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Gina Galvin's Posts

New! Hot Tub Tanning Liquid

March 31st, 2016 by

instant-hot-tub-tan

New – from the Fake Bake people comes Spa & Hot Tub Tanning Liquid. A proprietary formula that’s specially formulated for use in spas and hot tubs.

Just pour the Instant Self-Tanning Liquid into the hot tub and soak for just 15 minutes, and emerge with a glowing tan.

The topic of tanning is right up my alley. I’ve been fake baking for years, using tanning booths or spray tan during winter, to keep my tan all year long!

In the past, spray tanning and hot tubs didn’t play nicely together. Go Hot Tubbing after getting a fresh spray tan, and you can lose about half of your hard-earned color!

And, spray tan solutions used in most tanning places are not friendly to your water balance, and can gum up your spa filter, leading to premature filter failure.

Hot Tub Tanning Liquid is so easy to use! Add 1-2 ounces for a light tan, 2-3 for medium, or 4-5 oz for the full on George Hamilton effect! The brown liquid instantly begins to coat your skin, transforming your pale skin to a darker, more lustrous you!

fake-bake-tan-in-tubInstant Self-Tanning Liquid absorbs into your skin while you soak. No residue left behind on the tub, and the microscopic particles easily pass through your filter. It even passes through your swimsuit (if you choose to wear one, that is!). Guaranteed to tan only you, and nothing else!

Try New Spa & Hot Tub Instant Self-Tanning Liquid from FakeBake – you’ll agree it’s the easiest and most convenient way to enhance your color, and dare I say, popularity!

Get it while you can! If you have trouble locating Self-Tanning Liquid, that’s because it doesn’t exist! This is just our little joke, see…

Happy April Fools Day!

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

 

 

How to Shock a Hot Tub

February 1st, 2016 by

cloudy-spa-water-after-shockingWhat does it mean when we speak of shocking a hot tub? I like to say that my spa is shocked every time I remove my towel, but that’s just my little joke. :-)

Spa shock is an oxidizer that is used to destroy organic contaminants that have been able to escape normal daily sanitation. Oxidation involves the transfer of electrons, and when hot tub water contaminants or pathogens are oxidized, they lose electrons, and quickly expire, or cease to exist.

Today’s blog post is all about shocking a spa or hot tub. What, how, when and why a spa or hot tub is shocked. A shocking topic to be sure!

 

What is Hot tub Shock?

Hot tub shocks are made from a powdered form of oxidizer, either a form of granular chlorine, non-chlorine potassium sulfate salts or liquid chlorine (bleach). When using a biguanide sanitizer system (Aqua Silk), the spa shock is made of liquid hydrogen peroxide, which can not be used in a bromine or chlorine treated spa/hot tub.

Why do I need to shock a hot tub?

There are 3 main reasons to shock a spa: 1. To destroy excessive contaminants in a hot tub after use by several people, 2. To reactivate bromide ions into active bromine, and 3. To kill algae, bacteria, viruses and pathogens that may escape your normal daily sanitation chemical.

How to shock a spa with bromine?

Trick question – you don’t shock a spa with bromine. There is no such thing as bromine shock, although many people confuse bromide ions with spa shock. Bromides (aka Bromine Boosters or Reserve) are used sparingly to boost the ‘bromide bank’, which is reactivated into bromine by using chlorine granules, or MPS (aka non-chlorine shock).

How to shock a spa with chlorine?

Chlorine granules are available in varying concentrations or strengths, so follow label instructions closely for proper dosage. For a 300 gallon spa, 0.7 oz of Chlorine Granules shaken over the water surface, will raise the chlorine level up to about 10 ppm. This should be done with a balanced pH (in the low range of 7.2-7.4), and with the circulation pump running on high to help distribute the shock quickly. Keep the spa cover open or removed for about 30 minutes after adding spa shock, to allow reaction gas to escape and prevent damage to the spa cover. The hot tub should not be used until the chlorine/bromine level drops back below 5 ppm.

How to shock a spa with bleach?

Regular household bleach (non-scented and without additives) can be used in a spa, but the pH level may rise as bleach has a very high pH of 13. For this reason many spa owners may find it easier to use dichlor (chlorine granules) or non-chlorine shock (MPS), which are more pH neutral. Testing the water with a chlorine test kit will determine the proper amount, but for a 300 gallon spa, 1 cup (8 oz) of 5% strength bleach will raise the level to 10 ppm.

How to shock a spa with non-chlorine shock?

Chlorine free shock, also known as MPS (or PPMS) is Potassium Monopersulfate, or Potassium Peroxymonosulfate, is a quick dissolving and powerful oxidizer that is popular for use in spas and hot tubs. It’s not measured with a regular spa test strip, so following dosage instructions is important. For example however, when shocking a 300 gallon spa, 1-2 oz. of non-chlorine shock is used, broadcast over the water surface, with the spa pump running. Like other types of spa shock – add after you use the hot tub, not before.

Is Hot Tub Shock Dangerous?

spa-and-hot-tub-shock-smIt depends if you are shocking with 110V or with 220V! Just another little joke, but seriously folks, Spa Shocks are dangerous – if mixed with any other chemical, or allowed to become moist, or contaminated with dirt or debris, it has the ability to produce noxious fumes, catch fire or explode.

Yes, spa shock can be extremely hazardous, and must be stored in a cool, dry location, safely out of the reach of children. Overdosing your spa or hot tub with shock may damage the finish, or the spa cover. And using the spa before allowing chlorine/bromine levels to subside can bleach swimsuits or cause skin irritation or breathing difficulties.

