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Archive for the ‘life’ Category

Hot Tub Pioneers – Len Gordon

November 17th, 2014 by

Our story begins here in southern California, in the late 60′s. Pool builders like Len Gordon (1925-1997) were adding attached spas to the gunite pools they were building.

spa-shell-patent-application-US-4142337-A--Interested in how he could simplify spa construction, and avoid the structural problems of adding a separate body of water – he and fellow builder Jack Stangle dreamed up drop-in fiberglass spa shells, similar to the hydrotherapy tanks that Jacuzzi was making.

Len Gordon saw potential in the inground spa market, and set up a manufacturing facility in a rented gas station; soon making several spa shells per day.

Len Gordon’s Fiberglass Spa Shells

The innovation and mass production of a drop-in fiberglass spa shell is often credited to Len Gordon Co., and soon after many other small manufacturers joined in, revolutionizing (or creating) the market for inground hot tubs. As Len told Spa and Sauna magazine in 1986, “The fiberglass shell was a contractor’s dream, all you had to do was dig a hole in the ground and you were just about finished. It cut the costs dramatically over gunite.”

Suddenly, an inground spa was within reach of nearly everyone, being that it was now much cheaper to buy and much simpler to install. Not too many years later, innovative manufacturers like Jacuzzi and Watkins began to create complete aboveground spas, which didn’t require digging a hole in the ground, or hiring lots of contractors.

Len Gordon’s Air Switches

I’m not old enough to remember, but in days gone by, the spa equipment was separate from the hot tub, and you had to climb out of the warm water to activate functions like jets, lights, heater, blower. There was no safe way to control this with electrical switches that were activated from inside the spa.

len-gordon-spa-controlUntil one day in 1974, while driving his truck to a job site; Len Gordon came up with the idea of an air switch, which could be operated from inside the tub. From a Len Gordon patent application:

“These air switches incorporate bellows which are compressed when the switch button is depressed thereby forcing air through a pneumatic tube to activate an electrical switch”

Len Gordon’s Legacy

Len Gordon company received other patents, one for an insulated high voltage switch which could be safely used from inside the spa, and in 1983 a top side control panel that integrated many air controls onto a single panel. The Len Gordon company discontinued spa manufacturing by 1980 and focused on their core products of spa switches and controls. They continued to operate for over 25 years, until Len’s passing in 1997.

len-gordon-ss2After Len’s death, the business carried on, buying a manufacturer of spa packs and controls, Brett Aqualine, in 1998. The Len Gordon company was sold by Len’s descendants in 2001 to Allied Innovations, where the business has carried on to this day.

One of the great “Hot Tub Pioneers”, Len Gordon was also a great guy to know or do business with – and is remembered fondly here in southern California, by many of the founders and friends of Hot Tub Works.

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

How To Install a Portable Spa Hot Tub

November 6th, 2014 by

deep-clean-your-spa-smSo, you saw our great prices on new spas, and unless this new spa is a replacement spa, you’re wondering what’s involved in spa or hot tub installation.

Whether you install one of our Plug & Play 120V spas, or a full featured premium spa running on 4-wire 240V, requiring an electrician, you’ll need to plan a few things in advance of receiving your new spa.

Spa Fencing

There are two types of fencing needed, safety fencing, to keep people and animals out, and privy fencing to keep out prying eyes.

For safety fencing – in most localities, a spa is under the same or similar fencing rules as apply to swimming pools, in the interest of public safety. Generally, a spa inside of a fenced-in backyard is acceptable. pergola-privy-fenceThere may not be an inspection of the fence in some cases, but still required nonetheless.

Privy fencing provides privacy, also a consideration when installing a hot tub, and also blocks the wind, which can cool the spa, and give you a chill while soaking. Frame your spa with large plants, and a 2 sided lattice fencing, or a pergola or cabana installed around the tub. Outdoor roll-up shades are also popular.

 

Tub Location

A convenient location is best, near the door. The area should be clean and dry (never muddy), and close to power and water. Shield the spa from as much sun, wind and rain as you can, and take care that storm waters will always drain away from the spa.

ezpads-for-spasThe surface supporting the spa must be solid, when full with water, a 6 person hot tub can weigh close to two tons! No wooden decks and certainly no balconies. A level, 4 inch slab of steel mesh reinforced concrete, on top of 4″ of gravel is sufficient in many cases.

Our hot tubs can be sunk into a deck when proper load bearing support is built to hold 150 lbs per square foot. Finally, consider view – both the view of the spa from the house and the view that you’ll have while in the spa.

