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Archive for the ‘spa chemicals’ Category

Test & Balance Hot Tub Water

July 6th, 2015 by

filling-the-spa-or-hot-tubI know some people who claim to have “perfect” spa water right out of the tap – “I don’t even need to test it”, they say.

That may be true for some people, but for the majority of spa owners, the water from the tap or hose may have very low levels of calcium, alkalinity, pH. Well water can also contain loads of minerals and metals, and city water can be full of chloramines and other water treatment byproducts.

When filling a spa after draining, you start fresh again, with “New” water. What follows is a step-by-step on how to test and balance spa fill water, to make it perfect for hot tubbin’.

 

1. Pre-Filter the Water

For well water, this is a must. “Yeah, but my well water goes thru filters and a conditioning system” you may say, but did you know that most outdoor hose spigots are not connected to a home water treatment system? Only kitchen, bath and laundry. You can fill a hot tub from a utility sink, if you have a faucet adapter, or you can just screw a pre-filter onto the end of the garden hose. A spa pre-filter traps minerals, metals, chloramines, bacteria and hundreds of other junk that you don’t want in your spa water.

For city water too, a pre-filter will remove pathogens and impurities (remember that city water is partially made up of raw sewage), and pre-filters remove chloramines. It also removes dissolved solids, down to 1 micron, which is quite small and invisible. Even if your tap water looks good and smells good, filtering it as you fill the hot tub will improve the water quality – and make your spa water easier to manage.

2. Check Calcium Hardness

The first step after refilling a spa or hot tub is to check the hardness of the water. Test strips can be used, but a liquid test kit is much more accurate. For hot water spas and hot tubs, water that is too soft can foam easily, and also makes the water aggressive and corrosive to pump seals and o-rings, and shiny spa finishes. Spa water that is too hot can cloud easily, and deposit scale around fittings and at the water line. For spa water that is too soft, (under 200 ppm), add Calcium Increaser to raise the level, making the water “harder”. For water that is already hard (over 400 ppm), common in many parts of the country, well – we don’t have a chemical to lower Calcium Hardness, but using the Pre-Filter can lower total hardness by several hundred ppm. Spa hardness is best in the 180-220 ppm range.

3. Check pH & Alkalinity

pH and Alkalinity are close cousins, as outlined in a recent post. Total Alkalinity measures the carbonates and bicarbonates in the water, which act as a buffer to pH change. If your pH “bounces” or changes easily, you likely have low alkalinity. If your pH is resistant to change, you likely have high alkalinity. For spa water with low alkalinity (under 80 ppm), add Alkalinity Increaser to raise the level. For water with high Alkalinity (over 150 ppm), use the pH Down chemical or other acid, to lower the level – which will also lower your pH level somewhat. After filling the spa, adjust alkalinity to the 80-120 ppm range. Spa pH should be in the 7.2 – 7.6 range. A proper pH helps bromine and chlorine work their best, and helps prevent damage to seals, o-rings and surfaces. If your tested pH is too high, add an acid (pH Down), and when it’s too low, add a base (pH Up).

4. Add Bromide & Bromine

One disadvantage to dumping the spa water every 3-4 months is that you lose your bank of bromide ions. Bromine, unlike chlorine, takes a while to build up a “bank” of bromide ions. It can take several weeks of waiting for bromine tablets to dissolve, shocking every few days – or the faster recommended method is to add some Bromine Booster to the spa. Just a few capfuls of Brom Booster brings up the level of bromide ions, so that you can see some results when you test the bromine level. After adding bromides to the spa, fill the spa floater or brominator with half a dozen 1″ bromine tablets. Test the bromine level over the next few days, your spa may need slightly fewer (4) or slightly more (8) bromine tablets, to register a consistent 3-4 ppm bromine reading.

>>> After all of that work, you’re ready for a dip in the tub! Here’s one more Tip: write down exact quantities of what you need to add to fresh fill water – chances are, your source water will stay fairly stable and consistent in it’s chemical balance, so write down exactly what you need to add to make it perfect for hot tubbin’.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

 

 

What Chemicals are Needed for a Hot Tub?

June 29th, 2015 by

hot-tub-chemistry-start-upSpa chemistry is something that needn’t make you anxious, and once you get the hang of it, most hot tubs will exhibit something of it’s own chemical personality, one that you will get to know well.

