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Carolyn Mosby's Posts

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

 

 

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

 

Spas and Hot Tubs for Back & Joint Relief

June 27th, 2013 by

hot-tub-spa-therapyI suppose we’re stating the obvious here, I mean, everyone knows that back pain can be relieved by a soak in hot water, right? And, it makes sense that the same hot water therapy can relieve the pain and swelling of arthritic joints.

According to The National Institutes of Health, Spa therapy, or hot-water balneology, appears to be indicated for chronic low back pain, stabilized rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. Clinical trial findings suggest that patients with knee and hand osteoarthritis may benefit.

OK, point proven. Hot tubs and spas are great for what ails ya. The combination of the heat and the body’s buoyancy in the water relax the central nervous system and allow blood to flow. Increased blood flow helps to relieve inflammation and swelling, and brings more white blood cells to your painful areas.

And if you have massage jets in your spa, you get the bonus benefit of hydro-massage to specific areas.

Back Pain

Chronic back pain is an extremely disabling condition, affecting millions of Americans. Persistent pain can be managed with pills, but for many, it’s the hot tub that brings steady relief.

back-painBack pain can be caused by vertebrae misalignment, or from compression on the nerves that pass through the spine. Warm water therapy has been shown to be useful (American Journal of Medicine) for those recovering from back or spine trauma. Range of motion exercises in the hot water can increase one’s flexibility in the affected region.

Although hot water soaks are great for backs, experts generally agree that for first aid treatment to back injuries, one should start with ice or cold compresses. After some stabilization of the area, alternating treatments of hot water soaking and cold compresses can be used. Weeks or months after an injury, hot tub therapy can continue to bring back pain relief and speed healing of the area.

 

Arthritis Pain

As early as 1938, the New England Journal of Medicine stated “No therapy has been shown to be more consistently effective at treating chronic arthritis, as is physical medicine, including hydrotherapy”.

arthritis-painArthritis can be of two types, rheumatoid or osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is when the body’s defenses are weak, affecting joints and bones. Osteo-Arthritis is a more common type of arthritis, affecting joints and bones that had suffered previous injury. Another very painful type of arthritis is Gout, when crystals develop between and around the joints. The swelling and pain can be excruciating.

Fortunately, there is relief in hot water. The temperature of the water helps to increase blood flow, and reduce swelling, while numbing pain receptors. Constricted muscles slowly expand as the skin absorbs the moisture deep into the body. Toxins are drawn off, and one can finally relax.

Hot tubs aren’t a panacea for pain management, but they do provide real relief, and are an accepted treatment for back pain, arthritis, and many other ailments.

Does your spa bring therapeutic relief to you or your family? What benefits do you see? Which conditions is your spa or hot tub treating effectively?

We’d love to see your comments below!

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

 

Foamy & Cloudy Spa Water

June 13th, 2013 by

cloudy-spa-water

The water in a spa may appear cloudy, when the jets are on high. Small whitecaps of larger bubbles on the surface is normal, as shown in the picture on the left. But, if you have larger volumes of foam, especially in an off-color, or the spa water is cloudy or hazy when the jet pumps are off – there is a deficiency (of sanitation or filtration) or a contamination.

No one likes foamy or cloudy spa water – this post will give you the action steps to take to restore water clarity in a spa or hot tub.

Check the Filter

Your spa cartridge filter could be due for a cleaning, so at first sign of hazy spa water, pull out the filter and give it a good cleaning with the garden hose. If you haven’t done so in 6 months or so, use a spa filter cleaner to remove oils and minerals that can clog the pores of your cartridge filter. For best results, allow the cartridge to dry fully before using, or keep a spare on hand for a quick spa filter change. When you reinsert the spa filter, make sure that it is fully seated into the cartridge housing. Water can bypass a spa filter cartridge that is not inserted fully, or sealed up on both ends. Finally, if your cartridge is over a year old, it may be time to buy a new spa filter.

