December 14, 2015
Salt Generating Systems – Hot Tub Freedom or Fiasco
Salt system technology is a natural alternative to sanitize your hot tub, however, contrary to claims these systems are not maintenance and chemical free, are harsh on spa components and may reduce your overall hot tub experience.
Saltwater systems were originally intended for large, cool water pools and should be carefully considered and closely monitored when using in hot tubs. In order to convert salt to chlorine or bromine, a salt generating system uses electrolysis or electrostatically charged plates or electrodes to convert the sodium to a sanitizer. While salt generation systems may work for pools and owners that struggle with managing granular chlorine doses, there are a few reasons sanitizing generators, either chlorine or bromine, may not be as good a fit for hot tubs.
The water chemistry in a swimming pool is totally different than the chemistry of a hot tub and therefore poses different concerns. Hot tubs are much smaller than a pool (est. 350 gallons vs. 10,000+) and operate at a much warmer water temperature (102ºF not 70ºF).
Hot tubs are typically covered to conserve heat which also prevents ventilation of the chemicals and keeps out UV rays from sunlight. When salt is added to the water, it is not immediately converted to chlorine, it resides in the water. Because of this, the metal components in your hot tub such as the heater, heater elements, jets and other plumbing elements will corrode more easily if the proper preventative measures are not taken.
Often corrosion damage is attributed to “chemical abuse” due to over chlorination and calcium build-up and are not covered under the manufacturer’s warranty.
This can result in costly repair and part replacement bills. Calcium build-up is a by-product of salt generating systems and will require frequent maintenance. Yes, the “no maintenance salt system” does require maintenance. In fact, salt water systems suggest you soak and clean the plates/electrodes and other cell components of your salt system in a mild acid every 90 days to keep the plates free of debris and working properly.