What I mean is, you will get to know when it needs more of something, and if you were to really geek out, and keep a spa chemical log, (like me!), you can see water balance trends over time.

For instance, my hot tub is tested 2-3 times per week, and I record my readings in a little book. If I flip back thru, I can see that about every 3 weeks I lower the pH, and about every 6 weeks I need to raise the alkalinity. I also see that on average, I use about 14 bromine tablets and 9 oz of spa shock every month. Good to know.

break-it-downBut you didn’t come here to hear stories about my hot tub – you came here to find out exactly what chemicals are needed to maintain a hot tub? What do you need to buy? And, what do you Really Need, and what is more… Optional.

There are a half-a-dozen different categories of hot tub chemicals, each with about a half-a-dozen different chemicals, from about a half-a-dozen different brands. And that’s what makes hot tub chemicals seem so confusing; let’s see if we can’t Break it Down into smaller chunks…

 

MUST-HAVE SPA CHEMICALS

  • Test Strips or Test Kit – test spa water 2-3x per week
  • Bromine tablets – for continuous sanitation
  • Bromine Booster – Raises bromide levels after draining
  • Spa Shock – regular super-sanitation, weekly
  • Spa pH & Alkalinity Balancers – as needed

NICE-TO-HAVE SPA CHEMICALS

  • Spa Calcium Increaser – increases water hardness
  • Hot Tub Clarifiers – coagulates small particles for easier filtering
  • Spa Cartridge Cleaner – get a second year with a deep cleaning
  • Mineral Purifier - purifies with copper and silver ions
  • Spa Polish / Spa Cleaner – clean and polish the spa shell

AS-NEEDED SPA CHEMICALS

  • Defoamer – for foamy spa water
  • Metal Remover – or metal stain removers
  • Spa Cover Cleaner – and conditioner
  • Jet Clean – biofilm cleaners
  • Leak Seal – seals up weeps, seeps, leaks6-month Bromine Spa Care Kit

A simple and more economical way to stock up on the basic spa care chemicals is to buy one of our 6 month spa care kits. We have 8 different spa chemical kits available from mild to wild, in your choice of bromine, chlorine or Nature2 mineral sanitation.

As a bare minimum, you have to have chemicals to test and balance the pH, continuously sanitize the water, and regularly oxidize (shock) the spa. An ozonator or mineral purifier by itself can’t do the job alone; in addition, put bromine tablets into a spa floater, and then add a few capfuls of spa shock after using the spa.

Also important is to test and maintain the pH and Alkalinity, so it doesn’t get too high or too low. Use test strips to test the water, and then add a pH or alkalinity increaser or decreaser, if pH has strayed outside of 7.4-7.6, or alkalinity is below or above the range of 80-120 ppm.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Hot Tub & Spa Safety Products & Practices

June 8th, 2015 by

toddler-in-a-hottub-from-here-to-maternity-dot-comSafety products for spas and hot tubs? If you’re wondering how to child-proof your hot tub or spa, it’s a question that we get a lot here ~ new parents asking how to keep toddlers and children safe around hot tubs.

Not as common as pool safety products, which have several types of safety covers and dozens of pool alarm systems, but there are several practices and products that you can use to elevate your hot tub safety.

Today’s blog is a list of spa safety products and some hot tub safety tips to make a spa safer for children to be around.

 

LOCKING SPA COVERS

PLEASE-LOCK-THE-SPAEvery hot tub should have a spa cover in good condition, and cover straps with clips in at least 4 locations. If your cover begins to take on water, or puddle in the middle, buy a new spa cover, or replace the foam panel inserts. The small cover clips don’t look like much protection, but they’re almost impossible for small hands to operate. For more protection use our heavy duty spa straps, meant for protection from high winds, but they also function as another layer of protection.

LOCKING SPA CABINETS

lock_icon_image_150_wht_16460Most spa cabinet doors open fairly easily, and many have a magnetic latch that prevents the system from starting if the door is ajar, but very few people I know lock their spa cabinet door. All you need is a latch and padlock from a hardware store, and a screwdriver to install it. This will protect small people (who are always drawn to small doors) from getting under the spa, into the equipment bay, where electrical hazards (and other hazards) exist.