 

Moving a Spa

spa-kartWhen the tub is delivered to your home, it won’t go any further than the driveway. From that point on, you have to figure out the shortest and safest route to the spa placement location. Professional spa movers use a Spa Kart to transport spas across lawns, over steps or into tight locations within the home. Check for local spa movers or rental shops for a solution, some even rent Spa Karts. Over smooth concrete it’s easy, but when the surface gets rough and uneven, you’ll need something with big tires, to support a spa of 400-600 lbs, along with straps and several hands to help.

 

Hot Tub Wiring

GFCI-spa-plug120V Spas: Most of our rotomold hot tubs are plug and play; 120V spas that plug into a standard, dedicated outlet. Dedicated means that nothing else is operating on that circuit. Plug the GFCI cord into a weatherproof 120V outlet (not GFCI), on a 15 or 20 amp breaker. The outlet should be between 5 and 10 feet from the spa, and no extension cords. 120V spas use less volts because they have smaller pumps and heaters, and few other features.

240v-spa-wiring240V Spas: Larger spas with 4-5 hp pumps and high wattage heaters require a 6 AWG, 4-wire 240V service to the spa, on a dedicated 40-60 amp breaker, with a cut-off switch or sub-panel, and other requirements, as per local electrical codes. They do not plug in like a washer or dryer, but use 4 wires inside of PVC conduit, with the last few feet of flexible conduit carrying the wires directly in through the cabinet and connecting to the spa pack.

Wiring a spa with 240V is not a recommended DIY project. A permit and an inspection is required in most areas, so it’s best to contact a local electrician who is familiar with the process of wiring spas and hot tubs. In most cases, hard-wiring a spa to the home main breaker, and installing a power cut-off near the spa is a $500-$900 job, depending on the length of the run from the breaker panel to the spa, and the route it must travel.

 

Filling a Spa

When the wiring and inspections are done, you can fill the spa, insert the spa filter cartridge.

loosen-the-pump-union-to-bleed-airWhen you first fill an empty spa, and sometimes when you drain and refill the spa later, and air lock will occur in the pump, and prevent the pump from catching prime. Instead of running the pump without water, which can damage the seals, loosen the union nut in front of, or on top of the spa pump just enough to let the air escape, and allow the water to fill the pump. When water begins dripping around the union, tightly up all unions tightly. Open up all gate valves in the system, and you are ready to begin filtering, heating and chemically treating your new spa!

 

Enjoying your New Spa

enjoy-your-spaThat’s the best part, after all the working of selecting, ordering, receiving, moving, wiring, inspecting, filling…now you finally get to enjoy the fruits of all your hard work and money.

Some accessories to help you enjoy your spa more include a spa cover lifter to help protect your spa top, and a supply of spa chemicals and test strips. Spa steps, handrails, and spa cleaning tools are on our spa accessories page – if you’ll pardon the shameless plugs.

Turn up the heat, and enjoy your New Spa from Hot Tub Works!

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Winterize a Hot Tub in 5 Steps

November 3rd, 2014 by

spa-winterizationWinterizing a spa is simple enough for the average spa owner to perform, with simple tools and equipment. Winterizing a wood hot tub? It is not recommended to drain a wood hot tub for an extended period, or else the wood will dry out and shrink.

To winterize a wood hot tub, you can follow the steps below, but then plug the lines and fill the hot tub back up with water.

To keep the water from freezing solid across a wood tub, use an air pillow like those used for aboveground pool winterization, or fill several gallon sized plastic jugs, filled 1/3 full of pea gravel or pool antifreeze. Float these in the hot tub to absorb ice expansion. Add spa algaecide or sanitizer to control algae growth and cover tightly.

To winterize a portable spa, one with an acrylic or fiberglass shell, follow these instructions:

1aDrain The Spa

You probably know this drill already, but in this case you need to get all of the water out of the spa – every drop. Open up the drain spigot and roll out the hose, or use a submersible pump (which is hours and hours faster). Shut off the power to the spa before draining and plan your drain – first by making sure the sanitizer level is low, and the pH is balanced. It’s best to run the hose to an open yard, and move the hose often, to increase disbursement. In most cases, spa water is safe to use to water planter beds, trees or lawns, as long as your sanitizer level is under 1 ppm, and you move the hose around often.

2a

Turn on the Blower

Once the water is drained out, you can turn on power to the hot tub, but keep the pumps and heater off. Activate the blower only, and unless you want a fine mist shower, put the spa cover over the tub first. After running the blower for a minute or less, allow the water to drain. If you have air jets in the seats or the floor, turn on the blower again and mop up the mist spraying out with a big towel. Wring out the towel and continue to wipe up any spray that continues to spit out from the small air holes.

