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Archive for May, 2014

Spa Chemical Start Up Guide

May 29th, 2014 by

hot-tub-chemistry-start-up

Balancing your spa or hot tub water after draining and refilling is an important step for many whose tap water is less than perfect.

Doing it in the right order is even more important, to prevent problems and make adjustment and balance something that takes just a few hours, not days.

Many of our customers have fill water that is very hard (or very soft), very acidic (or basic), and loaded with metals or metals, phosphates and nitrates, or silt and sediment. Not good spa water.

My spa fill water is from a well, and even after water treatment, it has a high pH and is full of minerals and metals.

Here’s my 3 step process for refilling a spa, balancing the chemistry, and starting sanitation.

PRE-FILTER THE FILL WATER

number_one_400_wht_9875 - image from PMAs I mentioned, I’m on a well, but even if I wasn’t I would use a pre-filter to fill my spa. City water often contains high levels of chloramines, ammonia and phosphates. If you have a DPD pool or spa test kit, test the water sometime, you may be surprised!

Our Pre-Filter removes all types of chlorides and sulfides, minerals, metals and contaminants. Filters down to below 1 micron in size, it even softens hard, scaling water and removes odors! Just connect it to a garden hose and fill your spa. It’s good for 3-4 fills before the filter clogs.

The only way this could be better would be if it also balanced the water (alkalinity, pH, calcium)!

BALANCE THE WATER

number_two_400_wht_9869 - image from PMThe first step of course is to test the water with a reliable test kit or test strips. Test kits are more accurate, but most people I know test the spa water with test strips.

Alkalinity First! Mine is always a little low, around 50ppm, so I add Alkalinity Increaser first, to bump it up to around 100ppm. This helps to hold your pH level steady when several hot tubbers jump in the water, so don’t neglect your Total Alkalinity level.

Second is the pH adjustment. I add a pH decreaser (acid), to lower the pH to around 7.4, or between 7.3 and 7.5. With high pH like I have, scaling of calcium can result, and it also causes the sanitizer to work harder, and makes it easier for bacteria and other pathogenic stuff to grow. A low pH, below 7.2 is equally troublesome, and below 7.0, the water becomes acidic and can corrode finishes, damage wood, or harm sensitive spa components.

After my Alkalinity and pH adjustment – I let the spa circulate for about 10 minutes or so, and then I adjust the calcium hardness. In my case, our water is extremely soft, and is only about 100 ppm. I add Calcium Booster to the water to double it, to 200 ppm. A range of 200-400 ppm keeps spa water from becoming aggressive in it’s desire for calcium, which can lead to corrosion and staining. Again, I let the spa circulate for about 10 minutes before starting sanitation.

SANITIZE THE WATER

number_three_400_wht_9871 - image from PMThe first thing I do is boost the bromides in the water by shaking in some Brom Booster, about two tablespoons. This is an important first step if you use bromine tablets in your hot tub. If you don’t add sodium bromides, it can take days or weeks to build a bromine residual, which leaves your spa vulnerable to bacteria.

Immediately after the bromides are added, I shock the spa with chlorine granules. I normally use MPS (non-chlorine shock), but after a refill, I like to use a chlorine shock to kill anything in the fill water and to activate the bromides.

Keep the spa cover open for a few hours after shocking, to allow gas to escape. The spa is not ready for use yet, not until the sanitizer level has fallen below 5 ppm. Plus, it’s not hot yet anyway – so before bed, I replace the spa cover and turn up the heater. molecular_structure_expand_anim_150_wht_14299

The next day I check chemistry again, and make any additional adjustments. When perfect, I always smile and give myself a pat on the back!

Check and balance in the right order and you can make quick work of spa and hot tub start-ups!

 

– Jack

 

Hot Tub Covers – Measuring, Ordering, Dancing

May 22nd, 2014 by

spa-covers-newBack in the old days, ordering a new hot tub cover was such a hassle. I am old enough to remember when you had to call someone from the spa store to come out and measure, and then a few weeks later you’d get a price quote in the mail. Ah, the good ole’ days.

The internet sure has changed everything. Our spa covers and hot tub covers ordering pages were just ‘optimized’, to make them more user friendly and faster to complete. It’s now just a 3 step process to order – actually, it’s more like a 2-step process, if you skip over the last step of adding spa cover accessories to your order.

