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Carolyn Mosby's Posts

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

 

 

Choosing the Best Hot Tub Cover Lift

April 21st, 2014 by

spa-cover-lifts

Hot tub cover lifts are the best aftermarket item you can buy for your spa or hot tub. When I originally bought my Baja spa, my husband and I thought we didn’t need a lift, and saved a little money on the overall cost.

We quickly discovered how important a cover lifter is; it’s pretty much impossible for one person to remove a spa cover by themselves. If we didn’t get injured, our spa cover probably would get damaged.

But, how to choose the best hot tub cover lift for your particular spa? After all, there are a lot of differences between the 10 hot tub cover lifts that we sell. Here’s a guide to help you compare spa cover lifts, narrow down the choices, and find the hot tub cover lift that’s best for you.

Shape of Your Hot Tub

Some of our hot tub covers are meant to fit round tub shapes, and others won’t work on round at all. In our spa cover lift comparison chart, below, you can see that we have about 4 hot tub cover lifts that fit round and square spas, and another 6 cover lifts that will fit onto square spas, or straight sided spas.

Size of Your Hot Tub

This is not usually a concern, unless you have a very large tub, like a swim spa. Most of our hot tub cover lifts will work on a spa up to 8′ across, and a few cover lifts will fit spas up to 10′ across. If your spa is larger than that, you probably have a 4-panel or larger cover, in which case, you may use two cover lifters, one on each end of the spa.

Clearance Required

This one is super important – some hot tub cover lifts require very little clearance, or space beside the spa to flip and store the cover off of the spa. But other cover lifts can require as much as 4 feet of space, because they hold the cover parallel to the floor. Some cover lifts also require side clearance, for the arms to swing on either side of the spa.

hot-tub-cover-lift-comparison-chart-5

Assisted Cover Lifts

All of the covers use a fulcrum principle, or lever, to assist in the opening and closing of the spa cover, but those with gas shocks give an extra assist when opening the spa cover, and then allows the spa cover to close more gently. Gas shock assistance is especially helpful when a spa cover begins to take on some moisture and the weight increases.

Cover Lift Costs

Not a huge difference in prices, but spa cover lifts currently range in price from $100-$225. The cheaper hot tub cover lifts are still very durable, but have a much simpler design, and may have fewer materials. Since they are all fairly close in price, may I suggest that you focus on features and what will seem to work best on your spa.

Warranty

The warranty for hot tub cover lifts are either 1yr or 5 yr, but unlike our spa cover warranties, lift warranties are pretty tight – you know, “Acts of God, Vandalism, Neglect, Abuse, Modification are not covered by this warranty…”. But, from my experience here in our returns/warranty department, warranty issues are rare anyway for spa cover lifters.

hot-tub-cover-lift-comparison-chart-3

Cover Lift Attachment Method

Most people cringe at the idea of drilling large bolts into the side of their new spa cabinet. About half of our spa cover lifts require drilling into the cabinet, to mount the mechanism in place. The other models slide under the spa, with a large plate to keep it in position – and some cover lifts have the option of installing into the cabinet, or under the spa.

Cover Storage Position

Some hot tub cover lifts place the cover down against the side of the spa, some stick up just a foot or so, and other spa cover models hold the spa cover in a full, upright position. The upright spa cover can be good for privacy and as a wind block – unless you are in an area of very high winds! Most of the above-spa stored covers warn against using the cover in winds over 10 mph.

If you have specific questions about your spa cover lifts  – please give us a call. We have experts with all the information at their fingertips, to answer any question or concern you may have and help you select the best hot tub cover lift – for you!

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

Beginner’s Guide to Spa & Hot Tub Care

April 7th, 2014 by

spa-care-and-maintenanceSpa and Hot Tub Maintenance – take a deep breath, this isn’t so hard. And if things get out of control, you can always drain the spa and start over. :-)

For the new spa owner, or for a person who is new to spa maintenance, I have some tips to maintain water chemistry and spa equipment, along with some regular maintenance and cleaning duties to keep your spa water clean and ready for use!

If you’ve seen my post on the Secret to Hot Tub Water Chemistry ~ you’d know the secret. In short, test the water and make small adjustments to pH, Alkalinity, Calcium Hardness and Sanitizer level – with regularity. ideal-spa-chemical-levelsRegular testing would mean testing the spa water 2-4 times per week, and making adjustments as needed, to keep your levels in the proper ranges. Keeping a log is a good idea, just writing down your test results, and any notes on adjustment.

