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Archive for July, 2013

Spa and Hot Tub Cover Safety

July 29th, 2013 by

locking-spa-coverSince the 1980’s, more than 250 children age 1-4 have drowned in hot tubs and spas. A small percentage became entrapped on suction outlets. Most were not experienced swimmers who fell into an open spa or hot tub, and were not able to escape.

A strong locking spa cover is the best protection for children in homes with spas or hot tubs. No matter what type of spa you have, there is a way to make it safer with the use of a cover.

 

Above Ground Spas and Hot TubsPLEASE-LOCK-THE-SPA

My spa at home is an above ground spa, with a standard folding spa cover – and there’s 4 million more out there, just like me! These spas are the simplest to keep safely covered with spa cover clips.

Latch your spa cover clips every time you put the cover back on, and never leave the spa unmonitored when you have the cover off. A simple practice of latching the spa cover clips, and keeping your spa covered when it’s not being watched will keep your spa safe.

I have a small sign near the spa, as a reminder to myself and others, to keep the spa cover latched when not in use. Although not specifically child proof, it’s unlikely that a small child will be able to remove a spa cover that is clipped in place on 2 sides of the tub.

For more advanced spa cover locking hardware, there are two other ways to secure the cover – with external straps or steel bars. This not only keeps out children, but any unauthorized use. As horrible as the numbers of drownings in spas are for children, the number of adults found dead in spas is double.

Spa cover straps, sold here at HotTubWorks, are primarily sold as heavy duty Wind Straps – but also function as extra protection, to delay or frustrate children and also – inebriated acquaintances who decide to crash your tub when you’re not looking.

Lock them over the spa cover for extra protection. Wind straps use a standard style spa cover clip to protect against high winds, and double your spa cover security.

spa-cover-lockWant even more protection? Use the Spa Cover Lock, a spa cover locking bar, made by Arctic Spas. Attach two heavy plates on the side of your spa cabinet, and use a padlock to secure the curved steel bar. Works with spa cover lifters to keep the spa cover pressed down on the tub, and prevent use of the spa cover lifter.

Used with a spa cover lifter, it also prevents being able to slide the cover off, in the other direction. If you have no spa cover lifter, two bars can be used, in opposite directions, to absolutely prevent hot tub cover removal.

In Ground Spas and Hot Tubs

Outdoor or Indoors, a spa that is at ground level presents an even larger danger to young residents or visitors, and accounts for more drownings and injuries than above ground spas – which are more difficult to access for 1-4 year old kids and easier to lock a spa cover on safely.

Many in ground spas may not even have a rigid spa safety cover – using a floating thermal blanket or soft cover instead. Of course, these are more convenient to use, than a rigid spa cover, but if there are young people in the house, nothing is safer.

You can still secure a spa cover on an in ground spa. Indoor spas may present more of a challenge, but nearly any flooring type around a spa can be drilled, and screw anchors installed – so that standard spa cover straps can be connected. Even outdoor spas – you can drill into the concrete with a small masonry drill bit and a hammer drill.

inground-spa-cover-locking-strapsWant even more protection? You can use pool safety cover hardware to secure a spa cover on an outdoor, in the ground spa or hot tub. Drill holes with a 3/4″ masonry bit and a heavy duty hammer drill.  Connect nylon strapping with the stainless steel buckles to the s.s. springs, and then attach the cover springs to the brass anchors with the installation rod that is used. In this way, you can run 2 or more straps over top of your cover, which hold the cover down tightly, and is difficult to remove without the installation rod. You can’t buy these, but you can make them, with pool safety cover hardware, and nylon strapping from the fabric store.

Keeping your spa safe is every hot tub owners responsibility. Even if you don’t have children, you likely have neighbors and guests who do – and also keeping out trespassing acquaintances should also be on your mind, to prevent an unwanted tragedy in your spa or hot tub.

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

Spas and Hot Tubs for Fibromyalgia Relief

July 25th, 2013 by

image credit to astraldreamer.deviantart.com/The causes of Fibromyalgia are not well understood, but the symptoms are documented in over 5 million Americans, according to the CDC. Stiffness, tingling, numbness, pain – in areas of the body not affected by disease or disorder. It occurs in over 3% of women, and less than 1% in men, and is described as general and persistent pain in various parts of the body.