Measuring a Spa Cover

It depends on the shape of your spa cover,  as to how much measuring is needed. If you know the make and model of your spa or hot tub, we provide you the measurements, and you can just double check them (please double check them).

radius-measureFor round tubs, we just need a diameter. For square spa covers, we need a length and width. If you have curved corners, we’ll need to know the radius of the curve. This is easily figured by measuring from the start of the curve to the intersection of the other side of the curve. Basically, for all spa covers that aren’t round, we’d like a measurement of each side, and any corner radius that is not a 90° corner.

You can use a simple tape measure to measure a spa cover, the flexible or rigid type. Just be sure to double check your measurements before entering them into the website. Measure your old spa cover if that was a good fit, and you still have it, otherwise, measure to the outside edge of the hot tub, or to the outer lip of your spa.

Special Spa Covers: Give us a call if your spa cover is:

  1. A curvy, freeform shape
  2. Is over 96″ on any one side
  3. Has more than two panels
  4. Has special cut-outs or flaps

We’re here from 7am-7pm, M-F, and 7-4 on Saturday. 800-770-0292. If you’re a little shy on the phone, you can do it all through email, send us a note!

Ordering a Spa Cover

next-Step One: After you’ve selected your spa shape or selected your spa make and model from the drop down list, Click Next, you’re already done with step one!

Step Two: In the first section, you’ll start by entering the dimensions (if you selected a spa shape), or confirm the dimensions (if you selected a make/model). Then confirm the length of the skirt (the flap that overhangs the side of the cover), and the length of the safety straps.

In the next section, you can choose a color for our 30 oz. marine grade vinyl. With 14 colors to choose from, you’re sure to find one to match the tub, the house or the patio furniture. If your spa gets a lot of rain and tree litter, a darker color will show stains less.

In the final section, you select your insulation weight and thickness. 6 variations available, with options like double wrapped foam core,  a continuous heat seal and heavy duty windstraps available.

  1. Economy Spa Cover: 1.0 lb foam, 4″-2″ taper, R-Value 12. 1 year warranty.
  2. Standard Spa Cover: 1.5 lb foam, 4″-2″ taper, R-Value 13. 3 year warranty.
  3. Deluxe Spa Cover: 2.0 lb foam, 4″-2″ taper, R-Value 15. 5 year warranty.
  4. Energy Saver Cover: 1.5 lb foam, 5″-3″ taper, R-Value 20. 5 year warranty.
  5. Ultra Spa Cover: 1.5 lb foam, 6″-4″ taper, R-Value 24. 5 year warranty.
  6. The Works Spa Cover: 2.0 lb foam, 6″-4″ taper, R-Value 30. 5 year warranty.

next-When you’re done with the selections on page two, you’re over halfway done! Hit Next to Advance to step three ~

Step Three: The third step in ordering a spa cover has some offers for bundling a spa cover lift, and other accessories that you may find useful like a floating spa blanket or spa cover care kit. If you want any of these items,next- click the Add to Cart buttons, or just hit Next again, and you’ll be transported to our shopping cart to review the spa cover order, in glorious detail with over 30 line items.

Dancingdancing for a new spa cover!

The reason for “dancing” in the title?

I just ordered a new hot tub cover about 2 months ago. When we clicked the final submit button on our new spa cover order, I leapt up into my husband’s arms and we did a quick happy dance!

It’s not like it used to be – it’s amazing, to be able to order a new hot tub cover in 10 minutes!

Isn’t technology wonderful?!?
Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

Chlorine or Non-Chlorine Shock for Hot Tubs?

May 19th, 2014 by

spa-hot-tub-shock-treatments

Spa and Hot Tub Shockwhat’s better – chlorinated granules or non-chlorine shock?

This post takes a look at the differences between two types of oxidizers used for spa shock treatments – Sodium DiChlor (chlorine granules) or MPS – Monopersulfate (chlorine free).

WHY SHOCK SPAS & HOT TUBS? Oxidizers are added to pools and spas to destroy pathogens like bacteria and viruses, and also organic contaminants that lead to algae growth.

The second main reason is to destroy molecular combinations between your main sanitizer (chlorine or bromine), and other organic matter, which create foul smelling -amines in the water.

