Texas vs. SWG - What is the deal

H2o-Boy

Gold Supporter
Jun 16, 2016
18
Spring Texas
I am just finalizing my 1st pool build, and prior to finding this forum I was completely sold on a standard tab system with U/V and ozone. I see so many people on here that love their SWG systems. I have read many many post on here where this subject comes up, but many of them are old. I have a few questions relating to the SWG. In Texas, these systems were once the hottest thing to have and now 6 of 6 builders i talked to were anti SWG. I have read all about the flagstone issues, and equipment damages, and so on. I'm nowhere near the expert to discuss those items. I do however, have a few real world observations that I wonder about. I have personally seen multiple pools lately that are salt water, and i observe physical deterioration of different items in close proximity to the pool. This includes the rusted metal drip edge that is installed on the fascia of the house below the edge of your first shingle, rusted portions of rain gutters, rusted screws and fasteners on various items on the patios, and finally today saw a SWG pool with flagstone that has physical damage to the flagstone (not saying the SWG caused it). Is this something that you would just have to accept in trade for benefit of the SWG, or is it a water balance issue where the owners are taking their SWG for granted and not monitoring their chemical levels in the pool? Responses appreciated as this will likely affect my final decision of pool equipment choice.

TIA!
 

rustyshakelford

Well-known member
May 6, 2016
76
Navasota, Tx
My PB doesn't care for them due to the issues mentioned. I told him we wanted one for the ease of maintenance when we're out of town or when I'm at work for several days. He said as long as I seal the flagstone annually, I should be fine. We plan to do that and also spray off the coping when we get out to help dilute the splash out

brett
 

pooldv

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
Moderator Emeritus
Aug 10, 2012
25,412
FL panhandle
This is a frequent topic of discussion here and has been debunked repeatedly. There are lots and lots of people here with saltwater pools that have no damage. Including me. In all of the dozens or hundreds of threads nobody has ever posted any pics or definitive evidence of any damage that is attributable to a saltwater pool. Saltwater pools have about 10% of the salt level that the ocean has. Pool is 3500 ppm and the ocean is about 35,000 ppm. I really believe that it is an urban legend. I have flagstone coping around the pool that has no damage and I have flagstone paths away from the pool that has some damage. Just because something is near a saltwater pool and damaged does not mean that the saltwater damaged it. I will never have a pool that isn't saltwater. There are pics and more discussion in my build thread, link in sig. There was an open thread recently that asked people to post pics of damage from saltwater and nobody did. I think that PBs recently started promoting ozone and mineral systems because they get them for free and charge you a lot for them. The company makes its money selling you overpriced stuff every year.
 

H2o-Boy

Gold Supporter
Jun 16, 2016
18
Spring Texas
I do remember reading a thread where someone asked for pics. My brother built a SWG pool here in 2005. Unfortunately his ex-wife now has that pool and maintains it as well as a pig in a mudhole, but his flagstone is in the same shape as it was brand new. I however, saw a customer of ours pool and their flagstone is heavily deteriorating around the waterfall, and brittle enough that just the scrub brush handle around the edges has caused visible damage. I still am not saying its from the SWG, and very likely that pool has cheap/defective stone. However, there is still the issue of the rusted metal parts around the roof line. (i.e. drip edge and rain gutters) One of my concerns is that my pool will be around my iron fence...
 

pooldv

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
Moderator Emeritus
Aug 10, 2012
25,412
FL panhandle
There is nothing rusting around our pool that I have noticed. But, drip edges and stuff rusts after a while why assume the pool caused it? I'd bet a buck or two that some of the neighbors with no pool at all have some rusty drip edges too.
 

needsajet

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jan 4, 2016
4,731
Sydney, NSW, Australia
Pool Size
44000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
I think anything near the pool, or subject to splashing should be concrete, stone, mortar, plastic, glass, good quality stainless or aluminum. I think it's the same for either liquid chlorinating or SWG because both have more salt in the water than rain or tap water.
 