A study at the University of Maryland found that many of their subjects found some relief in warm water therapy, such as that found in a bubbling hot tub or spa.

And I myself, as I have aged, have found myself victim to aches and pains in my joints, but also sometimes in odd areas, like my heels or mid-thigh. It sometimes starts just as a low numbness, but can tighten itself up into a pinching sharp pain.

Hot water and gentle movements restores blood flow to an area under blood constriction. Blood flow brings oxygen, and by just soaking, breathing and stretching, I can feel the pain slowly give up. A few times a month, my spa sessions are just like that – more therapy than anything else. I always find relief in my tub, and usually for the rest of the night, so I can sleep peacefully, without restless legs, or just feeling achy all over. That’s what it’s like sometimes.

It helps me to imagine that while I am taking deep, slow breaths in the hot tub, that I am directing the breath to the sore areas; that I am actually breathing the air all the way down to the painful area, whether it’s near my nose – in my neck, or down in my feet.

Rheumatologists have different ways of responding to fibromyalgia, and may include treatment in the following

  • Pharmaceuticals for pain management
  • Physical therapy and movement therapy
  • Massage or Hydrotherapy
  • Nutritional and Sleep analysis
  • Acupuncture or Network chiropractic

Some doctors have noticed differences in brain chemical activity during fibromyalgia episodes of pain. The perception of pain in different areas of the body is not felt until the brain responsible for pain acknowledgment in that area is signaled by neurotransmitters. Low serotonin levels in the same area have also been noted.

Many nutritional and herbal therapies are now being tested for efficacy in treating the symptoms of fibromyalgia, but there is no cure as of yet. Until they figure it out, I know one place that I can find relief – in my hot tub! Leave a comment if you also find that hot water helps!

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

 

The Chlorine Free Spa – Is it Possible?

July 22nd, 2013 by

no-chlorine

It’s a common question that we get in our call center – can I run my spa (or hot tub) without chlorine? My quick and smart answer is usually “sure, you can use bromine!” Then they say “isn’t that the same thing?” It’s not really, as bromine has less of a smell, is not quite as harsh on skin and hair, and has other advantages over chlorine.

But seriously – the real answer is Yes!, you can run your spa without chlorine, or bromine, and still have a safe and sanitary spa. It requires using some modified methods, to make sure that pathogens don’t thrive – but it can be successfully done. Here’s how.

 

Replace your Filter Cartridge More Frequently

For most spas under halogen treatment (chlorine or bromine), I recommend that the spa filter cartridge be replaced every 12-24 months, depending on it’s size, and on how much the spa is used. For those who wish to go chlorine free in the spa or hot tub, I’d recommend that you double the frequency, and replace your spa filter every 6-12 months.

Some spa filters are available with more square footage. When you search for a replacement spa filter, by dimensions, model number or cartridge number, you may see two spa filters listed that have the same dimensions, but one costs more. The more expensive spa cart will have more pleats and thus more surface area, which will do a better job of filtering.

Drain your Spa or Hot Tub More Frequently

Draining the water out of your spa should be done every 4-6 months, depending on your rate of usage, or if the water goes bad. For those using a non-chlorine method in the spa, increase the frequency to every 2- 3 months, or at least every 4 months.

When draining a non-chlorine spa, be sure to use a Spa Purge product to remove any build up inside the pipes, hoses and jets of your spa. Without a halogen residual, biofilms can form faster and create a bio-hazard in your spa water. I use Jet Clean every other time that I drain my spa, to keep organics and oils from building up in hidden crevices.

Ozone + Minerals

DEL Ozone MCD-50, it's what I use on my spa

For a spa that doesn’t use chlorine or bromine, you need something to kill bather waste and bacteria. My recommendation is to use a spa ozonator and a mineral sanitizer, like Nature2 or Spa Frog. The combination of these two – an ozone sanitizer and a mineral purifier, takes care of most disease causing bacteria.

Check on your ozonator regularly to be sure that it’s on and operational, and replace the mineral cartridge as directed, to keep a proper amount of silver and copper ions working. These two treatments working together will do most of the job in keeping your spa water healthy.

Non-Chlorine Shock

cense

Ozone + Minerals do most of the job, but to be sure, you need to oxidize the water, or shock the spa. Non-chlorine shock has no odor, and does not affect water chemistry. You can use the spa immediately after treating the water.