WHEN TO SHOCK A SPA? The best time to shock a spa is after you have used the spa, or every 7-10 days. Don’t shock just before using the spa which will reduce it’s effectiveness, and could cause skin irritation. Wait at least an hour after shocking (with MPS), while circulating the water with the spa cover open, before getting in the tub.

HOW TO SHOCK A HOT TUB? Follow the label instructions, for specific dosages. Check your pH first, and adjust to within 7.2 – 7.6. This will allow the oxidizer to work harder, with a pH in the lower half of the scale. Just shake the required amount over the water, being careful of winds, which could blow the powder in your face. Don’t rinse off the cap or scoop in the water, keep it dry and clean at all times for safety. Keep the cover open to allow for gassing off, an important part of the process.

WHAT TYPE OF SPA SHOCK IS BEST? Finally, we are at the meat of this post – which is better for spas and hot tubs, MPS or chlorine shock? Let’s create some distinctions between the two types of spa shock, by looking at benefits of each, not shared by the other.

PRICE COMPARISON

SPA-SHOCK-PRICES-COMPARISON-CHARTHow do Chlorine Granules compare to MPS in terms of price? Is there a large difference between the two? Our chart shows 4 chlorine shocks, 5 MPS shocks, and one blend, Replenish, which contains MPS, with some chlorine added.

Chlorine granules come out a bit cheaper by the pound than MPS spa shock, which has a much wider price range, all higher per pound than chlorine, with the notable exception of Activate shock.

 

STRENGTH COMPARISON

SPA-SHOCK-STRENGTH-COMPARSION-CHART-2The reason that DiChlor shock is used in spas, is that DiChlor is more stable at higher temperatures and has a near neutral pH level. Spa shocks are particularly fine, more of a powder than a granular, so that they dissolve quickly.

All 4 of the chlorine hot tub shocks are 56% Available Chlorine. Among the 5 non-chlorine spa shocks, all are blends of MPS in different formulations, with different percentage of MPS.

If one was to generalize the relative strengths of MPS and DiChlor, it could be said that both Dichlor and MPS have equivalent ability as an algaecide, bactericide and virucide. Dichlor shock may have an edge for spas that are heavily used, or in need of high levels of oxidation.

 FEATURES AND BENEFITS

 

Dichlor-molecule - RSC.orgCHLORINATED GRANULES:

Although there are many types of pool shocks available, using Calcium or Lithium or Sodium Hypochlorite, chlorine hot tub shocks are primarily made with Sodium DiChloro-S-Triazinetrione, or DiChlor for short.

  • Neutral pH, Quick dissolving
  • Sanitizes and oxidizes pathogens and organic contaminants
  • Lower price point

MPS-potassium-peroxymonopersulfate  from rsc.orgMPS SHOCK:

There are a few formulations of MPS, but most of the monopersulfate sold for spas and hot tubs is a blend of MPS, primarily purchased from DuPont, and packaged for resale under many brand names.

  • Low pH, Quick dissolving
  • An excellent oxidizer and a fair sanitizer
  • Does not contribute calcium or cyanuric acid to your spa water
  • Can use the spa almost immediately, unlike with chlorine
  • No odor, gentle on spa covers

 

THE BOTTOM LINE: If you are not using bromine tablets to sanitize, but instead using minerals and ozone, DiChlor may be a better shock to use, but – if you use Bromine tablets or Angel Tabs to sanitize, use the MPS shock to oxidize. I’ve always used bromine tablets and shock the spa with MPS after we use it. However, I also keep some DiChlor on hand, and give the spa a super shock about every month.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

3 Secrets to Spa Cover Longevity

May 15th, 2014 by

shhh-spa-cover-secrets-bw-Shhh! I’m about to share with you 3 secrets! A hot tub cover is a valuable piece of equipment. But since they’re not made of Kevlar, they will eventually need to be replaced. A thrifty spa owner can stave off the inevitable expense by taking action to protect their spa cover, and increase it’s longevity.

First, you have to ask yourself “Do I really care, if I get 5-7 years, or is 2-3 years OK?” If you’re the kind of person that gets a new car every 3 years, then maybe this post is not for you ~ you may want to read How to Buy a Spa Cover. For the rest of you, if making your spa cover last longer sounds like a good idea, read on…

 

Clean & Condition your Spa Cover

spa-cover-cleaner-and-conditionerThis is a lot easier than it seems. The problem is that a lot of people use automotive products or worse, household cleaners to protect their cover. I’ve even seen people using Linseed Oil – People, No!  Most cleaners contain chemicals that break down the UV inhibitors and natural pliability of the vinyl. Spa covers are made with a marine grade vinyl, meant for outdoor use and wet weather, but they break down and dry out if cleaned with harsh chemicals.