3aBlow out the Pipes

This is the part that makes people nervous, but it’s really quite easy. You’ll need a large wet/dry vac, reversing the hose so that it blows air through the hose. Remove the skimmer basket and blow air through the skimmer, thru the filter, thru the pump, heater and back out through the spa jets. Be sure that all of the manual air intakes are open, and that all banks of jets are open. When all of the water has blown out, move the wet/dry vac inside of the spa, and blow air through the jets. You can also reverse the hose, and use suction to suck the water out. Be sure that all lines are open and all water has been removed.

4a

Winterize the Spa Equipment

Remove the spa filter and give it a good deep cleaning, or dispose of it if it has been in service for more than 12 cleanings or 24 months. Open up the union nuts on the pump and heater, to check for any remaining water, and allow it to drain out. When tightening back up, make sure the union o-ring has not slipped out. Look over the system closely, and open any drain plugs that you see on the pipes or equipment, especially those on lower pipes. Keep the spa drain open, in case any water gets in during winter, and be sure to shut off all power to the spa, at the main circuit breaker.

5a

Cover the Hot Tub

If your spa cover is not in the best of shape, invest in a cover cap, or tightly secure a tarpaulin over the spa, using bungee cords to keep it in place during high winds. If your spa cover is in good shape, it still would be a good idea to cover it, to protect the cover and to keep any rain or snow out of the spa. Another good thing to do during a spa closing is to clean and condition your spa cover, using one of our many spa cover care products.

 

~ That’s it! Just 5 steps to close a spa for winter, and a few more additional steps if you have a wooden hot tub. Drop me a line if you have any questions about winterizing your spa or hot tub.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Hot Tubs and the Ebola Virus

October 30th, 2014 by

bacteria-in-spasThe recent surge in Ebola cases has prompted a lot of concern and chatter on the subject. Hot tubs have once again become a target of health stories, with several news stories such as How Safe Are Hot Tubs?, WSJ Oct 20, 2014, or Ask Ila: Are hot tubs safe? Masslive Oct 24, 2014.

A great story recently comes from Lifehacker – just 9 minutes ago – Five Fear Mongering Stories That Are True (But Overblown).  The number one story is that Public Hot Tubs are Rife with Disease.

“It seems like once or twice a year, the news decides to remind us all that any type of public bathing is disgusting. These stories typically come about in overblown, hyperbole-filled rants about diseases like Legionnaires…”

Hot Tub Folliculitis

Some stories are true, in a hot tub with insufficient filtration, poor water balance, low chlorine and unwashed users – bacteria such as Pseudomonas can survive, which can cause hot tub folliculitis. However, even in hot tubs with measurable levels of pseudomonas, it can be prevented by limiting your soak time, removing swimsuits promptly and taking a soapy shower.Spa-and-hot-tub-test-strips-travel-pack

When I travel, I always carry along a travel size hot tub test strips, especially when traveling to places where hot tubs exist, like ski resorts, island resorts and cruise ships. Most hotels have hot tubs too, and unless you are visiting a Ft. Lauderdale beach hotel during spring break, you’ll find resort hot tubs to be nearly always vacant, with crystal clear water.

My two rules when using public hot tubs, are #1: Check the pH and chlorine level and #2: Clean and clear water is a must. A strong smell of chlorine is not the best indicator, as this usually means that the hot tub (or nearby pool) has high levels of combined chlorine, which is a poor sanitizer. A test strip will tell for sure – what the level of free chlorine is and, that the pH level is in a good range for the chlorine to work effectively.

Hot Tubs & Ebola

Can you contract the Ebola virus from a hot tub or spa? The quick answer is No, or at least probably not. The reason for this is that a virus cannot survive extended periods of time outside the host, or the body. According to Alan Schmaljohn from the University of Maryland, in water, the Ebola virus would be deactivated in a matter of minutes. Water is a very different medium than bodily fluids, and viruses cannot survive in hot tubs for long.

Especially in filtered, balanced, chlorinated hot tubs. Chlorine, or it’s little cousin Bromine, are powerful disinfectants, and at levels of 1-3 ppm for chlorine, or 2-4 ppm for bromine, the Ebola virus is killed nearly instantly. As the CDC and others recommend, chlorine bleach solution kills the Ebola virus.

So No – catching the Ebola virus from a hot tub, is probably very unlikely. However, some forms of bacteria can exist in over-used and under-maintained public spas, most notably Pseudomonas, as mentioned above.