Check the Water Balance

Having the pH and Alkalinity in the correct range is important – it allows your sanitizer (bromine or chlorine) to be most effective at breaking down organics and inorganics in the water. As you test your water balance, also check your level of sanitizer in the water. You need a constant level of sanitizer in the water, to keep it from becoming hazy. After your chemical checks and balances are made, you may decide to shock the spa. In many cases, a clean filter and a good shocking of the spa will clear up cloudy or foamy water issues.

Check the Pump

Your filter pump, is it circulating water, or could it have an air leak or an air lock? An air leak into the pump will reduce the volume of water being filtered and circulated and an air lock will prevent any water flow at all. Air locks are common after draining the spa, and can be released by loosening the union nut on top of the pump, just until water begins to leak out, then tighten again quickly. If the pump is not operating at all – check the circuit breaker and any GFI outlets that may be tripped. Also check that the time clock is set-up properly to run the pump long enough each day for all of the water to be filtered once or twice.

Clean the Pipes

Spas and hot tubs can develop a slimy bio-film inside of the pipes, manifolds and hoses – behind the spa shell. This can build-up to levels where it breaks off from it’s colony and becomes free floating. In cases where draining the spa does not solve a problem with cloudy or foamy spa water, with the other checks above completed, you likely could benefit from using a spa pipe cleaning product like Spa Rinse. Just add it to the spa a few hours before draining – you’ll be amazed at the gunk this stuff removes. You can see it, as it is removed and floats to the surface. Yuck!

Drain the Spa

If you’ve not drained your spa in several months, the cloudy and foaming spa water could be sending you a message. Solids build-up fast in a spa, especially for one that sees frequent use. Depending on how much your spa is used, and by how many people will regulate how often it needs to be drained. For many hotel/motel spas, a weekly draining may be appropriate, and for home  hot tubs, every 3 months is usually adequate. Here’s a handy formula to use to compute how often to drain the hot tub.

when-to-drain-the-spa-formula

(Those are division signs, not plus signs!) For my hot tub, it works out to about every 111 days, or about every 3 months. Replacing the water regularly will help to prevent cloudy and foamy water, bio-film build-up, and reduce the workload for your spa filter and spa chemicals.

HotTub-animated

If it’s been awhile since you drained the spa, you may save some steps and just drain and refill. You may still need to check the pump and filter, water balance and sanitizer level, but sometimes, draining the spa is the best cure for cloudy and foamy spa water.

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

Spas and Hot Tubs as Management Tools

June 6th, 2013 by

hot-tub-spa-therapy

Therapy is such a broad term, from aroma therapy to physical therapy. Hot water therapy boils it down a bit more, if you’ll excuse the pun.

Your hot tub or spa can be used to manage all sorts of therapies. I’m not talking about the “stress-reduction therapy” of a relaxing soak, but bonafide physiological benefits to using your hot tub.

Spas and hot tubs can provide specific relief to certain conditions, ailments and discomforts of life. Here’s a break down of 5 ways your spa can become a management tool.

 PAIN MANAGEMENT

For those that live with daily pain, hot water immersion can reduce pressure on joints and nerves by reducing inflammation and lowering blood pressure. For the millions of Americans with Arthritis and other joint problems, hot tubs provide relief by loosening muscles and reducing stiffness. Areas of the body which have suffered stress or trauma also respond well to hot water and massage jets. Spas reduce pain for sore athletes or those injured in accidents. Those with chronic pain from Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue syndrome are also finding hot tubs to reduce their symptoms. Migraines, tendonitis, back and neck pain – all can be helped with regular use of your hot tub.

SLEEP MANAGEMENT

Studies have shown that those who have a hot water soak before bedtime fall asleep faster and sleep more restfully. Using a spa raises the body temperature, while massage jets relax the sore spots. Physical tension (stress) is reduced, as one floats buoyant and weightless in the spa. At first exit of the spa, an energy boost is common, followed by a feeling of relaxed tiredness. I’m usually careful not to use my spa before 9 o’clock or so, or I’m out early!