Always follow the label instructions closely for dosage and use instructions, and keep your spa oxidizers clean, cool and closed. Be safe with spa shock because – oxidants happen! :-)

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

 

How to Clean a Hot Tub

January 4th, 2016 by

deep-clean-your-spaSpas and hot tubs are fairly self-regulating; and don’t require a major time investment to maintain. However, to keep your spa in top condition and looking good, you do need to do some spring cleaning from time to time.

My technique is to drain half the spa water and refill every 4 months, with a deep cleaning every third interval, or once per year. Here’s the method that I use annually, to really deep clean my hot tub.

 

Step One: Flush the Pipes

Everyone knows how a toilet will grow a gross film if it’s not used (flushed) often; and the same for spas and hot tubs. The inside of pipes can become coated with a slick film that builds up along edges of pipe and air fittings. Low flow circulation pumps often don’t provide enough force to prevent bacteria build-up inside of pipes, filters and fittings.biofilm

Causes of biofilm in spas include those that have had mechanical down time or extended power outages, or temporary draining and standing empty. Poor water balance or sanitation slip-ups also allow bacteria to create clumpy communities, which protect themselves with a slick, slimy surface.

Biofilm is hard to prevent, even in well maintained spas and hot tubs. The best way to handle it is to use a spa flush product regularly. Chlorine or bromine can’t get past the greasy layer that protects biofilm. Use a product like System Flush, Jet Clean or Swirl Away to remove oils, organics, dirt and minerals, where biofilm bacteria makes a home.

This is the first step, because it’s done before draining the spa. Recommended once per year, or before draining a stagnant spa – one that has not been filtered for several days or longer. Add the solution and allow to circulate overnight, following label directions closely.

Step Two: Drain the Spa

After a flush, it’s time to drain out the water in the tub. A small sump pump can do it in about 20 minutes, or you can let gravity do the work by attaching a hose to the drain spigot on the spa. Spa water is fine water for the lawn or plants, as long as sanitizer or algaecide levels are not high. To be safe, move the drain hose often, or run it to a storm drain.

shop-vacFor stagnant spas, or tubs that have sat unfiltered and untreated, use the Shop Vac® to blow out the pipes with forced air (switch the hose to convert from vacuum to blower). This can dislodge any remaining gunk that is still in the pipes. Place the hose over returns, skimmer and drain ports, to force air in many directions.

If your spa has a forced air blower, turn it on to force remaining water out of the pipes. For seat or floor air jets, lay towels over the seat/floor before turning on the blower, to soak up the water. Getting out the last bit of water can be tricky, a wet/dry vac comes in handy, or a large sponge and a bucket.

Step Three: Clean the Spa

To retain the luster and protect the spa surface from UV rays and chemical problems, it’s recommended by spa manufacturers to clean the spa interior surfaces after draining. Be very careful not to use household cleaners, which can harm spa surfaces and contaminate spa water.

Harsh spray cleaners or cream cleansers can seep into air holes and cause a lot of problems. Use only natural spa cleaners like Citra-Bright to clean acrylic spas. To water-proof your spa, go the extra mile after cleaning and spray on Fast Gloss to protect your spa with a thin layer of silicone.spacover-cleaner-and-conditioner

Spa Cover cleaning is also recommended, to extend the lifespan of a spa cover. The underside is usually not treated, but if your cover is smelly, a 10% bleach solution can be sprayed on the underside, to combat a mildew odor. The top a spa cover however, needs regular care to keep the vinyl supple and strong. Use a spa cover cleaner, followed by a vinyl conditioner, at least once per year to stop damage from sun, snow and rain.

Spa Pillows should also be removed and cleaned with mild soap and water. Manufacturers recommend that spa pillows be removed and stored if the spa is not used regularly, because of the high temperatures and chemical effects. You can protect spa pillows with a Fast Gloss treatment.

Spa Filters are cleaned with a garden hose, from top to bottom, to rinse out dirt and debris. However, even strong pressure won’t remove mineral deposits or oily grime. To really clean a spa filter, soak the cartridge overnight in a spa filter cleaner to remove oils, grime (dirt+oil), and mineral deposits from hard water. Or, it may be better to replace spa cartridges that are near the end of a useful life (18-24 months).

Step Four: Refill and Balance

spa-cleaning-toolsManufacturers recommend that you place the fill hose into the skimmer hole or filter hole, which is a way to avoid an air lock after filling the spa. An air lock occurs when air is trapped in the pipes, especially in front of the pump.

If your fill water comes from an untreated source, or contains high levels of metals and minerals, or has a bad smell or color – use a pre-filter on the end of the garden hose to trap contaminants and impurities.aquachek-spa-test-strips

When the spa is full (don’t overfill it!) – test the water pH, Alkalinity, Calcium Hardness levels and adjust if needed. Add a shock treatment to the spa, using MPS or chlorine granules, just to be sure the water is sanitary.

For bromine users like me, draining the spa depletes the “bromine bank”, so you’ll need to add a few ounces of Brom Booster, or bromide ions, to react with the bromine tablets. Until the bromine bank is recharged, the bromine cannot effectively disinfect the spa water.

After a refill, balance and shocking, let the spa circulate and filter for several hours, or overnight – running the heater to bring the water temp back up.

 

Bears in Hot Tubs

November 30th, 2015 by

bears-and-hot-tub-jacuzziUnless you live in Bear Country, you may not know that bears love hot tubs.

And they aren’t shy about taking a nice soak in your wonderful heated tub!

If there are bears in your neck of the woods, get your camera ready, or we may see your hot tub next time!