Using Public Hot Tubs

As my new friends at Lifehacker would agree, don’t let some overblown media coverage prevent you from enjoying a nice soak at the gym, or while on vacation. Use your eyes and nose to check if the spa is clear (it’s easier to tell when the lights are up and the jets are off).

Use a chlorine / pH test strip to surreptitiously test the spa water. You can just saunter over and act like your testing the temperature with your hand, when hidden in your palm is a test strip, lol – that’s what I do! Then walk back to your seat and compare the strip for good pH and sanitizer level. please-shower

If you decide to enjoy the hot tub, limit your session to 15 minutes, and just to be safe – don’t drink the water or dunk your head underwater.

Oh, and be a good citizen – take a hot, soapy shower before and after you use a public spa or hot tub – a spa is not a bathtub!

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’
Daniel Lara

 

Hot Tub Pioneers – Jacuzzi Brothers

October 27th, 2014 by

Joseph-JacuzziMy wife, of all people, just said “I didn’t know that Jacuzzi was a family name.”  The story of the Jacuzzi brothers, and the origins of the business efforts that eventually became a household name, is simply fascinating, I told her.

Take a look, this is Joseph Jacuzzi, one of the seven Jacuzzi brothers who worked together to create innovations that the world could not live without. “Mmm-hmm” she says as her head tilts to her shoulder.

In his hand, he holds a closed vane impeller, used on their vertical pump design, the one that used the injection pump in the well and a multistage centrifugal pump above ground – and which revolutionized the agricultural well water pump and later spawned the origin of the Jacuzzi whirlpool bath? “Yeah.”

The Jacuzzi Impeller Design created more flow with less resistance, capable of much more lift with less work, than other impeller designs. During the last century, Jacuzzi Bros., inc. patented over 300 designs for impellers, propellers and turbines, for pumps, planes and ships.

jacuzzi-propeller-adThey started with propellers, for airplanes, and patented a very successful impeller, and later designed and built the first high wing monoplane with an enclosed cabin, and sold it to the US Postal Service and to commercial airline operators. They were propeller and aviation engineers before they were ever in the water business.

But, an unfortunate crash of one of their airplanes in 1921, which killed Giocondo Jacuzzi, led to the Jacuzzi brothers directing their knowledge of propellers and air dynamics into the development of impellers and flow dynamics.

jacuzzi-j300-pumpCalifornia farmers during the depression were needing a reliable way to bring up deep water at low pressure, to water crops. The Jacuzzi brothers designed a unique vertical pump design, which is still in use today by many farmers, across the world. It protects the motor from water, while reducing seal problems with the shaft. A multi stage volute, using multiple stack impellers, creates lift and suction from one centrifugal stage to the next.

jacuzzi-j300A scaled down, portable and submersible version of their popular agricultural pump was created for home use, and was found to serve a multitude of industrial and commercial water movement needs, especially for rural Americans. The J-300 pump was introduced in the fifties and became wildly popular for personal hydrotherapy (it’s original purpose) by just dropping it into a hot bath. Many more inventions followed, for marine, agriculture and consumer use.

It’s all about the Impeller

The impeller, which they also termed a “spider” was unique in design and function. From the original patent, US 2424285 A, filed in 1929 “These spiders are of star-shaped contour, having a plurality of ribs across the upper surface, extending from the points of the star toward the center. The ribs are curved to define passages offering minimum resistance to flow of liquid.”jacuzzi-impeller

Jacuzzi was not the first to use a curved vane, but they continued to refine the art with their dozens of patents filed on improvements in impeller efficiency, creating more output with less energy, and with less wear and tear, pump leaks, both common problems of the day.

A Spa is Born

Jacuzzi-spaAs the Jacuzzi company entered it’s third generation of family ownership, Roy Jacuzzi, fresh out of college, champions a new line of products – personal whirlpools, in 1968. In the seventies, this expanded to larger models called spas, with molded seats, pumps, filters and heaters. The determined Roy Jacuzzi traveled thousands of miles at trade shows and county fairs, building enthusiasm for this new lifestyle product, which caught on quite well I’d say. Through the eighties and nineties Jacuzzi Whirlpool sales represented 80% of company wide sales, completely overshadowing the swimming pool and agricultural line of products.

The Jacuzzi Brand

jacuzzi-logoSo yes, Jacuzzi is a family name, (Hi, Honey) – a brand name and not just a generic term for a hot tub. They are credited with the creation of what we call hot tubs and spas, and although the Jacuzzi family has long ago sold off the family business, the company continues to inspire with creative whirlpool and bath design and quality construction.

 

- Jack

 

Hot Tub Before Massage – or After?