DOOR & GATE ALARMS

door-alarms-by-poolguardAnother good option to secure the spa is to use door alarms for any door or window that leads to the hot tub area. Like the pool fencing below, door alarms are a pool product that is easily adapted for increased hot tub safety. They install easily in minutes, and run off a 9V battery, like a smoke detector. Pass thru button allows adults to enter through either direction without setting off the alarm. Gate alarms can also be used, mounted on fence posts for backyard gates. They operate the same way as door alarms, but have attachments for different fence posts.

HOT TUB FENCING

In most areas, a suitable fence is required to install a hot tub. However, I know that there are many spas and hot tubs that don’t have a fence anywhere nearby. A good fence around the backyard will protect your neighbors and local wildlife from potential catastrophe, but what about children inside the house? In many homes, one door on the back of the house is all that separates a spa or hot tub. safety-mesh-pool-fencingAn easy solution is to install removable pool safety fencing around the spa, to create a secondary barrier to the hot tub. Mesh pool fence panels are 10 ft long, and install into wood or concrete; removes easily when using the spa, or when children are grown.

SPA CHEMICAL STORAGE

spa-chemical-lockerWe’ve talked before about safe spa chemical storage, here and also here, and shown you many ways to creatively and safely store spa chemicals. Tips for safe spa chemical storage won’t include storing them in the hideaway steps, or underneath the spa. Just like other household chemicals, hot tub chemicals need to be stored safely out of reach of children. A sturdy, locking chest or box with a latch is most suitable. Simply storing them out of sight, or out of reach (on a high shelf for instance), may not be the best place to keep your spa chemicals.

IN-GROUND SPA SAFETY

Some of the most unsafe spa designs is an inground or sunken spa. This is because they are at ground level and are often left uncovered or the cover is not anchored into the ground. For an inground spa or hot tub, you can secure the cover clips into the floor, just use a masonry or tile drill bit and use anchor sockets. indoor-inground-spaI also recommend the thickest and strongest spa covers for inground spas, 6″ tapering to 4″, to protect the spa cover from dancing kids, falling adults and sleeping dogs. It is common to use a flat cover indoors, but these are not very strong or energy efficient.

HOT TUB SAFETY PRACTICES

  • Always put the spa cover back on and latch the clips after use.
  • Keep the spa chemicals and the spa equipment safely locked up.
  • Consider additional layers of protection, like alarms and fencing.

single_eye_movement_150_wht_9341I applaud you for childproofing a hot tub, or making your spa safer, and commend your excellent research that lead you to my little ‘ol blog post! Whether you are protecting kids or grandkids, remember that there is no substitute for supervision! Keep a watchful eye on the children!

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

 

 

 

pH & Alkalinity in a Hot Tub or Spa

June 1st, 2015 by

digital-strip-testerToday’s post is hopefully a simple post, although it can be a complicated topic. pH and Alkalinity are close cousins in water chemistry, each affecting and affected by, the other.

pH is a measurement of how acidic (below 7.0) or basic (above 7.0) – your hot tub water is. Alkalinity is a measurement of the amount of carbonates and bicarbonates in the water, which act as a buffer to help stabilize pH.

When pH is LOW (below 7.0), the water becomes corrosive to seals, gaskets and plastics. When pH is HIGH, the water can produce scale, leading to cloudy spa water or deposits of calcium on surfaces and inside pipes.

Lower pH by adding Spa pH decreaser, or sodium bisulfate.
Raise pH by adding Spa pH increaser, or soda ash.

When Alkalinity is LOW, this causes pH to “bounce” or change easily – you may raise the pH, but it only lasts for a few hours. When Alkalinity is HIGH, this makes it hard to adjust pH in the first place, it makes pH very resistant to change.

Lower Alkalinty by adding Spa pH decreaser, or sodium bisulfate.
Raise Alkalinity by adding Spa Alkalinity increaser, or sodium bicarbonate.

The problem is… trying to adjust alkalinity without affecting pH, or vice versa. Fact is, you can’t – since they are both so closely related – but there are some tricks up my sleeve.

  • To Lower Alkalinity more than pH, add the pH decreaser with the spa pump off
  • To Lower pH more than Alkalinity, add the pH decreaser with the spa pump on
  • To Raise Alkalinity more than pH, use Alkalinity Increaser, with the spa pump off
  • To raise pH more than Alkalinity, use pH Increaser, with the spa pump on

Another problem is… overdosing the spa or hot tub, and swinging the pH and Alkalinity far to the other extreme. Know your hot tub size in gallons, and refer to the label for dosage per 100 gallons.snake-oil-salesman-sm

Dosage is almost always just a capful or two, a few ounces – so be careful not to over-shoot the mark! Add a small amount and retest the water after 30 minutes, and if needed, re-dose again.