Mickelin

LifeTime Supporter
Jun 3, 2015
279
Stockholm, Sweden
The corrosive agent in poolwater is the chlorine. Whether that chlorine comes from liquid bleach, pucks or an SWG makes no difference. The notion that a SWG pool would be more corrosive than a non-SWG pool is a myth (IMO)
 

mgmoore7

Bronze Supporter
May 9, 2015
552
Land O Lakes, FL
The pool builders are worried about the liability whether it is a myth or not. They need to minimize their exposure to warranty issues. Until this issue is "officially" debunked, I can understand why they would steer away from it. It would go something like this.

"Mr. Pool Builder, my coping and decking around the pool appears to be deteriorating and I have read this is due to the salt water in my pool. Since you recommended this, I am holding you responsible and want it repaired."

I did alot of research on my own before building my pool and just could not find any real evidence directly linking a salt water pool with faster deterioration. Therefore, I installed a SWG and travertine coping and deck.
 

jagger2005

LifeTime Supporter
Oct 5, 2014
450
San Antonio, TX
Honestly, the only thing I worry about with my SWG is the back washing into my yard. Afraid the salt build up will eventually kill grass or plants. Same problem exists with a water softener, though I suspect the regen water from it is has a much higher salt concentration. I send both to the "wild" part of the yard, so I cannot advise on any damage - plus a lot of rain the last year


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

txnole

LifeTime Supporter
Aug 18, 2014
544
Amelia Island, FL
Jagger's point about water softeners should be considered... Many/most homes in Texas have salt system softeners, and yet... You don't hear hordes of contractors lamenting them.

Whether they will admit it or not, pool sales is about MARGINS and SWGs aren't providing the same margins. Sorry to be a skeptic but I think your PBs are looking to give you a good system (not great) and make the most money. That means no one is recommending SWG and everyone is recommending ozone.
 

JayBauman

LifeTime Supporter
Sep 5, 2014
617
Katy, TX
I live in Texas. I've built 2 pools over the last 6 years, each with a SWG. The only problem I have had (related to SWG) is my Polaris tail would occasionally spray water onto my steel patio furniture. After 2 seasons, I had piles of rusted junk. I replaced the furniture with aluminum chairs, and everything has been great.

When I was building my current pool, I interviewed about 8 PBs in the Houston area. One of them was strongly against SWG systems. Upon inquiry, he told me that he was tired of teaching/servicing/"repairing" SWG pools because he had several customers that couldn't deal with the constantly-rising pH frequently associated with SWG. I can see the logic in this....even if I think it's rubbish!
 

jblizzle

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 19, 2010
43,238
Tucson, AZ
SWG will reduce the bleach addition, but will likely increase the required muriatic acid additions. Your testing frequency should be the same either way.
 

JayBauman

LifeTime Supporter
Sep 5, 2014
617
Katy, TX
Am I correct in saying that if I want to spend the least amount of my time adding liquid bleach and testing, then it would be best for me to go with a SWG?

Once I got my pool "lined out" (i.e. I know what level to set my SWG, which depends primarily on the outside temperature), I tend to do a "quick" pH and Chlorine screen twice a week, which is about the frequency I need to add a bit of acid. I do the full suite of TF100 tests every 2nd week...although I do tend to skip the CH and CYA tests when we haven't had much precipitation. Of course, I previously tested more frequently until I understood how this pool behaves.

All in all, a total of 5 minutes of testing & chemical additions per week (with 15 minutes every other Saturday) is not a huge burden.
 

BoDarville

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jun 5, 2012
3,844
DFW, Texas
While I have a manually-chlorinated pool, I know several people that have had a SWG pool here in Texas for decades with no collateral damage attributed to it being a salt pool. As others have pointed out, the salt level in a typical SWG pool is only about 10% of the salt level of the ocean. It wouldn't surprise me a bit if the PBs are down-playing SWG in favor of "alternative sanitizers" such as ozone and mineral systems simply because the markup is higher. I will admit that some of my SWG friends have occasionally let their pools go cloudy or green, but that is not the fault of it being a salt pool.
 