To keep your cover looking good, clean and condition it every 3-4 months with a spa cover cleaner, to remove dust, dirt, sap, pollen, bird… you know. Afterwards, restore the brilliance while adding emollients to increase the vinyl’s resistance to cold weather, rain, snow and sun, with a spa cover conditioner. Both of these together costs like $15, and will last for years and years.

 

Lock Down your Spa Cover

inground-spa-cover-locking-strapsHigh winds can blow your spa cover off of the hot tub. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard about this one. Placing chairs or items on top is not a good way to prepare for a storm either. Use the spa cover strap clips, at least 4 of them, to keep most covers secure. If your spa is in a very high wind area, or if you’re in tornado alley or hurricane country, use heavy duty spa cover straps. If your spa is sunk into the ground, you can use safety pool cover hardware to make safety straps for the spa cover.

Both of these items also add an element of safety to your spa cover, and make it difficult for others to remove your spa cover. And when those who are inexperienced in handling spa covers are not trying to open and move them, they tend to last longer!

 

Remove your Spa Cover 2x per Week

air-out-your-spa-coverEven though our spa covers have foam inserts that are vacuum sealed and heat seamed to lock out moisture, the entire cover; vinyl, scrim, zippers – will do better if it’s allowed to breathe every few days. Carefully remove your spa cover to it’s off position, if you have a cover lift, or with a helper, fold the cover in half and gently move to a safe location.

Let your cover breathe, or air out, twice a week for an hour or so, or once per week for several hours. If you are using your spa regularly, you may already be doing this, but for hot tubs that don’t get much action, leave the cover open and off the tub for a few hours per week, perhaps after testing and shocking the spa.

 

~ There is one more way to have a hot tub cover that lasts longer, and that is to buy one that lasts longer. There are many ways to make a cheap hot tub cover, and believe me, they are out there. A Hot Tub Works spa cover, every one of our 5 models, is made with computer design, and crafted to exacting standards.

Our materials may not be Kevlar, but they are the best materials to produce a lightweight, durable cover with a strong 5-year warranty. The fact is, our spa covers last twice as long as those spa covers that are only $50-100 cheaper.

Why is this such a secret? Well, if everyone knew these secrets to spa cover care, we’d sell a lot fewer spa covers!

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

Saltwater Hot Tub – Pros & Cons

May 12th, 2014 by

saltron-mini

If you have been busy lately, you may have missed the new craze in hot tub maintenance – spa salt water systems.

A saltwater hot tub uses a salt cell which reacts with the salt that you add to the water (2 lbs per 100 gals), to produce pure chlorine. A low voltage power supply is mounted on the spa, where you can increase or decrease the chlorine level and set an operation timer.

 

Salt systems have many fans, who say it’s very easy to use, and they don’t have to touch or store bromine or chlorine. Most people also love the way the water has a softer and silkier feel. Saltwater hot tubs also have a few detractors. Let’s look at the Pros and Cons of switching from tablets to salt to sanitize the water.

Saltwater Hot Tub – Pros

  • Softer & Silkier Water

prosYou’ll notice it right away, salt water feels softer, like a mineral bath. The salt used is sodium chloride, regular tablet salt. The same salt that is in the ocean, but only about a tenth of the amount. Get the 40lb bag of pool salt at Walmart or your local home store, and add 2lbs per 100 gallons of spa water, and you’re ready to go! The salt is very cheap, like $7 per bag. The slightly salty spa water leaves your skin feeling refreshed, not irritated. Like bathing in mineral spring water.

  • No More Sanitizer

prosMaybe the best benefit of a saltwater hot tub, is that you no longer need to store bromine or chlorine tablets, which could be dangerous. You should still shock the spa, so keep a granular oxidizer on hand, but you can use chlorine free MPS if you prefer. Spa salt systems make their own chlorine, so it’s still a chlorinated spa, but it’s created naturally, and is without binders or additives – pure chlorine.

