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Archive for the ‘spa chemicals’ Category

Myths about Spa & Hot Tub Chemistry

July 21st, 2014 by

5 myths-about-hot-tub-chemistryWhen you advance beyond your basic pH and bromine levels to more advanced hot tub chemistry, you become aware of certain tenets or principle beliefs of managing a hot tub.

Many are useful, such as adding only one chemical at a time, or maintaining good alkalinity to control pH bounce when several users get in the spa.

But some of the things I’ve heard, are either incorrect, or need some further explanation. Let’s take a look at some of the common misconceptions in treating hot tub water.

 

MYTH #1: Pools and Spas are the Same – or – a Spa is Just a Small Pool

A spa is a small pool, true, but that’s where the similarities ends, especially when regards to water chemistry. Precisely because it is such a small pool of water, hot tub water chemistry drastically changes when several users jump in the tub. pH can rise quickly to over 8.0 and render your sanitizer much less effective.

The temperature also has an effect upon how solids behave in the water. Bicarbonates, minerals and metals all respond a little differently, activated by temperatures over 100 ° towards greater scaling potential.

MYTH #2: Shocking is Needed Every 5-7 Days

Perhaps, if you are using it regularly. Shocking, or oxidizing your spa water, is done by adding a granular oxidizer (not pool shock), to break apart oils, dirt and any living algae, bacteria, viruses or mold that could be in the water. Shock the spa after you use it, following label directions.

If you have not used the spa all week, it’s not necessary to shock the water. But, if you haven’t used it in several weeks, it would be good to shock several hours before you use the spa, and then again afterwards, always testing the pH and alkalinity first, and adjusting if necessary.

Remember to leave the spa cover open for awhile after shocking with chlorine, to allow it time to gas off.

MYTH #3: Ozone (or UV) & Minerals are the only Sanitizer Needed

Perhaps, if you rarely use the spa, and you always shower beforehand, and you replace your spa filter every 12 months. Ozone is a very powerful sanitizer, as is UV (Ultra Violet) light, but they have some trouble with reaching every H2O molecule, and they only work when the spa pump is operating. Minerals are effective at controlling algae and some bacteria, but fall short of full sanitation.

For a sanitary spa, disinfecting the water with a regular sanitizer like bromine tablets, and regular shocking with MPS or Non-Chlorine spa shock is indicated.

MYTH #4: You Don’t Need to Check Calcium Hardness in a Spa

Having soft water (below 150ppm) in a spa leads to a corrosive water environment and having hard water (above 250 ppm), leads to scaling conditions. The higher temperature factor used in the Langelier Saturation Index, makes an acceptable calcium hardness level much more restrictive in spas and hot tubs.

For balanced spa water, check the calcium hardness level of your fill water each time you fill. Add calcium increaser if below 150, and run a higher Alkalinity level of 100-120. If you have hard water above 250, adjust your other chemical levels for balanced water, to use a lower alkalinity, in the range of 70-90.

MYTH #5: My Spa Filter Still Looks New, so it Must be Good!

You could say the same about a Nature2 spa stick, looks good on the outside, but inside it’s minerals are depleted. Over time, spa filter cartridges lose their ability to trap particles and harmful bacteria that can end up forming biofilm in the deep recesses of your spa plumbing.

Even though it may look new, each time a spa cartridge is cleaned, the fibers invisibly separate a little more, and the cartridge passes through a little more dirt. After 12-15 cleanings – a spa filter may be only doing half the job that it did when new.

Replace your spa filter cartridges every 24 months, or every 12 cleanings, whichever comes first.

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

 

Hot Tub Folliculitis – Preventing Pseudomonas

July 17th, 2014 by

FOLLICULITISnoun \fə-ˌli-kyə-ˈlī-təs\ – inflammation of one or more follicles especially of the hair.

It’s a skin infection that produces an itchy rash with red bumps.

