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A timeless question for any homeowner new to Salt Chlorine Generators and salt water pools. You’re enjoying the feel of the water, the fact that you don’t have to do as much maintenance work to keep your pool water clear, free of algae and stains and you want to make sure it stays that way. For that you know you need to make sure there’s sufficient salt for the system to work to optimal performance, so how do you know when you need to add salt? Let’s go over that in this article.

  • If you have Salt Chlorine Generator that does not have a digital screen and a Tri-sensor to tell you when and how much salt to add to the water, you would need to get salt water test strips. Utilizing the test strip, you can measure the Sodium Chloride level in your water. Another option is to take a sample of the water to a nearby pool store they can test it for you.
  • When adding salt to the pool, make sure to turn off the salt chlorine generator, but leave the pool pump on to circulate and distribute the salt evenly throughout the pool.
  • When pouring the salt into the pool, add it around the deep end to have it circulate through the main drain. Brush the salt towards the main drain. The salt should be dissolved within 24 hours.
  • After the salt has dissolved, the salt chlorine generator can be started. Let the unit run for a few hours then check the digital display to see what the ppm are (you want to be at 3000ppm). If you are testing with a test strip, repeat the same steps as before the salt was added.
  • Salt can be purchased at any pool supply store, and usually comes in 40lb bags.
  • Salt that is 99.8% or greater purity NaCI (food quality salt) is added so that a recommended level of 3000 parts per million (ppm) is achieved. Once the recommended level has been established, salt level maintenance is minimal. Salt is usually needed due to loss because of backwashing the filter, bathing suit drag out, water splash out, leaks, or rainwater overflow. The AutoPilot’s patented Tri-sensor is designed to let you know when and how much salt to add when it is low on salt.
  • A word of caution, keep your salt level above 2500 ppm as operating with lower salt levels will reduce the efficiency of the unit and reduce cell life. At the same time, you do not want the levels to be too high. 6000 ppm or higher can cause corrosion to metals in contact with the water.
  • For a newly constructed pool or freshly plastered finish, it is recommended to allow the pool surface to cure for 30 days prior to adding salt (Sodium Chloride = NaCl).


Having a salt chlorine generator is an efficient, convenient, and economical way to maintain the chlorine level in your swimming pool, be it a new construction or an existing swimming pool. Our AutoPilot units have digital displays that will tell you when and how much salt to put into your swimming pool, taking the guess out of it. With other units that do not have the digital display and Tri-sensor, you have the choice of using the test strips or taking a sample of your water to the nearest pool store. If you would like to learn more about how much chlorine your swimming pool needs, please click here, or if you want to learn more about measuring the salt level in your pool you can click here

Please feel free to leave any questions or comments you may have below, we would love to hear from you!

How Do I Know When to Add Salt to My Swimming Pool?

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. My Auto Pilot has read Error purity off/Add salt xxx lb. for the last three weeks. First it read add 137 lb. and now it is reading add 162 lb. My pool cleaning company has done nothing but add 3 shock sticks and acid. Why aren’t they adding salt? I have ask them about this but they say what they have done is OK. Is it?

    1. If the system is saying to add salt, the first step is to see what the autopilot is reading and compare it with an independent reading to compare the results. Use a salt strip or take a water sample to the pool store. If both readings match then add salt accordingly. If they do not match use the independent reading as a benchmark and attempt to calibrate if within +- 1000ppm.

  2. How do I turn off the salt chlorine generator? There is nothing stating turn off salt chlorine generator on the autopilot control box. It seems so simple and everything say just turn it off, but where does it say how to turn it off?

    1. There isn’t an off switch for the system. You can set the purifier output to zero% and press select. As long as the water temp doesn’t increase above 5 degrees, it should remain at zero %. The autopilot automatically halts production when the pool pump shuts off as well. The tri-sensor or cell cord can also be unplugged just keep in mind this generates error messages.

    1. The easiest way is to do a test pool pilot. Press the menu button. Test pool pilot will appear then press select. The first reading is salt PPM’s.

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