Tap water is pretty good spa water, in most areas. But in some areas, and you know where you are – there is soft water or hard water or high alkalinity and pH, or high levels of chloramines, or metals and minerals. You can test your tap water with your test kit, or when testing after a drain and refill, you can measure the suitability of your tap water as spa water. Using a Spa Pre-Filter removes metals, odors and the finest silt from your spa fill water.

Back to the matter at hand, in addition to testing and adjusting the spa water chemistry 2-4x per week, there are other duties and tasks that need to be done to maintain overall spa health.

Clean the Spa Filter

spa-filter-assemblyThe spa filter can be located under the skimmer basket, and accessed from inside the spa, or it can be a small tank that is opened up underneath the spa, to clean or replace the filter. If underneath the spa, you may have a valve that can be shut to prevent water from rushing out when you open the filter. Loosening a large nut or just turning the filter body counter clockwise is the usual method to access the filter cartridge. Some water spillage is inevitable when opening it up, but if you are careful it can be very little.

If your spa filter has a pressure gauge attached to it, the cartridge needs cleaning when the pressure rises 8-10 lbs, or when flow is noticeably reduced. If you have no gauge on your filter, you should clean the filter on a regular schedule. hasta-la-vista-babyI clean my own filter cartridge every 4-8 weeks, depending on how often I use the spa. If my hot tub is being used a few times per week, I’ll clean the filter every four weeks, or monthly.

Replace your spa filter every 12-24 months, again depending on usage. Another way to do it is to change it every 10-15 cleanings, because that’s what really breaks down a cartridge. Every time it’s cleaned, fibers loosen up and it loses a little bit of dirt trapping ability. Keep track of your spa filter’s age or cleaning cycles, because at some point soon it’s gonna be Hasta la Vista, baby!

Clean the Spa

skimmer-netA full cleaning of the waterline and surfaces can be done when the spa is drained. Just be sure not to use any old household cleaner or soap. If you are going to use any chemical on your spa surfaces, use something like our Spa Cleaner, to keep out phosphates, nitrates and who knows what else.

Vacuuming the spa can be accomplished with small vacuums that are either battery powered, or garden hose powered. The Pool Blaster vacuums are battery operated and fast to use, or you can use the Grit Getter to suck up the little grains that gather in the corners. The Spa Vac connects to your vacuum hose for fast vacuuming of even large leaves.

Floating debris can be removed with a skimmer net, or if you left the cover off during a windstorm and it’s full of leaves, it can also be used to scoop up the larger leaves under the water.

Air-Out the Spa Cover

One of the most important things you can do to help your spa cover live a long healthy life of service is to remove it at least twice per week. Use the spa cover lifter to completely remove it, or gently place it off the spa if you don’t have a spa cover lift. Give your cover a few hours to breathe and shake off some of the constant heat and moisture. spacover-cleaner-and-conditionerThis is also a good time to add chemicals or shock the spa, if you aren’t using it at the time.

Another spa cover maintenance item is cleaning and conditioning the vinyl spa cover. Especially if your spa cover is outside, spa cover cleaner removes airborne oils and dirt, tree sap and pollen while cover conditioner replenishes the vinyl plasticizers that keep your spa cover vinyl covering soft, strong and looking great.

Add Fill Water

This is so often forgotten, and if the skimmer starts to suck air, in could damage the pump, in some situations. The water level should be in the middle of the skimmer intake, or a little higher. You don’t want it too high, and you never want to over-flow the spa, so keep a close eye on it while filling!remote-hose

Keep a garden hose close-by. If your garden hose is too far away, set up a sub-spigot by running a hose from a splitter on your current spigot, to a spigot that is mounted on a stake. Then you always have a hose right next to the spa for filling or topping off the hot tub water level.

To take care of 95% of spa care tasks, just remember to…

dont-forget-

  • Test and adjust your spa 2-4x per week
  • Clean the spa filter every 4-8 weeks, replace every 1-2 yrs
  • Keep the spa clean; drain & refill every 2-4 months
  • Air-Out the spa cover twice per week
  • Add water as needed to keep it full

 

Until next time;

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

Exercises for Arthritis in the Hot Tub

March 10th, 2014 by

deviant-art-fibro-myalgia

Arthritis is a painful swelling and stiffness in the joints. The human body contains over 350 joints between bones, large and small. Arthritis pain is most common in hands, feet, knees and back, but can also flare up in other parts of the body.