Pseudomonas Aeruginosa is a germ usually responsible.

 

Pseudomona… What?

pseudomonas-4Hot Tub Rash is a faster way to say it, easier than either folliculitis or pseudomonas aeruginosa! Let’s call our germ “Pseudo“; Pseudo is one of the most common bacterias in our modern society. It is naturally occurring nearly everywhere, and poorly maintained hot tubs present a particularly nice home for the pathogen.

Pseudo is also responsible for over 10% of all hospital infections. In addition to dermatitis, pseudomonas also causes gastrointestinal, urinary and respiratory infections. It’s a very opportunistic bugger, exploiting hosts with a variety of entry points.

In a hot tub that is poorly filtered and sanitized, pseudomonas can thrive, and as you soak in the water, your pores open up, and the pseudo just swims right inside, and makes a home near the root of the tiny hair follicles.

The rash usually appears on legs, buttocks and back, but hot tub rash can appear nearly anywhere on the body. The rash can begin to appear within a few hours, but may take up to 24 hours to become noticeable. The rash frequently appears under the swimsuit areas, due to continued exposure even after leaving the water.

Preventing Pseudomonas

To make sure we get the information correct, I went straight to the experts. Prevent hot tub rash in your spa by following these tips from the CDC’s Pseudomonas Fact Sheet.

  • Remove biofilm slime regularly by scrubbing and cleaning.
  • Replace the spa filter according to manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Replace the water in a hot tub regularly.  Here’s how.
  • Maintain pH levels in the 7.2-7.8 range.
  • Maintain sanitizer levels; 2-4ppm chlorine, or 4-6ppm bromine.

Public Spas & Hot Tubs

The fact is, most cases of hot tub rash occur in public spas – hotels, resorts, rec centers, gyms. It’s much less common in well maintained home spas. Public spas have high levels of guests, which pummels the sanitizer and pH levels, and quickly allows bacteria to form, unless the operator is constantly monitoring the chemistry and filtration.

To safely use a public spa, which I do on occasion while on vacation – here’s a few tips of my own:

  • I always pack some spa test strips to discreetly test the spa pH and sanitizer in a public spa.
  • Limit your soak to 20 minutes, afterwards, wash yourself and your swimsuit in the shower.
  • Change into dry clothes, don’t stay in your swimsuit.

Hot Tub Rash Treatment

In most cases, the rash will disappear on it’s own in otherwise healthy individuals. Itching can be reduced with a calamine lotion, or similar anti-itch ointment.

In individuals with compromised immune systems, or if symptoms persist past 3-4 days, or appear to be spreading, visit  your doctor or a dermatologist, who may prescribe an antibiotic medication or antifungal cream. Lab tests could be performed to determine the exact type of bacteria or fungus.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara

 

Minerals, Ozone and MPS for a Chlorine Free Hot Tub

June 19th, 2014 by

ozone-minerals-mpsIf you are interested in a method to operate a spa or hot tub without chlorine or bromine, you’re in the right place.

I have been bromine free in my spa for about 7 years. It’s a 400 gallon Marquis spa, that gets used 2-3x per week, by kids and adults. It’s an easy method that I’ve kept hidden until now – a great way to keep a spa or hot tub halogen-free, while ensuring that the water stays sanitary and healthy.

But why? Why would I want to operate a tub without chlorine or bromine ~ some of you may ask. I’ve always found it irritating, to my skin, hair and nasal passages, and it can be hazardous to store, plus I feel like our planet could use a little less Bromine.

Minerals + Ozone + MPS for a Non Chlorine Hot Tub

The secret to going bromine-free isn’t hard to follow; I use a mineral cartridge, an ozonator, and I shock the spa with MPS, non-chlorine shock, after we use it, or at least weekly if no one has used it, which is rare.

