting to see if it gets better.

My question for the group is whether I'm doing something wrong. Maybe I'm not cleaning well enough? Maybe these replacement cells I've bought are poorly made? The last two were both generic replacements rather than Hayward brand (they cost about $300 less, but if they only last 1/3 as long...).

I know my water is hard and buildup is probably happening more frequently than it might be for others. Just looking for some tips on maintaining the cell for longer life. Pool chemistry from tests done yesterday:

FC - 5.6
CC - 0
pH - 7.6
TA - 110
CH - 680
CYA - 70
SALT - 3900
Water Temp - 82

Thanks!
How are you cleaning your cell? I use a pressure nozzle on my garden hose. It takes longer, but it’s probably easier on the plates.
 

mas985

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 3, 2007
14,686
Pleasanton, CA
Pool Size
20000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
I agree, monthly cleaning of the cell with acid will tank the cell fairly quickly. You are better off picking the calcium off with a wooden skewer if there is any.
 

RJ-45

In The Industry
Jun 6, 2021
178
Charlotte, NC
The generic replacements you got has 5,000 hours rated cell plate (equivalent to the Hayward warranty cells), they should last you 1/2 of a normal cell (10,000 hours rated plates).

If your original cell is a T940 (extended life cell), that could explain "1/3 as long".

I have cut open many of these cells, not all 13 plates are created equal. they are strategically made differently based on the position. (coating is different from center towards the outer plates).

Same company also makes 7,000 hours rated and 10,000 hours rated cell, I would pay a little more for the longer life version.
 

slidingsky

Member
Jun 5, 2017
14
Las Vegas
Pool Size
22000
SWG Type
Hayward Aqua Rite (T-15)
Ill check it out. I did only acid wash the hayward cells after knocking the larger build up off with a shiskabob skewer. This optium cell never got the build up of the hayward. It could crank out cl tho. I was happy with its performance while it was working. The original kit i installed was the aqr15, i think. Even when i did used acid, it was way less than 1/4 of 15%. Just enough that it would bubble.
I think i will look at oem cells again. I got the optium for about 300. The haywards were already around 600. Now with optium at about 400, ill just got oem.
Do prices adjust seasonally? Should i wait?
 

RJ-45

In The Industry
Jun 6, 2021
178
Charlotte, NC
If you can get a genuine Hayward T-15 with 3 year warranty for around 600, I would consider that a good deal now.
I have no idea about prices adjust seasonally or not, but my boss order generic parts (mostly cell) once a year in winter, they usually get delivered to us by end of March.
I would assume the peak price for container shipping is over at that time, and sort of low demand for pool equipment. So they must cut us a deal to keep the factory going.
That would be my guess, as I am not in the loop of price negotiation, and honestly have no clue.
 

ping

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jun 24, 2011
3,156
Long Beach, CA
If you are going to switch over to liquid chlorine soon for the fall/winter you might consider waiting until the spring to buy the cell as that will be 5 months longer on the warranty.

I've never noticed a price drop for salt cells during the winter months, if anything they have crept up. This covid lockdown drove prices higher it seems to me.

Whichever cell you do buy make sure it comes with at least a 3 year warranty. Hayward and warranties seem all over the place. There could be a cell with one year of warranty listed and it will sell for the same price as a 3 year warranty cell, buyer beware.
 
  • Like
Reactions: setsailsoon

Enjoying this content?

Support TFP with a donation.

Give Support