Over 20% of the US population have some form of arthritis or other related rheumatic disease. Of these, over 60% are women, particularly women over 40 years of age.

I count myself among these sufferers – having mild arthritic pain in my knees, ankles and fingers. On most days, it’s hardly noticeable – but then there are those days – when I’m not taking care of myself – too much stress, and not enough exercise and eating right.

Exercises for Arthritis

The hot tub is the perfect place for soothing relief from arthritis pain. Warm water increases blood flow to reduce painful swelling, and improves range of motion as the muscles relax. The water’s buoyancy makes exercise easier and makes injury less likely.

Range of Motion Exercises

wrist-flexionOne of the side effects of Arthritis is limited mobility in the joints. This condition worsens without exercises to move the joints through their full range of motion. Wrist, ankle, knee, fingers – just about any joint in the body can improve flexibility and range of motion with some simple flexion and extension.

These exercises are best done slowly and rhythmically, in sets of 5 or 10 motions. With practice, you should be able to increase the range of motion, but be careful not to over-extend your joints. Take it slow and steady, for a short duration of 5-15 minutes.

Stretching Exercises

There’s a lot of stretching involved in range of motion exercises, but greater benefit and relief to arthritis symptoms can be gained by actively stretching the muscles and ligaments that connect the joints. For instance, if your pain is primarily in the knee, devise some easy stretches for calf and thigh muscles.hot-tub-yoga-

Yoga moves can be incorporated into your stretching routine. Some of my favorite yoga poses to do in the spa are listed on Gina’s blog post about Hot Tub Yoga. If you are familiar with Tai Chi – a warm water spa is an ideal place to practice your moves!

Breathing Exercises

lungsTake it easy, and remember to breath deeply during range of motion and stretching exercises, just as during any other type of exercise. I like to imagine that I am drawing the air directly to the body area that I’m exercising.

For myself, I typically practice a few full yogic breaths before and after I stretch. I place my hands behind my head and first breath deeply into my belly for a 4-count, then open up the sides of my rib cage for 5-6, and then fill my upper chest as I count 7-8. Then a slow 8-count exhale in the opposite direction (chest-ribs-belly).

 

Other Thoughts on Hot Tub Exercises for Arthritis

  • Warm – Not Hot! The Arthritis Foundation recommends warm water of 92-100 degrees.
  • Consult your physician before beginning any program of physical exercise.
  • Buddy-Up! Don’t use the spa alone, or have someone keep an eye on you.
  • Limit your spa sessions to 30 minutes maximum.
  • Fluids! Drink water or juice before, during and after hot tub exercise.

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

Infused Spa Waters to Drink in the Hot Tub

March 4th, 2014 by

fruit-cooler

When we normally speak of spa water, we are talking about the water in a tub. Today however, we look at Spa Water from another perspective. it’s common for resort spas to offer naturally flavored water to their guests – some people call it ‘spa water’.

Hot Tubs and Spas are great for ridding the body of toxins, cleansing the pores and skin. When you put good stuff inside of you while in the hot tub, you can ramp up the detox effects with natural fruit coolers that are easy to make, and so good for you!

Most of these infused water recipes have 3 ingredients, but in a pinch, 2 is OK. Get inventive! Raid the fridge for herbs, fruits and roots and the cabinet for spices and extracts.

Not to complicate things, but I am also a spa fragrance user, and of course I have quite a selection, big bottles of my favorites, and lots of samples of different exotic fragrances. The challenge is to try to match the essence of the cooler with the spa fragrance.  I’ve made some suggestions below.

 

Healthy Hot Tub Coolers

1. Honeydew, Cucumber, Lime, Mint - [recipe] Refreshing and invigorating, these ingredients settle digestion, reduce water weight and increase metabolism. A glass or two can help stave off after dinner hunger. If you are missing 1 or 2 or the ingredients, it’s still delicious! Pair this cleansing cooler with aromatherapy like the Elixirs Eucalyptus Mint, or the Crystals Cucumber-Melon spa aromatherapy.

honeydew-cuc-lime-mint

2. Raspberry, Rose, Vanilla – [recipe] Rich and exotic, Mash up the raspberries to release their color and rub together just a few natural rose petals (without any chemicals – organic flowers only). One vanilla bean, or you can substitute a 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract (almond is good, too!). This cooler will relax and soothe, and can be easily matched with other Vanilla scents or Paradise Floral spa aromatherapy scents.