BLOOD PRESSURE MANAGEMENT

Spas will cause your blood pressure to drop, as your veins and arteries open up and allow the heart to pump with less restriction. Studies on spa users show lower blood pressure levels during and after using a hot tub. However, spas are not recommended for individuals advised to avoid vasodilation, due to high blood pressure. Also, avoid alcohol and cigarette use in the hot tub, which cause vasoconstriction, removing the benefit, and possibly being dangerous.

BLOOD SUGAR MANAGEMENT

People with high blood sugar, did you know that regular use of your hot tub can lower your levels, restoring balance to the blood? It’s true, subjects with Type 2 Diabetes showed reduced levels of blood sugar when they used their spa daily. For this reason, some people unable to exercise are using their spa as a way to control weight gain. The decrease in blood sugar is linked to reduced hunger and faster digestion. There’s even been a book written about it, the Hot Tub Diet.

RECUPERATION & RECOVERY

If you have been in an accident, or had a recent surgery, recovery time can be improved in a spa. Soaking and floating, using the buoyancy to practice mobility exercises and stretching of the affected areas, will increase blood flow and oxygen, and speed healing. A lower water temperature may be used for recuperative therapy, around 88 degrees, or whatever is most comfortable. Professional athletes know the benefit of a hot tub after a game or match, and so do many recreational athletes. I have one friend who comes over to use my spa after every marathon or half-marathon, or 10K that she runs.

So, what therapy is your spa bringing you? Spa owners also report general well being after using a spa – so at the very least, you can enjoy the Mood Therapy benefits of your spa or hot tub!

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

Draining your Spa or Hot Tub Correctly

May 16th, 2013 by

drain-the-spa-hot-tubDraining, or emptying your spa or hot tub, is necessary every 2-4 months, to reduce the amount of dissolved solids in the spa, and any germs or “baddies” that may have built up some resistance to the spa chemicals.

Draining is also sometimes preferable to intensive shock treatment, which can be harmful over time to spa seals and finishes. I prefer to drain more often, and use fewer harsh chemicals, when possible.

There are some considerations for draining a hot tub, including: local water restrictions, spa water chemistry and in some areas – water discharge regulations. If you plan to leave the spa drained for an extended period of time, I have some tips below for that too.

When to Drain A Spa or Hot Tub

Spas with very high use, commercial or public spas, may need to drain every few days to keep maintain water health. For private spas or hot tubs, with say, 9 spa sessions per week (3 users, 3x weekly), your spa water will last longer, up to 4 months between changes.

Some spa owners will drain for persistent cloudy water, or after a heavy use weekend by many people, or if they’ve managed to let the spa “go” – for some time without sanitation or filtration. I’ve drained my spa for all of these reasons at one time or another – otherwise, it’s every 3 or 4 months.

thinking-guy-left“When in doubt, drain it”, is my usual advice, or when the spa chemistry is really bad – “water is cheaper than chemicals!”, is something I might say.

How to Drain A Spa or Hot Tub

Before draining the spa, or at least twice per year, use a Spa Purge type chemical to remove biofilm and hidden “funk and gunk”. If you’ve never use one of these spa pipe cleaners, you’ll be amazed at the amount of gross, brown bio-gunk that it foams to the surface. Spa Purge is a name of one spa biofilm remover, I get great results using Jet Clean, which is a lot cheaper.

After circulating Jet Clean for around an hour, I am ready to drain the spa. Some spas have a handy external spigot to connect the hose, but mine is inside, and not in the most convenient location. After hooking up a permanent hose of the perfect length, I now just reach inside the cabinet and pull out the hose.

Shut off the Power. At the main switch, so your equipment timer won’t turn the pumps on during the drain and refill.

