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Archive for the ‘spa chemicals’ Category

Filling a Hot Tub with Well Water

July 24th, 2017 by

Hot Tub filled with Well Water
Today’s topic came from a new spa owner that asks “Is it OK to fill a hot tub with well water?“.

The short answer is yes, you can – and it’s done every day all over America. Nearly 48 million people get their water from a private well, or 15% of the US population. That equates to nearly 1 million spa owners, using well water to fill a hot tub.

The short answer is incomplete though, without addressing the concerns in using well water in a hot tub. On the good side, well water is naturally pure, filtered for decades underground, without chemical additives or byproducts of treatment. On the bad side, well water can contain high levels of minerals and metals, dirt and dust which can stain spa surfaces, and make water balancing more difficult.

Will Filling a Hot Tub Burn-Out the Well Pump?

In all likelihood, filling a hot tub with well water won’t burn out the well pump, because you’ll only need to run the hose for a few hours, and you’ve probably run a garden hose for several hours before, watering or pressure washing around the house. Most hot tubs use only 300-400 gallons to fill, and when you consider that some people fill a 20,000 gallon pool from a well, filling a hot tub from a well shouldn’t be a problem.

 

Can Well Water Stain my Spa?

Metals and minerals contained in spa water can stain soft surfaces, and at high levels and under the right conditions can deposit onto slick spa surfaces. Minerals such as calcium or magnesium can mix with dirt and other particles to form scale deposits or rough calcium nodules, again under the right (poor) water chemistry conditions. Metals like iron and copper can also discolor the water, or stain some surfaces – shades of brown to red for iron, and from blue to green for copper.Leisure Time Metal Gon & Defender, 2-Pack

To prevent staining and scaling in a spa or hot tub using well water, you want to both filter out as much as you can (see below) before filling, and secondly keep minerals and metals dissolved in solution, by using a sequestering agent to lock them in solution. Leisure Time Metal Gon, Defender and our own Metal Out are 3 such chemicals that are used (1-2 oz. every few weeks), to keep metals and minerals from precipitating out of solution, clouding the water or staining spa surfaces.

 

Is Well Water Hard to Balance in Spas?

By “Balance” I’m speaking balancing the levels of pH (7.3-7.6), Alkalinity (80-120 ppm) and Calcium Hardness (180-220 ppm). When using well water to fill a hot tub, you may expect some of these levels to need adjustment.

Depending on the types of soils and rock in your area, well water may test low or high for pH, Alkalinity and Calcium Hardness. pH and Alkalinity are usually easily adjusted, except in cases where pH is low and Alkalinity is high, this can take several treatments of pH Decreaser (followed by pH Increaser), over several days, to bring into proper ranges.

And depending on how hard or soft your well water is, your Calcium Hardness level may be low (soft) or high (hard). Soft spa water (under 150 ppm) is easily corrected by adding Calcium Hardness Increaser, but hard spa water (over 400 ppm), has no chemical reducer available. Spa water softeners like Defender don’t actually remove the excess Calcium from the water; molecular bonds keep it chemically locked in solution, where it can’t deposit as films or nodules.

Water clarity is an issue that affects some hot tubs filled with well water. Silty brown or green water can be avoided by using a Pre-Filter on the end of your garden hose, or using other methods to filter the water before it enters the hot tub, described below. Your spa filter will trap much of the suspended solids, but using it will shorten its lifespan by a small amount. Spa Clarifiers can also be used, to coagulate very small particles into larger, more easily filtered clumps.

 

Pre-Filtering Well Water While Filling a Hot Tub

Many homes with a well also have a home water softening system, which also filters the water. However, most outside water spigots are not connected to the water treatment system, because it is assumed that you are just washing the car or watering the lawn. With the use of a sink faucet hose adapter, you can connect a garden hose to the kitchen sink or utility sink for pre-filtered well water. You could also connect directly to the clothes washer hose, or to the water treatment system itself.

hot tub pre-filter for filling tub from well waterThe second way to filter your well water before adding it to the hot tub is to use a Pre-Filter, which attaches to the end of your garden hose to remove particles smaller than 1 micron. It can remove metals, minerals, silty dirt and other things much too small to see, and is useful also for those with city water to remove treatment chemicals or chlorine byproducts.

A DIY bucket filter can also be used, by filling a 5-gal bucket (with a lid) completely full of Poly Fill, or polyester filling used in pillows and comforters. Drill holes in one half of the bucket lid, and on the bottom of the bucket, use silicone and thread sealant to secure a female garden hose adapter. Poly Fill can trap silty dirt in the 5-10 micron range, but not minerals and metals.

 


 

So yeah, go ahead and fill your spa with well water, just be sure to pre-filter before filling, and treat with Metal Out or Metal Gon to keep iron, copper and manganese locked in solution, and use Defender if your well water is hard, or has calcium hardness levels above 400 ppm.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

 

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

New Uses for Old Hot Tub Water

April 25th, 2017 by

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle your hot tub water. Hot tub and spa owners generally replace their spa water every 90-120 days, or every 3-4 months. The reason for this is that the water becomes choked with invisible (at first) solids, minerals and contaminants that overwhelms the spa filter and sanitizer. This leads to cloudy, dull spa water which may be unhealthy.

Draining and refilling a spa or hot tub is a relatively simple and painless process, but what if your region is undergoing water restrictions, or for your own environmental reasons, you want to drain the spa fewer times per year?

In some cities and counties, draining your spa can be a punishable offense, with fees or fines that create an incentive to extend the time between spa water changes.