Raspberry-rose-vanilla

3. Citrus, Strawberry, Green Tea - [recipe] – Green tea has many health benefits, but you don’t have to drink it warm! It’s the perfect base for citrus, using a blend of lemon, grapefruit and orange, to your taste. The strawberries and honey add a touch of sweetness, while the mint adds a bit of enthusiasm ~ you can pair this infused water drink with aromatherapy spa scents like Peony Green Tea Elixir, or the Jasmine spa crystals.

citrus

4. Strawberry, Kiwi, Mint – [recipe] Strawberries regulate sugar level, aid in digestion and immune system and cardiovascular health. Kiwi adds a natural tartness that’s a perfect complement to the dull sweetness of the berry. Mint speeds up metabolism and soothes. Take a big swig of this in the tub and I always feel calm, yet alert. To complement the flavors of this healthy infused water, try our Eucalyptus Mint or Kiwi Pear elixirs to add another dimension of relaxation.

Strawberry-Kiwi-water

 

Spa Water – it’s not just something on the outside of your body – add fruit infused water to your spa routine, and you’ll come out feeling great! It’s always encouraged to drink lots of fluids while you’re in a hot tub, infuse some fruit to your water for refreshing detox therapy. I try to drink 24 ounces during a 30 minute spa session. It’s become part of my necessary gear, before I head out to the spa.

Cheers!

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

 

Spa Maintenance & Safety for Rental Home Hot Tubs

February 24th, 2014 by

cabin-spa

 

Do you own or operate a rental cabin or B&B with a hot tub for the guests to use? If so, you know that a spa can significantly increase the appeal of the property for renters, but that it also brings with it another layer of maintenance in between guest stays.

My husband and I have had a mountain home near Mammoth Lakes, Ca that we rent out when we are not using it, through a rental agency. Over the past 15 years, I have many stories to tell about our little mountain spa.

Like the time we found broken champagne glasses in the bottom, or the time we discovered it missing nearly 1/3 of the water, or the many times we have found it left uncovered, cranked up to the max and low on water.

Here’s a list of ways to improve management of your rental home hot tub, and reduce surprises and potential conflicts with your guests.

Signs

I’m a big believer in signs all around the house – small, tasteful signs that I print up and laminate. Here’s a sample of some useful signs around your spa:spa-rules-sign

  1. Spa Rules – Standard sign warning of potential health dangers.
  2. Spa Operation – Custom sign telling how to remove cover, turn on jets, air, heater, lights. How to add water if needed. How to shock if needed.
  3. Spa Closing – Sign by the door, reminding users to turn off the spa, replace the spa cover and latch it securely.
  4. Spa Heating – Tips on spa heating, troubleshooting checklist of simple fixes for the spa temperature.

 

Equipment

In order to be sure that our spa stays as sanitary as possible, we have a small inline brominator installed under the skirt, an ozonator, and we use a mineral stick. In most cases this amount of overkill is not needed, but it can be a little insurance against the occasional group of guests that really push sanitation to the limit, with heavy spa use.

The spa filter cartridge should be replaced every 6 months in a heavily used spa, or at least that’s the schedule we keep. We buy 6 at a time, and keep them stocked at the property. Same with the mineral sticks, which gets replaced at the same time.

Draining Schedule

We have a formula that we use to calculate when to drain the spa, based on the number of guests, but we also try to tell whether or not the spa has seen heavy use. The water level is always a good indicator, since most guests will never add water. If the water level is close to the level where we always leave it at, and other indicators don’t point to heavy spa use, we don’t drain the spa after each guest, but we vacuum, clean the filter, balance the chemistry and shock the spa.

However, in order to maintain a sanitary spa in your rental, you should drain and refill the spa if it looks like your guests really enjoyed it! Our spa gets drained about every month, but sometimes twice per month, if the unit has seen heavy usage, or if we rent to snowboarders (jk, lol).

Spa Safety

First off, the spa should be isolated on your property. If there are adjacent town homes or condos, a safety fence should be built around the patio, to cordon off the spa, and also add some privacy.