Gravity Draining with a hose takes some time, my spa takes about 3 hours to drain. I come out every hour and move the hose to a new location in my backyard. You can also use a small submersible pump, like a pool cover pump, to drain the spa in 15-30 minutes. When it’s about halfway down, I spray down the exposed walls with my garden hose, and again when empty.

Spa Siphon – If you have no spa drain spigot, and no utility pump, you could drain by siphon, if you have an area nearby that is lower than the hot tub. Duct tape a Crescent wrench to the end of a hose and place it in the bottom of the spa. Starting at the point where the hose comes out of the water, push the hose straight into the water, and coiling it underwater. Fill the entire hose up in this manner, and then cap the end of the hose with your thumb and quickly pull the hose to an elevation lower than the spa floor. Release your thumb and water should begin to flow.

Spa Water Use and Hot Tub Discharge Restrictions

Drought is a real reality in areas across the country. If your city is experiencing severe drought, it may put in place mandatory water restrictions, that may restrict draining and refilling your spa or hot tub.

In addition to this, most cities and towns have some regulations regarding how to discharge or drain a spa, hot tub or pool. Here are some general guidelines, your city may be different.

  • Water should have a balanced pH level
  • Sanitizer level should be very low
  • Don’t pump to the Sewer, but “Infiltrate” around the yard
  • Don’t pump near any streams or tributaries

Leaving your Spa Drained for an Extended Period

Wooden hot tubs will dry out without water in them, so it is not recommended to leave them dry for longer than a few days, just long enough for repairs or relocation.

If you know you will be unable to maintain a non-wood spa for months at a time, it will be best to drain it, to prevent biofilm and bacteria build-up.

wetdryvacAs the spa is nearly drained, turn on the blower, to clear out the lines (you may want to put the spa cover on first!). Use a powerful wet/dry vac to blow air through the pipes – from the skimmer and spa jets. A small air compressor can also be used, (with low pressure), connected into the pump drain plug. This is important, to prevent standing water from developing into a bacterial mess, inside of the hoses or equipments. The same process is used to winterize a spa or hot tub.

Remove the drain plugs from the equipment, and leave all drains open. Remove the spa filter and store indoors. Wipe down the inside of the spa, with a  sponge or towel to remove any remaining water. Put on your spa cover on to keep it clean.

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

 

 

Health Benefits of Hot Tubs and Spas

April 29th, 2013 by

hot-tub-health-benefits

Hot Tubs and Spas are great for relaxing and also fun for family or social get togethers – but did you also know about the many great health benefits of hot water therapy?

Sure you did – it’s been known for thousands of years. 100 years ago, Mineral Hot Springs were prescribed to all manner of illnesses – maybe a bit too liberally!

Modern medicine has recognized the long list of curative and restorative powers that soaking in hot water can provide. Here’s a quick list of hot tub benefits.

 

Lower Blood Pressure

Soaking in a hot tub improves circulation of blood to all parts of the body. Blood vessels respond to the warm water by relaxing and dilating. As the circulatory pathways get larger, the Blood Pressure reduces. This allows for faster flow of oxygenated blood cells to the smallest capillaries in the farthest reaches of your body.

Reduced Mental Stress

Soaking in hot water reduces mental stress. Why? Soaking in a hot tub releases Endorphins, which feels good, so you focus on the stimulating sensations on your skin as you feel your muscles relax. Secondly, when the jet blower is on and the water is very turbulent, this creates a white noise that crowds out external sounds. Third, if your life is as busy as mine, it may be one of the few times per day where you can enjoy solitude!

Some spa owners combine Meditation, Breathing Exercises or Yoga to their hot tub soaks, which can provide even greater levels of stress relief.