Here’s 6 ways to recycle old hot tub water or re-purpose spa water to other uses, and 8 ways to extend your hot tub water lifespan, so you don’t need to drain so often.

 

<<< 6 Ways to Reuse Hot Tub Water >>>

 

Water your lawn

Spa water makes fine lawn water, as long as you open the cover and allow the chlorine or bromine level to drop to around 1 ppm. It need not be at zero, but it shouldn’t be higher than 3 ppm, or certain types of grasses may object and start to turn a yellow color after a few days. Your spa water should also be relatively well balanced, or at least the pH level should be below 7.8, and even 7.0 to 7.2 if possible, as most lawn grasses prefer a slightly acidic pH level. Move the hose around every half hour, so you don’t over-saturate one area of the lawn.

Water your trees and bushes

Spa water also makes fine water for trees and bushes, again as long as the chlorine or bromine level is not off the chart, it’s ok to have 1-2 ppm, which is the same amount you might find in a tap water test. Plants that have been accustomed to chlorinated water (from municipal water supply), can tolerate even higher levels, but it’s always best to open the spa cover, and run the jets for awhile, to allow chlorine to dissipate to a safer level, below 3 ppm. If your spa uses a saltwater spa system, be sure that your plants and trees are salt-tolerant before using spa water for irrigation.

Water your home foundation

For those that live in the drier parts of the country, you may have heard horror stories of home foundations cracking when the ground becomes too dry. Or new concrete driveways or walkways that can settle if the ground beneath dries and shrinks too much. In times of drought, when rainfall is scarce, hot tub water can be used to soak the ground around the home, or near concrete placement. This soaks into the soil, expanding it to a greater volume, for support of heavy concrete and steel structures.

Pump it into your pool

Sure why not? Unless it’s dark green and super funky, a large swimming pool can easily absorb a few hundred gallons of spa water without batting an eyelash. It’s actually what I do, when I’m not needing to water the lawn or my plants, I just run the hose over to the pool and recycle my spa water, magically turning it into pool water.

Pump it into a doggy pool

During the hotter parts of the summer, my dogs love to take a dip, but they know not to go in the pool, with my direct (adult) supervision. I bought a Walmart kiddie pool a few years ago for my dogs. Now when I do a spa water change in the summer, I use about 80 gallons of hot tub water to fill up the doggy pool (kiddie pool), repurposing my old spa water, and (magically) turning it into doggy pool water.

Wash your car or boat

For this trick you will need a submersible pump, and a long garden hose to reach the driveway. I have used my spa water to wash our 2 cars, with some left over to water the front lawn. Since a submersible pump should not be used with a spray nozzle, the hose is constantly running. Place the hose on the lawn during the times you are scrubbing the car (or boat), you can kill two birds with one stone. If you have a community water watch organization on patrol, you may need to explain that you are recycling your hot tub water, and not just letting tap water run down the driveway.

 

<<< 8 Ways to Extend Hot Tub Water Life >>>

 

Maintain optimum water balance

Keeping your spa pH, Alkalinity and Calcium Hardness levels not only makes the water more enjoyable to soak in, but allows your sanitizer and filter to work more effectively, keeping your water from spoilage sooner.

Shower before using your spa

Reducing the amount of oily, flaky, gunky stuff into the spa could be the number one thing to extend your spa water lifespan. For those that treat their hot tub like a bath tub, this creates a huge demand on your spa filter and sanitizer, and leads to smelly, cloudy and possibly unsafe water conditions. You don’t have to take a shower every single time, but if you need a shower, be sure to wash up well with soap and water before using the spa. And keep your head and hair out of the water, to reduce oil and soap contamination.

Shock after using your spa

Even though you are careful to wash before using the spa, shocking the spa after use is a good way to extend hot tub water life. But depending on how many people are using the spa, and for how long, a spa shock treatment may not be always needed. Use your judgement, but try to shock the spa at least once per week, to break apart chemical compounds and contaminants and kill any algae or bacteria.

Install a larger or second spa filter

We’ve covered this idea before, you can sometimes find the same size spa filter cartridge in a larger square footage size. This means that you increase the filter surface area, with a cartridge that has more pleats per inch. More surface area means better filtration. Another way to improve filtration is to use a Microban cartridge, which is coated with a bacteria killing layer (these are the Blue spa filters). Thirdly, you can install a second spa filter, inline underneath the spa, or an external filter placed beside the spa. With enough square footage of filter area, you could easily double or triple your spa water life.

Install an ozonator or mineral purifier

Anything that helps kill bacteria or remove contaminants from the spa water will increase water quality and lengthen the time between draining a hot tub. Ozonators and Mineral Sanitizers are two ways to do this, without heavy reliance on bromine and chlorine. You can reduce the need for halogen sanitizers like bromine and chlorine, while at the same time improving water quality and increasing the time between water changes.

Use spa clarifier or spa enzymes

Spa clarifiers are used to improve your spa filtration. They work to increase the particle size by coagulating suspended particles together, in a size that won’t pass right through the filter. Used regularly, spa clarifiers can stave off an impending water change by allowing the filter to keep the water cleaner, reducing cloudy and dull water. The same is true for spa enzymes, many of which are mixed with clarifiers. Enzymes are organic creatures that consume oils and gunk in the water, actually removing them and reducing the work for your filter and sanitizer.

Use a spa water prefilter when filling

Especially for those on a well, or for city water supply that is not always clean or perfectly balanced, using a spa pre-filter when you fill the spa can lead to a longer water life. A hot tub pre-filter screws on the end of your garden hose and filters out minerals, metals, chloramines, contaminants, oils – leaving you with very pure water – H2O. When you start with clean fresh water, with a low TDS (total dissolved solids) level, you can add weeks or months to the life of your spa water. I always use a pre-filter, and can tell you that it does make a difference!