Secondly, a covered spa is always safer than an uncovered spa. Make sure your cover clips and straps are in good shape. A spa cover lifter should be installed to protect your spa cover and prevent guest injury.

Third, our Spa Rules sign makes these specific restrictions:

  1. Children under 14 with Adults only
  2. No single use, 2-4 people only
  3. No alcohol or drugs
  4. No pregnant women
  5. No Hypertensive people

Fourth, keep all spa chemicals safely stored, and out of the reach of children.

Fifth, make sure that your spa is in good electrical condition, without any chance of accidental electrocution.

What’s a Spa Worth?

Adding a spa or hot tub to your rental property will add another recreational element to your offerings, and will allow you to charge a premium – to at least cover the additional costs and maintenance involved. In our case, our property management company raised their price a set amount, and we have figured out our annual expenses for the spa. From there, we were able to figure out a fair amount to add to a night’s rental, which has by now, over the last 10 years ~ paid for the spa many times over!

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

Your Hot Tub Cover Stinks!

February 10th, 2014 by

smelly-spa-coversHey, no offense, but your hot tub cover smells bad. Maybe you’ve gotten used to it?

Don’t worry, it happens to most spa owners at some time or another; water is one of nature’s most erosive substances. Moisture seeps in and becomes trapped between the outer vinyl shell and the plastic wrapped foam cores. The warm, moist environment is perfect for mold and mildew and other forms of smelly stuff.

If moisture has penetrated further into the plastic wrapped foam core, the cover becomes waterlogged, which can quickly grow all sorts of dark and smelly slime, but also make the cover really difficult to remove, and not as effective at keeping the heat in the spa. Time for a replacement spa cover.

 

Smelly Hot Tub Cover ?!?

  • Broken or damaged. Cracked foam cores, ripped or worn spots, torn seams. A spa cover that loses it’s arched roof line, to keep water draining off correctly, will eventually begin to puddle water, which is probably time to buy a new spa cover! A spa cover with threadbare spots in the vinyl is also bad news, and although you can stave off the inevitable with a duct tape repair, the water will win, eventually.
  • Not Removed Regularly. Remove your spa top weekly for 2 hours of airing out. A better cover can withstand longer periods, but it’s a good habit to remove the cover and let it get some air on a weekly basis. If you can easily open the zipper to allow moisture to escape do so, but don’t remove fragile foam panels unless absolutely necessary.
  • Poorly Made. It’s easy to make a spa cover with tape and staples, but it won’t stop moisture very well. The best spa covers have foam panels vacuum-wrapped in 6 mil PE, with a single, continuous heat welded seam. Some covers don’t even try to keep the intense moisture from your spa from reaching the foam core, but a better spa cover uses a thicker vinyl cover, backed in 3 layers to keep outside moisture out, and on the inside, thick vinyl scrim heat welded to a thick internal barrier.
  • Bad Spa Water. If the spa water is not maintained regularly with sanitizer and filtering, or is not shocked often enough, bacteria and algae can take advantage of a hospitable environment to flourish. Low pH, high chlorine or high ozone levels can also deteriorate the underside of your spa cover. Because the cover is so close to the spa, it absorbs the chemistry of the spa. Clean, clear and sanitary water is the best environment to prevent smelly spa covers.
  • Not Cleaned / Conditioned. For outdoor spa covers, unless your back deck is covered or your spa is in a gazebo (which if it is, I’m jealous!), you have sun, rain, pollen, dust, pollution, and animals to contend with. If you have a partial roof, that can be worse than no roof at all, if an overhanging eave drains water onto the spa cover. Clean and condition a spa cover 2-4 times per year, so that it always looks great, and is protected from the elements.

Fix Your Hot Tub Cover!

  • Remove to Safe Location: This first step may seem obvious, but you need a good place to allow the cover to sit undisturbed from pets, wild animals, and winds. It should be a sunny location if possible, or a dry indoor location with low humidity can also be used.
  • Deodorize & Disinfect: You may not need to do both, it’s best to be as gentle as possible. Don’t use household cleaning products on your spa cover, strange chemicals can end up in your spa water. Gently clean all exterior surfaces with spa cover cleaner, and allow the panels to dry.
  • Remove the Panels: Again, this should be avoided if possible, because the panels could become damaged during removal or cleaning. But if you determine that there is something slimy inside, you can usually unzip and remove the panel for a cleaning inside and out. spa-cover-cleaner

Use a Spa Cover Cleaner to gently clean and deodorize your spa cover without phosphates, bleach, alcohol or who knows what. Follow label to gently clean with a soft cloth or dish sponge, rinse clean and dry. It removes most anything, from tree sap and berry stains to bird poop, pollen and pollution. Used regularly, it also protects against stains and repels dirt.