  • No More Odor

prosChlorine tablets smell bad in the bucket, and bad in the spa. Bromine is a little bit better, but I can still smell it on my skin and on my hair, hours after soaking. Have you ever opened up your spa cover and detected the strong smell of chlorine?  That’s the smell of combined molecules, chloramines or bromamines. Salt systems are much less likely to produce these foul smelling mutations of chlorine, because after a chlorine molecule is used up, it reverts back to salt, or sodium chloride!

  • Buffered Water

prosAdding enough salt to reach 2000-3000 ppm in your spa takes about 2lbs per 100 gallons of water. The mineral in the water, raises the buffering capacity of the water, to resist changes in pH, Alkalinity and Calcium Hardness levels. The addition of salt increases the total dissolved solids of the water, making the water less aggressive, and more resistant to water balance fluctuations.

Saltwater Hot Tub – Cons

  • Saltwater Corrosion

cons

This is the main issue against saltwater hot tubs, is that salt causes corrosion. At levels of 2000-3000 ppm, there should be no worry about damage to finishes and pool equipment. There is one material that doesn’t like salt, that being BUNA rubber, which some pump shaft seals are made of. Again, at normal levels, there should be no concern, but if your pump seal begins to leak, we do have shaft seals made for high salt or ozone conditions.

  • Salt Cell Replacement

consThe salt cell used for saltwater hot tubs is a titanium coated electrolytic cell, which will eventually lose enough of it’s coating to stop producing enough chlorine. Spa salt cells usually last 2-5 years, depending on the model, at which time you can replace just the cell (not the power supply). Keeping your cell clean (many models are self-cleaning), and not using it for cold spa water (below 60 degrees), are key to a long cell life.

  • Warm Water Only

consSalt systems, for pools or spas, have trouble producing chlorine at low water temperatures. When water temperatures drop into the 60’s, very little chlorine output is generated, even though your salt cell is working overtime. Many salt systems will shut down, in a self-protection mode, when low water temps are sensed. This of course, is not a big deal for spas and hot tubs – as long as you keep the water 65° or higher, you’ll have no problems.

  • Bromine is Better

consBromine does have certain qualities that make it better than chlorine, as Jack wrote in his recent blog, Bromine vs. Chlorine in hot tubs. He points out that bromine is more stable at higher temperatures and pH levels. But most of the argument is made against Tablet Chlorine, not chlorine generated from salt, which although still chlorine, has far fewer of the downsides of using tablet or granular chlorine.

 

pros-and-cons-saltwater-hot-tub - pub domain imagesSaltwater hot tubs are still using chlorine, but it’s not your father’s chlorine – it’s pure chlorine, or hypochlorous acid, and can’t be compared to the tablet type. I love my Saltron Mini salt system in my spa. I’ve had it installed for nearly a year now, and other than add some replacement salt, I haven’t had to touch it. I still test the water, and shock the spa weekly, but my water balance is more steady and the water feels and smells great. And no corrosion damage!

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

 

When to Replace a Spa Pack

May 9th, 2014 by

spa-packs-hot-tub-worksThere comes a time – in the life of every spa or hot tub, when the gears stop turning. It’s usually a minor glitch, something a new pump, or new heater element or relay can fix fast.

But then there are those times when it makes sense to replace the entire spa pack, and take advantage of modern spa pack features and efficiency.

For those of you who aren’t hip to the lingo, a spa pack is a self-contained unit, that contains the controller, heater, pump and sometimes a blower, all mounted on a skid to slide neatly under your spa or hot tub.

When should you replace your spa pack? There are several situations that make it more cost effective or a better long term decision, to replace the entire spa equipment pack.

  1. Your spa pak is old, and it develops a mechanical problem. It could be an inexpensive fix, but soon after, there’s another repair expense. When packs reach 7-10 years of age, they start breaking down.
  2. Your spa controls operate with air buttons, and you would like to have a state of the art digital controller, with backlit display board and function controls and status.
  3. Your heater is broken, again! Breaker is tripping or there are other annoying electrical nuisances.
  4. Your spa system runs continuously without filter cycles; runs only on low speed or only high speed.
  5. A repair company came out for a diagnosis; gave you an estimate that could reach $500. Ouch!

 

SELECTING A NEW SPA PACK

Buying a new spa pack can be confusing, here’s some questions to ask yourself, or call us – and we’ll ask you the questions!