Filter the water longer each day

Many spa owners naturally try to reduce their energy use with the spa, but reducing your filtering time too much can cost you more money in chemicals and water changes. For those spas with a 24 hr circulation pump – run the pump 24 hours, but also be sure to have a few jet pump runs during the day, to force high pressure water through the pipes and filter. This helps avoid biofilm cultures from growing and prevents dead zones in the spa circulation. If your spa water turns cloudy or dull too easily, you may need more daily filtration, and/or a new spa filter cartridge.

 


 

Look to find ways to reuse your spa water around the home, and try to improve your water quality so you only need to drain your spa 2 or 3 times per year, instead of 3 or 4 …

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

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Earth Day Hot Tub Tips

April 15th, 2017 by


>>> In honor of our fragile island home, 3rd rock from the sun – here are 3 ways to make your hot tub more eco-friendly this Earth Day – April 22! Saving Energy with improved insulation, Reducing Chemicals with alternative sanitizers and Saving Water by improving your spa filtration. Make your hot tub more eco-friendly >>>

Save Energy: Improve Insulation

Spas and spa covers are made for mild, moderate and severe winter climates. Spas and hot tubs that are not as well insulated as they could be, around the sides and on top, take more energy to maintain hot water and overcome radiant heat loss. This becomes more pronounced during very low temperatures and high winds. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to add more R-value to a poorly insulated spa. The Pink Panther brand (Dow-Corning) has lots of boards and thin bats that can be retrofitted into a spa cabinet to increase spa insulation.

On the topside, look at our Ultra or Works spa covers, for the best performance in a thermal spa cover. Replacing a thin, ill-fitting or waterlogged cover with a heavier weight 1.5 lb. or 2 lb. foam, in a 6-4″ taper, will really improve your spa or hot tub insulation, and save money on heat loss around the cover. For high winds, which can seep in under a spa cover and cool your spa, our High Wind Straps keep your spa from lifting up slightly during heavy winds. Finally, adding a floating foam spa blanket traps heat in the water where it belongs, and the added heat barrier helps reduce heat loss.

Reduce Chemicals: Secondary Sanitizers

When you reduce your use of chlorine and bromine, the Earth wins, because when you reduce your demand for chlorine or bromine, the supply (and production, and transport) slows down to compensate, as supply always adjusts to meet demand. Adding secondary sanitizers to your spa can cut your usage of chlorine or bromine by as much as half. I’m speaking about adding Minerals or Ozone purifiers to your spa, to remove the majority of the contaminants in the water, allowing you to use a much lower level of bromine or chlorine in the spa. Many people use Minerals and Ozone together, along with regular use of MPS shock, for a completely chlorine free hot tub.

Mineral sanitizers for spas are so easy to use, just drop the Nature2 Spa Stick or other brand mineral stick into the hole in your filter cartridge. Water passing by picks up the minerals, instantly purifying copper/silver ions. Connecting a spa ozonator like the Del Spa Eclipse is a piece of cake on any ozone ready spa or hot tub. For tubs without a Mazzei injector manifold, or other port to connect the ozone hose, you can install your own Mazzei injector into 3/4″ or 1″ water hose leading to a low-water ozone jet. It’s best to push ozone out of a dedicated ozone jet near the floor of the tub, but ozone can also be introduced through certain low wall jets.

Save Water: Improve Filtration

anti-microbial-filter-spasYour spa filter is the most important part of maintaining good water. And a good spa filter can be the difference between a water change every 3 months, or every 4 months, or even longer – if you have a really good spa filter. There are some things you can do to improve water filtration, for longer lasting water, and fewer chemicals needed to maintain water quality.

Firstly, many spa filter cartridges are available in the standard square footage size (25 sq. ft. for example), but also you can find the same size filter cartridge with more square footage (37.5 sq. ft. for example). Same dimensional size spa filter cartridge, but it has more pleats, for more square footage, or greater filter surface area. Secondly, many spa filter cartridges are also available in the blue Microban cartridge, which kills bacteria on contact, and it never wears off, although the cartridge itself will not last any longer than normal. Another thing you can do to really improve your spa filtration is to add a second spa filter. We’ve blogged about that before in more detail. Having two spa filters can drastically extend the time between water changes, and with a large spa filter, a spa could conceivably go an entire year between water changes! Finally, remember that filter cartridges should replaced every 12-24 months, depending on how big your filter is, and how often the spa is used. Regularly replacing your filter cartridge is the first step to maintaining water quality, and preventing excessive water changes.

 

Happy Earth Day!

 

– Jack

 

 

Save Money with House Brand Spa Chemicals

March 27th, 2017 by

If you are like me, you buy a lot of house-brand food at your grocery store, or if you opt for the house wine or house dressing at a restaurant, you know that house-brand products use the same recipe as national brands, but sell for a much lower price point.

It’s the same with our house brand spa chemicals – 12 Hot Tub Works branded chemicals for cleaning, balancing and sanitizing your spa water.

Hot Tub Works spa chemicals are made with the same recipe as Leisure Time or Rendezvous products, but without fancy 4 color bottles and a national advertising and sales force budget. As a result of these cost savings, you can save 20-30% on your hot tub chemical expenses. Now isn’t that nice.

