Converting Your Saltwater Pool to a Traditional Chlorine Pool - Complete Landsculpture

Converting Your Saltwater Pool to a Traditional Chlorine Pool


So you believed the hype and converted to a saltwater pool, but now you are disappointed with the results. Don’t worry. You are not the first person to have gone through this. And here’s some good news — you can easily convert your saltwater pool back into a traditional chlorine pool.

Not Everyone Loves Salt Pools

To some people, this may come as a surprise, but not everyone loves salt chlorine generators. But if you are dealing with issues that can come up with saltwater systems, you are not one of these people.

Some saltwater pool owners may have trouble with rusting whole others have soft stone decks that can’t handle the salt. Some owners may struggle with managing the pH levels while others aren’t interested in the continued financial investment required for replacement cells.

No matter what your reason for hating your saltwater system is, it is a good reason. And if you are one of these people, then you probably have a lot of questions about what’s involved in switching to a chlorine system and are looking for the easiest way to convert your pool from saltwater to traditional chlorine.

We can help you with both! Let’s start with the most often asked questions when it comes to converting from salt to chlorine system.

Am I Going to Have to Drain My Pool?

The first and most overwhelming question that you probably have is, “will I have to drain the pool?” The answer to this question may be your dealbreaker.

So let’s get right down to it. You will not have to drain your entire pool. However, you will need to drain a portion of your pool.

If you have been managing your pool’s chemical levels properly, right now, your pool’s cyanic acid (CYA) levels are hanging out at 80-90 parts per million. A chlorine pool’s CYA levels only need to be about 40ppm, which is nearly half of what they are now.

A saltwater pool’s CYA levels are so high because you have to add CYA to a saltwater pool to stabilize and protect the chlorine. CYA does not dissipate from pool water, so to lower the CYA levels, you have to drain the pool and then refill it with fresh water.

The math on this is pretty straightforward- if you are trying to decrease CYA levels by half (from 80-40ppm), then you will drain about 50% of your water. You will need to be mindful of how and when you drain your pool based on where you live.

Some municipalities will not allow you to drain your saltwater pool into the gutters. And for people living in areas with high water tables, you do not want to drain the pool during a rainy season or after periods of heavy rain, or you may pop your pool right up out of the ground.

Will the Salt That Is Left Over Be a Problem?

No, the salt left in your pool water should not be a problem. The salt won’t pose a danger to your pool equipment because it isn’t the salt in a saltwater pool that causes corrosion, it is the electrolysis created by the reaction to the salt cell that causes corrosion.

Now, you may be thinking, “isn’t seawater highly corrosive?” Yes. It is. But seawater has a salinity level of 35,000 ppm while saltwater pool water has about 3,500 ppm. And after you drain half of the water and replace it with freshwater, the salinity level should be far less than 3,500 ppm.

How Do I Pick a Chlorinator?

Here’s where things get tricky: choosing a chlorinator. We’ll break it down into five steps.

1. Choose a chlorinator made for your pool type.

There are chlorinators for inground pools, above ground pools, and even some that work for both types of pools.

2. Determine the size of your pool.

You can calculate the number of gallons in your pool using an online calculator. The size of your pool will determine the size chlorinator you purchase. (

3. Do your research.

Choosing a better-known brand of chlorinator sometimes ensures that replacement parts are easier to find. Also note that some chlorinators offer a longer, more extensive warranty policy.

4. Consider if you need any additional features to come as part of the chlorinator.

Sometimes you need additional features; often, you don’t. Your budget may help you in deciding just what you do need and what is just fluff.

5. Determine whether or not you need an in-line or off-line chlorinator.

There are three main types of chlorinators: floating, in-line, and off-line. If you choose an in-line or off-line chlorinator, you need to consider location and spacing. Chlorinators are the last piece of equipment on your plumbing line. Your chlorinator has to be placed in an area with a straight pipe that is not only long enough but has enough clearance above and below to install and service the chlorinator.

If you are replacing a regular flow-through cell like the Intellichlor, AquaRite, or Pureline already in place, the area should be long enough for an in-line chlorinator to be slotted in its place.

If your equipment pad is small or your cell has an odd configuration like a CompuPool or Jandy AquaPure Ei, then you will have better luck with an off-line chlorinator.

An off-line chlorinator can be set on the equipment pad instead of installed on the pipe and only requires a small hole to tap the plumbing line and for the return feeder line.

Is It Hard to Remove and Replace the Equipment?

That depends. If you are great at DIY, then this should be a pretty simple task. If not, then you’ll want to hire a professional. If you are replacing a flow-through cell like the Hayward AquaRite, then it shouldn’t be too hard.

If you are replacing a CompuPool upside-down U-shape or the AutoPilot manifold design, then the removal of the cell and associated piping will be more complicated and require some PVC elbow grease.

Am I Going to Have to Buy and Replace a Bunch of Chemicals?

Not necessarily. After you make the switch to a chlorine system, your regiment of testing pH, alkalinity, and hardness and applying chemicals will continue as needed.

You probably won’t need your bottles of CYA anymore because tablets and liquid chlorine contain stabilizer as part of their formulas.

And for the Final Question… What’s the Easiest Way to Convert to a Chlorine Pool?

The whole process is manageable and won’t take very long to execute, but the easiest way to make the conversion is to let us handle the details and the installation.

While we’re at it, we can tackle all of those exciting pool and landscape remodeling ideas that you’ve been dreaming about.

We Can Help

That’s right! We can help with it all. Complete Landscultpture delivers the total package to our clients. Since 1985, we have been offering expertise, experience, and professionalism.

We offer the Complete approach to residential and commercial landscape and outdoor living environments, helping you realize your vision and maintain a beautiful outdoor atmosphere. Set up a consultation today to learn more about our award-winning team and why our clients are fanatics!

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