Minerals: I usually use the Nature2 spa stick, as I call them- or you can use the Filter Frog, or the Leisure Time spa mineral stick.We also have the SunPurity mineral purifier for Sundance spas and the Hot Springs Silver Ion Purifier

Just drop them in your filter, and the rushing water pulls out copper and silver ions that do a bang-up job of busting apart contaminants in the water. After 4 months, they need to be replaced, which I time to be at or around the time that I am changing the spa water.

Ozone: A spa ozonator puts ozone in the water, which zaps anything that comes near it. Some of the nicer model spas have a built-in ozonator, but if not, you can easily add an ozone unit to the spa – like the MCD-50, which is only around $100.  After12-18 months, the manufacturer recommends the Renewal Kit, they may last longer however.

Ozone complements the killing preferences of minerals, removing the really hard to kill stuff, like bacteria and viruses. But even ozone, as powerful as it is, has limitations with an imperfect delivery system. So, I supplement ozone + minerals with MPS.

MPS: After we get out of the spa, I just sprinkle in a dose of monopersulfate, aka MPS, as we call it around here. I let the jets circulate for a few minutes, and then shut it down to low speed and close the cover. No waiting for it to ‘gas-off’, like with chlorine shocks.

I use the HTH Spa non-chlorine shock, it’s the strongest type of MPS we sell, and it has a good price. We have other brands and formulations of MPS, by Leisure Time and Rendezvous and we carry the full line of Zodiac Cense, MPS & Aromatherapy in one!

Other Tips for a Chlorine Free Hot Tub

  • Drain the tub every 3-4 months. Before draining, use Jet Clean to fight biofilm.
  • Change the spa filter regularly, every 12-24 months, to reduce your sanitizer demand.
  • Don’t be afraid to double the MPS dose if you’ve had a full spa, with many users.
  • Run the filter 20-24 hours per day, to keep the minerals and ozone circulating.
  • Keep your water balanced, especially your pH and alkalinity.

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

Spa Chemical Start Up Guide

May 29th, 2014 by

hot-tub-chemistry-start-up

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

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

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

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

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

PRE-FILTER THE FILL WATER

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

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

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

BALANCE THE WATER

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

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

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

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

SANITIZE THE WATER

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

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

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

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

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

 

- Jack

 

Chlorine or Non-Chlorine Shock for Hot Tubs?

May 19th, 2014 by

spa-hot-tub-shock-treatments

Spa and Hot Tub Shockwhat’s better – chlorinated granules or non-chlorine shock?

This post takes a look at the differences between two types of oxidizers used for spa shock treatments – Sodium DiChlor (chlorine granules) or MPS – Monopersulfate (chlorine free).

WHY SHOCK SPAS & HOT TUBS? Oxidizers are added to pools and spas to destroy pathogens like bacteria and viruses, and also organic contaminants that lead to algae growth.

The second main reason is to destroy molecular combinations between your main sanitizer (chlorine or bromine), and other organic matter, which create foul smelling -amines in the water.

WHEN TO SHOCK A SPA? The best time to shock a spa is after you have used the spa, or every 7-10 days. Don’t shock just before using the spa which will reduce it’s effectiveness, and could cause skin irritation. Wait at least an hour after shocking (with MPS), while circulating the water with the spa cover open, before getting in the tub.

HOW TO SHOCK A HOT TUB? Follow the label instructions, for specific dosages. Check your pH first, and adjust to within 7.2 – 7.6. This will allow the oxidizer to work harder, with a pH in the lower half of the scale. Just shake the required amount over the water, being careful of winds, which could blow the powder in your face. Don’t rinse off the cap or scoop in the water, keep it dry and clean at all times for safety. Keep the cover open to allow for gassing off, an important part of the process.

WHAT TYPE OF SPA SHOCK IS BEST? Finally, we are at the meat of this post – which is better for spas and hot tubs, MPS or chlorine shock? Let’s create some distinctions between the two types of spa shock, by looking at benefits of each, not shared by the other.

