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Jack Stone's Posts

Autumn is Here – is your Spa Cover Ready?

September 11th, 2014 by

spa-cover-enemieThe weather is cooling down, and leaves are already falling. And, if you thought last year was snowy and cold, NOAA has put out an official El Niño watch, which will bring more snow, rain and generally colder weather than usual.

Autumn is the time of year when our customers get their spas and hot tubs ready for winter – in fact, it’s our busiest time of year for spa covers!

And Hot Tub Works is not alone in that regard. According to our trade association and other industry sources, spa cover sales soar during fall, as the swim season ends and hot tub season begins.

I say bring it on! We have planned for the onslaught by hiring extra help for our ‘seam team’, and stocking up on bolts of 30 oz. marine grade vinyl and truckloads of high density foam. Our warehouse chief is interviewing daily for an increase in staff, and our call center is all hands on deck, ready to handle over 1000 calls per day.

So, we’re ready, but my question to you - is your spa cover ready?

 

Most hot tub covers last about 5 years; longer if they are protected from the elements and given certain care like cleaning and conditioning and regular time-off the tub, when they can shed some of the moisture and heat that they dutifully retain 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Other products to protect your spa cover include Heavy Duty Wind Straps, Floating Spa Blankets and Spa Cover Liftersspa-cover-caps

For the most protection from winter’s worst, consider buying a Spa Cover Cap. Yep, it’s a cover for the spa cover – kind of ridiculous to think about I know, but nothing keeps your spa top cleaner and drier.

It’s been said that using a spa cover cap can double the life of your spa cover. I don’t know if I’d go that far – but there is a grain of truth to everything, I suppose.

 

69-ford-galaxieThe problem is, like most good things – is that you have to use it for it to help. Doesn’t do a bit of good laying in a rumpled pile next to the spa. Kind of like the car cover I bought back in ’03, which was going to preserve my old Galaxie, if not outright restore her. I think I used it twice, maybe three times, until a big wind blew it out into the cow pasture, and well, I wasn’t going out in that minefield to retrieve it. I like to think that it’s become a nice shelter for a family of deer.

 

Back to the matter at hand, if your spa cover has suffered a bit over the summer. If the vinyl is beginning to thin, maybe a crack across the panel panel insert, or if you start to see steam seeping out the sides of your hot tub cover – it may be time for a new one. You won’t be alone – we plan on providing over 50,000 spa covers between now and the end of the year – shipping them all around the country, from Sarasota to Seattle; from Needles to Nantucket.

Hot tub covers can be ordered online, by fax, email or if you prefer the old fashioned way – give one of our spa cover specialists a call. If you’ve ordered from us before, as over half of our customers have – just let us know you need a replacement spa cover, and we’ll pull up your previous order and start the ball rolling.

Order a new spa cover today – before old El Niño turns ugly!

 

- Jack

 

Hot Tubs & Spas TOC – Total Cost of Ownership

August 15th, 2014 by

total-cost-of-spa-or-hot-tub-ownership

 

I hear the question all the time – “What’s it cost to own a hot tub?” The real cost of operating a spa includes a lot more than just chemicals.

In this post, we break down all of the costs in owning a hot tub, and add them all up.

What can you do with this information? Well, if you are thinking of buying a spa, or purchasing a home with a spa, you may want to know the cost of this backyard appliance.

If you already own a spa, I’ve included several cost savings tips, or ways to reduce your hot tub expenses.

 

Electricity

The largest energy user is the spa pump. Two-speed pumps are designed to run on low all the time, except for a few hours per day on high during off-peak hours. You can experiment with run times, and short periods of off times, to reduce operation costs, but be sure to filter the water every day for at least 12 hours on low speed, and 30 minutes on high speed. Maintaining good water balance and sanitation levels can reduce your filtration demand.

Your spa heater is  also electrical, and depending on it’s size, it can draw as much amperage as the spa pump. Reducing the temperature in a spa can save money, but not much unless you keep it below 95°. A good spa cover, floating spa blanket and good levels of insulation around the spa or inside the cabinet are ways to improve heat retention, and lower  consumption.