My recommendation is to use a few tablespoons of non-chlorine shock after every spa use, or at least weekly to control and destroy any pathogenic microbes that are able to get around the ozone and mineral treatment.  Also known as MPS, Zodiac Cense is a great product that will oxidize quickly and also adds a nice scent to the water.

Keep your Spa Water Balanced

This is important no matter what your spa sanitation method is, but especially when you are operating a chlorine free spa or hot tub. Maintain your pH level at 7.2-7.5, your Alkalinity at 80-120 and your Hardness at 180-220. Use fresh test strips or fresh reagents and test your spa water at least twice per week, adding water balance chemicals as needed.

Shower before using the Spa

please-showerI know some people (ok, I’ve done it too) who treat their hot tub like a big bathtub. After working in the yard all day, or dancing all night – they jump in the spa to “clean off”. Well, when you bring perspiration, body oils, make up, or if you’ve gone to the bathroom (#2), without washing yourself, this creates a large sanitizer demand in the water.

I’m not saying you must always shower before using the spa, but if you don’t – be sure to give it a good shocking afterwards with MPS.

It can be awkward to ask your friends to shower before coming over, so using an Enzyme product can help break down oils and organics and retain healthy spa water that all can enjoy.

And that’s it! You can successfully operate a healthy spa or hot tub without using chlorine and bromine, if you follow these steps above.

 

– Jack

 

 

Inground or Aboveground Spas – Which is Better?

July 18th, 2013 by

inground-spas-vs-abovegrond-spasI love spas and hot tubs, no matter if they’re installed in the ground, above the ground, or on the roof – I love to soak in warm and fragrant waters with several friends or alone with ‘mi hombre’.

A good friend of mine told me that she was looking into getting a spa, but was having some trouble deciding between a ‘natural’ inground spa built of rock and stone, or a much less expensive portable spa. Good blog topic, don’t you think?

 

POOL / SPA COMBO

This conversation is not about having a spa attached to a swimming pool. Many people have these, and my friend does have a pool, but the cost of retrofitting a spa to an existing pool can be high. Plus, having a pool/spa combo – is just not a real spa, in my mind. It definitely increases the wow factor of your inground pool, but it’s usually so far from the house, takes too long to heat up, has uncomfortable bench seating, and just 6 or 8 jets.

The question addressed today is the decision of installing an separate inground spa, built of rock and stone, or buying a ready-to-go spa.

Inground Spa or Aboveground Spa?

My friend feels that a portable spa looks big and clunky, and won’t add much appeal to her fabulous backyard (it is quite beautiful). I was quick to tell her that she could certainly sink an acrylic spa shell into the ground, or build a deck of wood or concrete to surround a regular spa.

After looking at her planned location for her new spa, I have to agree that just plunking down a portable spa onto a slab of concrete would not be the most aesthetically pleasing option. She said she likes how my spa is placed. Nothing special, but we have our spa half-sunk into a wooden gazebo type of thing. It’s actually more of a Pergola type of structure, with lots of hanging plants and climbing Clematis that I’ve been trying to nurture.

inground-spas

Inground Spa Advantages

  • Unlimited Design, as big or stylish as you want it to be.
  • Infinite ability to blend it into backyard decor and themes.
  • Can be at ground level or be raised up above.
  • Can integrate water features or fountains.
  • Variety of materials, such as concrete, tile, vinyl, acrylic, stainless.

Inground Spa Disadvantages

  • Large or unusual shapes will need expensive spa covers.
  • Can cost considerably more than portable spas to install.
  • Not nearly as energy efficient as a portable spa or hot tub.
  • Seating is typically not as comfortable or relaxing.
  • Cover Lifters are typically not possible for spa covers.
  • Exposed equipment requires winterization or constant operation.
  • Typically has only 6 or 8 jets, which may be not as powerful.

 

Aboveground Spa Advantages

aboveground-spas

  • Easy to install, nearly plug and play (most require 230V).
  • Very economical to operate, +/- $20 per month.
  • Although quite heavy, it can be moved to new locations.
  • 30-100 jets are standard in most portable spas.
  • Contoured, smooth seating surfaces, at varied heights.
  • Can integrate a spa cover lifter, for easy cover removal.
  • Spa equipment is protected from the weather, beneath the spa.
  • Features such as LED lighting and integrated stereo units.
  • Less costly to cover, most portable spas use standard spa covers.