SINGLE OR DUAL PUMPS?

Some spas or hot tubs have a single pump, usually a dual speed (low and high), to accomplish circulation, filtration and high pressure jet action. Other pumps have a low speed circulation pump, and a separate jet pump for the jet action.

PIPE SIZE?

Most spas and hot tubs have 1.5″ plumbing, which has a 1.9″ OD, or outer diameter to the pipe. Larger spas, or custom hot tubs may use 2″ PVC plumbing, which has an OD of 2.375 inches. When ordering a new spa pack, we need to know which pipe size you have – 1.5″ or 2.0″.

INLET ORIENTATION?

Is your spa pack a lefty or a righty? As you look at your current spa equipment pack, is the pump inlet on the left or right side. Put another way, is the wet end of the pump facing to your right or to your left, as you look at the spa pack?

VOLTAGE?

110V or 220V – that is the question – regarding your pump. You may have a 220v spa pack, but have 110V pumps. Check the label closely (with a flashlight and magnifying glass if necessary), to be certain of the voltage for your spa pack pump(s).

HORSEPOWER?

How many horses is your spa pump packing? This is another label check, look for the abbreviation HP to indicate the pump motor horsepower. Spa packs can have pumps with a small 1.0 hp, all the way up to 5.0 hp. Don’t buy a spa pack with a larger hp pump, without speaking to one of our spa techs first. An overpowered spa pump can be worse than an underpowered one.

BLOWER?

Some spa packs have a blower mounted on the skid, and other spas will have a blower mounted elsewhere under the spa skirt, or even in a remote location. If your blower is located on the skid, select Yes – to add a blower to your spa pak, or No – if it’s mounted elsewhere, or you prefer to soak without bubbles.

DIGITAL OR AIR?

A digital spa pack has an digital display of the water temperature, and probably a few status lights. An air system or pneumatic spa control operates with air buttons on the control panel, and you will also see thin air hoses connecting from the  control panel to the control unit. You can switch from air to digital. Contact one of our spa techs if you have any questions.

spa-pack-

 

With the information above, you can buy a new spa pack online, or if you’d like to be sure that you’ve selected the right spa pack, and maybe want to ask a few installation questions, please call our spa techs at 800-772-0292, or send an email with your questions.

 

– Jack

 

Spa & Hot Tub Filters – 3 Ways

May 5th, 2014 by

too-many-spa-filters-to-choose-fromThe sheer number of spa filter cartridges is enough to boggle the mind. I have a cross-reference book on my desk for all of the pool and spa cartridges that are available – I’m guessing that there are 5000 cartridges in this little book.

I think it’s safe to say that there may be some confusion at times, on behalf of a hot tub owner trying to find a replacement spa filter. In most cases, you can look on the cartridge itself, for the filter number, but what if you have a Unicel and are searching in a Pleatco or Filbur database? Or what if you have a manufacturer’s filter cartridge, is there a generic available? And what if the cartridge is destroyed or got thrown out by mistake?

Rest easy my friends, Hot Tub Works has the solutions to these and other spa filter quandaries. Introducing:

Spa Filters 3-Ways!

BY PART NUMBER

find-my-filterMost savvy spa owners already know this – but there is a filter number stamped into the end cap of the filter cartridge. It may be a Unicel, Pleatco or Filbur number. It can even be a manufacturer part number. Just find the number printed on your spa cartridge, and enter it into the box, and click the Find my Filter button.

BY MANUFACTURER

find-my-filterHere’s another way to Find your Filter – when you don’t see a part number printed on the end cap, you probably have an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) filter cartridge. We have nearly 250 spa and hot tub manufacturers listed. Just select your make from the drop-down menu and click the Find my Filter button.

BY DIMENSIONS

find-my-filterIf these two methods fail you, we have another way to get you the correct spa filter cartridge. Just take an overall diameter and overall length of the cartridge, and choose the picture that matches your cartridge end – open, closed, castle-end, slotted, threaded… and click on the Find my Filter button.

spa-filter-ends

Remember to replace your spa filter cartridge every 12-24 months, depending on several factors. If you’re wondering if your spa filter cartridge is shot ~ check this post that Gina recently wrote ~ 5 signs that you need a new filter cartridge!