Spa blowers also consume energy, and your spa pack circuitry uses a small amount.

How much electricity will the average spa consume? Depending on a host of variables, most spas use around 2000 kWh of juice every year. The national average for electrical cost is currently 12 cents per kWh, Annual Electricity Costs – $240

Spa Chemicals

Most spas need very few chemicals to maintain water quality. You’ll need pH control, and some form of spa shock or oxidizer. If your water is soft, you may need to raise the calcium hardness level, and if your water is very hard or has high mineral content, you can use a stain & scale control chemical. Enzymes are a good chemical for spas that are used almost daily, by many people.

Many spas use an ozonator or mineral sanitizer. These are excellent purifiers and reduce the amount of bromine needed to keep the water sanitary. Mineral sticks last for 6 months, and ozonators usually need a ‘recharge’ in 18 months.

Bromine tablets are a usual expense, and a bottle of bromide booster to use after draining the spa. This builds a residual of bromide ions, which continuously convert to bromine with the addition of tablets.

Let’s say you have a bromine spa, and you test it, balance and shock it twice weekly, and you use either a mineral stick or an ozonator as a secondary purifier. This is what I do, and for me, my Annual Chemical Costs – $150

Hot Tub Tools

I’m speaking about spa cleaning tools mainly – skim net, vacuum, hose nozzle or a pre-filter if your fill water is hard or mineral rich. These tend to last for several years, so the amortized expense may be close to Annual Tools Cost – $10

Spa Accessories

These are items that also last a long time, such as spa steps or spa furniture, which is usually a one time expense. Recurring expenses could include a thermometer or a bromine tablet floater, or waterproof playing cards. Annual Accessories Cost – $10

Hot Tub Parts

Spas don’t normally need spa repair every year, and then you have a year that requires several hundred dollars in spa parts. At some point in the life of a hot tub, repairs are inevitable, I suppose. You may get lucky, but I would plan on Annual Parts Cost – $40

Spa Cover

Spa covers that are well built and well maintained are likely to last 5 years on average. Spa cover prices vary, but let’s say you spend $400 every 5 years for a new cover. Averaged out per annum, we have the Annual Spa Cover Cost – $80

Spa Filters

The spa cartridge filter won’t last forever. Each time they are cleaned they lose a little bit of their filtering ability. Replace your spa cartridge every 12-24 months, or after 12-15 cleanings. The cost of replacement spa filters is low in most cases. At $20 a pop, every 18 months, the Annual Spa Filter Cost – $12

Fill Water

The cost of city water varies dramatically around the country, but if your average monthly water bill is $50, and you drain your spa every 3 months, your spa is only using 1-2% of your total household use. Annual Fill Water Cost – $8

 

Let’s Add it all Up!

CALCULATE-YOUR-POOL-HEATING-COSTS

Electricity 240
Chemicals 150
Tools 10
Accessories 10
Parts 40
Cover 80
Filters 12
Water  8
         Total    $550

Of course, your mileage may vary, depending on the variables such as the size of your spa, climate, how much it’s used, how hot you keep it, how well insulated your spa is … your total cost of ownership for a spa or hot tub could vary either way by $100 or more.

 

- Jack

 

Leaking Spa Jets – How to Find & Fix

July 28th, 2014 by

spa-leak-JD-FinleySpas and hot tubs are not supposed to leak, but over time, it’s not uncommon for a leak to develop in an older spa. Knowing where to look for spa leaks is the first step in leak detection.

Spas and hot tubs can leak in many locations, including from the spa jets themselves. Rarely do spas leak from the shell itself = they are simply too strong, rather leaks are almost always found in plumbing junctions, gaskets or seals.

A spa can evaporate several inches of water if left open and uncovered, or used for several hours per week. But, if you are adding more replacement water than normal, and perhaps using the spa less lately…you may have a leak.