PRICE COMPARISON

SPA-SHOCK-PRICES-COMPARISON-CHARTHow do Chlorine Granules compare to MPS in terms of price? Is there a large difference between the two? Our chart shows 4 chlorine shocks, 5 MPS shocks, and one blend, Replenish, which contains MPS, with some chlorine added.

Chlorine granules come out a bit cheaper by the pound than MPS spa shock, which has a much wider price range, all higher per pound than chlorine, with the notable exception of Activate shock.

 

STRENGTH COMPARISON

SPA-SHOCK-STRENGTH-COMPARSION-CHART-2The reason that DiChlor shock is used in spas, is that DiChlor is more stable at higher temperatures and has a near neutral pH level. Spa shocks are particularly fine, more of a powder than a granular, so that they dissolve quickly.

All 4 of the chlorine hot tub shocks are 56% Available Chlorine. Among the 5 non-chlorine spa shocks, all are blends of MPS in different formulations, with different percentage of MPS.

If one was to generalize the relative strengths of MPS and DiChlor, it could be said that both Dichlor and MPS have equivalent ability as an algaecide, bactericide and virucide. Dichlor shock may have an edge for spas that are heavily used, or in need of high levels of oxidation.

 FEATURES AND BENEFITS

 

Dichlor-molecule - RSC.orgCHLORINATED GRANULES:

Although there are many types of pool shocks available, using Calcium or Lithium or Sodium Hypochlorite, chlorine hot tub shocks are primarily made with Sodium DiChloro-S-Triazinetrione, or DiChlor for short.

  • Neutral pH, Quick dissolving
  • Sanitizes and oxidizes pathogens and organic contaminants
  • Lower price point

MPS-potassium-peroxymonopersulfate  from rsc.orgMPS SHOCK:

There are a few formulations of MPS, but most of the monopersulfate sold for spas and hot tubs is a blend of MPS, primarily purchased from DuPont, and packaged for resale under many brand names.

  • Low pH, Quick dissolving
  • An excellent oxidizer and a fair sanitizer
  • Does not contribute calcium or cyanuric acid to your spa water
  • Can use the spa almost immediately, unlike with chlorine
  • No odor, gentle on spa covers

 

THE BOTTOM LINE: If you are not using bromine tablets to sanitize, but instead using minerals and ozone, DiChlor may be a better shock to use, but – if you use Bromine tablets or Angel Tabs to sanitize, use the MPS shock to oxidize. I’ve always used bromine tablets and shock the spa with MPS after we use it. However, I also keep some DiChlor on hand, and give the spa a super shock about every month.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Bromine vs. Chlorine for Spas & Hot Tubs

May 1st, 2014 by

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

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

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

ROUND ONE: COST

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

Round One goes to chlorine – definitely a cheaper alternative!

ROUND TWO: CONVENIENCE

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

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

Chlorine comes out slightly ahead in Round Two.

ROUND THREE: STAYING POWER

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

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

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

ROUND FOUR: KILLING POWER

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

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

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

ROUND FIVE: STABILITY

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

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

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

Bromine wins Round Five!

ROUND SIX: OTHER

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

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

 

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

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

- Jack

 

 

Safely Storing Spa & Hot Tub Chemicals

April 28th, 2014 by

spa-chemical-warningSafe storage of spa chemicals – a boring topic? Not so ~ it has all of the elements of a Shakespearean tragedy, only without all of the hard to follow old English tongue.

The horrible tragedy is that nearly 5000 people visit hospital rooms every year – after a pool or spa chemical dust or gas exposure, according to the CDC. In 2007, Poison control centers nationwide reported nearly 10,000 calls regarding human exposures to a pool or aquarium chemical.

Here’s how to keep yourself and your family safe, from seemingly harmless spa chemicals.

KEEP THEM DRY

Pool chemicals are soluble in water, and are made to react with water, of course. When your hot tub chemicals absorb moisture from any source, they begin to react, and break down. This can produce toxic fumes and violent reactions. And when the liquid is not water, but some seemingly harmless beverage or household product, the reaction can be much worse.

