A Guide To Our Freshwater Salt System

So you just had your saltwater hot tub delivered. The technician on site told you everything you needed to know, but if you’re like me, you forgot all of it by the time he started his truck to leave. Now what? Luckily, I have had three cups of coffee, and compiled everything you ever needed to know about the saltwater system into this blog.

How does this system even work?

Great question! The basic function of the system is taking salt (NaCl) and turning it into chlorine. The simple way to understand it is as salt passes through your cartridge, the salt gets charged (electrified), and then forms chlorine. That chlorine is then used to clean the hot tub water, once the hot tub water is cleaned, residual amounts of chlorine can remain. The residual chlorine is what shows up on your test strip. If you happen to not have chlorine on your test strip, you either have bacteria/phosphates in the water eating up the chlorine, or the chlorine is cleaning the water first, before showing up on a test strip.

NaCl (Salt) >> NaCl + Electrolysis >> HClO (Chlorine) >> HClO + Waste >> NaCl (Salt)

Salt is not consumed, salt is recycled. You should only have to add salt at start up, or anytime you add water, and dilute the salt that is already in the hot tub.

How do I start my system up properly?

Our YouTube Channel has some great videos on how to drain and then refill your hot tub, so I won’t touch on how to drain and refill. Head over to YouTube to check those videos out!

Once the hot tub is filled, the first thing we want to do is to test the water for metals. Most urban areas should be ok, but in some instances, we have seen metals in city water. Rural or well water is most likely to have metals, so as long as we treat for them, we shouldn’t have any issues. Follow the instructions on your Metal Gone product, and make sure to clean the filters after you use it!

We also want to make sure there are no phosphates in your fill water. Phosphates are organic materials that can naturally occur in our water, they can come from beauty products, fertilizers, and other sources. We want to initially dose the water with a Phosphate remover product, and then continually add that product weekly. Phosphates inhibit chlorine from staying in the water, as the chlorine is fighting to kill the bacteria those phosphates are helping it grow. We would like 150 ppb or less in the hot tub.

We next want to reduce the Calcium Hardness in the water. Using the Vanishing Act pillow, we can reduce the calcium hardness in a hot tub. The pillow will sit in your hot tub, in the foot well, for 24-48 hours, once 48 hours is up, remove the pillow and discard it. It is a onetime use item. Double check your calcium level, and you are good to go! If you do have higher calcium, we may need to repeat the process, and add another calcium reduction pillow.

Our next step would be to put in the saltwater cartridge. To do this, we always want to make sure the hot tub is turned off. There are two ways to turn the hot tub off, one being shutting the breakers at your subpanel off, and the other is going into your salt system, and hitting replace cartridge. Once you hit replace cartridge, the hot tub will shut itself down and then prompt you to replace the cartridge. Once you replace the cartridge, hit

the prompts to turn the hot tub back on. We recommend using the saltwater controller on your hot tub to turn your hot tub off in order to replace the cartridge. Remember: this cartridge gets replaced around every 4 months!

Disclaimer: Do not replace the cartridge without turning the hot tub off first! It will drain your hot tub.

Adding Salt

With everything else prepped, and your cartridge in place, we can now start to add salt to the water. Make sure your jet pumps are turned on before adding. We want to hit a target level of 1,750 ppm.

Consult the charts below with the hot tub you have in order to see how much salt to start with. The amounts below are on the low end, as we do not want to add too much salt. Slowly add the salt one cup at a time, and once you reach the recommended dosage below, stop and wait around 5 minutes to let the salt dissolve. Take your salt test strip, and then test the water. If you are in a range of 1,500-1,750 we are good to go! If not, add ½ cup at a time until you reach the desired level.

2-3 Cups Salt = 250 GALLONS (BOLT & GLOW)
4 Cups Salt = 350 GALLONS (TRIUMPH & FLAIR)
5 Cups Salt = 400 GALLONS (ENVOY & FLASH)
6 Cups Salt = 450 GALLONS (GRANDEE & PULSE)
7 Cups Salt = 525 GALLONS (PRISM)

Building a Residual Chlorine Level

When you get your new hot tub, everyone is excited to use it, as they should be! The salt system wasn’t designed to start churning out chlorine from the start. It was designed to clean the water first, then create a residual amount. With people’s heavy usage after delivery, this can be a problem for the system to “catch up”.

That is why we start with adding some liquid chlorine to the system first. At delivery, or after a fresh fill, add 1-3 cups of liquid chlorine to the water with the jets on. Then, test the water each day, and make sure chlorine is showing up on the test strip. Do this for five days. If at any time the test strip doesn’t show chlorine, add some more liquid chlorine. After about 5-7 days, the system should “catch up”, and take over, and then you are good to go!

Setting Your Output

Our water is good to go, our cartridge is in, and our temperature is set. One last thing, let’s set the saltwater systems output. Go into your saltwater system, and you’ll see an output level number. This number is showing you the number of hours per day that the salt system is on and creating chlorine. The higher the number, the larger the output, the lower the number, the smaller the output. With a new hot tub, we want to start high and bring the number down as we need it.

Salt System Output Level
Level 0 System Off
Level 1 Vacation
Level 2-4 Low Output
Level 5-7 Normal Use (recommended)
Level 8-9 High Use
Level 10 Maximum Output
Boost Level 10 for 24 Hours

Every 10 days, the system will notify you, and ask you to check you output and reset it. This is a great time to test the water, and check your ph, alkalinity, and chlorine levels as well. If you do not reset the output, it will default down to a 1-2 output in order to save the life of the cartridge.

Common Troubleshooting

The salt system has a status bar, or a status circle, depending on which model you have. This bar/circle is showing you the overall health of the salt system. It is not a fully functioning salt test reader only. It factors that in, but it does not just test for your salt level. Some common troubleshoot for those status bar/circles are below:

High Status: High salt, high total dissolved solids.
Fix: More than likely high salt, test water, then drain some water and add fresh to dilute the salt content.

Low Status: Cartridge needs replaced, scale on cartridge, cold water, low salt levels, dirty filters.
Fix: Test salt levels (add salt), clean filters, clean cartridge, replace cartridge.

Contact Dealer: Touching electrodes, failure in controller
Fix: Call Continental Pool and Spa for a service call

So there you have it. A nice, a more in-depth overview of the freshwater salt system. Always read through your owners manual, consult your salesperson, and read through any other information given to you, and hopefully this helps shed light on the reasons why we do certain things with the saltwater system. If you have any more questions or concerns, we are all just one phone call, email, or water test away from helping. Happy hot tubbing!