 

 

Vancouver Couple Finds Bear Soaking in their Spa
CBC News Posted: Aug 18, 2015

bear-in-hot-tub-2

Image Credit CBC.Ca

Denise Diering didn’t expect to see a big black bear standing at the edge of her swimming pool when she looked out the back door of her North Vancouver home late on Monday afternoon.  She told CBC News she shouted to her husband, Tony Diering, who was nearby, to “Close the door!” When she looked back, the bear slid into the pool, then climbed into the adjoining hot tub for a quick soak. The swim lasted about 15 minutes, and was partly caught on video, before the bear scampered off through a hole it had knocked down in the Dierings’ fence. – Belle Puri, CBC News

 

Colorado Couple Find Spa Cover Destroyed by a Bear
SteamboatToday.com Posted: October 25, 2010 by DeeDee and Bing Rikkers

bear-in-hot-tub-3

Image Credit SteamboatToday.com

This bear tore this spa cover to shreds! There was another picture of him chewing on the floating thermometer, not fun or funny when it costs you money. Most bears enter spas or hot tubs that are left open, uncovered. But in cases where they jump on top of your spa cover, even our best spa tops will break under 500 lbs of bear!

 

Bears enjoy a Smoky Mountain Hot Tub
A Day in the Smokies Posted march 06, 2009

bear-in-hot-tub-4

Image Credit: Chipmunk Haven

If you were to spend a day in the Great Smoky mountains, at the Chipmunk Haven cabin rental in the hills of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, you may be visited by a family of bears looking to sooth tired muscles and relax in a warm bath. A sturdy spa cover may keep these water loving bears down in the river below. Bears have a very strong sense of smell however, and can literally sniff out your spa, even when covered!

 

Bear Family Visits Vermont Hot Tub
StoweToday.com Posted May 16, 2013

bear-in-a-hot-tub

Image Credit Judy Lazaro

This Mama Bear and Cub took over this attractive watering hole. Seems to be too tall for the little one to get in, so Mom has it all to herself. According to the full story by Matt Kanner, the owner Judy Lazaro had just drained and cleaned the spa and had left it open to air dry when the bear climbed in. The baby cub began whining and crying, and the mother bear soon climbed back out, after a nice long drink, and they disappeared into the woods again.

 

Even Bears Need a Soak in a Hot Tub Now & Then
Examiner.com  Posted June 24, 2010 by Kathy Harris

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Image Credit: Sky Johnson

In Anchorage, Alaska, these bears were caught on film frolicking in an uncovered hot tub. Once again, the young cub was too small to find his way into the tub, but unlike the other cub above, was content to stay dry on the deck.

 

Bear takes a dip in Seminole County woman’s spa
Orlando Sentinel Posted June 7, 2011  by Gary Taylor

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Jenny Sue Rhoades lives only a couple of miles from Wekiva Springs State Park, and she has been bears in her yard before. But this bear wasn’t just passing through. He headed toward her pool and pressed his nose against the screen. Then he just walked through the screen “like it was made of butter.” First he put his mouth in her spa, then a paw and finally he just jumped in. “I think he was hot and thirsty,” Rhoades said. “It looked like he knew what he was doing.” – Gary Taylor

 

Casey Anderson and His Pet Bear Brutus
Today.com Posted August 27, 2009

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Image Credit: msnbc.msn.com

Meet Casey Anderson and Brutus his pet bear, who not only shares the family hot tub, but also loves to swim in the inground pool. I know this picture looks like fun, but you should never share your spa with a bear. Brutus however, born in captivity, is quite tame and as long as the 800 lb bear doesn’t sit on you, you should be safe. See the whole story, as reported on Buzzfeed, with additional pictures.

 

Man Finds Bear in his Hot Tub
Seattle Wolf 100.7 FM Posted October 21, 2014

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What a surprise to look out onto your back deck and see your hot tub -a- rockin’! This bear splashed so much water out of the hot tub that the skimmer was sucking air! Next steps? Drain the spa, and refill! Or at least that’s what I would do. Perhaps just balancing the chemistry and shocking the spa would be enough.

 

~ This has been fun – but bears in your hot tub could be dangerous! Keep your hot tub lid closed, with the safety strap clips connected. For added security, place a pre-cut 1/2in plywood board on top of your spa cover, or use our heavy duty high wind straps to keep the spa cover in place.

For more tips on sharing your environment with bears, see LivingWithBears.com.

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

Del Spa Ozone Maintenance

October 19th, 2015 by

new-spa-eclipse-newOzone has been used in spa and hot tubs for years, as a powerful sanitizer that kills 99.9% of pathogens and contaminants.

When used with a spa mineral stick, an ozonator can do the bulk of spa water sanitizing, requiring only a small amount of bromine, and/or regular spa shock to oxidize organics that hide in small spaces, away from the ozone.

BUT – Ozonators Wear Out! They need to be rejuvenated or renewed – by replacing the ozone bulb, chip or electrode. In addition, hoses, injection fittings and check valves also need regular replacement.

Hot Tub Ozone Maintenance:

You can do your own spa and hot tub ozone maintenance. A screwdriver is usually all that’s needed, and directions for repair or replacement of a spa ozonator are simple and easy to follow, even if you are repair-challenged!

Replacing Ozone Hose:

ozone-hoseOzone is a very powerful gas that breaks down the ozone tubing over time. Nitric acid is created in small amounts, and within 2 years the hose will begin to weaken so much that a hole will burn right through it, spilling ozone into the spa cabinet. Inspect the hoses twice per year, visually for any staining and by hand for thin spots. Ozone Hose Lifespan: 1-2 years.

Spa Ozone Check Valve Maintenance:

SPA-PARTS-OZONE-CHECK-VALVEA Check Valve is a one way flow valve, allowing the ozone to travel in one direction only. It connects in the hose between the ozonator and injector. Ozone Check Valves can only be installed in one direction (in the direction of the Flow –> arrow). Eventually, the check valve will need to be replaced (with an exact duplicate) or it can damage your ozonator by allowing incorrect ozone flow. Ozone Check Valve Lifespan: 1-2 years.