Aboveground Spa Disadvantages

  • Not as attractive as an inground spa. Large and bulky.
  • Fewer options for interior surfaces, usually acrylic or thermoplastic.
  • Entrance and exit can be tricky, especially without spa steps.
  • Shapes and styles are more limited than inground spas.
  • Exterior wood skirt may require some maintenance.

Each type of spa has it’s own disadvantages and it’s own advantages. Not a clear cut choice. For some, it will come down to budget. And, don’t forget that you can always install a spa shell into any type of structure that you can imagine – stone, wood, rock.

I’ve seen some pretty fancy spas that were built around a spa shell, which is easily ordered from any spa manufacturer. Below are some examples of what I mean.

spas-set-inground
To see more awesome hot tubs, see Jack’s recent blog post “12 Spectacular Spas & Hot Tubs“.

I’m not bossy or pushy (most of the time) – so I’ll let my good friend make her own decision. Either way, you can be certain that I and ‘mi hombre’ will be one of the first to crash her hot tub!

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

5 Important Spa or Hot Tub Care Tasks

July 15th, 2013 by

spa-hot-tub-care

Owning a spa or hot tub is not so complicated. Compared to a swimming pool, there’s a lot less work involved. But there is some work required, and maybe your spa has been a bit neglected lately, as sometimes happens during summertime.

Depending on your level of spa use, the frequency of these tasks will vary. Following each task below, follow a task frequency, mirroring your hot tub usage.

 

  • High – Daily use by several people; or commercial spas and hot tubs
  • Medium – A few times per week, by a few people.
  • Low – A few times per month, by a few people.

1. Spa Water Care

spa-water-testsTesting the Spa water, balancing the chemistry and visually checking the water clarity. Pretty basic stuff? Yeah, easy to do – and easy to forget to do. Most spas and hot tubs have something of a “chemical personality”, and are usually fairly consistent in what needs to be chemically managed – as long as you are consistent with your water tests and adjustments.

Not even a “spa guru” like myself can avoid the sometimes mundane task of testing the spa water quality and making micro-adjustments to the water balance. pH, Alkalinity, Hardness all need to be checked every time the spa is used. Neglect this task, and your spa water clarity and health can quickly spiral downward.

Draining the spa should be performed on a regular basis, every 1-4 months, depending on your usage, or even weekly, for high use commercial spas. You’ll find the water much more manageable if you set a schedule to drain it regularly.

2. Spa Filter Care

spa-filter-cartsNext up on our list of Hot Tub maintenance items – cleaning your spa filter cartridge. This task is simple enough for my 8 year old to do, once I showed her how to remove the spa filter and spray deeply into the pleats from top to bottom. It’s one of her weekend chores, and only takes a few minutes with the garden hose.

To help us remember, I created an email reminder to myself to make sure it’s done weekly, and another every 4 months, to soak the filter in our Filter Fresh spa cartridge cleaner for a deep cleaning.

Spa filter cleaners remove oils and mineral deposits that clog up the cartridge, reducing water flow and dirt holding capacity. Just soak the cartridge in a solution of filter cartridge cleaner, or use the spray on type of cleaner. Then, hose it off very thoroughly to flush out the deposits and the cleaning chemical.

Over time, even this loses it’s effectiveness, and it’s time to replace the cartridge. If everything is going well with the spa water, I buy a spa filter replacement every 18 months. High use hot tubs may need to replace the cartridge every 3 months, depending on the size of the filter cartridge.

3. Spa Pipe Care

spa-biofilmI’m not talking about leaks, although you should inspect for leaks in your spa, and promptly repair any that occur. I’m talking about bacteria deposits, sometimes called Bio-Film, that can develop and grow inside the pipes, hoses and jets of your spa.

Using a product like Tub Rinse, add it to the spa before you plan to drain the spa. High use spas should use this every time the hot tub is drained. This will reduce the amount of organics in the spa, which allows the sanitizer to work more effectively, and keep your spa water looking clear, even after heavy use. For my medium-use spa, I use it every other time I drain the hot tub.

Just pour it in and allow it to circulate for an hour – before you drain the spa. The first time you use it, you’ll be shocked at all of the nasty brown gunk that it removes and foams to the surface. It would be similar to a person who finally brushes their teeth after months of only using mouthwash. Yuck!

