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Salt Chlorinator Troubleshooting

Is your pool's chlorine level reading zero? Before you jump to the conclusion that your chlorinator cell is the issue, especially if it's relatively new or just a few years old, consider other factors that could be affecting your chlorine levels. Here's a guide to help you diagnose the problem.

Check the Chlorinator's Indicators

  • LED Display: Is the chlorinator's readout at 100, and are all the LEDs glowing when the dial is turned to max? If so, your cell is likely in good condition, as this indicates maximum chlorine production.

  • White Mist: Can you see a white mist coming from the cell when the pump is running? This is another sign that your chlorinator is functioning correctly.

Other Factors to Consider

  • Algae Presence: Do you notice any brown or green algae in your pool? Algae can consume chlorine, leading to low or zero readings.

  • Running Time: How many hours a day is your cell running? Inadequate running time can also result in low chlorine levels.

  • Filtration: Poor water flow can affect chlorine production. Make sure your filter is clean.

  • Salt Level: Regularly test your pool's salt level at a pool shop to ensure it's within the recommended range.

  • Stabilizer Level: Low stabilizer levels can cause chlorine to dissipate quickly under sunlight.

Expert Advice

During the summer, an average pool should operate for at least 8 hours a day, more if you're using an ECO pump. Running your pump at night can save on electricity and prevent chlorine loss due to sunlight. Don't cut corners on running times; it will cost you more in the long run. Also, consider super-chlorinating your pool weekly during the swimming season.

Algae Issues

If you notice any algae, you'll need to super-chlorinate your pool manually, as salt chlorinators can't produce enough chlorine to eliminate algae. Get on top of an algae outbreak with a quality algaecide and add more chlorine to your pool to tackle the issue head-on

Salt Cell Lifespan

Signs Your Pool Chlorinator Needs a New Salt Cell:

  1. Time Since Last Purchase: If you're unsure of the last time you bought a chlorinator cell, it might be due for a replacement. Typically, a well-maintained salt cell can last between 3 to 6 years.

  2. Low Chlorine Levels: Even with the right amount of salt and stabilizer, if your chlorine levels remain consistently low or drop to zero, it's a sign that your cell might be failing.

  3. False Low Salt Indicator: If your chlorinator's low salt indicator is active even when there's sufficient salt, it's a potential sign of a dying cell.

  4. Physical Damage: Should any of the plates within the cell come into contact with each other, it's crucial to replace the cell immediately.

  5. Self-Cleaning Issues: For self-cleaning cells, if the cell stops cleaning itself or if there's a significant calcium buildup, it's an indication that the cell is nearing the end of its lifespan.

Shop here for replacement cell chlorinators

Concerns About Replacing Components

Worried that your control box might fail soon after you replace the cell? At Direct Pool Supplies, we offer replacement power supplies that are compatible with most existing salt cells. Replacing the power supply can also save you from having to modify your plumbing.


Before assuming your chlorinator is faulty, consider these factors and tips. In many cases, the issue can be resolved without having to replace your chlorinator cell. If you're still uncertain, consult your local pool shop for expert advice and testing.

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