 

Hot Tub Works Spa Cleaning Chemicals


HTW spa-hot-tub-cleaning-chemicals shown

 

Hot Tub Works Spa Water Balance Chemicals


HTW water balancers - spa and hot tub chemicals shown

  • Calcium Increaser: Use to raise Calcium Hardness into the range of 180-220 ppm.
  • pH Plus: Use to raise pH level into the range of 7.4-7.6.
  • pH Minus: Use to lower pH level into the range of 7.4-7.6. Also lowers Alkalinity.
  • Alkalinity Increaser: Use to raise Total Alkalinity into the range of 80-120 ppm.

 

Hot Tub Works Spa Accessory Chemicals


image showing brom booster, clarifier, spa protect adn spa metal out

  • Brom Booster: Bromide Ion booster to replace those lost after draining and refilling spas.
  • Spa Natural Clarifier: With Chiton, natural polymers to coagulate suspended particles.
  • Spa Protect: Metal and Mineral sequestering agent to protect shiny spa surfaces.
  • Spa Metal Out: Stain removal and prevention treatment for metals and minerals.

 

>>> We don’t manufacture every spa chemical that is available – but for these top selling 12 items, we are proud to have our own house brand of high quality spa chemicals available to you, at significant savings over name brand spa chemicals.

And if you buy hot tub chemicals during This Week’s Sale (changes weekly) you can save an additional 20%, or more!

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

Hot Tub Leak Repair using Leak Sealer

March 13th, 2017 by

Leisure Time Leak Seal, item ZJWelcome back, students of spa! Today we tackle one of those topics that can keep spa owners up at night – a leaking hot tub.

The most common leak for spas and hot tubs is probably pump shaft seals, thermowells, spa unions and spa jets. Wooden hot tubs can seep and weep water from between the wood staves, especially during temperature swings as the wood expands and contracts.

If you have an obvious mechanical failure of seals, gaskets or plastics, the best solution is to buy the correct spa parts, and fix the leaking spa properly. However, in cases where there is no obvious puddle beneath an obvious drip – you may want to try a leak sealer.

I’ve used Leak Seal for a spa leak on my own spa, and I can tell you it works, but I can also tell you that it doesn’t work – let me explain. Leak Seal works great for dripping glue joints, seeping gaskets, weeping o-rings and oozing wooden hot tubs. Leak Seal will also seal up cracks in filter housings or pinhole leaks in flex pipe and spa hoses – but it’s no miracle worker! If you have a real ‘gusher’, don’t waste your money on Leak Seal, but replace the offending gasket, manifold or jet body.

Leak Seal is made from Sodium Silicate, sometimes called “Liquid Glass”, which behaves a bit like blood in it’s ability to clot together. Strong bonds stack the silicate together at the source of a leak. The process takes many hours of circulation to build up layers of the stuff, until the leak is sealed.

 

Leisure Time Leak Seal Instructions

  1. Fill Spa to normal water levels.
  2. Remove the spa cartridge filter(s).
  3. Open all valves and all spa jets.
  4. Shut off spa heater, blower and ozonator.
  5. Pour 1/2 bottle (16 oz) into spa skimmer or near drain.
  6. Run jets on high for 4 hours to circulate (slowly add water if needed)
  7. Switch pump to low speed for 20 hours.

After 24 hours (adding water if needed, to keep the tub full), inspect closely for any continued water loss. At this point you will notice one of three things. Either the leak has stopped completely, partially, or not at all. If the spa has stopped leaking, then alright! 🙂 If the leak has slowed, but not stopped completely, a second treatment (all 7 steps above) is recommended. If it didn’t work at all, you have a leak that is too large for Leak Sealer to fix. 🙁

As a final step, and whether or not it worked to fix your leaking spa, you should drain and clean the tub to remove the remaining silicate, which will clog up your filter and leave residue around the water line. Drain the tub completely, and wipe down all surfaces before refilling with fresh water.

After refilling, operate the spa on low speed only for a day, with the heater Off – especially if leaks were suspected to be in the plumbing or around spa jets. The leak sealant silicate patch will continue to harden, becoming fully cured in 48-72 hours, depending on water temperature.


As I mentioned at the outset – Leak Seal is not a miracle product, but it does work for small leaks and drips, and can form a permanent repair. If it doesn’t work in your case, please don’t get upset and write reviews entitled “complete waste of money”, or make comparisons to snake oil – it’s just that your spa leak requires a more ‘mechanical repair’.

And at $20 a bottle, Leak Seal is a bargain, especially if it seals the leak – which it does, over half of the time, by my estimates.

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

Hard Water Issues in Spas and Hot Tubs

January 29th, 2017 by

water-hardness-map-of-US

Do you live in the “Red Zone”? Having hard water means that you have a lot of calcium in your water, and soft water means that you have less, as it comes out of the tap. Hard water is less sudsy in the shower, and it can leave scale deposits in your sinks, shower and also in hot tubs.

In most cases, a little scale is no problem, but in some cases, calcium hardness levels can reach levels of 400 ppm or more, which can lead to problems.

Hard water problems in hot tubs start when calcium begins to come out of solution, giving you frequently cloudy water and scale deposits on your spa. Scale can deposit in out of the way places, like your heater element or less frequently used jets, or can build up along the water line of your spa or hot tub.

 

How Hard is Too Hard?

The water hardness map of the US shows the generally accepted maxim that anything over 180 ppm is classified as “Extremely Hard” water. However, many spas and hot tubs can operate effectively with much higher levels. If you have a test kit or test strips that measure for calcium hardness levels in your spa, you can easily check your spa water to see if you have hard (or soft) spa fill water. Most spas and hot tubs will be fine with calcium hardness levels of up to 400 ppm. After that, and you may begin to see signs of scaling and cloudy water conditions.