For extreme mold and mildew stains, a stronger disinfectant may be needed. If the initial cleaning has still left dark spots of mildew or mold on the inside surfaces of the spa cover vinyl, or on the outside of the wrapped foam core, you may try a diluted mix of bleach. Pour 1/2 cup of bleach into 1-2 cups of water, and use a sponge to apply bleach to small areas. Quickly wipe dry with a paper towel, rinse off and dry again.

spa-cover-conditioner-It’s best to use as little water as possible on the spa cover during cleaning, and to do it as often as needed. How often? If your spa is protected from most sun and rain, maybe twice per year. If it’s out in the open like mine, it should be 3-4 times per year. It only takes a few minutes to do honestly.

I clean my outdoor spa cover every 3-4 months, and then I let it dry. I come back a few hours later, put it on the spa and rub on the Spa Cover Conditioner, which goes on in under a minute. It always looks great!

And, I do remove my cover regularly, twice a week usually – and, I do keep my water balanced and sanitary. So, I’ve been lucky to have no odor problems with my spa cover lately!

Sometimes, the easiest cure for a smelly spa cover is to just buy a new spa cover – especially if the cover is 5 years or older.  A smelly spa cover simply means that your cover is taking on moisture, and things are beginning to grow!

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

6 Month Chemical Kits for Spas and Hot Tubs

January 30th, 2014 by

image purchased from PM

Spa chemistry should be simple, not a guessing game like a Rubik’s cube. Today’s topic is chemical care – and how to make it Simpler. Our 6-month spa chemical kits are designed as an easy to use system. They are complete while at the same time not over-complete, with no chemical leftovers that you don’t need or won’t use - I like that!

We have Bromine and Chlorine kits, which are both very similar. We also have two non-halogen spa chemical kits, our Nature2 kit for use with an ozonator, and our Leisure Time Free kit. For areas of the country (like us!) with hard water problems, we have our kits available in Hard Water versions, containing 3lbs of Balance Plus to help control hard water minerals.

 

All of our 6-month spa chemical kits contain a Pre-Filter, to be sure that your fill water is as fresh as can be. Also included are two bottles of 50 ct spa test strips, let’s see, that works out to one strip every 1.8 days – that’s just about right!

You’ll also find a similar blend of spa water balancers, clarifier, filter cleaner and enzymes, which all work to assist the sanitizer. To help disinfect the water, each kit also includes a spa shock treatment, enough to shock it 2.1 times per week. Works for me!

Our 6-month spa and hot tub chemical kits are based on a spa size of 300-500 gallons, and so for my 400 gallon Beachcomber – that’s perfect!

 

6 Month Chlorine Kit

Uses chlorine tabs in a small floater or inline chlorinator
bromine-chlorine-6month-spa-chemical-care-kit1 Pre-filter
1 Leisure Time Chlorine (5lb bottle)
2 Leisure Time Renew Shock (2.2 lb ea)
2 Metal Gon/Defender 2-pak (1 pint ea)
1 Leisure Time Bright and Clear (1 quart)
2 Leisure Time pH Balance (1 quart ea)
1 Leisure Time Spa Filter Clean – Overnight Soak (1 quart)
1 Leisure Time Spa Enzyme (1 quart)
2 Leisure Time Spa Test Strips Chlorine (50 strips ea)

 

 

 

6 Month Bromine Kit

Uses bromine tabs in a small floater or inline chlorinator
bromine-6month-chemical-care-kit1 Pre-filter
2 Leisure Time Bromine Tabs (1.5 lb ea)
2 Leisure Time Renew Shock (2.2 lb ea)
2 Metal Gon/Defender 2-pak (1 pint ea)
1 Leisure Time Bright and Clear (1 quart)
2 Leisure Time pH Balance (1 quart ea)
1 Leisure Time Spa Filter Clean (1 quart)
1 Leisure Time Spa Enzyme (1 quart)
2 Leisure Time Spa Test Strips Bromine (50 strips ea)

 

 

 

