How to Convert an Above Ground Pool to Salt Water


Every home with a swimming pool is more valuable. Even if you have an above-ground pool, saltwater is a significant upgrade. Saltwater pools keep you cool during the summer, add enjoyment for the family, and give you a place for exercise and relaxing in your very own yard. Transforming your above-ground pool into a luxurious saltwater oasis is possible in just a few easy steps. 

Converting an above-ground pool into a saltwater pool requires: 

  • Choosing the saltwater chlorination system you want
  • Draining your current pool water 
  • Filling the new pool water up
  • Adding the correct salt-to-water ratio 

Saltwater pools are known for their easier upkeep and the simple fact that they are more eco-friendly. Saltwater is also considered “healthier” for your skin and body compared to chlorine water pools. Read on to find out all of the steps and tools you need for how to convert an above-ground pool to saltwater. 

What Tools Do I Need To Convert My Pool to Salt Water?

Before you start the work on converting your above-ground chlorine pool into a saltwater pool, you need some essential tools. 

These tools are necessary for water draining, filling, connecting the saltwater filter device, and creating the perfect salt-to-water ratio include: 

  • Saltwater control box: This is the device that does the saltwater chlorine magic. The pump in this unit takes water from your filled pool, cleans it, and puts salt and a small amount of chlorine back in for fresh pool water. 
  • Salt cell
  • Drain hose
  • 240-volt outlet

Once you have this small list of tools assembled, you can begin work on draining your current chlorine pool and filling up the new saltwater pool. 

Remember that a saltwater pool needs a different control box than your old pool. The area where the old control box gets installed may require some retrofitting for the chlorination device installation. 

Steps for Converting an Above Ground Pool to Salt Water

Converting an above-ground pool to saltwater is an easy process. However, this process takes a significant amount of time and energy. If you are handy, you could use these steps and install the control box and drain the pool yourself. 

However, some of these steps require work around electrical equipment, so it might make sense for some people to hire a professional electrician. 

The steps for converting an above-ground pool to saltwater include draining the existing water, filling the pool back up with water, and installing the new saltwater filter and control box. 

Keep reading for a list of simple steps for getting your pool ready for conversion to saltwater.

Draining the Pool Comes First

Use a garden hose or other hose and siphon the water out of the pool. Use a local storm drain or additional adequate space for all of the water from your pool. You may need to move the hose near the end of the draining. 

Siphoning the water requires places one end of the hose in the pool and then sucking on the other end. Once the water starts flowing from the pool, gravity will continue emptying all of the water. Ensure a quick drain with a weight on the end of the hose that is in the water. 

What About Choosing Your Salt System?

Before you install your saltwater pool, you must determine the best saltwater system for your use. 

The saltwater system needs compatibility with your current pool system, strong enough for the size of the pool, and durable enough for the longevity of your use. 

Some of the factors that go into the size, strength, and quality of your system include: 

  • The number of people: The number of people who use your pool and how often it will be used impacts how hard the filter and chlorination system works. A more robust system keeps your pool cleaner. 
  • Pool size: One of the most critical factors. Larger pools require larger or stronger saltwater sanitization systems. 
  • Your pool environment: If you live in an area with frequent heavy rainfall or many leaves and other tree debris that could fall into the saltwater pool, you may need a more robust system for decontamination of the water. 
  • Compatibility: Luckily, most saltwater systems are compatible with current chlorine-only pool systems. Ask your salesperson of the saltwater system for compatibility information before making your final purchase decision. 

Install the Saltwater System to Your Pool

Now that you have laid all the groundwork by draining your pool, it’s time to choose your hardware. It would be best if you had the right saltwater pump, filter, and salination system, then you are ready for installation and turning your system on. 

Installing the saltwater system to your current above-ground pool requires the following steps: 

  • Balance water: Your installation instructions tell you what the water balance is. Make sure that the water level is correct by filling the pool with your hose. 
  • Add pool-grade salt: Add the required amount of pool-grade salt so that the water has the correct concentration for use. If you have a larger pool, you will need more salt. Check the guidance on the salt that you buy at the pool store. The salt needs to spread across the surface of the pool. Ensure a good mixture by waiting 24 hours for the salt to dissolve and diffuse throughout all of the water in your pool.
    • For reference, here are some standard salination levels compared to that of a saltwater pool:
      • Contact Lens Saline: 6,000 ppm
      • Human Salt Taste: 3,500 ppm
      • Human tears: 3,500 ppm
      • Saltwater Pool Chlorination: 2,500-3,500 ppm
      • Sea Water: 35,000 ppm
  • Mount Chlorinator: The chlorinator is the control box that mixes the parts of salt and chlorine at the appropriate levels into the saltwater pool. The chlorinator should get mounted on the wall next to the pool equipment already installed. 
  • Connect chlorinator to power: The chlorinator needs a 240-volt connection of power. Hardwire it into wiring from a power source or plug it into the power socket near the existing pool equipment. 
  • Install chlorinator cell: The chlorinator cell should get installed within the existing pool plumbing after the filter. 
  • Turn on the pump: Turn on your pool pump and check the system for leaks. Ensure the integrity of the system by running it for several hours. Running for several hours also helps circulate the water in the pool and disperse and dissolve the salt throughout the pool water. 
  • Turn on salt chlorinator: Once the salt chlorinator gets turned on for a few hours, the pool is ready for your enjoyment!