 

So What, Who Cares?

OK, fair question, and a great SNL skit phrase. How about this? You don’t care if you don’t have a calcium hardness problem. If your hot tub water is very hard, you’ve seen scale deposits before, and know that these salts leave ugly waterline deposits, but they can also scale inside of a spa heater, filter or ozone injectors. Hard hot tub water can be corrosive and when high enough, excessive calcium can interfere with sanitation and filtration. Hot water temperatures makes the calcium more active, causing cloudy water and scale deposits more easily, as opposed to cooler pools.

 

Treatments for Hard Hot Tub Water

They used to say there was nothing you could do, but nowadays there are several ways to manage hard water levels in a spa, so it doesn’t become a problem. The most important thing is a LOW pH and Alkalinity, which helps keep calcium in solution, so it won’t come out to cloud the water or deposit as scale. For hard water hot tubs, keep your pH in the 7.2-7.3 range, and Alkalinity in the 80-90 ppm range.

Pre-Filter1. Filter the Calcium. Maybe you have an expensive home water softening system, and can fill the spa after it’s been treated. Many outside hose spigots are not connected to home water treatment systems. Fear not, you can use the Pleatco Spa Water Pre-Filter, to take out minerals, metals, chloramines and other particulate contaminants in your fill water. Just screw it onto your hose and turn on the water, the Pre-filter traps sediment, metals, minerals, and removes foul odors! Good for 2-3 fills.

2. Combine the Calcium. There is a pool chemical called CalTreat, by United Chemical Co., which bonds to calcium carbonate, until a large enough particle is created to be removed by your filter cartridge. Follow the instructions carefully, and over a period of one to two weeks, you may reduce calcium hardness levels by up to 200 ppm (results and reviews are mixed for Cal Treat). Afterwards, soak your cartridge in a spa filter cleaner, or replace with a new spa filter. calcium-and-scale-control

3. Control the Calcium. Calcium and Scale control, like Spa Metal Out, are chemicals that keep calcium and other minerals (and also metals like iron and copper) tied-up in solution (sequestered), keeping them dissolved, so they don’t precipitate out to make the spa cloudy or deposit as scale or crystals. After the initial dose, just add a maintenance dosage weekly, to keep minerals in a “sequestered” state. It will also loosen and dissolve some scale deposits from heater elements and filter cartridges.

 

Treatments for Soft Hot Tub Water

Hard water is a common issue for spa and hot tub owners, but so is Soft Water. If you live in one of the purple, blue or white areas on the map, add a Calcium Hardness Increaser to your spa or hot tub, each time you fill with new water. Whereas hard water can produce stains and scale, soft water can be corrosive to the soft and shiny parts of your hot tub. It also leads to excessive spa foaming problems.

Add Calcium Hardness Increaser when your spa or hot tub is less than 150 ppm. Try to maintain at least 180 ppm in your spa, for proper water balance, equipment and surface protection and preventing spa foam. Each time you drain and fill your tub, you’ll need to add calcium again, but once you add it, calcium does not deplete, but stays in the water.

 

– Jack

 

 

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Spa & Hot Tub Chemicals for Dummies

August 29th, 2016 by

spa-chemicals-for-dummies-book2In today’s post, we follow up on our popular Beginner’s Guide to Spa & Hot Tub Care, and get more granular with Spa Chemicals for Dummies.

The book pictured is not a real book, not one that you can purchase anyway. Don’t think I’m calling our blog readers Dumb; just a fun blog title.

Because such a book does not exist, this post will explore some basic hot water chemistry topics that may confuse a novice spa or hot tub owner.

Like how to test spa water, or what chemicals are needed for a hot tub. How to treat common spa water problems, and info about alternate sanitizers like ozone or minerals.

So, without further ado – here’s our beginner’s guide to Hot Tub Chemicals, or Hot Tub Chemistry for Dummies!

 

Spa & Hot Tub Chemicals

We have over 100 different spa chemicals in our online store, no wonder it’s confusing! Below is a primer on 6 categories of spa chemicals, with a short description of when they are used, and for what purpose.

Balancers: Spa chemistry is not overly complicated, but when I speak about ‘water balance’, some people’s eyes glaze over. Balanced spa water is simply when your spa chemical readings are all within the proper ranges. Specifically, spa chemical ranges are pH at 7.4-7.6, Alkalinity at 80-120 ppm, and Calcium Hardness at 150-250 ppm. When all 3 are in range, your water is ‘balanced’. If you really want to geek out however, you can use a Saturation Index calculator to determine water balance more accurately. Of spa balancer chemicals,  pH down is probably the most used of the balancers, as spa pH and Alkalinity tends to rise, and pH down reduces both. If spa water is soft, raise it with Calcium Increaser, for low hardness levels. For a low pH and/or Alkalinity test, use pH up and/or Alkalinity Increaser to raise the levels.

Clarifiers: If your spa water is cloudy, or lacks clarity and sparkle, it may be time for a new spa filter cartridge, or there may be issues with water sanitation. Clarifiers are polymers that have a positive charge and attach themselves to negatively charged water particles floating around the hot tub. What starts as a microscopic particle eventually ends up as a large clump of hundreds of particles, large enough to get trapped in the filter. So then, clarifiers are used for spa filters that need a little help, or if water conditions turn poor. Be careful not to overdose with clarifier however, or it may have the opposite effect, and it can gum up your spa filter. If your hot tub water is always sparkling, you may have no need to use a clarifier chemical.