4. Spa Equipment Care

spa-equipmentYour spa pack is the main control center for your spa or hot tub, and includes your spa heater. To care for your equipment, remove the access panel at least monthly to inspect for leaks, the presence of rodents, rust or corrosion. Use bug spray or mice baits if you notice evidence of either. Check your time clock and reset it if there has been a power outage.

Electric terminals can be coated with a dielectric grease (shut off power first) to keep oxidation from forming. If there is nothing out of the ordinary spotted, this job will go quickly.

If something looks amiss with your spa equipment, and you’re not quite sure which steps to take, give us a call for some spa troubleshooting help.

5. Spa Cover Care

spa-cover-care-tipsSpa covers need to “breathe”, and should be removed from the spa several times per week, to allow the spa to gas off – any accumulated odors and gases. It also gives the spa cover a break from the hot water and chemicals. Remove the spa cover completely, and store it folded and upright, to allow any water to drain out.

Inspect the underside of your spa cover for any rips in the plastic, cracks in the insulative foam, warping or water retention. If any of these has occurred, you should plan on replacing with a new spa cover soon.

Cleaning and conditioning the vinyl of your spa cover will keep it looking new and it can often double the lifespan of your spa cover. My spa cover gets a quarterly “spa treatment” – I use the 303 spa cover cleaner and conditioner wipes. It only takes me about 10 minutes to clean and protect the spa cover. This shines it up real nicely, blocks UV rays and helps keep it clean, but the best advantage is that it keeps the vinyl supple and soft.

Ignore this spa task, and your spa cover material will start to shrink, shrivel and eventually it will crack and become threadbare.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Swim Spa Covers – Big Spa Covers

July 11th, 2013 by

swim-spa-covers

Swim Spas are wonderful inventions. You’ve seen them, I’m sure – they are typically 12-16 ft long with a powerful 3-4 inch jet at one end of the spa. When the jet pump is turned on, one can swim against the adjustable current, in an “Endless Pool” – say goodbye to flip turns.

Michael Phelps has his own line of swim spas, manufactured by Master Spas, so you know they’re good! Swim spas can be above ground or may be set into a deck – indoor or outdoors.

When it comes to covering a swim spa, a 4 panel or 6 panel spa cover is used. These are what we call custom covers, due to their size. Each swim spa cover we make, as are all of our spa covers, is created with computer aided design – CAD, even when we know the make and model of the swim spa. This ensures a precise fit, for maximum heat retention and strength.

A 3-panel swim spa cover, made of 3 individual panels, or of two bi-fold sections and a center single piece – is not a good choice for a swim spa. A 3 panel spa cover must span a larger distance, which places more stress on fewer panels, which have fewer cross braces. In addition, the run-off from rain is far from optimum when only 3 panels are used.

swim-spa-cover-layout

 

This is why we use a 4 panel configuration on our swim spa covers, and for larger swim spas, usually those with an attached hot spa on one end, we use a 6 panel layout, shown here.

I came across another type of swim spa cover during my research for this article. A roll-up style of spa cover for swim spas. Looks easy to remove, but how about strength or safety?

If your swim spa is outdoors, or if you have animals or kids, a strong cover that cannot be easily removed would be highly recommended.

A 4 or 6 panel swim spa cover, with 8 or 10 galvanized steel cross braces is very strong, even under heavy snow loads, sleeping dogs or dancing children.

 

And, it really takes no time at all to remove, and are lightweight enough to be easily managed, even without a spa cover lifter. For a truly simple set-up however, many swim spa owners will use a spa cover lifter on each end of the spa, or some will use a spa side rack to store the covers safely, while the swim spa is in use.

Hot Tub Works is the largest spa cover dealer in the US. We know this, because we keep our ear to the ground, and have the inside scoop from our suppliers and industry contacts. We ship over 1000 spa covers each month – and in some months, we ship double that amount.michael-phelps-in-hot-tub

Enough tooting our own horns. Quite simply, if you are looking for a quality spa cover for your swim spa, one that will last for years, fit properly and provide a high level of safety – give us a call for our swim spa cover prices and options.

Now I’ve got myself wanting a swim spa! I wonder if Michael Phelps will deliver me on himself? Sure would like that! 😉

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

Spa & Hot Tub Parts: Electrical Parts for Spas and Hot Tubs

July 8th, 2013 by

spa-and-hot-tub-electric-partsHot tubs and spas contain a lot of electrical parts – so many in fact, that I’m wondering if I have time today to write this blog post!