If you think you are losing water in your spa – open the equipment access and check these areas first:

  1. Water dripping off of the pump (unions, drain plugs, shaft seal)
  2. Water dripping off of heater (unions, pressure switch)
  3. Water pouring out of blower (check valve failure)
  4. Water leaking from valves (valve body or gasket failure)
  5. Water leaking from spa light (gasket failure)
  6. Water leaking from jets (internal cracks or bad gasket)

 

spa-jets-leaking=Still Leaking? If you got through 1-5 and found no puddles or dripping water, it’s time to look at the spa jets, which leak rarely, maybe 10% of the time. Spa jets can leak where the flex pipe attaches (shown Green), either the larger water pipes, or the smaller air line.

They can also lose the seal made by a rubber gasket (shown Red) against the back of the spa shell. These rubber gaskets, compressed by the locking nut or the jet body, can deteriorate over time – or it could just be a loose locking nut.

 

spa-jet-tools-spa-jet-wrenchesSpa Jet Tools. Many spa jets have a special wrench used to tighten their particular jet lock nut. Others have a tool that is inserted on the spa side, to keep the flange from spinning while the lock nut or valve body is tightened up on the gasket. Without the proper spa jet tools, some of them are nearly impossible to seal up.

 

FULL FOAM INSULATION:

For spas that have full spray insulation on the underside of the spa shell, finding the source of a spa leak can be challenging – but not impossible. If you have spa jets at different levels, around the spa (as most do), you can shut off the pump, and let the spa leak until it stabilizes at one particular level – or stops leaking. At the point that it stops, which may be at the bottom of one of your spa jets, is the point to start looking.

leaking-spa-jets--sideIf you see water coming out from under your spa on one side of the spa, that can be the logical place for exploration. Removing the cabinet on that side would be required; a razor knife and putty knife are useful tools to score and pry off a panel, if there are no visible screws. Proceed slowly to avoid damaging any side panels while removing them for access.

Once access is made behind the panel, the insulation can be cut with a drywall saw or serrated kitchen knife, at the level of suspected spa jets. Open many small holes if you have many jets to check on that side. Proceed cautiously as you near the jets, to avoid cutting pipes or wires.

After a repair to jets or pipes buried in insulation foam, replace any large blocks of foam you managed to remove intact, and then fill in any gaps with a spray foam insulation. I like to use Touch ‘n Foam 2-part, which you can get at most Home Depot type stores. Or you can stuff it full of fiberglass insulation, the pink stuff.

A QUICKER METHOD TO REPAIR LEAKING SPA JETS

You may have already wondered, “can’t I just put a sealant on the inside of the spa, around the jet fitting?” If the leak is the gasket and not the pipe connections, which it usually is.

spa-jet-problemsfood-coloringTo verify, you can dye test around the spa jets with food coloring. Shut off the pump, and with bright lighting and a mask or goggles, squirt small drops of dye underwater, around the jet face or flange. Sometimes the leak is too small to pull enough dye through, and sometimes the jet gasket only leaks when the pumps are on.

You may want to try to seal up around a suspected spa jet, using BOSS® silicone, or similar products, but – it may not fix the problem and can be messy looking unless you are careful and skillful during application.

 

- Jack

 

Hot Tub Cool Tub – Using Spas During Summer

July 7th, 2014 by

steamy-spaDo you lower your spa temperature during summer? Or keep it blazing hot all year ’round?

I wondered about this, so I took a short office poll, and I asked people on our facebook page this question.

Do you ever use your spa for cooling soaks, with lower water temperatures?

I  didn’t control for location, spa type, or any variables at all, actually – so not a ‘scientific’ study on spa use.

 

Nonetheless, the results were interesting! cool-spa

Of the adults surveyed, 80% of them prefer to keep their spa or hot tub – hot all year around. Assuming of course, that there are no spa heater problems! 18% of respondents indicated that they do use their spa for occasional cool water soaking.

Of course I had some follow-up questions for those who said Yes! to cool water soaking. I asked them what they used it for, and compiled the comments. Most were related to “cooling off!“, and quite a few mentioned exercise, or using cool water to perform low impact stretching or calisthenics.