When lowering alkalinity, you may have to raise the pH again afterwards, just slightly, which may also raise your alkalinity again just slightly. In some cases, where alkalinity has drifted very high, over 150 ppm – you may need to make many adjustments – sort of a two steps forward, one step back kind of thing…

TIP: When buying pH and Alkalinity adjustment products for your spa – there’s no need to overspend. We have all of the major spa chemical brands, and also a lower priced house brand of spa pH and alkalinity chemicals.

TIP: Don’t use Pool Chemicals in your Hot Tub. Chemically, pH and alkalinity adjustment chemicals are the same, but the labeling is for a pool 100x larger, which makes it quite easy to over or under dose, even if you are good at math!

Keep at it! It’s important to have correct spa pH and alkalinity, both for protection of spa equipment and surfaces, and so that your sanitizer works most effectively.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin;’

Daniel Lara
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

 

Spa and Hot Tub Water Color Problems

April 30th, 2015 by

color-wheelWe’ve all been there before, when you lift the spa cover to discover a color other than clear blue. Hot tub water can be all colors of the rainbow when conditions aren’t right. Yellow, brown, green, white, and any shade in between.

Today’s topic is how to identify and troubleshoot colored spa water, to restore your beautiful blue spa water. It doesn’t matter what type of spa or hot tub you have, or even if your tub is as big as a pool, you can use these tips to fix colored hot tub water.

After you’ve spent several months (or years!) taking care of your spa – your trained eye can tell right away when something’s not right. A bit less sparkly and translucent, dull and dirty looking. Or one of these strange spa water colors ~

HOT TUB WATER IS GREEN

green-hot-tub-waterWhen your spa has a shade of green, one may immediately think of algae, and if your sanitizer has been low, or your filter cartridge dirty, it very well could be algae. Touch the sides of the spa, and if it feels slimy, you can bet you have a small algae bloom on your hands. Algae can grow even under a spa cover, in the dark, and in hot water. To treat a hot tub for algae, check and balance the pH and alkalinity, and add a shock treatment. After filtering out dead algae, it’s always recommended to replace the spa cartridge with new.

Green hot tub water can also be from a mineral we know as copper. It can enter the water from copper pipes carrying fill water, or from natural well water. It can also come from copper heat exchangers used in gas fired heaters, or could come from using copper pool algaecide in a spa (not recommended). This is the same copper that can turn a swimmer’s hair green – but the water can be clear and bright green, without slime on the surfaces. Remove copper from hot tub water with CuLator.

HOT TUB WATER IS YELLOW

yellow-hot-tub-waterYellow algae is a particularly resistant type of algae that can exist in a dark heated hot tub, even in the presence of normal bromine or chlorine levels. It seeks out small out of the way crevices, and when in full bloom, will deposit itself as sheets across the spa surfaces. Treatment for yellow algae is to use a very high level of chlorine spa shock. Balance the water first, and turn off the heater before shocking the spa. Allow the water to circulate for several hours, with the cover removed. If the level drops to zero within 24 hours, shock the spa again, until it holds the chlorine level. After this shock treatment, drain and scrub the spa, bleach wash the spa cover and replace the spa filter with a new cartridge.

Yellow hot tub water can also come from an excess of Pollen in the springtime, especially if you have left the spa cover for some time, or iron oxides in well water can impart a yellowish color to the water, especially if the spa turned yellow after shocking. If you are on well water, use a pre-filter to remove all minerals from your fill water. Finally, if your bromine level is extremely high, the water can take on a yellow-red color, especially in the presence of low pH. Don’t enter a spa if the bromine residual is over 5 ppm.

HOT TUB WATER IS BROWN

brown-hot-tub-waterBrown water is not the most appetizing hot tub water color, and if your spa suddenly turned brown – the color of tea, you can once again usually find the problem to be high levels of minerals, namely iron oxide. This may occur within hours after shocking the spa, or making big pH adjustments. The filter cartridge should remove some of it, but to clear it up faster, you can force it back into solution with a sequestering agent like Metal Gon.