Let our super-duper database take all the guesswork out of buying a new spa filter…

 
Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Bromine vs. Chlorine for Spas & Hot Tubs

May 1st, 2014 by

chlorine vs. bromineFor the hot tub or spa owner, a thought gets put into their head, “Hey, why not use pool chemicals for the hot tub? They’re a lot cheaper!”

So, why not just use 3″ chlorine tablets and powdered pool shock to sanitize your spa? Isn’t it the same thing?

Bromine vs. Chlorine – two challengers will fight for the title of best spa and hot tub sanitizer.

ROUND ONE: COST

Trichlor chlorine tablets, the 1″ size, are about 20% cheaper than bromine tablets. And the 3″ tablets, are over 40% cheaper, when you buy in bulk. Chlorine does have a shelf life however, and after about a year, depending on the temperature it is stored at, it can lose half of it’s power. Cal Hypo or dichlor shock, two types of pool shocks, are also cheaper than non-chlorine shock, Angel Tabs, or our specialty spa shocks.

Round One goes to chlorine – definitely a cheaper alternative!

ROUND TWO: CONVENIENCE

brom-booster-htwBoth challengers are fairly convenient. Purchase a small quantity of 1″ tablets (3″ tablets are too slow dissolving for hot tubs), and put enough in a floating dispenser to give a good reading when the water is tested.

Bromine however, requires a bank of bromides to build up before you can register a reading on your test kit. Another small step in the process, after draining a spa, you can shake in a little Brom Booster, or use the 2 oz. sodium bromide packets.

Chlorine comes out slightly ahead in Round Two.

ROUND THREE: STAYING POWER

Bromine is not as easily protected from the sun as chlorine is, by adding stabilizer, or cyanuric acid. But then, most hot tubs are covered and out of the sun. Although bromine lost the first round, and can be more expensive than chlorine, it has the curious property of reactivation.

Bromide salts can be reactivated into bromine by adding a small amount of chlorine shock or MPS shock. This allows you to reuse the bromide again and again, and you use less bromine tablets. With chlorine however, once the killing work is done, the chlorine molecule becomes inert.

Bromine wins this round, with an amazing ability to regenerate.

ROUND FOUR: KILLING POWER

bromine-has-an-extra-layerWhich is stronger, chlorine or bromine? Chemically speaking, chlorine is a stronger halogen, with a quicker oxidation reaction, but bromine has a larger atomic size, with an extra valence shell.

Bromine has a big advantage over chlorine in killing bacteria and viruses, whereas chlorine has an advantage in killing algae more rapidly. Bromamines continue to be an active sanitizer, in contrast with chloramines, as we will see in the next round.

Bromine wins Round Four; it’s stronger in more water conditions and molecular states.

ROUND FIVE: STABILITY

Bromine comes out swinging! At a high pH, say of 7.8, only about 25% of chlorine is active. Bromine is not affected by pH swings as much, and continues to be effective, when a full hot tub can quickly raise pH levels.

Being stable at high temperatures is another characteristic of bromine. Chlorine becomes really active at high temperatures and tends to quickly gas off, at temperatures around 100 degrees.

Third, when bromine or chlorine combine with nitrogen or ammonia, they form bromamines or chloramines. In chlorine, the compound formed becomes an ineffective sanitizer, and is responsible for red eyes, itchy skin and that awful chlorine smell. Bromamines, on the other hand, continue to be active sanitizers, without smell or irritation.

Bromine wins Round Five!

ROUND SIX: OTHER

  • ODOR – Chlorine smells similar, but the bromine odor, in the container or in the water, is softer.
  • IRRITATION – Skin irritation can occur with bromine or chlorine, but bromine is less irritating.
  • pH – Trichlor has a very low pH, Bleach has a very high pH, Bromine has a pH level of 7.5. Perfect!
  • ADDITIVES – Cal hypo adds calcium to a spa, and Trichlor and Dichlor will add cyanuric acid.

Bromine has chlorine against the ropes, and in the sixth round, has delivered a knockout blow!

 

bromine-winsIf you have a spa, bromine has a lot of advantages over using chlorine. It may cost a little bit more, but it lasts longer and does a much better job than chlorine at killing bacteria, especially at high temperatures and high pH levels.

Which is better – bromine or chlorine? Bromine is best for spas, use Chlorine for pools.

– Jack