 

spa-temp-lgrI also wanted to ask a multiple choice question: “What’s temperature is best for cool water soaks?” Some said they don’t even check, they just shut off the heat, and it seems to stay around 70-75 degrees. But for those that I could pin down to a 5 degree range, most preferred the water to be 70-85° – except for the few polar bears out there, that are still using it with water temperatures in the 60′s.

 

So how about you? Do you like to use your spa or hot tub at a lower temperature as a way to beat the summer heat? Or as a way for a low impact exercise, especially for illness or injury recovery?

Give it a try if you’ve never done it before! You can still turn the blower on, and put the jets on high for some hydrotherapy, and add some tropical spa scents to the water to enjoy it even more!

During the survey, I tried a cool spa myself, and I have to say it is great when the night air is hot.

 

- Jack

 

Hot Tub Covers – Design & Manufacture

June 26th, 2014 by

three_simple_gears_turning_300_wht_14495 - image from PMThe design and manufacture of hot tub covers has come a long way since the early days. Hot Tub Works is proud to use a fully computerized design, cutting and sewing process to ensure that covers are made to exact dimensions.

But computers can’t do it all, we tried computerized stitching, and you know what? Our seam team does a better and faster job. And our designers double check all designs before it is sent into production. In other areas of production, we have other vital team members that perform precise functions, as your new hot tub cover moves through our state of the art assembly line.

From design and layout, to boxing for shipment, we have used the Kaizen method of continuous improvement to fine tune every step of the process. If you’re interested in how we do it ~ how we make America’s most popular hot tub cover, and do it with the highest marks for customer satisfaction ~ read on.

ORDER PROCESSING

htw-order-processingWhether you are ordering online, or filling out our spa cover dimensions form, or just calling us with dimensions and some information about your spa, your order begins with our experienced team of cover techs – who know all the pitfalls of spa cover ordering, and have a process to root out errors – even if your dimensions are wrong!

Our order team can process over 250 spa cover orders per day! We’ve recently added yet another team member in this dept. (10 people now!) to help customers with order placement. They carefully check each order and confirm all details before forwarding your spa cover onto our production team.

 

PRODUCTION CONTROL

production-control-htwIn Production Control, our hot tub cover designers take the measurements and information about the spa, along with all of the specifications for the cover design and feed it into our CAD program. A CAD file is produced which is the digital design of your spa cover. using computerized design, we are able to send the measurements to our cutting machines, which begins our manufacturing process.

 

MANUFACTURING

htw-foam-roomThe CAD file is first sent to the Foam Room. Our technicians load the proper size, thickness and weight onto the cutting machine, which verifies the correct foam core is being used. The computerized cutting table quickly cuts the foam into the exact shape specified by the CAD file, with a least amount of waste possible. After the foam is cut and tagged with the manuf. number, it rolls down the line to be reinforced with a steel channel, and then vacuum-sealed. Wrapped in one or two layers of 6-mil vinyl sheeting, the ends are double heat welded, and then the air is sucked out, resulting in a super snug plastic barrier around the foam core, which prevents tears or rips, and locks out moisture.

htw-vinyl-room-Next, the CAD file is sent to the Vinyl Room. Technicians choose the correct color vinyl, and lay the bolt on the feeding machine. As it rolls out across the table, the vinyl is inspected for any imperfections before the automated cutting machine carves a quick and correct cut, in just the exact size. The vinyl is tagged with the same manufacturing number as the foam, and the vinyl heads to the Sewing Room.

htw-sewing-room-2

 

In the Sewing Room, our seam team takes pride in the quality of their stitches, between top and side panels, skirts, handles, zipper and scrim. With over 25 seamers in this department, it’s one of the largest (and noisiest). Besides sewing the ‘bag‘ for the foam cores, there are 27 different reinforcement points that are stitched up tight by the seam team. With the integration of the original CAD file prompting the sewing machines and seamers, we have the most state of the art sewing room in the business.

 

htc-ca-cover-inspectionsOnto the Assembly Room! In here, we ‘marry’ the vacuum-sealed foam cores with the vinyl bag and zip up the reinforced edge. Now, two quality control inspectors view every spa cover from all angles, making 24 different quality checks on every cover. After the cover is certified as ready to ship, it makes a short trip via rolling cart to the packing and shipping area.