Increased Metabolism

hot-tub-diet

Burn calories as you soak in the tub. That’s my kind of diet – and it worked for Bridget Praytor, author of the Hot Tub Diet. The warm water stimulates endocrines in the intestines, which speeds up digestion. As the body temperature warms up in a spa, the natural response of the body is to make efforts to cool itself through perspiration and sending blood to the skin’s surface. Actual calories burned during a hot tub session is not that great, but the effects on the digestion and blood flow stay with you – for hours after your time in the spa.

Clearer Skin

The moisture and humidity of a hot tub, in addition to the temperature, really opens up your pores, and allows clogging dirt and oils to release. Dermatitis, Psoriasis or Fungal Infections can all be helped with hot water soaking. Add some of our Spa Salts  to the water to condition the skin and add some of the benefits of soaking in plant extracts and essential minerals.

Deeper Sleep

And faster sleep. Studies show that people who soak in hot water in the evening do tend to fall asleep faster, and report feeling more rested than those who went to bed without a hot water soak. The sense of well being, and stimulation of your central nervous system is likely the cause of easier and more restful sleep. I like to joke that my spa releases Tryptophan – the chemical in turkey that makes you sleepy!

Muscle and Joint Pain Relief

The buoyancy found in a hot tub creates an environment where the muscles and joints can finally relax, without having to support the body. Heat releases the tension of tendons and muscles, allowing them to expand, and release inflammation. People with Arthritis, Tendonitis, and Fibromyalgia have found wonderful relief from their hot tubs. Back Pain, Knee Pain, Hand Pain – it soothes them all with relaxed muscles and improved blood flow.

infographic of hot tub health benefits

Hot Tubs – it’s the cure for what ails ya! Did I miss any benefits to hot tubs? Let me leave you with a word of caution – don’t overdo your time in the tub – limit your spa sessions to 30 minutes. Also, those with high blood pressure, heart disease or if you nursing or pregnant – seek advice from your physician before using a hot tub.

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

Top Spa and Hot Tub Accessories

April 18th, 2013 by

Every year, I review the the best accessory items for spas and hot tubs. Hot tub style doesn’t change as fast as clothing fashion, but it does change! Each year, inventive manufacturers look to provide the next big product for the 5 million spa and hot tub owners in North America.

Your spa or hot tub was installed for the enjoyment that it brings as a tranquil relaxation zone. This year, our top hot tub accessories list includes items that make it easier to enjoy your spa, or add a new dimension of interest and delight. Maybe one of these items will rekindle the flame between you and your tub?

My Favorite Spa and Hot Tub Accessories

Spa Umbrella

Spa-Side Umbrella

These umbrellas, which used to cost thousands, are not in the reach of every spa owner. I have one of these over my spa – although  it’s not always open, I keep it folded most of the time.

Spa umbrellas are nice to block the low sun on a summer evening, or if it starts to rain while you’re in the spa you can wait out the storm safely underneath.

Spa umbrellas can also be rotated 360 degrees, to shade adjacent areas, and it pivots to an almost vertical position, to add a bit of privacy.

 

stool-and-chairs

Spa Console Table & Stools

Having a spa-side counter is helpful to store snacks and drinks, lay towels or magazines. I know many people that use more than one, a friend of mine uses 3 of them, all filled with beautiful herbs and flowering plants.

The stools of course, provide a place for friends and family to sit and talk, while not getting into the spa. It’s so convenient for guests at a party. My grand children sometimes have a Sunday snack there, after their soak in the tub.

 

spa step with planters

Spa Steps with Planters

DreamMaker Spa Storage Steps Another hot tub accessory that I love, even though, most of the time, the flowers in my spa steps are “artificial”. They beautify my spa entrance nonetheless! The top step also opens up for additional storage.

You can plant real plants in these if you wish, they have a drain hole in the bottom of each plant area. Some people I have heard of are using these as coolers! Great spa party idea – fill each one up with ice and a different beverage of your choice!

 

Omni-Rocks

Omni Rocks

Omni Rocks are artificial rocks that look like the real deal, but they are light weight molded faux rocks. The step is available in 2-step or 3-step for today’s taller spas. The corner rock has a lift off lid, with a storage compartment for towels, or spa care items. You can also use it as a cooler, or convert it into a planter!