  • Always screw on childproof lids tightly, until they click. Chemicals with loose lids absorb humidity.
  • Keep your spa chemicals in a dry, water tight container.
  • Never use a wet scoop in a large container.
  • Always store dry chemicals above liquid chemicals.
  • Don’t rinse off the chemical lid or scoop in the spa water.
  • Always store your spa chemicals in a dry location.


KEEP THEM OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN

A good number of spa and hot tub chemical accidents involve children under the age of 14. Ingestion, inhalation or irritation from pool and spa chemicals.spa-chemical-locker

The best way to protect children from pool or spa chemicals, is to keep them out of their reach. Spa chemicals don’t take up as much room as pool chemicals, and are easy to keep in a sturdy, locking storage container, or in a shelf that is mounted high up on the wall.

locking-wall-cabinet-rubbermaidPlease don’t put your spa chemicals in the flip-up spa step storage area, or other cabinet or container that is accessible. If you want to keep your spa chemicals from being discovered by a curious child, place them out of reach, at least 48″ off the ground. A sturdy locking container, as mentioned earlier, can be used if you don’t have a high cabinet.

 

KEEP THEM SEPARATED

Mixing incompatible spa chemicals is the number one cause of emergency room visits, according to this chemical safety alert. But it’s not just mixing spa chemicals with other spa chemicals – it’s also contamination caused by beverages, household chemicals, dirt, leaves, even dust.

  • Store liquids near ground level; never store liquids above dry spa chemicals.
  • Always use dedicated spa chemical scoops, one for each chemical.
  • Store sanitizers like shock and bromine away from acids like pH down.
  • Store hot tub chemicals in their original container only.
  • Keep your spa chemicals completely separate from all other substances.
  • Always open and add only one chemical at a time to your spa or hot tub.

Please don’t put your spa chemicals underneath the spa skirt. As mentioned before, the best storage is in a lockable waterproof cabinet or container, or in an indoor or outdoor cabinet located 48″ off the ground.

KEEP THEM CLEAN

Contamination can occur from just a few small flecks of dirt, or tiny pieces of a leaf, or a few drops of root beer, or other type of beer – can be enough to slowly generate enough heat, in 2-3 minutes (after you’ve left the area), to start a chemical fire.

Be sure that you always store spa chemicals in a clean and dry location, and NEVER place spilled spa chemicals back into the container. Sweep it up and add it to the spa water, or dispose of properly.


BE THE EXPERT

spa-chemical-expertFor spa chemical safety, make one person responsible for the spa or hot tub chemicals. This one person should know what every chemical is and what it does, in addition to practicing safe handling and storage. Don’t pass around the duty – the only person touching the spa chemicals, is you. Or someone else – but just one person, OK?


READ THE LABEL

Bromicharge-small

Spa chemical labels are changing, requiring more safety information, in an easier to use format. Look for Instructions for Use, Precautionary Statements, Active Ingredients and other useful information, even First Aid information. The CDC recommends that you read the entire label before using spa or hot tub chemicals, for dosage and treatment information, and for reference during an emergency.

ROTATE YOUR STOCK

If you can no longer read the label, use up the chemical, or dispose of it properly. See your local governmental website for guidance on disposal procedures for old pool or spa chemicals. Don’t hold onto old unused chemicals. Rotate your stock.

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

Beginner’s Guide to Spa & Hot Tub Care

April 7th, 2014 by

spa-care-and-maintenanceSpa and Hot Tub Maintenance – take a deep breath, this isn’t so hard. And if things get out of control, you can always drain the spa and start over. :-)

For the new spa owner, or for a person who is new to spa maintenance, I have some tips to maintain water chemistry and spa equipment, along with some regular maintenance and cleaning duties to keep your spa water clean and ready for use!