Cleaners: In this category of spa chemicals, we have hot tub cleaners for your spa filter cartridges, spa cover cleaner and conditioner, spa shell cleaners and polishers, Leak Seal to seal up small leaks and Jet Clean to purge or strip plumbing lines. Be careful never to use household chemicals to clean your spa or accessory items, with the exception to a mild soap (with lots of rinsing afterwards to prevent spa foaming). In my own spa, I do use spa filter cleaner, spa cover conditioner (my tub gets a lot of direct sun), and I use Jet Clean once per year to prevent a biofilm buildup in the pipes.

Sanitizers: A sanitizer is the everyday chemical used to kill pathogens like bacteria, fungus, mold, viruses, etc. Most spa owners will use either bromine or chlorine as the main sanitizer. Granular chlorine is hand fed (don’t use chlorine tablets in a spa) when chlorine is preferred, or you can use bromine tablets (the easiest route), or add bromide salts and then a small amount of regular shock (chlorine or MPS) to activate the bromide salts into bromine. You must keep an active level of sanitizer at all times in spas and hot tubs. If the level drops to near zero, pathogens, algae and other contaminants immediately begin to grow and multiply, even in hot water, and even when covered tightly.

Shocks: Spa shocks are also sanitizers, but they are used differently in spas and hot tubs. Chlorine or non-chlorine (MPS) spa shocks are quick dissolving and quick acting, and are used to kill anything that your daily sanitizer has missed, or to supplement your daily sanitizer, after a 4-person soak for example. Spa shocks are also used to activate bromide salts, and convert them to bromine. If you use bromine tablets however, this is not necessary, but shock is still useful to give the spa a sanitizer boost after heavy use, or as a weekly or bi-monthly shock treatment, just to be sure the water is sanitary. A third use of spa shocks is to kill algae, or remove foul odors, water discoloration or poor clarity, or variety of water issues with from many causes. For best results, always check water balance and adjust if necessary before shocking a spa. Follow label instructions for treatment info and dosage to match your spa size, in gallons/liters.

Specialty: Specialty spa chemicals are those chemicals that don’t fit neatly into other categories. Chemicals like Foam Out or Foam Down (removes surface foam) or Metal Gon / Defender (keeps metals in solution), or enzymes like Natural Clear that dissolve oils naturally, or Algaecides to prevent algae growth in hot water spas. You may have some need for these chemicals at some point, to remove foam, stains, oils or algae, or you may be lucky and may only rarely need specialty chemicals – you know where to find them!

 

How To Test Spa Chemistry

snake-oil-salesman-smThere are two ways to test hot tub water, with Test Strips or a Test Kit. Unless you fancy yourself a chemist, I usually recommend the AquaChek 6-in-1 Test Strips, which test for all the important stuff in just 1-2 minutes. The secret to spa chemistry is not sold in a bottle; test your spa water 2-3 times per week. You will begin to see patterns in your chemical fluctuations, especially if you keep a test log book. But even if you don’t write down your readings, or enter them into an app, over time you’ll come to know your own hot tub chemical personality.

 

How To Store Hot Tub Chemicals

  1. Keep out of Reach of Children.
  2. Cool & Dry Location 50-80° F
  3. Open Only One Container at a time
  4. Tight Lids Keep Out Moisture, Children and Prevent Spills
  5. Protect Chemicals from Spills and Mixing and Contamination

We’ve covered the topic before with some neat spa chemical storage ideas, but the general idea is to, number one, keep out of reach of children. Secondly, store spa chemicals in a Cool and Dry location, that usually means indoors. 50-75° is best for chemical shelf life and to prevent gas formation or hardening of granules. Always open, use, and close tightly only one chemical at a time; tight lids keep out moisture and children, and prevent spills. Don’t hold onto old spa chemicals, use or dispose of them, and keep chemicals close to the ground, not high on a shelf where they may fall and spill their contents, especially if you live in an earthquake zone. Very Important – never allow spa chemicals to mix with each other, or become contaminated with any substance (dirt, leaf, soda, ashes) that accidentally mixes with spa chemicals. A fire or explosion could result.

 

What Chemicals Do I Need for a Spa or Hot Tub?

  1. Spa Sanitizer – Bromine or Chlorine
  2. Spa pH increaser and decreaser
  3. Spa Alkalinity and Calcium Increaser
  4. Spa Shock – Chlorine or MPS

As a minimum, you’ll need most of these spa chemicals. You may use primarily pH down and not so much pH up, probably adjusting 2-3x per month. For Alkalinity and Calcium levels, those usually hold steady for a month or more, once adjusted after a spa water drain and refill. And you will use Spa Shock for weekly use and a different Spa Sanitizer for daily use. You may also have a need for other chemicals from time to time such as Filter Cleaners, Metal Removers, or Clarifiers. Many of our customers like the convenience of our Spa Care Kits, complete 6-month chemical packs for Bromine or Chlorine or Nature2 spas that include a water fill Pre-Filter and up to a dozen other items.

 

What are Natural Spa Chemicals?

  1. Mineral Sticks
  2. Ozone
  3. Enzymes

ozone-minerals-mpsFor those that want to avoid the smell of chlorine or the slightly softer smell of bromine on your skin, you can approach water sanitation from a different angle. Instead of using chlorine or bromine, you can use Spa Mineral Sticks, which use Silver/Copper ions to help purify the water, or you can use ozone, injected into the pipe from an Ozonator. Both of these systems, coupled with regular shocking with MPS, a non-chlorine oxidizer, and some extra filtering and attention to good water balance, can allow you to operate most spas without the use of chlorine or bromine. Also in the natural chemical category are Enzymes, which are natural scum-eaters, helping to remove contaminants in the water by naturally digesting them.