JoelFitz

In The Industry
Dec 18, 2014
134
Houston, Texas
Please stop the insanity! As a service manager to a reputable pool builder in the Houston area I can confirm and deny misinformation here in this post as it relates to my company. Yes I know my company doesn't speak for everyone and that there're sly salesmen out there looking for a big commission check.

1. Salt systems are tough on pool surroundings, not saying ALL are but I've got tons of pictures to prove this point and because your exact salt system isn't causing a problem (that you can see) doesn't mean it's a made up issue. When you build 100 pools a year and roughly 25% are salt it's easy to see the damage. Most sub-contractors give a 1-2 year warranty on their work unless salt is involved in which case that warranty goes away. This is the reason builders are getting away from salt, not because we profit from pushing a different pill like other professions.

2. Builders get Ozone and mineral systems for free? Where? Sign me up...... 100% profit baby!

3. While a majority of the responsibility of proper care of a salt system does lie with the homeowner a certain part also is with the builder and when properly discussed or issues disclosed the journey usually is a positive one. Misinformation is what killed the market. People looking for "maintenance free" were sold exactly that by builders that didn't understand.

4. The corrosive agent in pool water is..... wait for it...... the pool water! 6.0 pH will tear up a lot more than 30ppm chlorine which goes back to the owner and proper testing.

5. As far as water softeners being corrosive or not please understand that most are sealed/closed containers and installed outside (for a reason)

6. Cost! yes, cost. You think you're saving money by having salt but if not closely monitored or installed correctly they can end up costing more in repairs (looking at you Jandy!)

7. Mark-up? Umm, no. In todays market with the internet, online dealers and how easily this information is obtained I don't see mark-up being a viable issue. I'm constantly being beaten up by price comparisons with online shops.

In closing, sounds like everyone here is attentive to their pools. I mean why else would you be on this great site? If as a pool owner you can be a good pool owner then salt may be okay for you. It's the bad apple theory when it comes to salt systems. Builders have to appease their sub-contractors and sub-contractors got tired of covering issues due to neglect and in my case have flat out told us they'll never cover warranties on pools with salt systems. My company will build salt pools but after we show the disclaimer form that needs to be signed we usually don't.

Sorry for the rant here but it seems like a lot of blame falls on the builder when that's not always the case. I actually like salt system pools because I'm on the repair side and that's what I call job security ;)
 

Silver_2000

Gold Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
Nov 29, 2015
562
Carrollton tx
Joel

One voice against many....
if the subs wont warranty it thats not evidence that there is a problem

You said yourself that the salt isnt the issue its the WATER ...
Then said its not the salt its the lack of maintence

Which is it ?
Salt ?
Water ?
or no maintenance ?

IMO
Pools in general generate maintenance.
Water is the universal solvent ...
I dont have any evidence of that beyond this ;-)
 

tim5055

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 11, 2014
11,067
Franklin, NC
Joel,

Much of what you have said mirrors what we have seen here. While I'm unsure of your thoughts regarding ozone/UV it think you could be a very productive member here. Stick around and participate please!
 

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
17,463
Tucson, AZ
Pool Size
16000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
Joel,

Thank you for adding your insights. It appears that you have corroborated much of what we know to be true here - salt has nothing to do with it. It is truly a corrosive water issue brought in by improper maintenance and lack of knowledge.

While I understand your issues with subs not warranting any of their work with salt pools, it is a sadly misguided position for those contractors to take and reduces choice in your local market which, in the end, leads to more unhappy customers not less. When folks come here to TFP and switch away from the "alternative sanitizer" products and, in some cases, go with SWGs, they are much happier with the results.

I hope the attitude you describe among the subs stays in Texas because we love our salt pools here in AZ and so far builders and subs all stick by their workmanship no matter what.