Hot Tub Works has a full supply of electrical parts for your spa and hot tub – here’s a quick summary of each electric part category, what they control, and how to know if you may need a replacement electric part for your spa or hot tub.

 

CIRCUIT BOARDS

spa-and-hot-tub-parts--circuit-boardPrinted Circuit Boards, sometimes called a PCB, for short, is the brain of your spa. It’s job is to mechanically control all of the functions of your spa, through relays, capacitors and resistors, connected by tiny copper strips, carrying tiny amounts of electricity. To some, a PCB looks like a small industrial city, with roads and buildings.

Most PCB problems will throw an error code to indicate a faulty board, and most modern boards cannot be repaired, without advanced micro-electronic skills. In the absence of error codes, many times a PCB will display burned or scorched areas, or bulged or cracked “buildings”. Insect infestation or voltage irregularities can fry your circuit board. We have over 50 circuit boards on our website, but if you don’t see yours, give us a call!

CONTACTORS

spa-and-hot-tub-parts--contactorsA contactor is essentially a relay, used for higher voltage applications, like your heater element. Contactors are available in low voltage, usually 24 volts, 110V or 220V, single pole, double pole or sequencing. They operate like a switch, with power coming in one side and out the other. Testing a contactor with a voltage meter (and extreme care), one should have identical voltage on both sides of the contactor. If the voltage tests out OK, but the contactor is not engaging, or closing, one could assume that the contactor, or internal coil has failed.

Insect infestation or dirt on the poles could cause the contactor to not close completely, and sometimes will make a buzzing noise, known as “chattering”. We list over 20 different contactors on our website, to match the specs printed on the contactor label. Give us a call if you have trouble identifying the correct contactor for your spa or hot tub.

CORDS & CONNECTORS

spa-and-hot-tub-parts--cords-and-connectorsCords and connectors carry the power from your spa controller to the various equipment of your spa – heater, blower, pumps. There are many types of cords used on spas and hot tubs, with different connector ends – J&J, Amp, Spade, NEMA, in both female (receptacles) and male (plugs). Cords can become damaged by incorrect voltage, physical wear, or from chewing rodents. Connectors can become rusted from the elements or bent and broken from too much handling.

Identifying the correct cord is done by the connection type at both ends, and the length of the cord. Although relatively inexpensive to replace the entire wire harness, we also have certain end pins and connectors, for field repair of damaged cord connectors. With over 70 types of cords listed on our website, it can get confusing, so give a call or send an email (with photos!) if you need help selecting the correct cord for your spa or hot tub.

FUSES, GFI’S AND BREAKERS

spa-and-hot-tub-parts-fuses-breakers-gfisThe purpose of each of these is to interrupt power to the spa equipment, for the purpose of safe testing or repair. They also function to protect expensive spa components by blowing or tripping when incoming voltage is too high. Fuses are available as small as 1 amp, up to 30 amps. GFI’s, or Ground Fault Interrupters, are essentially an electrical outlet, designed to trip the red ‘test’ button when incoming voltage is outside of the preset limits. Breakers, or circuit breakers, are used to ‘break the circuit’, or cut power to the spa for draining, repair or testing.

Although fuses, breakers and GFI’s can go bad on their own, blowing a fuse, or tripping a breaker is usually a sign of a voltage problem. If you are ordering a new replacement fuse, buying more than one may be wise – if it blows again, a voltage issue is at hand, and it should be tracked down before replacing the fuse again.

HIGH LIMITS

spa-and-hot-tub-parts--hi-limits

High Limits, usually spelled Hi Limit, function to shut off a runaway spa heater. When the upper limit of heat in the spa is sensed, the hi-limit will prevent power from reaching the heater element, saving the element itself, and you – from overheating. Most hi limits have a capillary bulb type sensor, connected to the control by a bare copper wire. Newer spa hi limits, like the Hydro-Quip hi limit (shown), sense overheating through a membrane on the back of the control.

Older hi limit switches used in spas will have a manual reset button, once temperature has cooled below 100 degrees. Newer hi limits may have an auto reset feature. Continued nuisance tripping of the hi limit can indicate incorrect voltage to the heater element, a faulty hi limit switch, or – it could be that your spa filter cartridge is excessively dirty, slowing down the water flow enough to increase the temperature inside the sensing well.

