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Bio-Film in Spas & Hot Tubs ~ How to Deal

November 18th, 2013 by

biofilms-in-spa-plumbing

Bio-film – if you’ve ever had to clean out internal parts of a dishwasher, you know what biofilm is, a multicolored, gross and slimy film.

That rough film over your teeth and gums, when you haven’t brushed your teeth for an entire day? Also biofilm.

Or, not to get really gross, but how about that stuff inside a toilet bowl that hasn’t been cleaned in months, or the gunk inside of a sink drain trap – what is that stuff? It’s all biofilm.

Bio-films are a mixture of organic materials, minerals and bacteria. Germs mixed with oils and dirt. Real nice. The bacteria feeds on the organics and such things as CO2, phosphates, nitrates and sulfates. Sorry to geek out, but I was a biology major in college!

biofilmVery soon after attachment to a spot inside a pipe, fitting, hose or jet, biofilm begins to form a chemical resistant layer that resists your spa sanitizers and also allows for growth without the water flow knocking it loose. It’s like a walled city!

Bio-films are living things, that grow by cell division. When a colony matures, it spawns new ones that break off into the flow of the water, and establish themselves somewhere else in your spa pipes and jets. Then the cycle begins anew in another place – an ingenious cycle of propagation and colonization.

CAUSES OF BIOFILM IN SPAS & HOT TUBS

  1. Poorly filtered spas, that don’t run the filter enough. Stagnant water breeds bacteria! Run the spa on low all the time, and on high every day for at least 2 hours. Replace your spa filter every 6-12 months, to trap asĀ  much free flowing biofilm as possible.
  2. Poorly sanitized spas, that don’t maintain proper pH and always have a good level of sanitizer in the water. Shocking the spa is also important, to continuously oxidize the water, which removes contaminants that could build into biofilm.
  3. Spas that are neglected and either sat unfiltered for weeks or months, or were drained and kept empty, but there was still enough moisture, condensation and existing biofilm in the pipes to grow the colony. Even while empty!
  4. Spas that are used frequently, with many users, have higher levels of the gunk that bacteria builds on and feeds on to begin establishing a biofilm colony. High use spas should accelerate drainage and shocking schedules.
  5. Spas that don’t Purge – the pipes with a product that cleans the inside of pipes, hoses, jets and all of the other little hidden places behind the walls of your spa. Use a spa pipe cleaner chemical twice a year to remove biofilm.

PREVENTION OF BIOFILM IN SPAS & HOT TUBS

  1. Never let the bromine or chlorine residual to drop to zero, even if you use ozone or minerals.
  2. Maintain the best water balance you can, check the chemistry at least twice per week.
  3. Use spa shock regularly, maybe every other time you use it, otherwise weekly.JetClean
  4. Replace your spa filter every 6-12 months, or after 10-15 cleanings.
  5. Use Jet Clean twice per year, to remove build up that you can’t see.

Don’t let Biofilm ruin your day. Keep a clean spa, and start using Jet Clean every 6 months. They should have called it G.R.O.S.S. – “Gets Rid of Slimy Stuff”! It really works, and you get the satisfaction of actually seeing all of the ‘gunk’ float to the surface after treatment.

For more bio-tastic information see Daniel’s post “Is Bio-Film Lurking in your Spa?”

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

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