 

SHIPPING

semi_pull_into_warehouse_anim_150_wht_14384In the Shipping Room our team packs your cover in a heavy gauge plastic, and then slides the cover into a right sized box, choosing one of 30 different box sizes we stock. Once it’s boxed up, it’s ready to go, and is immediately weighed and labeled for shipment, and rolled down the gangway for one of our 3 daily pick-ups.

 

~ The manufacturing process for spa covers seems complicated, but we have it down to a science of efficiency. But that’s not our only secret – people love working here. We try hard to create a low-pressure manufacturing environment. We don’t bonus our teams on increasing production, we bonus them on reducing mistakes, material waste and accidents.

Here’s a video of our hot tub cover factory, if you want to really see how the best hot tub covers are made!

 

 

- Jack

 

Automatic Spa Cover Lifts

June 12th, 2014 by

hydrocover_anim2We have blah-ged many times about spa cover lifters, how to select the best one for your spa, or how to install or repair.

Now for something completely different!  Have you seen AUTOMATIC spa cover lifts? Motorized spa cover lifters that do all the work for you! Especially needed for large and bulky spa covers, or 3 and 4-panel covers for swim spas.

Another great thing about some of these cover lifters is that the key operated system may provide a great deal of security for the spa, and prevent unauthorized use. Some are even tough enough to keep bears out of your spa!

 

Auto Spa Cover Automated Spa Cover Lift System

Fits with nearly any size spa cover, lifting even this 3-panel swim spa cover off the spa in 30-40 seconds. Use the waterproof remote control to open and close the Auto Spa Cover.

 

The Scorpion Automated Hot Tub Cover Lifter

This Canadian spa cover and lifter is a sleek, modern system that replaces a vinyl covered spa top. Very heavy duty construction and microprocessor controlled motors. Scorpion

 

NerokLift Automatic Spa Cover Lift

Colorado made remote controlled spa cover lifter is fast, and even handles a snow load with no problem. Sensors stop the motors if snow load is too great. Neroklift

 

The Covana automated hot tub cover lift

The Covana is part cover, part cabana. Heavy duty roof and frame comes in a variety of colors to match your home. Privacy shades and very heavy duty, nearly impenetrable. They also make a flat version for swim spas, new this year. Covana

 

Derolo Spa Cover

I told you this was something completely different! The UK design is similar to a pool auto cover. Rolls up the heavy duty cover in a low profile housing on one side, in under 20 seconds! Derolo

 

Spa Cover Power Lifters are Fun

I’m not sure what make and model of spa cover lifter this is – but this guy sure is having a good time opening and closing this key operated, solar powered automatic hot tub lifter! Great feature that it doesn’t bend the spa cover as it’s removed.

 

How much you say? Well, we don’t sell any automatic cover lifters currently, so I can’t say for sure, but I would guess that these are in the range of $1500-$5000.

I hope you enjoyed this video-blog on automatic hot tub cover lifts. They are fun to watch, aren’t they?

 

- Jack

 

Spas and Hot Tubs in the News

June 3rd, 2014 by

ice-fishermen

 

Spas and hot tubs make the news headlines from time to time. Some wacky stories, some sad, some just make you shake your head.

Today’s post is our bi-annual round-up of news stories that have spas and hot tubs as a central focus.

Diving right in, so to speak, here’s a reverse chronological run-down of this spring’s top stories involving spas and hot tubs.

 

 

Boy, 4, drowns in hot tub after hand gets stuck in suction drain

June 2, 2014 – Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES – A 4-year-old San Bernardino boy drowned over the weekend after his hand got caught in a spa filter, authorities said.

The boy, Cameron Nunez of Highland, was playing in a backyard in-ground spa at about 11:45 a.m. Saturday when his hand got stuck in an uncovered suction drain, according to the San Bernardino County coroner’s office.