RELAYS

spa-and-hot-tub-parts--relaysRelays are a type of switch with an activating mechanism, used in almost all spa and hot tub equipment – pumps, blowers, lights and heaters. Many common relays are now available in a clear view cube style, so you can see the relay activate (or not activate) – this can be immensely helpful in troubleshooting spa relays. A relay can be of many types – contactors and air switches are a type of relay, and among relays there are many styles or types.

Testing relays can be difficult if it’s attached to a circuit board, but if there are exposed terminals, you can test voltage coming in and out of the relay. If the voltage is correct and identical on both sides of the relay, the internal coil is likely receiving and transferring the power correctly. However, the relay can be faulty if this voltage is not engaging the internal switch. We have nearly 40 different types of spa relays at HotTubWorks, to fit any spa pack.

SWITCHES

spa-and-hot-tub-parts--switchesRocker switches or toggle switches may be used on older spas to activate certain functions. Air switches, those which are powered electrically, are more commonly used as a spa side control, to turn on and off jets, blower, heater, etc.. Air Buttons, connected to a small air hose, are not electrical spa parts, but could also be a cause of spa component problems. Switches for your spa can develop dirty contacts, inside the switch, or corroded terminals outside of the switch.

Testing a spa switch with a jumper wire, placed on both in and out wires of the switch can be used to determine if the switch is the root cause of your spa problem. Relatively inexpensive to replace, we have dozens of hot tub switches available. As always, if you need help determining the correct switch to use for your spa, please contact us!

THERMOSTATS

spa-and-hot-tub-parts--thermostatsMechanical thermostats work to control your spa temperature within +/- 1 degree. They work by sensing the water temperature from a freon-filled capillary bulb, or thermo bulb, housed in a dry or wet well. When the temperature knob is turned up, you should hear an audible click when the current temperature setting is reached on the dial.

Causes of thermostat problems include corroded bulbs or wells, ambient air reaching the bulb, or the thermostat could be mis-calibrated. Older thermostats will allow adjustments by turning a small hex screw located on the side of the thermostat, but be careful not to adjust it so much that the spa temperature exceeds 105 degrees. We have 15 different spa thermostats on hottubworks.com, with capillary wire lengths from 6″ to 60″, and with capillary bulb lengths from 2.25″ to 4.75″.

And it doesn’t end there! We also carry Time Clocks, Transformers, Spa Light parts and Miscellaneous Hot Tub Hardware.

At Hot Tub Works, Spa and Hot Tub Parts is our Passion. Our staff is knowledgeable about spa parts, and many of our call center staff are former spa techs, so you can get the help you need with a simple phone call or email.

– Jack

 

 

Using Bromine in a Spa or Hot Tub

July 4th, 2013 by

when-to-shock-your-spa

For spa sanitation, you can use chlorine, but why – when bromine is superior? Bromine has several advantages in a hot tub:

  • More stable than chlorine at high temperatures
  • More stable than chlorine in wider pH ranges
  • Bromine has much less odor than chlorine
  • Unlike chlorine, combined bromine is still effective

In using bromine, there is one small but important, and often misunderstood difference from chlorine.

BUILDING A BROMIDE BANK

To be effective, a residual of Bromides must be present, also known as a Bromide Bank, or Reserve. Notice that I said Bromide, not Bromine. Bromides are converted to Bromine in the presence of an oxidizer, such as spa shock, liquid chlorine, or ozone.

Bromine tablets are actually a mixture of chlorine and bromides. It can take several weeks for enough bromine tablets to dissolve, to build an effective level of bromides in the spa – so that bromine can be created. Each time you drain the spa, the bromide level drops to zero.

The best way to build a bromine bank is to add Sodium Bromide to your spa, each time you drain and refill. After building your Bromide Bank, shock the spa with your preferred oxidizer to activate the bromide ions, and convert them to hypobromous acid, the killing form of bromine.

2-Part and 3-Part Bromine Systems 3-PART-BROMINE-SYSTEM

A 2-Part Bromine system is basically adding Sodium Bromide (Step 1) and Shocking regularly (Step 2) to re-activate the Bromide ions into Bromine. A 3-Part system is also adding Bromine Tablets (Step 3) as a way to prevent gaps in sanitizing.