Spa Ozone Injector Maintenance:

ozone-injectorThe ozone injector is usually a small 3-way manifold or Tee, which fits into a larger 3/4″ or 1″ hose. In the middle is a smaller hose connection, where the ozone hose is attached. Injectors don’t commonly fail, but they do clog quite often. If you have no ozone bubbles in your spa, chances are you have a clogged ozone injector. They can clog with calcium or chemical build-up, and block the flow of ozone bubbles, which usually enter at a floor spa jet.

To clean a clogged ozone injector, remove the hose and hose fitting from the injector. With the spa running, simply insert a bent paper clip or tiny eyeglass screwdriver and move it back and forth to break up and suck in any crusty deposits that block ozone from flowing into the injector. Then reconnect the ozone hose and you should see ozone bubbles in the spa again. Ozone Injector Life Span: 10 years.

Spa Ozone Generator Renewal:

The engine of a spa ozone generator, the device that actually creates O³ from O² eventually wears out and will need to be replaced. Be prepared for the day when the ozone bubbles stop suddenly, and your spa water grows quickly dark and turbid.

Spa ozone is created in 2 ways – with a UV bulb or with Corona Discharge, which creates a small electrical charge to create ozone, like a tiny lightning bolt. Corona Discharge (CD) units are powered by a chip or electrode. CD units last much longer than UV bulbs, but newer models can last over 5 years.

UV Ozone Bulb Replacement: If you no longer see the eerie blue glow coming from the inspection port of your long, tubular ozone bulb housing, check that it is still plugged into a power outlet. If all good, order the exact replacement bulb, if still available. Actually, a better recommendation would be to replace the outdated bulb unit with a longer lasting CD unit. Ozone Bulb Life Span: 1-2 years.

spa-eclipse-renewal-kitCorona Discharge CD Chip Replacement:  After several years, the CD chip will wear out on ozonators like the Spa Eclipse. It will wear out especially fast if you are running the circulation pump 24 hrs per day. Whenever the pump is running, CD chip ozonators produce ozone. Replacing a CD chip on a Del Spa Eclipse is very easy. Simply unplug the power cord to the unit and remove the back screws. Locate the CD chip, in the bottom of the case, and disconnect the wire plugs. Reconnect the new cell the same way, and you’re back in business! Del Ozone CD Chip Life Span: 2-3 years.

mcd-50-renewal-kitCorona Discharge Ozone Cell Replacement: The Del MCD-50 ozonator uses an electrode that can last much longer than the CD chip used in the Spa Eclipse. But eventually it too will wear out, and it has an indicator light to let you know. Renewal kits for the  MCD-50 include a new Ozone Cell, Power Supply, Hose Barb, O-ring and Fuse. Pull off the cover (with the power off), and you can replace all 5 parts in under 5 minutes, OK, maybe ten. Replace the front cover and test it out. MCD-50 Cell Life Span: 3-5 years.

del-ozone-apgSpa Eclipse NEXT GENERATION uses the new APG technology – Advance Plasma Gap.  The latest and greatest spa ozonator, it has more ozone output and last longer than it’s predecessors. It also has an auto voltage sensor, so you can connect to 115V or 230V without switching wires or settings. The maintenance to the Next Generation ozonators is the same for hoses and check valves, but the AGP cell is not sold as a part, you just replace the entire box, which is a small job of unmounting and remounting, and connecting the hoses and wire plug. APG Module Life Span: 4-6 years.

How to Know if a Spa Ozonator is Working? 

  • Ozone bubbles are visible in the Spa, at a lower jet, or the heater jet, usually.
  • Ozone smell when you open up the spa cover after being closed for some time.
  • Indicator light on the ozone module, as a visual indicator of operation.
  • Test it with the new Del Ozone test kit.

Spa Ozonators don’t last forever! If your spa ozonator troubleshooting has led you to this page – consider the possibility that your ozone device (bulb, chip, electrode, cell) is no longer producing ozone. They don’t go bad gradually, they go all-of-a-sudden. One evening you’ll lift the spa cover and discover dull and lifeless spa water. Shock the spa and order your spa ozone parts, hoses and check valve – to keep your ozonator running in top condition!

And remember, you don’t have to stick with the branded ozonator that came with your spa (it was probably made by Del anyway!).

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

 

Salt Water Spas and Hot Tubs – FAQ

September 22nd, 2015 by

Image Credit: MISES.orgYou’ve heard about salt water spas or salt water hot tubs – as an accessory with a new spa purchase, or an easy add-on to an existing spa or hot tub.

To be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of salt water systems, let me say that right up front. But they do have certain advantages over other methods of keeping your water disinfected, and could be the best choice in some situations.

Here’s answers to the most Frequently Asked Questions about salt water hot tubs.

 

HOW DO SALT WATER SPAS WORK?

Well, I’m no chemist, but when you add water (H2O) and salt (NaOCl) together, you have all the ingredients needed to make chlorine. But first, you have to separate the molecules, breaking apart the Hydrogen, Oxygen, Sodium and Chloride. This is done through electrolysis, passing the water over two electrified platinum or titanium plates, (the salt cell) one positively charged (the anode) and one negatively charged (the cathode).

The small electric current causes the water and salt molecules to break apart (disassociate), and recombine into HOCl and NaOH, or Hypochlorous Acid and Sodium Hydroxide. Hypochlorous acid is pure chlorine and it instantly begins to sanitize the water. After some hard work killing off any germs in the water, the chlorine converts back to chloride and recombines with sodium, to form salt once again, in a continuous process.