The Corner Rock Planter Unit holds enough soil to accommodate a medium sized bush or bunches of seasonal flowers or herbs. Frames two sides of your spa as it hugs the corner.

 

Color Glo Raydiance - LED bulb for spas

Color Glo Raydiance LED Spa Bulb

24 LEDs fill even larger spas with dense, rich hues of intense color. 8 standard colors, and two color light shows. Rotate just by flipping the switch, or hitting your light button.

This LED spa bulb works on 12V spa light systems, with a wedge based lighting socket, and without dimming capability. It only uses 2.5 watts, but you may find it to be twice as bright as your old white light, or earlier generation LED spa bulbs.

 

waterproof-playing-cards

Water Proof Playing Cards

When’s the last time you played cards? In the tub, playing a game can be a lot of fun. Texas Hold-Em is the game we like to play in our hot tub, but you could play Go Fish, Gin Rummy or BlackJack, anything you wish.

Our Water Proof Playing Cards may seem silly, but it could be the kind of thing that gets you out in the spa more – “…how about a game of cards in tub?” I can hear you saying now…

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

Securing Your Spa or Hot Tub Cover for Safety

April 9th, 2013 by

spa cover-straps - regular type

It was a dark and stormy night. Wind swept up the valley, and pounded our neighborhood the entire night. We had trees down across the street, and to our surprise, our spa cover had taken flight across the backyard.

The spa cover was unfortunately damaged beyond repair, both foam panels were cracked. When I told my story to Jerry, one of the owners here at Hot Tub Works; he laughed, and told me to use Hurricane Straps, and then he handed me a free pair! (He was happy that he was going to sell me a new spa cover!) :-)

 

Standard Spa Cover Straps

Spa cover straps like those pictured above, are sewn onto the edge of most all of our spa covers. These standard straps are pretty sturdy during light winds, provide a small amount of security, and may prevent young children (or adults) from using the spa without supervision. But they really aren’t super-strong, and the spa cover clips or even the straps can break in high winds.

Spa Cover Wind Straps

spa-cover-wind-straps

You may call these Hurricane Straps, like Jerry did, but they are listed on our site as Spa Cover Wind Straps. Whatever you call them, these 1″ nylon webbing straps with thick foam edge pads to prevent rubbing, are the sure way to hold down your spa cover in a wind storm.

They are also considerably more difficult to remove than regular straps sewn onto the spa cover, to keep small children safe around the spa. And although I’m not sure, these straps will probably prevent bears or other large wildlife from removing the hot tub cover.

For added security, these straps have heavy-duty, quick-connect Sure-Loc Fasteners that clip together easily and securely. The trick to removal is to push down slightly on the spa cover, to give some slack to the strap. Then squeeze both sides of the clip to release the latch.

Inground Spa Cover Straps

inground-spa needs a spa coverWhat if you have an inground spa, with a spa cover that just sits over the edge? On an inground spa there is no skirt around the spa for which to fasten the strap clips. How can you secure a spa cover onto an inground spa?

What you can do is install brass safety cover anchors, which are made for pool safety covers. Drill 4 or 6 anchors into the deck around the inground spa, and use the safety cover springs to connect the straps to the anchors.

To create this arrangement, you’ll need several yards of of nylon webbing from your local fabric store. These hardware to make wind straps for inground spa coversstraps will cross over top of your cover, so you’ll need the diameter of your spa cover, plus about 5 feet for each strap. If your inground spa is raised up off the deck surface, you’ll need extra length to reach the pool deck.

Then, order pool safety cover hardware – stainless steel springs, SS buckles and brass anchors – 2 for each strap that you want to make. You can find them online at pool supply sites, search for mesh pool cover parts.