Converting your current above-ground pool into a saltwater pool is relatively easy once you have all the parts you need. If you follow these steps and give the system enough time for salt dissolving and checking for leaks, you should have an excellent saltwater pool in no time!

Recommended Water Chemistry

The pool system needs a specific set of water chemistry readings. The following chart has the ideal levels of all water chemistry reading for a saltwater pool. 

If you don’t have the reading tools necessary, you might want to consider test strips. Order Flagyl Test strips are available in a pack of many paper test strips for reading many different chemical levels at once in the water of your saltwater pool. Make sure you also have a cup handy for scooping and dipping the test strips. 

The recommended pool chemistry readings for a saltwater pool include: 

Chemical CategoryIdeal Reading
Free Chlorine1-3 ppm(parts per million)
Salt2700-3400 ppm
Alkalinity80-120 ppm
Calcium Hardness200-400 ppm
Cyanuric Acid30-60 ppm

Ensure that you check your saltwater pool regularly for chemical levels, especially when it is newly installed. Once the levels of chemicals in your saltwater pool even out, they should get checked once a month with your test strips. 

What Is a Saltwater Pool?

Many people wonder if there is a big difference between regular chlorine pools and those with saltwater in them. Anyone who has ever gone swimming in the ocean knows about how salty and buoyant the water is. 

Saltwater pools have salt added to them and then use a chlorinator to turn that salt into chlorine for sanitation of the pool water. A saltwater pool gives you a feeling of being at sea every day of the year in your backyard.

Saltwater pools are great, but they require some particular ingredients. For example, it would be best if you only used 99% pure (or better) salt for your pool water mixture. High-quality salt keeps the diffusion of the salt better and makes it more sanitary in the long run. 

How a Saltwater Chlorinator Works

Salt chlorinators are pretty easy for maintenance and last for years as a high-quality addition to your above-ground pool. Even though they cost anywhere from $3,00 to $5,000 or more, their longevity and easy maintenance make them popular for many home pools looking to upgrade to saltwater. 

The saltwater chlorinator has two main functions. It allows pool water to flow through over a series of metal grids with low electricity levels flowing through them. The salt in the water reacts with this electricity and comes out the other end as pure chlorine in bubble form

Without the salt water chlorinator, you can’t have a saltwater pool. However, its simple design and intuitive conversion of salt to pure chlorine make it more healthy for the human body to swim in and provides a more enjoyable experience for those swimming in your pool. 

The Pros and Cons of a Saltwater Pool

Even if you think you have made your decision to convert your above-ground pool into a saltwater pool, there are many pros and cons that you should know. Before conversion, take a look at the following pros and cons list so that any issues that come up or questions you have might get answered or resolved more quickly. 

Some of the pros and cons of a saltwater pool include:


  • Saltwater is more healthy for the human body: Chlorine is a chemical that is not great for the human body’s skin, hair, or eyes. It also stings your eyes if you open your eyes underwater in a chlorine-rich pool. A saltwater pool is more healthy for the human body and is gentler on the skin and eyes. 
  • Save money on chlorine: With a saltwater system, salt gets converted into pure chlorine. This conversion process means you don’t have to buy chlorine and add it to your pool’s water. Once your system gets set up, you will save money on chlorine purchases for the future of your pool. 
  • Low maintenance: a saltwater chlorinator is a low-maintenance pool. The pool needs less maintenance than a chlorine-rich pool because of the gentler chemical mixture. You also no longer need to regularly add chlorine to the water since the chlorinator does that naturally based on the salt cell’s salt. 


  • Salt is corrosive: Saltwater is more corrosive for pool equipment and your pool in general. If your pool gets too much salination, it can damage the pump and other sensitive equipment for your pool. 
  • Replace salt cells: Salt cells last much longer than chlorine chemical additives. However, you will need to add salt cells every few years to the mixture of water from the pump. These cells are costly at thousands of dollars for the right-sized amounts. However, they don’t need a change very often.  
  • The pH is higher: Yes, the water is slightly more acidic in a saltwater pool. This means that the water becomes hard and has more calcium scaling buildup on the pool walls and other surfaces of equipment. 

In Conclusion

Saltwater pools add a bit of luxury to your above-ground pool. Not only are they easier on the human body, but they are more convenient for their ease of cleaning and maintenance. 

Converting an above-ground pool to saltwater is entirely possible if you have the correct sized chlorinator and follow the easy steps in this guide. Hopefully, you can now make the decision with confidence to convert your existing above-ground pool to a saltwater oasis. 

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