Brown spa water also occurs from contaminated fill water, and during dry hot periods, some municipal water supplies begin scraping the bottom of the barrel, which adds a lot of particulate matter to the water supply. You can combat this by using a Pre-Filter on your hose when you fill the spa, to remove even microscopic particles from your fill water.

HOT TUB WATER IS WHITE

white-hot-tub-waterMilky hot tub water, so cloudy that the water appears white can come from many causes. High calcium or alkalinity, or ineffective filtering or pumping, or air in the system causing micro-bubbles – all can make hot tub water turn white-ish. Contaminants from body lotions, cosmetics and hair products can also change the water color from blue to white. If your spa has cloudy water, here’s a blog post with 10 reasons why.

White hot tub water can also be infected with white mold, a type of bacteria that grows in small clumps and clusters. In spas that have not been maintained properly, this type of slime can be difficult to remove, but can be treated effectively with raising chlorine level to 30 ppm, running the spa for several hours and then draining. Replace the spa filter, and rinse all removable items like spa pillows, nets, baskets and thermometer in a strong bleach solution. Use a biofilm remover like Jet Clean to clean out the pipes.

HOT TUB WATER IS PINK

pink-hot-tub-waterPink algae is a close cousin of white water mold discussed above. Not actually an algae, it’s a form of bacteria, although it displays characteristics of an algae.  Pink spa water is not a very common color for spa water, and pink algae won’t actually color the spa water pink, except in very mature colonies. Treatment for pink algae is similar to white mold above. It’s not easy to eradicate, as it is able to tuck away cells that are difficult to reach – but it can be eradicated, by hitting it hard with shock (over 30 ppm), and using a purge product to clean the lines and crevices. Also be sure to replace your spa filter, and soak all spa items in a strong bleach solution before refilling the spa.

Don’t let colored hot tub water get you down! There’s always a solution….

 

Carolyn MosbyHot Tub Works

 

Foam in Hot Tubs

April 6th, 2015 by

image purch'd from istockFoaming in hot tubs and spas is a problem that every spa owner will have at one time or another. Even if you take great care of your spa, always ensuring good sanitation and filtration, foamy spa water can become an issue, so don’t be embarrassed if it happens to you! A little bit of foam is normal, especially if you run a bubble blower, but if there’s more than a thin layer…

You could drain the hot tub, and refill with fresh water, but that won’t always fix the problem. Read on for some fresh thoughts about foamy hot tubs and spas – and how to fix the foam!

 

What Causes Hot Tub Foaming?

  • Jokesters adding soap to the hot tub
  • Soft water, Calcium Hardness too low
  • High pH and Total Alkalinity levels
  • Soaps on skin and swim wear
  • Cosmetics and hair care products
  • Certain low grade spa chemicals
  • Body oil or oils from foods

 

How to Control a Foamy Hot Tub

The fast way to fix a foamy spa is to use anti-foam agents. Just spray a small amount over the surface of the water. The silicone based chemical immediately spreads over the entire surface, and destabilizes soaps and foams, popping all of the tiny bubbles!

A better way to control hot tub foam is to not have it in the first place. Using defoamers or anti-foam is just a temporary fix. It doesn’t do anything to solve the problem of how the soaps and oils got into the hot tub in the first place.

 

How to Prevent Hot Tub Foam

  • Balance the Water – pH, Alkalinity, Calcium.
  • Maintain a constant sanitizer residual.
  • Shower thoroughly before using spa.
  • Keep your head above water at all times.hot-tub-foam
  • Observe spa capacity limits, and limit soak time.
  • Rinse bathing suits washed with soap before use.
  • Replace your spa filter regularly.
  • Replace your spa water regularly.
  • Add sanitizer support, like minerals or ozone.

 

Spa Water Balance and Foamy Water

What’s water balance got to do with it? Nearly everything it seems; when pH and Alkalinity are high, and Hardness levels are low, the water becomes “slippery” and fats, oils and dirt combine into soaps. Soap also enters the spa on swimwear, skin or hair and finds it easy to multiply in a high pH, soft water environment.

Good water balance also allows your sanitizers to work more effectively, reducing contaminants and breaking up oils and scum that can become components of foamy water. Soap scum, or a bathtub ring around the spa is another result of poor water balance.

 

Using Anti-Foam in a Spa or Hot Tub

  • Balance chemistry first, for best results.
  • Clean or replace spa cartridge filter.
  • Follow dosage directions carefully.
  • Re-dose with Anti-Foam only after 8 hours.
  • Lock it up, to prevent re-dosing by others.