If you just add bromine tablets, without first adding Sodium Bromide, you will have trouble getting a good reading for Bromine levels in the spa, and the water could be unhealthy. Build a bromide bank first, of 10-15 ppm of Sodium Bromide, shock the spa, and then add a few tablets to a bromine floater to maintain a bromine residual of 3-5ppm (or 1-3ppm for Spas using mineral purifiers or ozonators).

HOW TO USE BROMINE IN HOT TUBS

In Summary, using Bromine in your spa or hot tub is best, but to be effective, there needs to be a good level of bromide ions in the water. Regular oxidation, or shocking is also important to convert the bromide into bromine. Use bromine tablets to more easily maintain a consistent bromine level.

  1. Add sodium bromide to your spa, following the label instructions, each time you drain and refill.
  2. Use spa shock after building your bromide bank, and weekly thereafter, to activate bromine.
  3. Use bromine tablets in a small floater, to help maintain bromide and bromine levels.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

 

July 4th Hot Tub Party

July 1st, 2013 by

july-fourth-spa-partyWant to get some friends and family together, but don’t have a swimming pool? Do what I do – and host a July 4th Hot Tub Party!

Planning a July 4th Hot Tub party is just like any other Independence day party – the only difference is, your guests can enjoy a relaxing soak in the hot tub.

Especially if you can see your local fireworks from your hot tub, it makes a great place to watch the fireworks show!

Here’s some tips on hosting a successful July 4th Hot Tub Party, without it being too complicated.

 

Prepare the Spa

A few days to a week before the party (in fact last night), I checked the water balance, lowered the pH down to 7.3-ish, and gave my spa a healthy shock treatment. On July 3rd, I’ll clean the filter, and vacuum the spa. Before the guests arrive, I’ll add some aromatherapy crystals to the tub – to set the mood.I’m thinking of using the Sweet Pea Apple sample I have, from Spazazz.

Those of you who know me, know that I love signs – so, since my spa is in the back of my house, I put a sign on the front door to lead guests around to the side gate. This keeps me from having to leave the party, go all the way upstairs and back downstairs again. When they reach the gate, I’ll have something patriotic on the gate, so they know they are entering a July 4th party!

Don’t start too early!

My July Fourth party starts at 6pm, so most guests should arrive by 7pm. I’ll be serving alcohol, so a shorter timeframe on the party should mean that my guests should leave the party – after the fireworks show, in a relatively sober state of mind.

patriotic-playlist

 

Pump up the Jams!

Every good party needs good music. For the Fourth of July, I created a play list full of patriotic songs, loaded onto my ipod, which I’ll run through twice during the evening.

When it’s time for the fireworks, even if it’s just sparklers, be sure to have John Philip Souza’s very famous version of “Stars & Stripes Forever” playing for your guests.

 

Turn down the Heat!

If you can get away with it, turn the heat down to around 100 degrees, especially if you have guests that are unaccustomed to hot tubs. This will also allow you to worry less about the guests overheating or staying too long in the hot tub. You may even want to have cooler water – 85 degrees, and use your spa as a cool water dunking station for your Hot guests.

If your hot tub buddies are old pros, they may want it bubblin’ at 104 or less – but remember to limit each guest to 30 minutes max in the tub. This is to allow room for other guests, but also to prevent dehydration and overheating on a warm summer night. With alcohol, a light headed dizzy feeling can come over those who spend too much time in the spa. Because of this, it’s also a good idea to help your guests get out of the spa safely.

Patriotic Food & Decorations

There’s no need to overdo it, so don’t stress out about having a dozen different red, white and blue recipes and elaborate decorations. Focus on just a few recipes and a few decorations.firecracker-centerpiece

For the decorations, I’ll have a patriotic display on the backyard gate, as mentioned earlier, and my food table will have a nice red tablecloth, and bunting hanging off the front. A firecracker centerpiece, made from wood scraps will be fun. I’ll also be proudly flying an American flag, of course.

For the food, I’m planning a Blueberry, Strawberries and White chocolate chip platter, and a big batch of firecracker punch. We’ll also have hot dogs, chips and cole slaw.

So, NBD – No Big Deal – you can pull off your own Hot Tub Party for July 4th. Whether just a few friends, or a block party – have a super-terrific Fourth of July!

Happy Birthday America!

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works