October 20th, 2014 by

eskaya-beach-resort-spaIf you’re like me, you enjoy a good, professional massage. Preferably outdoors on a warm beach, beneath a shaded canopy. If that’s not possible, a local massage practitioner is the next best thing. Even better, some masseuses travel with a folding massage table and still make house calls!

Perhaps you’ve just booked your spa at a fancy spa resort, and well, of course they have a large, bubbling hot spa! So now you wonder, what’s better – a hot tub soak before getting a massage? Or enjoying the hot tub or spa after the massage?

Soaking for 15 minutes in hot water, at 100-105° F, relaxes the muscles, drawing out lactic acid. This loosens tight areas, deep in muscles and connective tissue surrounding joints. It reduces inflammation of joints, reduces blood pressure and increases oxygen flow to painful areas.

So, the answer to the question – “Hot Tub Before Massage?” is a resounding “Yes!” – you should slip into the hot water before your massage, whether your massage is local, or if you are at a spa resort. Just 15 minutes in a hot tub, right before your massage appointment, will make your massage more enjoyable and effective, and easier for your therapist.

patient_getting_massage_6895If you are at a fancy spa, don’t show up to your massage appointment dripping wet. Dry off beforehand, perhaps taking a cool shower rinse, to close up skin pores (you don’t want to absorb too much massage oil!). Your muscles will retain the heat from the spa for up to an hour.

After your massage, if you want to return to the spa for 15 mins – take a soapy shower to remove any massage oils (your spa operator will appreciate this), and another soak in the tub will do aching muscles and joints good, and give your pores another tall drink of water.

Be sure to drink lots of water after your massage, and also with each hot tub soak – both massage and hot tubbing use a lot of your body’s water, so replenish with water – or cucumber-melon infused water, if you’re at a fancy spa! If you’re at home, you could enjoy massage while in the hot tub, with these hot tub massage tips.

Either way ~ I’m so jealous!

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

 

Tips for Relaxation in a Spa or Hot Tub

October 1st, 2014 by

spa-readyA spa or hot tub is a great place to relax – if you can get it all to yourself, with a little peace and quiet, and privacy.

But even when it is – public and loud – you can still not only enjoy the soothing effect of the hot water, but take away a feeling of peacefulness – otherwise known as relaxation.

Here’s my Top 5 Tips for Tranquility in your spa or hot tub!

 

Meditate!

hot-tub-yoga-sm

My number one way to relax in the hot tub is to meditate. I wrote an entire post on hot tub meditation, so I guess I’m something of an expert – not! Meditation is a practice, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. You can meditate on a specific water location, or just focus on your breathing and sweeping your thoughts away. Music, a part of everyone’s list of relaxation tips, can also be used to help you ease into a meditative state more easily. Choose soft music, without lyrics, and keep the volume level low, sort of as background tones.

Decorate!

If you are lucky, you have a spa with a beautiful view, overlooking a valley or the ocean. If not, then decorate your space to provide something pleasant to look at, while at the same time adding privacy. Hedges or Trellis ivy provides both privacy and a softer view. Many people have their spa on the back porch or patio. Surround two sides with some tall plants, and maybe a large lithograph for the wall. An overhead fan is nice if your spa is in a covered area. And plants, lots of plants!

Smile!

smile-to-relax

It’s hard not to relax when your smiling. I know for me, I can improve my mood just by forcing myself to smile, or enjoy myself more. I’m not talking about a big Joker grin while you’re in the spa, just a subtle, soft upturn. Try it now, right now! I promise you you’ll feel better. And it’s the same for your hot tub, or traffic, or writing blog posts…everything’s better with a smile!

Breathe!

Deep breathing is another quick way to calm the body down, whether for meditation, sleep or relaxation. For me, after the spine tingling rush of getting in the hot tub is over, I take several deep breaths into my stomach. Then I take several full Yogi breaths, expanding my rib cage sideways, and filling my upper chest with air. Breathing is important for any activity – obviously, but for the most complete spa or hot tub relaxation, don’t forget to breathe!

Get Comfy!

spa-booster-seatSome spas have molded seats and pillows, and if there’s no one else in the spa, I can usually find one that’s just right for me – not too big and not too small. But, that’s not always the case. If your spa or hot tub seats are less than comfortable, do something about it! We have a padded spa booster seat and spa pillows that you can use – much better than trying to use a towel!

 

Enjoy your spa or hot tub!

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

Restless Legs Syndrome – Relief in a Hot Tub!

September 22nd, 2014 by

restless-leg-syndrome

Tomorrow (September 23) is the international day of awareness for Restless Legs Syndrome, otherwise known as RLS.

