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How to Clean a Cell for a Salt Pool

By Terry Smith

Saltwater chlorine generators use electrolysis of salt molecules to generate chlorine. Unfortunately, the electrolysis causes calcium ions and other mineral salts to build up on the cathode (negative) plate in the cell. Although most cells have a self-cleaning system, you’ll still need to clean the cell every three months or so for it to work at peak efficiency.

Shut down the filtration system.

Remove the electrolytic cell from the filter return line. If the fittings can’t be loosened by hand, use a strap wrench to loosen them to hand tight. Then finish unscrewing them by hand.

Inspect the cell for scale formation. If you see deposits, flush the cell by rinsing with a high-pressure garden hose.

Use a Q-tip to help scrub off the cell plates if the high-pressure water doesn’t remove it. If deposits are really bad, use a cell cleaning solution obtained from your pool supplies dealer or mix one part hydrochloric acid with five parts water and flush the cell with the solution. Then scrub the cell plates with the Q-tip and finish by flushing with water.

Reinstall the cell to the filter return line when the cell is clean. Screw both fittings hand tight. Then add ¼ turn more with the strap wrench to make sure there’s no leakage.

Reset the “inspect cell” light so that it’s no longer flashing.


Things You Will Need

  • Water hose
  • Strap wrench
  • Q-tip
  • Dilute hydrochloric acid or cell cleaner solution


  • The "inspect cell" light will flash about every three months to prompt you to inspect the cell. If you're continually finding scale, it's an indication that the calcium level in your pool is too high. See your pool supplies dealer for chemicals that will bring the calcium to the correct levels.

About the Author


Terry Smith is a retired Navy officer who began his third career as a freelance writer in 2008. Smith graduated from UCLA with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics. Smith also boasts a graduate degree in Operations Research from the Naval Postgraduate School.