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Splish-Splash: Saltwater pools for fun, less work
The old swimming hole has long been associated with summer fun and relaxation. For two Yuma families, however, swimming in their own salt water pool provides not only hours of enjoyment but also some advantages over traditional pools.
For the families of Brooks Neumann and Scott Stanhope, the advantage of salt water swimming doesn't lie on the Pacific Coast, but rather in their own backyards. In fact, “salt water swimming pool” is perhaps a misnomer, since the water in the pool has less salinity than the ocean. It is actually more like that of tears.
Without the unpleasant side effects of chemical odor, burning eyes, itchy skin, damaged swim suits or even green hair associated with traditional pools, both families can enjoy the summer heat in a more comfortable environment. After swimming in a salt water pool at a friend's home, Brooks and Kari Neumann decided to install one at the home they built six years ago in the Terraces near Araby Road.
“Our daughter is blond, and I didn't want her to have green hair,” said Kari, of Sydney, age 11, who loves jumping into the pool from the waterfall's ledges built into the edge of the pool. Even more fun for her is jumping into the 8-foot deep end from her trampoline that is placed next to the pool. Near the opposite end of the pool, a basketball hoop offers more summer fun.
Stanhope's two girls, Finley and Heather, ages 7 and 11 respectively, love diving into their pool's 12-foot deep end from either of two waterfalls, one of which also has a grotto built into it.
Both the Neumanns and Stanhope agree that one of the best parts about having a saline pool is the effect on the swimmer.
“You don't have the odor of chlorine, the stinging eyes, and it won't discolor your clothing or your swim suits,” said Stanhope. “You could swim a long time without having your eyes burn,” adds Brooks.
Besides these benefits, other factors make a salt water pool an attractive addition to home improvement. For one thing, it is more environmentally friendly because it reduces the need for potentially hazardous chemicals. Diane Quinn, in an article that she wrote for Helium.com on August 5, 2008, notes several benefits, including a reduced waterline scum build-up and a healthier swimming experience, especially for people with allergies.
Although all pools require chlorine to kill organic bacteria, the chlorination process with a saline pool is done through a salt “cell” that Kari says must be replaced about every five years. Both she and Stanhope agree that the initial installation cost is higher for a saline pool than for a traditional one. However, the long-term cost is less than that of buying traditional chemicals. Kari said that the cost to replace the cell is about $500. When viewed over five years though, the cost is much less than the cost of chemicals for traditional pools, she said.
“The initial outlay is expensive,” said Stanhope, “but in the long run, you will get that all back.”
So how does the salt “cell” or salt water chlorine generator (SWCG) produce the chlorine?
“The main function of the chlorine generator (an electrical device that uses salt added to the water to manufacture chlorine) is to produce chlorine for the pool,” says Quinn. She says that some systems work on a convection principle. With either system, she says that the cell must remain free of mineral deposits to properly function.
The explanation from PoolForum.com's article on “Pool Solutions” states that salt (sodium chloride), dissolved in water, passes through a low-voltage electrical current between special metal plates and through the water. The generator converts the chloride into chlorine through an electrolysis process. The chlorine that is created then creates chlorine residual that is available to sanitize the pool. When it is used up, it changes back to chloride and the process begins anew.
Both Stanhope's and Neumann's pools have an aggregate Pebble Tec® finish that lends beauty and durability to their pristine pools.
“I love the Pebble Tec,” said Stanhope, who formerly owned a home with a traditional pool. “Some people tell me it is harder on your feet and your skin, but I haven't noticed it. I think it is fine. I think it is prettier. I like the color effects you get, too, especially at night, when I turn on the LED lights.”
Brooks says that he especially enjoys listening to the sound of the waterfall on cooler nights.
“We run the waterfall when the weather is nice,” Brooks said. “You can sleep with the doors open, and you can have it running, and it's kind of a soothing sound. It's very nice.”
Because the pools of both families are deeper than most traditional pools, the deep water stays colder in the summer months. Despite that, the pools can be rather warm near the surface.
“Ours gets warm, but it is still refreshing, even though it's like soup by the time you get to August,” Kari said.