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Corrosion blamed on salt-water pools

Corrosion blamed on salt-water pools

WFAA.com: Dallas Fort Worth

08:48 AM CDT on Saturday, May 12, 2007

By DAVID SCHECHTER / WFAA-TV

The backyard pool is one of the true joys of a North Texas summer. And as many as 65 percent of new pools are built with salt-water filtration systems.  But a growing number of families say the salt is corroding parts of their prized pools.   Steve Riley’s company cleans and maintains pools in Dallas. He says he’s finding rusted and deteriorated stainless steel components in the growing number of pools in North Texas with salt-water filtration systems. Proponents say salt pools are better than traditional chlorine.  They say it leaves the skin feeling soft and reduces eye irritation.  But Riley says many pool cleaners believe there’s a problem with salt and he’s certain it’s causing problems for his clients.

Like Sharon Collazo. She says the salt water is eating away at the decorative limestone surrounding her pool. Repairs could cost thousands. “It’s like eating little pieces of it away,” said Collazo. The decorative stone on Amy Johnson’s pool is also pocking and discoloring. She’s removed her saltwater filter but also had to replace a $1,000 heater.

“We had no idea this was a potential disadvantage of owning it,” said Johnson.

Phil McEwen’s built hundreds of pools in North Texas. And while some builders almost exclusively install the popular salt systems, McEwen is one of a growing number of pool builders who will no longer will, unless a customer signs a release.

“We anticipate there will be issues later on caused by the salt system. That as a builder we can’t be held responsible for if we explain to them the issues we have with salt,” McEwen said.

But Houston pool builder Robert Tomlinson says poor maintenance by owners is to blame. He heads the Texas chapter of the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals and says 98 percent of his pools are salt. He says companies that make the salt systems are conducting joint tests to figure out what’s causing the problems.

“I don’t believe the corrosion we’ve heard about in the past is a valid issue. And I do greatly await the results of the test being done,” Tomlinson said.

And one company, Goldline, wrote WFAA that stone naturally deteriorates. That it’s affected by a range of factors like climate, weather, traffic, maintenance. It says the use of salt water in a pool can be one of those factors.

But, both Amy Johnson and Sharon Collazo say they were never told about any potential problems with salt.  You always should know everything you can know when you’re investing this kind of money in your home,” said Collazo.

Pool cleaner Steve Riley expects to see more and more deteriorated parts and decorative stone. And says makers of salt water systems need to be upfront about potential problems that can be expensive to fix.