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When it comes down to it, high calcium hardness and salt chlorinators don’t mix! In fact, a majority of salt chlorinators require your Calcium Hardness levels to be between 200-400 parts per million (ppm)  which is extremely hard to achieve in Southern California. In fact, most tap water can be measured around 400ppm and higher! So it shouldn’t surprise you when we say that a majority of backyards we enter or complaints we get are, “my saltwater chlorinator isn’t working, what’s the problem?” When homeowners purchased their salt systems they did so because they wanted the softer water and to swim in pools that didn’t smell like high levels of chlorine. Unfortunately, not many were told that they can’t handle the high levels of calcium hardness. So, why does this happen, how can you lower calcium hardness and how can you get the most out of your salt chlorinator? These are just a sampling of the most popular questions we get asked and we will tackle all of them in this blog post.

As you can tell from the picture above, this is what we see all the time. If you look closely, the electrode plates are covered in calcium. When this happens, the salt water chlorinator will not generate chlorine for your swimming pool. In fact, most systems will give you an error message and not explain why. Well, we can pretty much guarantee this is your problem. At this time, we would suggest checking the manual for the system to see what levels of Calcium Hardness they recommend and if your water chemistry is higher than what is recommended, to change out the water. Many owners of their systems will opt to clean the cell with acid which will remove the calcium but if you don’t change out the water it will just come back.

That’s why we will always recommend Reverse Osmosis (RO) filtration for all salt pools. Recently, we were in the backyard of a customer who’s salt cell wasn’t producing chlorine. The following were our findings:

Initial Chemistry:

Calcium Hardness – 990ppm

Total Dissolved Solids – 5026ppm

Salt – 3366pm (this could be another reason why cell won’t work if salt is too high)

Cyanuric Acid – 130ppm

After filtering this 21,000-gallon swimming pool for 11 hours we were able to lower all values to achieve a working salt cell.

Ending Chemistry:

Calcium Hardness – 150ppm

Total Dissolved Solids – 980ppm

Salt – 757ppm

Cyanuric Acid – 30ppm

At this point, if the customer chooses to use his salt chlorinator, as long as the cell is functioning correctly, after chemical/salt readjustment it should work because the hardness is low. If you own a saltwater chlorinator and it’s not working, call us today, your Calcium Hardness levels could be the reason and we can help by providing you and your family the best quality of water to swim in!