Firefighters arrived at the home in the 2600 block of Mercedes Avenue and found Cameron in the spa, according to the San Bernardino City Fire Department.

They freed Cameron’s arm from the drain and pulled him out of the water, but he was unconscious and unresponsive, the fire department said in a statement.

Firefighters performed CPR on the boy and took him to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

San Bernardino police are investigating.

Hurricane Guide 2014; Shock the Spa and Strap Down the Cover

June 1, 2014, Miami Herald

MIAMI – For hot tubs and small spas, Bill Perrish, repair manager at All Florida Pool and Spa, said super-chlorinating the water and securely strapping a cover on will hold down the spa, protect its interior and preserve a source of clean water.

“The spa cover is cheap and replaceable, and in the event that you get flying debris, it’ll damage the cover instead of the spa,” Perrish said.

Next, spa owners should turn to their pumps. If it is not already bolted to the ground, it is important to secure it in place to keep it from dislodging and to take measures to prevent the equipment from becoming an electrical hazard. [or move your spa pack indoors, if there is a danger of flooding]

“Hit the breaker for all of the equipment and the lights in the backyard in case something gets dislodged, so that you don’t have live wires,” Ibarra said.

Odd Incident Involves a U-Haul, a Hot Tub and a Machete

May 23, 2014 – Statesman Journal, Salem OR

SALEM -Riley was arrested on Dec. 30 after a string of odd incidents involving a U-Haul, a hot tub and a machete.

It started with a house fire. The home, in the 7200 block of Silverton Road NE, was reported to authorities engulfed in flames at 5:20 a.m. Dec. 30. The family that lived there was on vacation at the time.

Later that day, police in the area found an abandoned U-Haul truck on 72nd Avenue that had knocked over a road sign and ended up in a ditch.

According to a police affidavit, a deputy with the sheriff’s office was in the area searching for a suspect for both the fire and the U-Haul when he received a call. Someone who lived nearby was reporting a suspicious person hiding in his hot tub.

The deputy tracked the suspect and encountered Riley coming out of a truck. Upon confirming he was the man hiding in the hot tub, the deputy then arrested him. A machete that had apparently been stolen from someone else was also located in the hot tub.

CHP: State worker tormented women with phony Craigslist sex ads

May 22, 2014, News10 ABC – Sacramento, CA

SACRAMENTO – A civil engineer with the California Department of Water Resources has been charged with identity theft for tormenting two women with sexually-explicit ads posted on Craigslist from his work computer.

The initial Craigslist ad, placed in mid-June 2013, was relatively innocuous: “I have a free hot tub to the person who shows up first. I am moving and must get rid of it today. Call 916-XXX-XXXX.”

Murray was apparently unaware of what Debra does for a living: She’s a cyber security specialist who suspected, based on the time of day many of the ads were placed, Murray was posting them from his downtown Sacramento office at 1416 9th Street.

“I think he knows now,” she said with a smile.

Researching Spas and Hot Tubs before Purchase

May 20, 2014, Action 9 News – Charlotte, NC 

CHARLOTTE – You may be shopping for a pool, spa, or hot tub, but be careful.

Stephen Beleau spent time and money making his yard relaxing. He shelled out $8,000 for a Dr. Wellness hot tub from RecDirect.

“We basically had problems with it from the beginning. It was overheating,” he said.

He says he couldn’t get the water below 106 degrees, a temperature the Consumer Product Safety Commission considers dangerous.

“It’s unusable,” Beleau said. Then, he says, the tub started leaking.

Mason City has new rules for residential spas and hot tubs

May 15, 2014, Globe Gazette – Mason City, IA

MASON CITY – Mason City has adopted new regulations and permitting requirements for residential pools, hot tubs and spas.

Curt Sauve, the city’s chief building official, said permits are now required for the placement and installation of permanent and portable above-ground swimming pools, spas and hot tubs that are 24 inches or deeper and located on the lot of one or two-family dwellings.

The new regulations contain provisions for a barrier or fence surrounding the water area and entrapment protection for suction outlets to reduce the potential for drowning of young children.