Or, more simply – you add salt to the spa, about 2 lbs per 100 gallons, and hook up the salt chlorine generator device, and pass the water through it. As the salty water passes through the tiny electrolysis machine (electrified metal plates), it comes out the other side with a small amount of chlorine.

WHEN DO SALT WATER SPAS NOT WORK?

They usually do – but there are some times when the technology can fail. Like if you stop heating your spa and the water temp cools way down, below 60°, the salt cell will stop producing chlorine. Also, if the power goes out, or when the spa is turned off, the electrically powered salt cell also turns off, unlike a bromine or mineral floating dispenser.

If the salt cell becomes clogged or coated with minerals (which are naturally attracted to the charged plates), chlorine output can be severely reduced. Salt water systems also need the proper salt level in the water to operate, if too high or too low it affects output and cell life. And good water balance is important, if your pH and Alkalinity is or calcium Hardness is off, chlorine output and cell life are compromised.

If you are in a “hard water area”, where water comes out of the tap very hard (over 400 ppm), you may have a problem with mineral clogging of the salt cell, and a shorter salt cell life. Most manufacturers recommend a low calcium hardness level. If your calcium hardness level is over 150 ppm, look for a self-cleaning salt system.

And finally, your salt cell will eventually lose its mojo, and stop producing chlorine (or bromine) altogether, which can be 1-5 years, depending on the model.

ADVANTAGES TO SPA SALT SYSTEMS?

  1. Softer, silkier water – because of the salt added. And if you use Dead Sea salts, you also get potassium and magnesium, and sodium.
  2. No binders and fillers – bromine and chlorine tablets or granules contain additives that just junk-up the spa water.
  3. Fewer chemicals to store and handle. You may still need some tablets and/or MPS on hand, but will only need them rarely.

DIS-ADVANTAGES TO SPA SALT SYSTEMS?

  1. Salt is corrosive. Even at low levels of 2500 ppm, damage could occur to shiny chrome finishes, or soft rubber parts.
  2. Galvanic corrosion can make it easier for spa staining to occur, if your water has high levels of copper, iron or manganese.
  3. Draining a salt water hot tub can damage a lawn or landscaping, from high salt levels.

COST OF MAINTAINING A SALT HOT TUB?

In the long run, the cost of s salt water hot tub system is going to be about the same as using chlorine granules or bromine tablets. Salt is cheap (but Dead Sea salts are considerably more), but you’ll need to replace it every time you drain the spa. And the salt cell (plumbed inline, or draped over the spa side) will need to replaced in 1-5 years, depending on the model. Do the math before you buy, and you may find that traditional methods will be cheaper – in the long run.

TYPES OF SPA SALT SYSTEMS?

They all operate the same way, with a Salt Cell and a power source or Control Panel. The traditional cell is installed into the plumbing, where you cut out a foot or so of piping (after the heater, and any other purifier equipment), and plumb the salt cell in place. There is another type with a cell and cable; drop it over the side of the spa, and it just rests a foot or so below water, like the Saltron Mini. Most spa salt systems have a control box, wall mounted or spa mounted, for status and diagnostics, and allow control of chlorine output, with simple Up (^) and Down (v) buttons.

BROMINE OR CHLORINE SALT SYSTEMS?

A salt water hot tub can be bromine if you use sodium bromide or chlorine if you use sodium chloride. So you don’t have to switch from bromine, just because you start using a salt chlorinator. It depends on which types of salt you use – sodium bromide salts will convert to bromine and sodium chloride salts (regular salt) will convert into chlorine. The cost of using the Bromides will be higher however, but bromine does have benefits over chlorine in a hot water environment.

super salty~ I hope you enjoyed this little lesson on salt water spas and hot tubs. Salt water hot tubs are quite enjoyable, and have great benefits, as long as you maintain good water balance, proper salt levels, and don’t overwork the cell. Use MPS shock (non-chlorine shock) after each use, to reduce the amount of chlorine needed, which will extend your salt cell life.

Corrosion issues can be solved by using a zinc anode somewhere in the spa, which will protect shiny finishes. Staining and scaling issues can be solved by using a Stain & Scale control.

Give us a call, or leave a comment below if we can help out in any way!

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

 

 

FAQ About Spas and Hot Tubs

August 17th, 2015 by

spa-hot-tub-careBefore I came to Hot Tub Works, I worked in a spa retail store for ten years, selling spas. So when it comes to questions about hot tubs and spas, we must have heard them all.

There’s a lot to consider when buying a spa or hot tub, so many features, styles and options. Nothing overly complicated, but for someone who has never owned a spa before, it seems very confusing.

Today’s FAQ or Frequently Asked Questions, answers questions about Buying a Spa or Hot Tub. Next time, I’ll cover questions about spa safety and ongoing spa maintenance.

Q: How often do you need to Change the Water?
A: That depends on how much you use the spa or hot tub, and how clean your bathers are (see above), but generally speaking, most residential spas are drained every 3-4 months. For spas and hot tubs that are mandated to conserve water, there are ways to extend your time between changes for up to a year if needed. 

Q: How does a Spa Filter work?
A: Spas and hot tubs are filtered by pleated polyester cartridges. A filter pump pulls the water through the material, which traps dirt and particles down to a very small size. As the dirt loads up in the cartridge, it will need cleaning with a garden hose, once or twice per month. After 12-15 cleanings, it’s time to replace the spa filter

Q: How does a Spa Heater work?
A:
Spas and hot tubs are heated by an electrical immersion element, much like the types used in electric home water heaters. When the control system gets a call for heat from the thermostat, it checks flow, pressure and temperature before sending power to the element, which heats up very fast to warm the water as it rushes past the element.