6 Month Nature 2 Kit

Use with a salt chlorinator or spa ozonator
nature2-6month-spa-chemical-care-kit1 Pre-filter
2 Nature 2 SpaMineral Sanitizer
4 Zodiac Cense – Shock / Aromatherapy – 4 scents (2 lb ea)
2 Metal Gon/Defender 2-pak (1 pint ea)
1 Leisure Time Bright and Clear (1 quart)
2 Leisure Time pH Balance (1 quart ea)
1 Leisure Time Spa Filter Clean (1 quart)
1 Leisure Time Spa Enzyme (1 quart)
2 Nature2 Test Strips (50 strips ea)

 

 

6 Month Free Kit

Non-Chlorine Biguanide Spa Care System
leisure-time-free-6month-spa-chemical-care-kits-21 Pre-filter
3 Leisure Time FREE (16 oz)
2 Leisure Time BOOST (32 oz)
2 Leisure Time CONTROL (32 oz)
2 Leisure Time CLEANSE (16 oz)
1 Leisure Time Spa Up
1 Leisure Time Spa Down
2 Metal Gon/Defender Two pack (1 pint ea)
1 Leisure Time Bright and Clear (1 quart)
1 Leisure Time Spa Filter Clean (1 quart)
1 Leisure Time Spa Enzyme (1 quart)
2 Leisure Time Spa FREE Test Strips (50 per bottle)

 

 

What could be Simpler? Choose a particular sanitizer you like and follow the simple daily-weekly-monthly instructions included. It’s best to choose a sanitizing method and stick with it. I use the Nature2 6-month kit, but I also supplement with bromine tablets. The Nature2 spa kit is also great for ozonator equipped spas, or spas that use a salt chlorinator.

Using a 6-month spa chemical kit saves time, money and worry about the spa. It’s all in the box!

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

 

6 Embarrassing Spa Problems to Avoid

January 2nd, 2014 by

spa-problems - image purchased thru PresenterMediaWhen you own a spa or hot tub, you want it to be in tip top shape, especially if friends come over to enjoy it. They may not understand all of the complex mix of water chemistry, filtering and heating that is going on – they just magically expect the hot tub to be… magic!

A spa or hot tub is not that much work, maybe 30 minutes per week, to keep the water clean, and all systems go, ready for any spur of the moment entertaining you may do.

Based on my years of being a spa owner, and just as many years working for spa companies in customer service, I have curated this list of the Top 6 most embarrassing spa problems.

Smelly Spa Cover

Woo-Wee! What is that smell!?! If your spa has a smelly, musty odor of mildew, chances are – your spa cover is to blame. Remove it from the tub completely so that you can give it a good whiff, away from the spa. If the smell is coming from the spa cover, you have some cleaning to do. Spray the inside plastic and vinyl with a diluted bleach solution, to kill any external mold and mildew. Then allow it to dry, with the spa cover off of the tub, for several hours. For extreme cases, you may need to gently remove the inner foam panels, and apply the treatment to the panels and to internal surfaces. If you have any rips or separations that is allowing moisture to get inside your spa cover, patch them properly, or start thinking about replacing your spa cover!

Foaming Spa Water

cloudy-spa-water-smWith the jets on full blast, a small amount of surface foam is nearly impossible to avoid, and is completely normal, like the white caps on ocean waves. What I’m talking about here is when the foam begins to build on itself, and become noticeable. Hint: When children begin giving themselves foam beards in your hot tub, it’s reached a problem stage; time to take action. First, check your pH and Alkalinity and adjust if necessary, to 7.5 and 100, respectively. Be sure that your test strips are not expired, old strips can give false readings.

Second, use a spa filter cleaner to will remove oils and grime. Advanced spa foam can be caused by excess biofilm – use a spa purge like Jet Clean to strip the pipes and jets clean. Afterwards, drain the spa, refill and balance the water. If your spa is used heavily, begin using an enzyme like Natural Clear to control organics. I don’t believe in using Foam Out, by the way – that just covers up a problem.

Noisy Equipment

When something doesn’t sound quite right, just like in your automobile, that’s a good clue that something is wrong. Loud spa pumps are the most common noisemaker, and this usually means that the bearings are shot. At this point, you can have a motor shop rebuild the motor, or you can replace with our spa motors. You could also replace the entire pump, for a simpler, but more expensive repair. Spa blowers can also become noisy over time. They also have motor bearings and brushes, internal to the motor. Most blowers are inexpensive to replace, so they aren’t usually repaired, but some motor shops will work on them. A loud chattering is usually the sound of a contactor and a quieter clicking is often a relay. This could be a connection or voltage problem, or these spa parts could be defective.