 


 

dummies-guyIf you made it all the way to the end of this post, you are now 10x smarter than the average Spa Chemistry Dummy! One good thing about spa chemistry is that if things go really bad, you can always replace the water, and should anyway, every 90 days or so. Remember to re-balance your chemistry, or rebuild your ‘bromine bank‘ after refilling.

 

Talk to you later;

 

– Jack

Saltwater Chlorine or Saltwater Bromine?

July 25th, 2016 by

saltwater-chlorine-or-saltwater-bromineSalt water chlorine vs. salt water bromine. Which is better?

The chlorine vs. bromine debate, along with the pros & cons of using a hot tub salt system have been hashed out before on this blog, but what if you already love spa salt water generators, and wonder about using sodium bromide, instead of sodium chloride as the necessary salt.

Bromine is better than chlorine in a hot tub, as it stays potent in high temperatures and in a wide range of pH values, and has less odor. So why not use Sodium Bromide instead of Sodium Chloride in a spa or hot tub with a salt generator?

  • Sodium Bromide salt is much more expensive than Sodium Chloride salt. This is because of the higher cost of raw materials. It costs only $5 in NaOCl after draining the spa (unless you use Dead Sea Salts, which are much more costly), but to replace the NaOBr, it can cost $25, each time you drain.
  • Bromine Generators cost twice as much to purchase than equivalent spa chlorine generators. Roughly $200 for salt systems, and $400 for bromine systems.

But wait ~ aren’t Bromine tablets also twice as expensive as using spa chlorine tablets? Yes. Bottom line is that Bromine costs more than chlorine, no matter how you introduce it to the water.

For many spa owners, it’s worth the extra cost to have a Bromine spa.

Spa Chlorine and Bromine Generators

saltron-mini-power-supply-and-cellCan you use bromide salts with a salt chlorinator? You could, after draining and refilling with fresh water, add sodium bromide ions to the water to create bromine, instead of chlorine. However, salt chlorine generators such as the Saltron Mini are optimized to work with sodium chloride, although the manufacturer told me that either salt can be used.

Is there a difference between Salt Brominators and Salt Chlorinators? There are small differences in the salt cell coatings and in the salt level required for operation, but the operation or technology is the same. They both convert ions into a sanitizer, which afterwards revert back to the base salt, where the process can begin again. Spa Salt Bromine Generators, such as Blu Fusion (formerly the unfortunately named ISIS salt system), and the Gecko Alliance in.clear bromine salt system for spas.

What type of Salt is used in a Saltwater Hot Tub? If you are using sodium chloride, be sure to use a pool salt with a high 99% level of purity, without added caking agents, desiccants or iodine added. For a bromine spa, add pure sodium bromide salts to the spa, the same bromide booster that is used to build the ‘bromine bank’ when using bromine tablets. Many spa salt system owners also use Dead Sea Salts, which contain potassium and magnesium, in addition to sodium.

 


 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara

 

 

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Can a 4th Grader Maintain a Hot Tub?

July 18th, 2016 by

Photo Credit to Carroll Photo via istockphoto
Most hot tubs are not too difficult to maintain, but can a 4th grader do it?

When my grandson Josh to came to stay with us for the most of the summer, I decided to give him some chores around the ranch.

I concocted a little experiment, to see if a 9 year old could manage a spa as well as his grandma could. When I asked him if he’d like to learn how to take care of the hot tub (which he loves), he enthusiastically agreed.

SAFETY FIRST

The first part of the hot tub education is what to touch, and what not to touch.

  1. Electrical: I showed him where the power cut-off is on the wall, and we traced the cable into the spa pack underneath. Then is showed him the exposed terminals on the spa heater and told him they could be shocking if he touched them. Also told him to stay out of the controller box, after lifting the lid to show him the inner workings (just to satisfy any curiosity).
  2. Plumbing: I showed him the two cut-off valves under the spa, and how to close and re-open the valve, and then asked him not to touch them again, after explaining the problems (burned out pump, broken pipes) that could happen if the valves were left in a closed position with the spa pump running.
  3. Chemical: I told Josh some horror stories of explosions and fires that I’ve heard about over the years, from chemicals mixing with each other, or being contaminated with dirt, liquids or nearly anything! My spa uses very few chemicals; I only have bromine tablets, MPS shock, and pH and alkalinity chemicals, all kept in separate bins. He sensed the importance of spa and hot tub chemical safety and pledged to follow the spa chemical rules sign I posted:
  • Open one chemical at a time, tightly closing one before opening another.
  • Always read and follow label instructions.
  • Store chemicals carefully in the correct bin.
  • Keep Chemicals dry and clean, and never mix.
  • Ask Grandma if you have questions!

CHEMICAL MANAGEMENT

Josh is exceedingly bright, of course, all my grand children are! I showed him how to test the water with a spa test strip, and then compare the colors carefully, to the chart on the bottle. Then I told him to write down the chemical readings in a Spa Log Book which I made up from a spiral notebook.

He tested the chemicals every other day, and when a chemical went out of range, he would let me know. The first month we did all the chemical adjustments together, so he could see me carefully reading the label, adding one chemical at a time, and replacing it safely.htw-spa-ph-minus

My spa only needs bromine tablets every 2 weeks, and a weekly shocking, which we do after our last weekend soak. The pH, alkalinity and calcium hardness levels are usually OK between water changes, but once or twice we had to lower the pH level by carefully adding pH decreaser.

Now into our second month, Josh is still testing the water every other day and jotting down his readings in the book. He refills the brominator, and adds pH down when needed, which he also notes in the log book.

