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How long does a salt cell last?

Salt water pools offer a lot of benefits. The water is gentler; swimmers don’t have the side effects from traditionally treated chlorine pools – itchy skin, burning eyes, faded swimwear and discolored hair. They’re also less expensive to maintain – while you’ll still need to purchase some items for regular maintenance, you won’t have the frequent expense of chlorine products to keep your pool water crystal clear.

This is all possible thanks to your pool’s salt chlorine generator cell. With proper care, a cell will last about five years. Eventually, though, it will need to be replaced. The trick is, it’s not always easy to know when it’s time. Before you replace your cell, check these things that can cause a cell that’s still good to shut down or stop performing as it should.

  1. To help your cell last as long as possible, be sure to keep your pool chemicals balanced. If your pool water is outside optimum ranges for any length of time, it can actually damage the plates in your cell. Additionally, if the stabilizer runs too low your pool won’t hold the chlorine the generator produces and it will appear as though the cell is bad when it’s not.
  2. Check your cell if the “Inspect Cell” light comes on. It doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong; typically it’s just programmed to come on every 500 hours or so as a reminder to check your cell and clean it if you need to. Reset the light according to your system’s instructions.
  3. Increase the “% Output” if you need to. If the water in your pool is quite warm or if a lot of people are swimming, you’re going to need more chlorine. You can increase the amount generated by increasing the percentage output by 20-30%. It may take up to a full day for you to be able to measure a difference. (Interesting note: If your pool temp reaches 50 degrees or below, it will stop generating chlorine.)
  4. Check the salt level. Generators will often shut down if the salt level in the pool is too high or too low. Check your owner’s manuals to learn the optimal level for your SCG, and use salt strips to measure the level or bring a sample to us for testing.
  5. Check the flow level. If this is illuminated no chlorine is being generated. You may be able to restore the flow, but this is likely a sign that the flow switch is bad or there is a restriction somewhere in the system.

There are a couple of signs that are indicative of a cell that likely needs replacement: corroded or disconnected plates. Corroded plates can be cleaned, but if the cell still isn’t generating enough chlorine after cleaning, you’ll need to replace it. If plates are disconnected (which happens if a cell isn’t cleaned often enough), you’ll need to replace it.

Questions? Give us a call or come by, anytime!