Privacy Problems

namarata privacy panel

If your spa is visible from other people’s houses, that’s kind of a bummer. There are a few spa cover lifters that will hold the spa in an upright position, providing a nice bit of privacy, but only on one side of the spa. Other ideas are cheap window treatments, like bamboo blinds, or using lattice wood, to block some light, but still allow a breeze to blow through. Using a pavilion or a pergola around an above ground hot tub helps to design more privacy around the spa. It goes both ways remember – your neighbors want their privacy too, so make efforts to block noise from the spa – like loud laughter, music and other sounds of frivolity. Having the Police called to your hot tub at midnight, by a tired and sleepless neighbor, is definitely best to avoid!

Heater Problems

No one likes a cold spa, and even worse is a spa that’s only 95 degrees or so. Most spas will begin to lose temperature when the cover comes off, and people enter the spa, soaking up the heat. If your spa heater is having trouble maintaining the heat in your spa, it could be a problem with the thermostat, or some other part. Daniel wrote Top 5 Spa Heater Problems, which covers some common mechanical failures, and some embarrassingly easy fixes to the problem.  Low heat could also be caused by a very cold night, and a very small spa heater. Some spas just don’t seem to hold their heat in very cold weather. If this spa problem happens to you, consider upsizing your heater element (call us for help). Another cause of heat loss in the winter, is the lack of sufficient insulation under the spa, around the tub. Some spas are packed in with insulation, and some have barely nothing.

Itchy Rash

spa-rashes-
Uh-Oh! If your guests complain to you hours or days after using the spa, of a red, pimply rash on their skin, your spa may be harboring some recreational water illnesses. We go into it in much more detail in our article about waterborne illnesses in spas and hot tubs. Essentially, you want to drain the spa and do a complete and deep clean. Use Jet Clean in the pipes, and replace your spa filter. Most importantly, to prevent it from happening again, maintain good water balance and keep enough sanitizer in the water – at all times. Shock weekly, or at least every other time you use the spa to kill such things as pseudomonas aeruginosa in your spa.

Don’t sweep spa problems under the rug, these symptoms are your hot tub’s way of telling you there’s a problem. If we can be of any help to you sorting out your spa problems, give us a call or send an email – spa techs are standing by!

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

The Secret to Hot Tub Water Chemistry

December 9th, 2013 by

snake-oil-salesman

 

The secret to spa and hot tub chemistry? It’s not sold in a bottle, or a fancy egg shaped container. It’s not a magical potion that you drop into the spa, or pour in once a month.

My friends, listen closely – the secret to clean and clear hot tub water is a multi-faceted approach. It’s may not be easy, and it’s not especially rapid, but it’s truly a miracle.

Come closer, I want to whisper the secret to hot water perfection. The secret is …

“TEST AND BALANCE YOUR SPA WATER CHEMISTRY WITH REGULARITY”

 

Of course, you also need good filtration, with a relatively new spa filter cartridge. Replace every 12-24 mos. And, you also need to run the filter pump every day. I run my spa circulation pump 24 hrs per day.

Testing Spa Water?

Most people just use spa test strips, and they are a lot simpler to use than the dropper type of spa test kits. If you want greater accuracy, you can use the Tru Test digital test strip reader, which is great for those with poor eyesight or some level of color blindness. Use a spa test strip that will test not only for pH and bromine, but also for calcium hardness and total alkalinity. I recommend the 6-in-1 test strips by AquaChek.

Balanced Spa Water?

“Balanced” spa water essentially means that your pH, Alkalinity and Calcium Hardness are within the proper range. Adjusting the levels should go hand in hand with testing. Use a pH decreaser if your pH or alkalinity is too high. If your calcium hardness is too high, as it is in many parts of the country, use Calcium Control.

Sanitation is also a very important part of water balance. Keep a consistent sanitizer (bromine or chlorine) level in your spa. Augmenting it with minerals or ozone will make the water more forgiving of slip ups or occasional low sanitizer levels. Use spa shock after every use to kill bacteria.

That’s it – that’s the secret. Test and Balance, with regularity. But you probably knew that already…

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works