RLS is a neurological condition that gives sufferers uncontrollable leg movements, or urge to move the legs – a restlessness – especially while lying still, or trying to sleep. Symptoms are more pronounced at the end of the day, which also makes RLS a sleep disorder.

It has recently come to the forefront with millions of sufferers, even celebrities such as Keith Olbermann, former MSNBC talk show host who has been given a diagnosis of RLS. But, this is not a new condition, having been first identified 70 years ago, in 1945.

Symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome

  • A strong impulse to move the legs, especially when sitting or laying in a prone position.
  • Moving the legs or feet brings temporary relief.
  • Legs have feelings of tremors or pulling, itching or like bugs under the skin.
  • Involuntary jerking of the legs during the daytime, or kicking at night.
  • Insomnia, or poor sleep patterns, as a result of leg tremors.

Diagnosis of Restless Legs Syndrome

Your doctor can determine if RLS exists, although you may already have a good idea. Symptoms such as those above can assist in a diagnosis, however, there are no specific tests that can be used to make a definite diagnosis. Like other ‘experiential’ conditions, RLS is primarily diagnosed symptomatically – by how you describe your troubles to your doctor. Cramping and twitching of the legs, which worsens when the body is at rest, and tending to increase at the end of an active day, are typical complaints of a person suffering from RLS.

Relief for Restless Legs Syndrome

There are many contributors to RLS, such as diet, activity and lifestyle. Making certain changes can help alleviate symptoms, and there are many treatments available, including many Parkinson’s Disease medications that can help. Before seeking a medication solution, which can have side effects, it is recommended to try other self-help methods of relief.

  • Moderate exercise for the lower body, such as swimming, walking or biking.
  • Avoid sitting or standing in one position for long periods of time.
  • Stretches for the legs and lower back. Yoga and Pilates can be especially helpful.
  • Pressure massage can be very helpful, from a sympathetic partner or with a lower leg massage machine.
  • Swaddling the legs, or wearing compression socks is helpful for many sufferers.
  • Sleeping with a large pillow between the legs can also bring relief.
  • Steady sleep schedules can help reduce fatigue, which tends to worsen symptoms.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol and tobacco, which can also make symptoms worse.
  • Dietary supplements, especially Iron and Magnesium can eliminate symptoms.
  • Avoid stress, take it easy. Mental stress can aggravate symptoms.
  • If you are overweight, reducing caloric intake can reduce leg stress.
  • Avoid OTC sleeping pills, anti-nausea medications and antihistamines.

Finally, a warm bath before bedtime, or a short session in a hot tub, can bring fast relief, especially when combined with light stretching of the calves, hips and thighs. If you suffer from lower back pain, symptoms of RLS are frequently associated with tension that begins in the lumbar or coccyx region, and radiates down the back of the thighs.relief-for-RLS

Hot tubs and Spas bring relief to millions of people suffering from a variety of conditions. Restless legs syndrome is just one more. Give it a try! If you don’t own a hot tub, don’t rush right out and buy one, but first try a week of 20 minute soaks in a hot bathtub, with some light leg stretches. Point and pull the toes, pull the knee up toward the chest.

Immediately after leaving the bathtub or hot tub, try a kneeling position, with a straight back, buttocks resting on your heels. Standing up, stretch the calves by placing both hands on the wall and leaning in slowly. Stretch the thighs by lifting up your leg behind you, and pulling your ankle toward the buttocks.

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

Refinishing your Spa Cabinet

September 18th, 2014 by

SPA-CABINET-RESTORATION

A spa cabinet, or the outside staves of a hot tub, begin to fade and splinter after some time in the good ‘ol outdoors. Even manufactured wood spa cabinets begin to show their age after a while. You should avoid staining and sealing the inside of a hot tub, but the outside, or steps and cabinets around a tub or spa is an easy way to rejuvenate your spa or hot tub!

At some point, your spa cabinet will lose the luster it once had, and you will decide to do something about it. This post is about how to rehab your cabinets around a spa or hot tub – and protecting it, before winter sets in.

 

Keeping your Spa Cabinet Clean

To keep your spa cabinet clean, you have to think about the area surrounding the spa.

  1. Shield from sprinklers or roof runoff water.
  2. Shield from direct sun if longer than a few hours.
  3. Spray any weeds, keep plants 6″ away from cabinet.
  4. Cover bare ground around spa with gravel, mats or decking.
  5. Don’t let your spa overflow, or allow heavy splashout from the spa.