Q: What Chemicals are needed for a Spa?
A: 
Spas and hot tubs are most often sanitized continuously with bromine tablets in a floater, and shocked with a non-chlorine oxidizer after each use. Many spas also use an ozonator or mineral purifier to supplement the bromine. Also, you’ll need to check and periodically adjust pH, Alkalinity and Calcium Hardness levels.

Q: Do I really need a Spa Cover?
A:
 Yes, absolutely – it’s like having a house with no roof, or a refrigerator with no door – it just wouldn’t make sense not to have a quality spa cover. By the way, most standard spa covers that come with a new spa are usually junk – but it’s a good starter cover. Most folks buy a new spa covers every 3-5 years.

Q: Do I really need a Spa Cover lifter?
A:
Yes again – but many people try it for a while without a cover lifter, and end up a spa cover lifter soon. Without one, you risk damage to the spa cover while moving it, or when it’s off the spa. And if your cover becomes even slightly waterlogged, oof! it’s heavy. And fellows, it may be easy for you, but smaller people (like me!) really struggle without a cover lifter.

Q: What Replacement Items will I need to Buy?
A:
Spa cover every 3-5 years, filter cartridge every 1-2 years. Ozone cells wear out after 18 months, and mineral purifiers last 6 months typically. You’ll also have a stock of chemicals that will need regular replenishing. Spa pillows may deteriorate after several years under the cover.

Q: Will my Spa attract Rodents?
A: 
It’s not uncommon for mice to try to make a home beneath the warm spa cabinet. Using mint bags or moth balls will deter them, as will keeping it clear around the spa. Seal up any access points, but never block any vents (although you can staple a wire mesh over the vents).

Q: Is an Air Blower required equipment?
A:
It is not, many hot tubs don’t have one, as they are more of a soaking vessel. Adding forced air into the return line accentuates the force of the bubble, and having seat jets, well that just feels really good! The problem with the blower is that they are usually somewhat noisy, and makes the water really “bouncy”. They also tend to lower the water temperature because they draw in air that is much colder than the water.

Q: Where can I install a Hot Tub or Spa?
A: A spa or hot tub full of water can weigh over 3000 lbs! For this reason it must be placed on a 4 inch thick reinforced concrete slab, or an equally sturdy wood deck (on compacted earth) capable of holding 100 lbs per square foot. You should never install on a balcony or unsupported deck, or set on the bare earth. 

Q: How much will my Electrical Bill Increase with a Spa?
A: Generally about $10-$20 per month, depending on where you live. Some areas of the US pay much more than other parts of the country pay for electricity. In most cases, you may not even notice the bump of $15 per month.

Q: How much will I spend on Spa Chemicals?
A: If you buy our 6-month chemical packages, you’ll spend about $250 per year on chemicals, but you can go a la carte, and spend much less, by buying only what you absolutely need. But, it’s important not to skimp too much on chemicals, or you end up having to drain and clean to correct a poor water situation.

Q: How do I Drain and Clean a Hot Tub?
A: Most have a spigot underneath that you connect a garden hose to, or you could use a small submersible pump. While empty, it’s  a good time to clean the surfaces, especially around the water line. When refilling the tub, you may need to make adjustments to water chemistry, if your fill water is less than perfect.

Q: What are the larger Expenses for a Spa Owner?
A: In most cases, the spa is trouble free for at least 5 years. At that point, things begin to show your age. You will likely need a new spa cover by now, maybe a new cover lifter, too. Spa components and electronics are more stable nowadays than 20 years ago, and you can expect trouble free performance for 10 years or more.  In most cases, a major spa repair is not more than $500 in spa parts.

Q: Do I need a Spa Cover on an Empty or Unheated Spa?
A: Yes, unless the spa is covered and shaded from the damaging effects of the sun. Just a few hours of daily direct sunlight can damage spa interior surfaces. Spa covers also serve an important safety function by keeping out children and animals.

Q: How much space is needed around the Spa?
A: The spa cover and spa cover lifter need to have room to operate, and depending on which cover lifter is used, you will need from 6″ to 18″ of clearance on 3 sides of the spa. Also important is easy access to the equipment spa pack (pump, heater, filter, blower, valves…).

Q: Can I place the Spa or Hot Tub Indoors?
A: This is generally not recommended, due to the heat and humidity that a spa gives off during use, and even while covered. It also presents a flooding hazard, and there will certainly be lots of water around the spa. Moisture and humidity will damage your walls and your home over time, unless the room is designed to manage the moisture.

Q: Do you have to Shower before Using a Spa?
A: It is recommended to shower before using the spa, to reduce the oils and dirt (and even bits of fecal matter) that will enter the spa. My usual routine is to shower and remove make-up, put my hair up, and then saunter to the spa. But there are times when I don’t have time, and that’s OK once a week or so, just shake in some shock after use. Water management can become difficult if the spa is used as a bathtub, requiring extra chemicals and filtration to compensate.

Q: How Hot do Spas Get?
A: Spas are triple protected with high limits and temperature sensors to detect an overheating situation that could be dangerous to users or to the equipment. Most spas will not heat above 105°, but for safety’s sake a lower temperature of 102-104° should be used, and for children, the temp should always be under 100°.

Q: How fast do Spas Heat Up?
A: It depends on the size and voltage of heaters. 220V spas will heat twice as fast as 110V spas. Heater elements are sized in kilowatts, with larger spas using an 11 kw element, but smaller spas with a 5.5kw or 4kw element. 220V spas with an 11kw element can heat 6-8 degrees F per hour, but 110V heaters (plug and play models), only heat 2-3 degrees per hour.  Once it heats up, a well insulated spa can maintain a hot temperature quite economically.

