Salt Chlorinator Life Span
Salt chlorine generators are a fantastic part of any pool. They are not without maintenance however. Depending on the usage of your unit, the life expectancy of certain components could vary quite a bit. The amount of chlorine you need and the system makes, could potentially wear out a system in just a couple short years. This can be avoided by keeping your water chemistry balanced, maintaining proper salt levels, and not allowing your pool to 'get behind' on chlorine, requiring your generator to run full blast for days or weeks. Remember just because you make your own chlorine doesn’t mean you don't need to use liquid chlorine or other supplemental sanitizer- you should be.
Similar to an odometer on a car, salt systems keep track of how hard they have worked. We measure this in 'Amp Hours'. The industry has unanimously determined that the life of a salt cell / system is approximately 100,000 Amp Hours. That should thought of as 200,000 miles on a car- In a perfect world perhaps that's possible but it's not normal. We see 30k-50k Amp Hours as a more realistic life span. Also similar to a car the odometer does not factor how hard you were running the vehicle. Speeding, city driving, towing, etc.
When the time comes there are components that can be replaced independently of the rest of the system such as the power supply, main control board, display and board, and of course the cell. Each component when diagnosed and determined to be at the end of its life can be replaced, but that doesn't always mean it's a good idea. It is pretty common to replace one component only to have another one wear out soon after causing heartburn and more cost.
Once your system has been in service for 5 year or so, rather than replacing individual parts, we highly recommend replacing the entire system. This gives you a fresh start and still frankly puts you in a similar cost to having purchased chlorine over its life. If you are confident that only one part in your system is faulty no problem. Consider changing the whole unit and keep the old one on the garage for still usable parts. If its replacement time and the cell is still good, run the new power unit with the old cell until its dead. Then screw in the new cell that you have on the shelf. No matter what, financially it is better to put in a whole new system than part it out once you have hit the 5 year mark.