Deer Gets Stuck in Hot Tub

May 14, 2014, ABC-3 – Palm Harbor, FL

PALM HARBOR – A doe takes a swim in a Florida family’s hot tub then has to be rescued to get out. It was all caught on camera Deputy Timothy McTaggart of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office says the doe knocked herself out cold. “It wasn’t pleasant watching her struggle,” McTaggart said.

After about a half hour, two deputies and a trapper managed to pull the doe out to safety. “I’ve been in law enforcement for 25 years and i’ve never seen anything like this,” McTaggart said. “I immediately responded to just take care of the deer. That became my priority.”

They put a blanket over her head trying his best to keep her calm. When the trapper arrived, they eventually got the doe free by lifting her out of the spa.

Homeowner Mike Wyers says it’s not uncommon to see deer running around his yard and he’s just glad this story has a happy ending. “to see her kind of trot off into the woods, it felt really good,” Wyers said.

The homeowners say this isn’t the first time surprise visitors have stopped by. They’ve found alligators in their pool on three separate occasions.

Man Arrested in Theft of Three Hot Tubs

May 7, 2014, Great Falls Tribune – Great Falls, MT

GREAT FALLS – A Great Falls man sought by police in connection with the April theft of three hot tubs has been arrested, court documents say.

Jeremy Walraven, 37, was arrested Tuesday on a single felony theft charge. An earlier attempt to apprehend him April 22 resulted in the brief closure of 8th Avenue North during a foot chase in which he eluded officers, GFPD spokesman Sgt. Bryan Slavik said.

According to charging documents, three hot tubs valued together at about $9,000 were reported stolen from All Season’s Spas at 1205 Central Ave. the morning of April 8.

Detectives reportedly tied Walraven to the theft through tips provided by multiple confidential informants, including a Crime Stoppers hotline call April 21 that said Walraven had been planning to steal hot tubs from All Season’s Spa since last summer.

Slavik said shortly after Walraven’s initial alleged escape that they had reason to believe the hot tubs were being moved from out of town to an undisclosed location and were attempting to intercept him and the merchandise when he fled. All three hot tubs were reportedly recovered and returned to All Season’s at that point.

Walraven was ultimately apprehended Tuesday at 412 4th St. N., court documents say.

Canadian Ice Fishermen Keep Warm in a Hot Tub

March 9, 2014, Toronto Sun – Simcoe, Ontario

SIMCOE, ONTARIO – Some inventive ice fishermen in Simcoe, Ont., tried to liven things up by making themselves a hot tub out of plywood. They towed it out to their fishing hut by snowmobile, heated it with a wood burning stove and then proceeded to enjoy their excursion and the incredulous looks from other sportsmen out on the ice.

 

Sad or funny stories about hot tubs and spas – they never stop coming!

 

- Jack

 

Spa Chemical Start Up Guide

May 29th, 2014 by

hot-tub-chemistry-start-up

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

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

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

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

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

PRE-FILTER THE FILL WATER

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

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

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

BALANCE THE WATER

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

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

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

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

SANITIZE THE WATER

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

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

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

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

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

 

- Jack

 

When to Replace a Spa Pack

May 9th, 2014 by

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

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

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

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

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

 

SELECTING A NEW SPA PACK

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

SINGLE OR DUAL PUMPS?

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

PIPE SIZE?

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

INLET ORIENTATION?

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

VOLTAGE?

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

HORSEPOWER?

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

BLOWER?

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

DIGITAL OR AIR?

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

spa-pack-

 

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

 

- Jack

 

Bromine vs. Chlorine for Spas & Hot Tubs

May 1st, 2014 by

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

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

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

ROUND ONE: COST

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

Round One goes to chlorine – definitely a cheaper alternative!

ROUND TWO: CONVENIENCE

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

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

Chlorine comes out slightly ahead in Round Two.

ROUND THREE: STAYING POWER

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

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

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

ROUND FOUR: KILLING POWER

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

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

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

ROUND FIVE: STABILITY

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

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

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

Bromine wins Round Five!

ROUND SIX: OTHER

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

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

 

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

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

- Jack