Refinishing Spa Cabinets

Spa cabinets can be made of wood, typically cedar or redwood varieties, but common nowadays are composite plastic materials, in colors, with grained or patterned finishes. These finishes don’t require re-finishing, usually a cleaning with a stiff brush and a bucket of soapy water is all they need. If you do want to spiff up your non-wood cabinet, you can use spa cover conditioner to restore a darker, glossy finish, and remove minor scuffs.

Wood cabinets can become faded, chipped and over time, begin to rot. Even cedar and redwood cabinets, more resistant to insect and bacteria damage (rot), will eventually begin to deteriorate. Regularly cleaning and sealing your cabinet, and taking care of those 5 things listed above, will keep any wood spa cabinet looking good for a lifetime.

STEP ONE: CLEAN IT

Cleaning a wood spa cabinet with a stiff brush is the first step. If you don’t have a heavy, short handled brush, you can use a toilet brush (lol), or unscrew the handle from a push broom, or floor scrubber. Fill a small bucket with a gallon of water and some dish soap. Then, just like cleaning a car, go around the cabinet and give it a good scrubbing, top to bottom.

Notice how the water drains off, and if it pools in any spots on the cabinet or below the cabinet. Lightly hose off the surface with a hose spray nozzle, or wipe clean with a wet sponge, going with the grain as you wipe. Let your cabinet dry for a good 24 hours before the next step.

step two: repair it

You may be able to skip this step, I hope. But if your wood spa cabinet has some areas of wood rot, with hollow loose areas that you can practically poke your finger into… Look for any loose nails or screws, or any bowed sections, anything unusual.

Chipped, rotted or decayed sections can be cut out with a razor knife, and filled in with wood filler or any exterior wall repair patch. This will slow the deterioration of the wood. Just lay it in there with a putty knife and allow it to dry.

Rough areas, or splintering wood cabinets can be lightly sanded with a medium grit sandpaper. Wrap it around a dry sponge to make a sanding block.

step three: stain it

If your wood has visible damage, or severe fading, a solid cover stain will hide more imperfections than a transparent or semi-transparent stain. If it is in very bad condition, with advanced fading and color differences, you can use an exterior paint, but this will hide the natural tone of the wood, and could require frequent repainting.

Take a picture of your spa color as you go to your local hardware supply to try and match the stain color as close as possible. When in doubt, always select a lighter colored stain than what you think you have. The smallest jar of stain (4 oz) is often enough for a spa cabinet. Tear off the can label after use, and tape or staple it somewhere inside your spa cabinet, so you can remember the stain color 5 years from now.

Despite some other spa bloggers that suggest that you use Linseed Oil (blogger war!), I would stay away from this unless you have a very dark colored cabinet. It can be hard to control the mix and application, and you could end up with a black spa cabinet. Other than a problem with darkening, Linseed Oil does make a nice wood preservative.

For best results in staining, use a clean, textured kitchen sponge, strained of excess stain. Be sure to use a drop cloth, wear rubber gloves, and keep a rag handy to wipe up any pooling.

step four: seal it

Sealing the stained wood is a most important step for protecting your restored finish. While your browsing stains and sealers, you’ll notice that there are many products that are stain-and-sealer in one (!). These are fine to use – I like to use the Mixwax PolyShades line of all-in-one, but there are others.

If you don’t use a combination stain and sealer, you can find several polyurethane sealers or waterproofing products. Look for a product that won’t need reapplication twice per year, but something that is more permanent. Choose your finish – matte, satin or glossy. After your stain dries, you can apply the sealer, with a sprayer, rag or sponge.

>>> Most spa cabinets will need a refinishing every 5 years or so. So, what are you waiting for? Clean it, Stain it & Seal it!

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

 

 

Advanced Hot Water Chemistry

September 15th, 2014 by

advanced-hot-tub-chemistry---PM

Beyond pH and Bromine levels, beyond alkalinity and calcium hardness – what else is there?

Maintaining a healthy hot tub is crucial not only for the users of the spa, to avoid sickness, but also for the integrity of your hot tub spa.

The following article on hot tub water chemistry will focus on 3 important tenets:

1. A Hot Tub is Not a Small Pool.

2. Chemicals behave differently in Hot Water.

3. Spa filters are important to chemistry.

 

1. HOT TUBS ARE NOT SMALL SWIMMING POOLS

Although many spa owners treat their spas and swimming pools the same, using the same test kits and even the same chemical treatments, there is a world of difference between the two. The largest difference is in volume. Easy enough to understand, a spa of 400 gallons is quite a bit smaller than a pool containing 20000 gallons.