 

Cloudy Water and Hot Tub Foam

The often go hand in hand, cloudy water and foamy water, and you’ll rarely have one without the other. In fact, may of the conditions and symptoms are the same, and one can cause the other as well. The same tips listed to prevent hot tub foam apply to cloudy hot tub water.

Adding air into the jets, passive air or pumped air (blower) will exacerbate a foaming problem, as it will entrain air (tiny bubbles) into the water, giving an appearance of cloudy water, but also whipping up the water into a foamy froth.

 

Chemicals that Cause Foam in Hot Tub

  • dont-use-household-cleaning-productsLow grade bromine or chlorine products
  • Low grade algaecides (10%)
  • Biguanide sanitizer chemical
  • Household cleaners or soaps

 

Biofilm and Hot Tub Foaming

biofilms-in-spa-plumbingWe’ve reported on Biofilm in Hot Tubs many times on this blog. In cases where hidden biofilm is allowed to build-up, they can provide and endless source of oily scum that can easily turn into a foaming problem. If you’ve tried everything else to reduce spa foam, but it keeps returning, consider using a product to strip the pipes and equipment of any biofilm. Spa Purge or Jet Clean are two good products. Use annually to prevent new colony formation.

 

How much Foam is too much Foam?

Just about every spa will have some small amount of foam, and even on well maintained spas, you may notice foam beginning to develop as your spa water gets older. Yes, foamy hot tub water can be a sign that it is time to change the spa water.

When there is more than an inch of foam however, it begins to get annoying, but the larger reason to deal with spa foam is that foamy water becomes an ideal transport medium for bacteria, emulsifying it to the surface where it can be more readily absorbed by bathers.

 

FOAM PARTY IN A HOT TUB

too-much-spa-foamIf you were a victim of a joke, or have a teenager who thought Foam Party in a Hot Tub would be a good idea – drain the hot tub, flush the lines out several times and clean all surfaces before it’s refilled. After refilling, balance and shock the water. If you still have soap residue, use Jet Clean or a similar Purge chemical to clean the pipes.

Foam hot tub parties may be fun, but you really need to clean well afterwards, and there may still be soap residue after draining the spa several times. Plus, it can be unsafe – so do yourself a favor and just say no to hot tub foam parties!

 

- Jack

 

 

Hot Tub Chemical Storage Ideas

March 23rd, 2015 by

Is the Container Store a favorite hang-out for you? Do you spend hours organizing everyone’s sock drawer in the house? Do you feel a calm sense of control when your surroundings are neat and orderly? Me too – storage and organization is kind of a hobby of mine. My Pinterest page is filled with ideas for organizing around the home and office.

Today I bring you some ideas for organizing spa chemicals, so they are visible and orderly – but also, and more importantly safely out of the reach of children and pets. Spa chemicals also need to be kept cool and dry, and be separated for safety. More on that later, but first, I have 4 ideas for organizing your spa chemicals and cleaners.

 

spa-chemical-storage-in-a-bench1. Deck Bench Hidden Storage

Part deck railing, part bench, the flip-up lid on this custom made wooden bench flips up to a large expanse for chemicals, filters, cleaners, and cleaning tools.

The problem with this design however is that the storage is outdoors, and subject to wide temperature extremes and humidity. High heat can cause some spa chemicals to expand and very cold temperatures can reduce potency. Moisture from rain or humidity is bad on many levels for spa chemicals. And, unless you add a latch to the lid, this design won’t keep out children.

 

 

spa-chemical-storage-rubbermaid2. Rubbermaid Storage Cabinet

This type of cabinet is perfect for garage or shed storage, and is suitable for wall mounting, to keep it off the ground, away from water and children. It also has a latch which can be locked.

You can install this indoors as well, to store your chemicals in a climate controlled environment. A plastic cabinet like this one will not corrode like metal cabinets will, in the presence of chlorine or bromine gas.
 

 

door-organizer-for-spa-chemicals

3. Over the Door Organizer

You’ve seen these used for cleaning products or shoes before I’m sure. I have used one for my shoes for years, but they can also be useful in office supply closets, laundry rooms and in spa storage closets.

Of course, this idea may not store all of your spa chemicals or cleaning tools, but it can hold the regular size bottles and test strips, and cleaners.

This has some great advantages in that the products are kept separate and snug in their own pouch, away from each other.