Q: What is a Well Insulated Spa?
A: Full foam spas spray expanding foam throughout the space between the spa shell and the cabinet, except in the equipment bay area. This is the best form of insulation. Spas used in warm southern climates don’t need as much insulation as northern spas, but the more you have, the cheaper and faster it is to heat!

Q: Is it OK to use Well Water in a Spa?
A: Sure, well water is typically fine water. If your home has a water softener and in-home filters, it may be best to use your spa test strips to test the unfiltered water (typically from the hose) and the filtered or softened water from the sink. Well water may contain more heavy metals and minerals which could stain some spa surfaces, similar to what you may see in your bathtub or bath sinks. I always recommend using a pre-filter for well water or for city water that smells, looks or tastes funny!

Q: Do I need to have a Fence around my Spa?
A: Not directly around the spa, but in most towns and cities in the U.S., a portable spa or hot tub is treated with the same fencing regulations as an aboveground swimming pool. You probably do need some type of fencing to protect the community; check your local government website for details.

Q: What Tests do I need for the Spa Water?
A:
You’ll need to regularly check the spa pH level and the bromine level, just about every other day, or at least before you use the spa. Bromine level should be a constant (all the time!) level of 3-4 ppm and the pH should be adjusted if needed, to be between 7.2 and 7.6. Test strips easily give you results in 30 seconds.

Q: Can Children Use a Spa or Hot Tub?
A: Toddlers should not be allowed to use the spa. At age 4 or 5, supervised children can be allowed a short session in spa water that has cooled to below 100°. Because young children are more susceptible to bacteria, they should always keep their head above water.

Q: Can I do my own Spa Repairs?
A: Spa Maintenance is simple. Spa repairs (to pumps, heater or control circuits) is within reach of most handy homeowners. Most spas nowadays are self-diagnosing, with very little testing or troubleshooting required. Owner’s Manuals for modern spas and spa packs are quite detailed with step by step flow chart repair guides. And we have all the spa repair parts you could ever need, here at Hot Tub Works.

Thanks! I hope you learned something! I learned that I shouldn’t sit so long in one position – I need to go sit in my spa for awhile. Bye!

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

 

Hot Tub Water Test: Like a Boss!

July 27th, 2015 by

TESTING-HOT-TUB-WATER-LIKE-A-BOSSTesting hot tub water regularly is important to avoid peaks and valleys of sanitation and water balance. Testing everyday is not needed unless your spa is used on a daily basis. Test your water 2-3 times per week, or more often if the spa is used frequently.

For years I used Test Strips to test my hot tub water, that’s what the Hot Tub Guyz (where I bought my first spa) told me to use. They even gave me a free bottle in a starter kit.

When I started working here at HotTubWorks – I was immediately shown a better way of testing hot tub water. It was in a product meeting, when someone asked when were going to start offering a real test kit for sale. I find out that we sell 12 different test strips for spa water, but we don’t have the “pool” test kit that everyone around the office uses.

It is now years later, and guess what – we still don’t sell the test kit which we all agree is the very best. Maybe this post will embarrass them into action! You can’t really rely on test strips for spa water – when you are only working with 300-500 gallons, it’s crucial to be accurate, or you can easily underdose or overdose.

Good Spa and Hot Tub Water Test

Spa-and-hot-tub-test-strips-travel-packSpa test strips are made to work with hot water, and are ‘calibrated’ especially for spas (whatever that means), but the wide range and hard to determine color matching makes them less accurate or reliable, when compared to other types of hot tub water testing.

 

Better Spa and Hot Tub Water Test

digital-strip-testerA better way to test spa water is to not abandon test strips, but to remove the human interpretation from the equation. No offense, but your eyesight and color matching skills aren’t what they used to be (mine neither!). The AquaChek Digital Strip Reader analyzes the test strip from 16 Million colors, and improves accuracy of test strip use immensely.

 

Best Spa and Hot Tub Water Test

The best way to test hot tub or spa water (if accuracy is important to you), is to use a liquid drop style, pool test kit. The one we all use here on our own hot tubs is usually, the K-2006, although some people have the K-2106. Both test kits are by Taylor, a well respected source.

Titration test kits are different, and here’s why. Take a water sample in a test vial and add the reagent. Then add an indicator solution, dropwise, or drop by drop, counting the drops until you achieve a solid color change (from red to blue for example). Multiply the number of drops x 10, and you have your calcium and alkalinity reading, accurate to within 5 ppm.

titration-test-for-hot-tubs

Yes it takes longer to do a titration test, but not much longer. You can do a full battery of tests, Bromine, pH, Alkalinity and Hardness in under 5 minutes. If your hot tub calcium or alkalinity is low, refer to the charts in the booklet, which tell you exactly how much adjustment chemical to add.

If your hot tub pH is high or low, you can do a titration test on the pH sample, adding Acid demand or Base demand reagents, dropwise, until your desired pH color is reached.

For measuring Bromine, and Bromamines, nothing beats a titration test. Traditional test kits have you add DPD reagent #1, 2 and 3 to the water sample vial, and compare the colors. FAS-DPD uses titration (drop counting) to most accurately determine chlorine or bromine readings to within 0.5 ppm.

You can buy the Taylor K-2006 test kit online - just not at Hot Tub Works! The box label reads Chlorine, but it tests for both Chlorine and Bromine. You won’t need the Cyanuric Acid test, unless you have an outdoor and uncovered spa.

taylor-fas-dpd-k2006-titration-test-kit-for-hot-tubs-and-spas

So, if you want to be accurate with hot tub water testing (and who doesn’t?), get the best hot tub water test available, and toss away your test strips for good!

