Sacrificial Anodes – Protection for Salt Pools
In recent years chlorine generators have gained immense popularity in both the commercial and residential markets. These generators use salt that is directly added to the pool water to produce chlorine as needed, by means of a small electric current to separate the sodium chloride (salt) compound and supply chlorine to the pool. Presto! Now you have a pool that pretty much self-monitors and adjusts the amount of chlorine on its own. This even supply tends to contribute to healthy water, as it keeps chlorine levels consistent. The questions arise, “Is there a downside to pool salt systems?” “Are there any negative effects to a pool because of chlorine generators?” As it turns out, there are some issues. Fortunately for the pool owner the fix is pretty simple – a sacrificial anode.
As scary as the term sacrificial anode may sound to most of us, it’s actually an uncomplicated product that does not involve you getting a Masters’ degree in Chemistry! Here’s the scoop. Take a body of water, add salt, a tiny electrical current (from the generator cell), add items in contact with the water made of different metals such as ladders, heaters, hand rails, lights and other hardware, and you have essentially created a giant battery with a minute current flow! The problem created is called galvanic corrosion, basically meaning that electrons are being stripped from the metal surfaces and slowly, but surely, ruining your pool’s metal equipment. All of this doesn’t happen overnight, but in the not-so-long-term you may end up shortening the life of some very expensive components due to oxidation (corrosion).
This is where the sacrificial anode comes into play. It is a small T-shaped unit (about a foot long) that is designed to go in-line of your water flow, most often installed between the filter and the heater, and less often between the filter and the pump. Inside of this device is a rod of zinc that comes into contact with the water as it circulates from the pump. Zinc by its nature oxidizes easily, losing electrons quicker than other metals and sacrifices itself corroding before other equipment and hardware will. Hence the term sacrificial anode!
Installation is straightforward as well. Simply install the unit in-line after the filtration system but before a heater or heat pump, and attach the copper wire to the pool’s bonding connection. For best results, every six months or so unscrew the zinc rod from the unit, and sand lightly with a coarse piece of sandpaper removing the surface corrosion, screw back into the unit and you’re back in business! Over the course of 3-4 years you may need to replace the zinc rod with a new one, but this is neither difficult nor expensive, especially when compared to the expense of replacing a heater, or other items.
At E-Z Test Pool Supplies we stock a sacrificial anode from Pool Tool Company (made in the USA!) model # 104-D that can be added to most plumbing relatively easily.