 

 

sterilite-bin-for-spa-chemicals4. Sterilite Storage Bin

A favorite method of thousands of spa owners, keeping your chemicals in a portable box allows you to keep them high and dry, even if you store the spa chemicals outside.

Being portable, this type of storage option let’s you move the chemicals indoors, and store in a locked closet or on a low shelf.

The problem with this method is that bottles tend to get thrown into the box, which could cause an accidental chemical spill. If you use this method, use several smaller boxes to separate sanitizers from balancers.

 

Spa Chemical Safe Storage Tips

  • Keep spa chemicals cool, 50-75 degrees F
  • Keep spa chemicals dry, safe from flooding and humidity
  • Store sanitizers separately from each other, and away from other chemicals
  • Twist lock the lid tightly on all chemicals after use
  • Rinse measurement containers before and after use
  • Keep chemicals safely out of reach of children
  • Never store chemicals loose on a shelf
  • Never use a shelf that may collapse in an earthquake

 

So get organized! If your spa stuff isn’t so safely or conveniently stored, use these storage ideas for your hot tub chemicals – and get yourself organized and ready for spa season!

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

Children in Hot Tubs

March 12th, 2015 by

hot-tub-kids

Children in hot tubs – is it dangerous?

When my children were young, many years ago, I can remember telling my husband; “they’re not just little adults, you know…”.

Especially for children under 5 years old, with bodies still growing, a hot tub could be unhealthy or possibly dangerous.

The first problem with children using hot tubs involves their ability to regulate temperature and the possibility for hyperthermia, or overheating very quickly, in a spa that is heated to over 100°.

The second issue with kids in a hot tub are concerns of bacterial infection, by absorbing pathogens through the skin, ears, eye, mouth and airways.

And third, the most important reason – is that unsupervised access by children under 5 has resulted in hundreds of drowning incidents by children under 5 years old.

Let’s take a look to see what health experts have to say about children in hot tubs.

  • CDC says: “Exclude children less than 5 years of age from using hot tubs.”
  • Red Cross says: “Children under 5 should not use a hot tub.”
  • APSP says: “No young child should be allowed in a hot tub until they can stand on the bottom and have their head remain completely out of the water.”
  • AAP says: Use a rigid, lockable cover on a hot tub, spa, or whirlpool, or fence in all 4 sides as you would for a swimming pool”
  • Mayo Clinic says: “Young children can quickly become overheated in a hot tub or spa.”
  • CPSC says: “Hot tubs pose a drowning risk to children and an overheating risk for young children.”
  • MHP says: “Hot tubs are too hot for young children, may have high bacteria, and the drain in the tub can trap children.”

The Problems with Children in Hot Tubs

HIGH TEMPERATURES: Young children have skinny little bodies with thin skin. They absorb heat much more rapidly than adults, and can become overheated in just minutes in a spa at 104°, which can lead to dizziness, nausea or even unconsciousness. Children under the age of five heat up four times faster than adults, and also struggle to breathe the very hot and humid (steamy) air coming off of the water. Children older than five should limit exposure to hot water, both by reducing spa temperatures to 100° or less, and limiting soaking time to under 10 minutes.

EXPOSURE TO BACTERIA: In a public spa or hot tub, you never know if the water is sanitary, and if the spa is heavily used – its’ probably not. My advice is to never allow children to use a public spa, where they can be exposed to mycobacteria and pseudomonas or the parasite cryptosporidium. Skin infections, ear infections, or even respiratory infections are possible with adults and children, but children are more susceptible to attack. In a private hot tub or spa – assuming that your spa is not overused and is carefully maintained, and everyone showers fully before using the hot tub – the risk of bacteria exposure may be less. However, sickness can still occur if too many people are in the spa, or if the child stays in too long, or goes underwater, allowing exposure through nose, ear, eyes and mouth. Using the air blower in a spa can produce more aerosol bacteria, released as the bubbles reach the surface.

DROWNING / NEAR DROWNING: A spa or hot tub should always be secured by a locking spa cover, which will make it unlikely that a young child can gain access. Children older than five, working as a team, can manage to remove a spa cover – I can tell you from experience! A hot tub in the home or backyard can be every bit as dangerous as a swimming pool, and should be regarded as such. Drowning can occur from a bump on the head, overheating or from becoming entrapped or suctioned to the spa drain outlet. Teach your children to never use a spa or hot tub without constant adult supervision.