FILTER CLEANING

spa-filter-cartridge-smOur spa filter usually goes 4-6 weeks between cleanings. It’s a top load style, so when we cleaned it the first time, I showed him how to remove the cover, and he stood on a step ladder and pulled out the filter cartridge.

Then I told him to take off his shoes, and have a seat in the sunshine. “Spray this cartridge from top to bottom, pleat by pleat, all the way around. Then flip it over and do it again. It takes about 15 minutes…”. Well, proud to say that he spent 23 minutes on it, and it looked really clean.

We’ll clean the filter again in a few weeks, I think he’s got it!

SPA CLEANING

Like most Jacuzzi tubs, they stay pretty clean, especially since it’s covered most of the time. But we still do get some sandy grit, and a light scum line around the water line.grit-getter

Even though it doesn’t really need it weekly, Josh gets in the tub (supervised by me or my husband), and uses the Grit Gitter to get rid of the grit and then a Tub Scrubber to clean the waterline.

Cleaning the spa takes Josh about 15 minutes, which is our maximum spa time anyway, so it’s perfect that way.

 


i-can-take-care-of-hot-tubsJosh, 9 yrs. old; has definitely proven that a spa can indeed be maintained by a fourth grader (so proud of him!). But before you draft your kids or grand kids into the spa service, think about the hazards or potential problems that could happen around your particular spa, and adjust any tasks to their age and aptitude.

Talk to you later;

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

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Off Season Hot Tub Maintenance Tips

June 20th, 2016 by

spa-closed-for-season
For seasonal users of hot tubs, some adjustment to your maintenance routines can be made, during times of non-use or very low use.

But that doesn’t mean you can ignore the spa sanitation and filtration altogether! Leave a spa to it’s own devices, without intervention, for too long and you’ll have bacteria buildup, damaged filters or at least a very smelly hot tub.

If you tend to use the spa less during warmer weather (or less during colder weather), here’s some tips on protecting your investment and avoiding costly clean-up of a spa gone too long without care.

 

DRAIN & REFILL THE SPA

draining-a-hot-tubIt’s tempting to leave the water in the hot tub or spa after the season, and drain it before using it again, but depending on how old the water is, and how long the tub will sit (all summer?), you may want to drain it now, as a step to ‘summerizing’ the spa. If your spa water is over 90 days old, and has been used semi-regularly, I would advise draining and refilling with water from a Pre-Filter. After refilling, balance the pH, alkalinity and calcium hardness, and shock the spa water with MPS.

 

TURN THE HEATER DOWN TO MINIMUM

A covered spa that is not heated will drop and stabilize to a temperature that is a bit lower than the outside air temperature. During freezing weather, it’s important to keep the spa pump running, to avoid freeze damage. During hot summer weather, even with the heater off and spa covered, water temps can rise into the 80’s. It’s important to keep the spa pump running, to avoid algae and bacteria from growing during hot summer months.

 

BALANCE THE CHEMISTRY MONTHLY

spa-water-testsEven though no one is using the spa, protect your shiny surfaces, cover, filter and rubber bits by checking the pH, alkalinity and calcium hardness levels on a monthly basis. After you balance the water, add a full dose of spa shock, to disinfect and oxidize the spa water, destroying any germs in the hot tub. Keep the hot tub cover open for about an hour after shocking, to allow the water to gas-off. If the water was cloudy during the monthly inspection, increase filter run time and/or sanitizer levels and consider using a clarifier to help the filter.

 

SANITIZING THE OFF-SEASON SPA

Because you aren’t using the spa, you may not need to run a 3-5 ppm level of bromine, because the contaminants introduced to the water are very low. However, you will still need to keep some type of constant sanitizer in the water, to kill bacteria, viruses, algae. A spa Mineral Stick is a good idea to manage daily disinfection, with a monthly balancing and shocking of the spa. An ozonator can also accomplish the majority of the daily sanitation needs for the un-used hot tub, coupled with regular spa shocking. Bromine tubs can also just use fewer tablets in the floater or feeder, just 1 or 2 bromine tabs, to keep a low-range 1-2 ppm of bromine in the water. If you fill a spa floater with 9 tabs and close it the vents all the way, you should be able to deliver about 1ppm of bromine to the spa, constantly. Avoid allowing the spa water to filter only, without bromine, ozone, minerals or shock, it won’t last long without some form of daily sanitation.

 

SECURE THE SPA COVER

spa-is-closed-signA tight fitting spa cover is important not only for spa safety, but also to keep out debris and sunlight. Be sure to clamp all of the cover clips around the spa cover. For protection from summer storms and high winds, use spa cover wind straps, and cover the spa cover with the Spa Cover Cap, to protect the cover from summer sun and rain, and also to make the spa more inaccessible or off-limits. If you want to be more explicit, post a Spa Closed sign, especially for rental properties or commercial spas that aren’t of the single-family type.

 

RUN THE FILTER PUMP DAILY

Just as you need daily sanitation for the off-season spa, you also need daily circulation and filtration of the water. And just as you need less sanitation for an unused spa, you can get by with less filtration for a spa that is sanitized and un-used. Program your circulation pump to run on low speed for 3-6 hours daily, with a daily high speed run of about an hour. With summer weather comes greater possibility of power outages which can affect your pump timer programming or leave the spa in an OFF mode. Keep an eye and an ear towards the spa to be sure that the filter is running like it should.

BONUS TIP: Before putting the spa to bed, remove and clean the cartridge filter, or replace the spa filter if it’s close to 24 months old.

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

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