The main distinction here is in gallons per bather. When 4 persons slip into a 400 gallon spa, that’s the equivalent of 200 swimmers in a 20000 gallon pool. A radical change in water chemistry occurs when people enter a hot tub. The pH tends to jump up dramatically, and the sanitizer is pummeled. The small cartridge filter, adequately sized for an unused spa, becomes immediately overwhelmed.

Bromine tends to respond better than chlorine in this situation, maintaining more efficacy at higher pH levels than chlorine, but even a high level of bromine is rapidly depleted in the presence of several spa users. This leaves your bathers unprotected from pathogenic microorganisms.

This is why a Hot Tub needs to have additional sanitation methods. Using an Ozonator and a mineral purifier together (in addition to bromine), is the best way to ensure extra protection for a hot tub or spa used by several persons at the same time.

This is also why it is so important for spa users to shower thoroughly before using a hot tub. I know that it’s difficult (if not outright rude) to ask guests to shower before using a spa, but just imagine all of the gunk that is washing off their (and your) body – bacteria, dirt, fungus, feces, oils, urine – to name a few. Not to mention all those chemicals from cosmetics, lotions, hair care products, shampoo and soaps. And your skin pores, opening up in that hot water…

 

2. CHEMICALS BEHAVE DIFFERENTLY IN HOT WATER

As water temperature rises, the viscosity or density of water decreases, and molecular activity increases. Sanitizing agents become hyperactive, and quickly dissipate. Carbonates and bicarbonates, hydrogen and hydroxyl ions, and calcium minerals all ‘fly’ around the water at breakneck speed, combining and separating in bizarre ways, not seen in colder water. Molecules in cold water have a greater atomic bonding, and resist change, whereas in hot water, molecular combinations (not all good) occur much more easily in hot water.

Cold water also holds much more entrained oxygen than hot water, and sound travels faster in cold water. Not much to do with hot tub water chemistry, I just think it’s interesting, that’s all. Everything that is in your hot tub water, every speck of dust, every droplet of bodily fluid, all affect water balance, and contribute to Total Dissolved Solids in a hot tub. It’s another property of hot water that solids break down more easily than in cold water. But they don’t go away, they are simply dissolved in the water.

Pool chemicals are not suitable for spas and hot tubs. Namely because of the labeling and dosages listed. It’s very easy to overdose or under dose a hot tub. Even for those chemicals that may be identical, such as pH up or Alkalinity increaser. Although chemically the same, spa chemicals are produced in finer grades, to dissolve more rapidly.

Other pool chemicals, such as clarifiers and algaecides, are not produced for use in hot water temperatures. They break down more readily in water of higher temperatures, and combine in ways that render them useless. These reasons are why you should not use pool chemicals in your spa or hot tub.

 

3. SPA FILTERS ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOU THINK

You may wonder what the spa filter has to do with hot tub water chemistry, but as the title implies, it’s more important than you may think!

Harkening back to our opening paragraph, when 3 or 4 people jump into a hot tub, it can overwhelm a spa filter. I’m speaking of the pleated filter cartridge that serves to strain out small particles in your hot tub. In most cases, their diminutive size is adequate for a hot tub that is not hosting visitors, but place a few humans in the equation, and it can take hours for it to catch up.

In spas, as in swimming pools, there needs to be a balance of sanitation and filtration. A balance is important, if you will – imagine doing it all with only one of these. If you only had sanitation (and no filtration – stagnant water), you would need a very large amount of sanitizer to keep the water clean and clear. Or – you could do without sanitizer, if you had a filter as big as a house, or circulation of hundreds of gallons of water per minute. But this is impractical, so we rely on a balance.

It doesn’t take long for a small cartridge filter to stop pulling it’s weight around a hot tub or spa. When this happens, much more is required of your sanitizer, or more sanitizer is required, I should say. I know that some of you may be guilty of going years without changing the filter cartridge. Sure you clean it – occasionally, but when was the last time you replaced your spa filter?

For best results, replace your filter cartridge every 10-15 cleanings, or every 12-24 months, depending on how often the spa is used. A spa filter that needs replacement won’t stand up and wave it’s hand for a substitute, it quietly keeps chugging along, allowing microscopic debris to pass through unfiltered.

When your filter is doing less than what is required, your water suffers, and it could affect the health of your spa users and your spa luster. Do yourself a favor and set a calendar reminder to replace your spa filter on a regular basis. Or, do what I do, and buy them in pairs, and alternate cartridges when one is removed for cleaning. This allows me to go 24 months between purchases, and also means that I allow the cartridge to dry fully after cleaning it, which kills any contaminants buried deep inside the fibers.

 

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works