You’ll need a hammer drill to install the anchors into the deck surrounding the inground spa. You also may want to purchase the spring removal tool, which makes it much easier to attach and remove the spring from the anchor.

Keeping your spa cover secured is important in high wind areas – and also important to prevent accidental drowning in spas or hot tubs. Remember to use your strap clips, and keep your spa covered tightly when not in use!

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

 

 

Spa Water Chemistry – Test and Balance

April 2nd, 2013 by

spa-water-tests

 

Testing your spa water regularly is the best way to really understand your water chemistry. It’s always changing, your water chemistry – and usually very rapidly, when 3 or 4 adults jump into 500 gallons of water.

” Balanced spa water” means that your pH, Alkalinity and Calcium Hardness levels are correct. Each of these 3 can need adjustment, but in terms of stability – Hardness stays fairly stable, followed by Alkalinity. pH can have the quickest and widest swings in level, so pay especially close attention to your spa pH levels.

 

Testing Spa Water

Test strips are the most convenient way to test spa water, in part because anyone can use them – without much instruction. Even my 4 yr old grand daughter can test the hot tub! Just dip and swirl, then compare the colors – it’s almost fun!

I use the AquaChek “Red” test strips, and check the water nearly every other day, or at least 3 times per week. These spa strips test for Bromine, pH, Alkalinity and Hardness – everything I need. digital-strip-tester

The AquaChek Digital Strip Reader is great for us older folks with tired eyes, or maybe for my color blind husband (who claims he isn’t). Just dip the strip and then insert it into the strip reader. Colormetric scanner determines the reading, and displays an exact digital readout of your spa water chemistry levels.

When your spa water is not in balance, your sanitizer is unable to work effectively, and algae and bacteria may thrive. Besides helping to keep your spa water safe and sanitary, balanced water also protects your spa shell and equipment from scaling or corrosive water conditions.

Test your Spa! It’s the only way to know what is too low and what is too high. Test your hot tub every time you use it, or at least once per week.

Balancing Spa Water

After testing the spa water, adjust your Calcium Hardness levels first. If your water is very soft (less than 150 ppm), you should add a small amount of hardness increaser (Calcium Chloride) to the hot tub. This buffers the water, and can help prevent spa foaming. Next, adjust your Alkalinity level, if it’s outside of the range of 80-120 ppm. Add baking soda (Sodium Bicarbonate) to increase it, or use a pH decreaser chemical (an acid) to lower Alkalinity.hot-tub-chemistry

With calicum hardness (Ca) and alkalinity (Alk) levels correct, move on to pH. When pH is too high (above 7.6), your sanitizer is very weak and sluggish. When the pH is too low (below 7.0), the bromine is very effective, but the water is dangerously close to acidic range. Over time, acidic water can be corrosive to the spa finish, spa filters and to your spa heater. Add pH increaser or pH decreaser, to keep your hot tub pH level in the 7.2-7.4 range.

Finally, with the spa water balanced, we can address the sanitizer level, and make any adjustments necessary, and shock the spa. It’s always important to have balanced water first, before boosting bromine, or shocking the spa.

How Much Water is in my Hot Tub? To adjust your spa chemical balance carefully, you need to know how much water is in the spa, so that you can add the proper amount of spa balance chemicals. If you know the make and model, find the specifications sheet online for “water capacity”. If you can’t locate this information, you can calculate your spa’s capacity by measuring your garden hose flow rate, and then monitoring how many minutes it takes to fill the spa. To do this, time how long it takes to fill a bucket of known size. If your hose takes 1 minute to fill a 2 gallon bucket, for instance – and it takes 150 minutes to fill the spa – you can deduce that your spa holds 300 gallons.

For hot tub adjustment chemicals, see our Hot Tub Chemicals section. When you maintain water balance in your spa, you won’t need so many other chemicals. Not only that, but hot tub maintenance is reduced, and your spa components can last longer. Just from testing and balancing your spa water chemistry!

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works