If you MUST allow your Children in a Hot Tub

The hard part is – kids LOVE hot tubs, and it’s a magnet for them. They are drawn to it because it’s close to their size, like a mini-pool, and for kids like mine, if you don’t let them do it while you are watching, they’re going to do it while you are not watching. If you really want to allow children older than 5 to use your private / home hot tub, here are some sensible rules to make it safer.

  1. Everyone Shower before using spa
  2. Turn down temperature below 100°children-in-hot-tub
  3. Limit soaking time to under 10 minutes
  4. Keep heads above water at all times
  5. No more than 3-4 kids at a time
  6. Constant adult spa-side supervision
  7. Have warm towels and cool drinks ready

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

How To Clean a Hot Tub that has been Sitting

February 24th, 2015 by

how-to-clean-a-spa-that-has-been-sittingIt doesn’t take long for spa water to go south when the hot tub has been sitting for days or weeks without being filtered or sanitized. How long? In moderate temperatures, spa water can stay fresh for up to two weeks, if covered tightly.

Spa water that sits longer than a week or two will begin to grow algae and bacteria, even without light, under a dark spa cover. Spas that sit untended will begin to grow biofilm or bacterial colonies – the kind of scum you see in a toilet that hasn’t been used or cleaned in awhile (sorry for that analogy!).

For spas and hot tubs that have been sitting, unused and unmaintained, for a period of longer than a few weeks – here’s the process to bring it back online.

TEST FILTER SYSTEM

Before you do a lot of work cleaning the hot tub, make sure that the spa pump and filter are operational. Add water if needed to bring the level up to mid-skimmer, covering the spa filter, which may need to be replaced with a new filter cartridge.

Turn on power at the circuit breaker, then open up the spa cabinet to find the spa equipment. Reset any popped GFCI outlets, and power up the spa pack. Check that all valves are open, before and after the pump, and take a good look for any leaking water under the spa.

Using the spa side control, run the spa pump on low speed and high speed briefly, which will help dislodge gunk in the pipes. Some spas have two pumps, a circulation pump and a jet pump; test them both to be sure that they will be operational after you drain & clean the hot tub.

DRAIN & CLEAN

Draining the spa is the best way to clean a hot tub that has been sitting for awhile. If your water is in fair condition, hazy but without visible algae or biofilm growth, skip ahead to the next step and purge the plumbing, to clean a hot tub without draining.

draining-a-hot-tubTo drain a spa or hot tub, look for the drainage port or hose. Some spas have a small access port at the base of the cabinet to drain water. If not you will usually find a short hose or a hose connection at the lowest point of the spa. Pull out the hose, or connect a hose, and let the water drain by gravity. You can also use a submersible pump to drain a spa. Be sure that the power to the spa is OFF before draining.

As the spa is draining, if the water condition is really bad, use a garden hose to spray off the spa surfaces. You can also spray into the skimmer, or spray water directly into the spa jets, to help loosen slimy gunk. Just be careful not to spray the spa pack, or spa equipment (pump, filter, heater).

REFILL & PURGE

Now that you’ve removed the funky, gunky water from the hot tub (or if you want to clean a hot tub without draining), the next step is to purge the spa, which means to add a chemical that will remove the slimy biofilm that lines the inside of the pipes, and has made a home in various nooks and crannies in the spa air and water plumbing.biofilm-in-spas-and-hot-tub

You can use Natural Chemistry’s Spa Purge, or Leisure Time’s Jet Clean. Follow label directions, adding it to the spa with the pump system running. In a very short time, you will notice the funk and gunk rising to the surface, as a brown foam. Turn on the jet pump and blower to help dislodge any remaining bacterial colonies.

DRAIN & REFILL

Drain the spa again, using a hose or rag to remove the scum around the top of the spa, cleaning as the water level drops. When completely empty, use sponges or a wet/dry vac to suck up the last bits of water.

One more time to the well! Refill your spa with fresh water. When full, test the water chemistry and add adjustment chemicals if needed to balance the pH, alkalinity and calcium hardness. Add a bromine booster (if you use bromine tabs), and then shock the hot tub with 1-3 tablespoons of spa shock, following label instructions.

A new spa filter may also be in order, to keep the hot tub water clean and clear. Replace your spa filters every 18 months, or every 12 cleanings, whichever comes first.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works