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

 

Hot Tub Filters: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

June 22nd, 2015 by

mystery-filter-cartridgeOnce upon a time, if you wanted a replacement spa or hot tub filters, you went down to your local spa store and bought or ordered a replacement filter cartridge. There wasn’t a choice of brand, they were all made by Unicel, or Aladdin.

As the number of pools and spas using pleated filter cartridges grew to more than 5 million in the US – more domestic manufacturers entered  the ring, namely Filbur and Pleatco.

Spa filter cartridges are surprisingly simple to manufacture, all you need is a machine to make neat pleats in the fabric, and roll it into a tube, and a second machine to shape and stamp the end caps.

This has given rise to a large number of imported spa filters being dumped on US shores, in packed shipping containers. After arrival they are sent to large retailers such as Walmart and Home Depot, and other mass merchants.

reemay-filter-fabricThere are some important quality differences in these cartridges, imported from Singapore. It starts with the fabric, which is not Reemay®, but something called remay, as in “quality remay construction”. That really burns me up, and I hope the DuPont legal team has some recourse against those who use copycat names.

According to sources at Unicel, the fabric used in most imported hot tub filters is inferior; and “low-end manufacturers are using low-grade spunbonded polyester to reduce costs, however there is a significant difference in cartridge performance”.

Let me give a personal opinion, and excuse my French; the spa filters from Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart and others are crap. And not just because they use something other than Reemay, but also because the fabric weight is not posted, or even mentioned.spun-bonded-polyester

For spa filter cartridges, a 3 oz. fabric weight (per square foot) is most suitable, with 4 oz. used on high flow systems, or very large spas. What is the weight of the fabric used in the spa filters sold by Home Depot, Lowes and Walmart? No one knows, it seems to be a closely guarded secret.

Below are some of the features of a Pleatco hot tub filters – compare that to their Pro line filters, which merely says “installs in seconds” – well, duh.

  • High performance pleated polyester media – (100% Reemay)
  • Reinforced antimicrobial end caps
  • Extruded PVC center cores
  • Molded threads, no loose inserts

If you want the best performance out of your hot tub filters, stick with an established and well known brand like Unicel, Filbur, Pleatco or Aladdin. Don’t be tempted to buy a half priced cartridge that won’t even last half as long, and you’ll have a cleaner and healthier hot tub.

Take it from me ~ I’ve used the cheapo cartridges before, and within two days the water is hazy, and within a week I had to clean the cartridge. After two months, I threw it in the trash can. A good hot tub filter, from the brands I mentioned above, can last 2-3 times as long, with less cleaning and better filtering.

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

Cloudy Hot Tub After Shocking

May 28th, 2015 by

cloudy-spa-water-after-shockingI once asked Jack how he shocks his hot tub, and he said, and I quote “I take off my towel – that really shocks my hot tub!

Cloudy spa water immediately after shocking your spa is almost considered normal – there’s a lot of chemical reactions going on! But, clear water should return to a spa within a few hours.

However, when adding just ounces of a spa shock makes the water cloudy, there are other things going on; here’s a few places to look for the cause(s) of cloudy hot tub water after shocking.

 

Swimming Pool Shock

Using pool shock will almost always make your spa or hot tub cloudy. It’s not as fine or re-fined, meaning the particles are much larger, and they don’t dissolve right away. It also is loaded with calcium, which can be a problem if you’re in a hard water part of the country. If you want to use chlorine shock, use Spa 56 chlorinating compound, especially formulated for hot tubs, but don’t use pool shock in a spa or hot tub.

High pH & Alkalinity

Before you shock a spa, it’s always best to check your pH and Alkalinity. Especially if you shock after using the spa; adding a few sweaty bodies into your hot tub definitely spikes the pH with higher alkalinity levels, and a strong shock treatment can knock carbonates and bicarbonates out of solution, making spa water cloudy. Keep some spa pH decreaser on hand, you can use it for lowering both pH and alkalinity.

Hard Water Hot Tub

My water comes out of the tap here at 450 ppm of Calcium Hardness, which is high but not as high as some people in nearby desert areas or on a well. When your spa water is hard, that means it has a lot of dissolved calcium in it. Spas and hot tubs operate best around 200 ppm, and when there is more than that – it can come out of solution as visible scale. Especially if your spa pH is high, and you also have high calcium hardness, shocking the spa can make the water cloudy. To prevent this problem, fill your spa with water that has gone thru the water softening tanks, or use a Pre-Filter on your garden hose, to reduce total hardness levels.

Lotions & Potions

Once I caught my (ex) boyfriend with 3 smelly soccer friends, sitting in the tub after a Sunday match. After their hour long soak, I went to put the cover back on (uh, yeah…), and the water looked funky, so I added some spa shock and it went cloudy. Why? Because of all of the oils, sweat, dirt and who knows what else they washed into my hot tub (gross).

woman-in-robeAnd ladies, we are also not without blame ~ skin lotions, make-up, hair products, deodorant – it all washes off into the tub. And spa shocks don’t do very well with oily gunk, they have trouble breaking it down and this can turn your hot tub cloudy after shocking. So, keep your spa as clean as possible by showering before using, or at least be fairly clean, and keep your hair up.

I have a ritual before using the spa, which is usually in the evening. First, I spend 20 minutes removing make-up and showering. Then I saunter to the pool deck in my robe and hair wrapped up in a towel, (just like a real spa resort).

And unlike Jack, who says he shocks his spa by disrobing, my spa is shocked after I’ve enjoyed a long leisurely soak. I dip a test strip to double check pH and alkalinity, and shake in 2 capfuls of Zodiac Cense, a non-chlorine spa shock.

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works