If you’ve seen my post on the Secret to Hot Tub Water Chemistry ~ you’d know the secret. In short, test the water and make small adjustments to pH, Alkalinity, Calcium Hardness and Sanitizer level – with regularity. ideal-spa-chemical-levelsRegular testing would mean testing the spa water 2-4 times per week, and making adjustments as needed, to keep your levels in the proper ranges. Keeping a log is a good idea, just writing down your test results, and any notes on adjustment.

Tap water is pretty good spa water, in most areas. But in some areas, and you know where you are – there is soft water or hard water or high alkalinity and pH, or high levels of chloramines, or metals and minerals. You can test your tap water with your test kit, or when testing after a drain and refill, you can measure the suitability of your tap water as spa water. Using a Spa Pre-Filter removes metals, odors and the finest silt from your spa fill water.

Back to the matter at hand, in addition to testing and adjusting the spa water chemistry 2-4x per week, there are other duties and tasks that need to be done to maintain overall spa health.

Clean the Spa Filter

spa-filter-assemblyThe spa filter can be located under the skimmer basket, and accessed from inside the spa, or it can be a small tank that is opened up underneath the spa, to clean or replace the filter. If underneath the spa, you may have a valve that can be shut to prevent water from rushing out when you open the filter. Loosening a large nut or just turning the filter body counter clockwise is the usual method to access the filter cartridge. Some water spillage is inevitable when opening it up, but if you are careful it can be very little.

If your spa filter has a pressure gauge attached to it, the cartridge needs cleaning when the pressure rises 8-10 lbs, or when flow is noticeably reduced. If you have no gauge on your filter, you should clean the filter on a regular schedule. hasta-la-vista-babyI clean my own filter cartridge every 4-8 weeks, depending on how often I use the spa. If my hot tub is being used a few times per week, I’ll clean the filter every four weeks, or monthly.

Replace your spa filter every 12-24 months, again depending on usage. Another way to do it is to change it every 10-15 cleanings, because that’s what really breaks down a cartridge. Every time it’s cleaned, fibers loosen up and it loses a little bit of dirt trapping ability. Keep track of your spa filter’s age or cleaning cycles, because at some point soon it’s gonna be Hasta la Vista, baby!

Clean the Spa

skimmer-netA full cleaning of the waterline and surfaces can be done when the spa is drained. Just be sure not to use any old household cleaner or soap. If you are going to use any chemical on your spa surfaces, use something like our Spa Cleaner, to keep out phosphates, nitrates and who knows what else.

Vacuuming the spa can be accomplished with small vacuums that are either battery powered, or garden hose powered. The Pool Blaster vacuums are battery operated and fast to use, or you can use the Grit Getter to suck up the little grains that gather in the corners. The Spa Vac connects to your vacuum hose for fast vacuuming of even large leaves.

Floating debris can be removed with a skimmer net, or if you left the cover off during a windstorm and it’s full of leaves, it can also be used to scoop up the larger leaves under the water.

Air-Out the Spa Cover

One of the most important things you can do to help your spa cover live a long healthy life of service is to remove it at least twice per week. Use the spa cover lifter to completely remove it, or gently place it off the spa if you don’t have a spa cover lift. Give your cover a few hours to breathe and shake off some of the constant heat and moisture. spacover-cleaner-and-conditionerThis is also a good time to add chemicals or shock the spa, if you aren’t using it at the time.

Another spa cover maintenance item is cleaning and conditioning the vinyl spa cover. Especially if your spa cover is outside, spa cover cleaner removes airborne oils and dirt, tree sap and pollen while cover conditioner replenishes the vinyl plasticizers that keep your spa cover vinyl covering soft, strong and looking great.

Add Fill Water

This is so often forgotten, and if the skimmer starts to suck air, in could damage the pump, in some situations. The water level should be in the middle of the skimmer intake, or a little higher. You don’t want it too high, and you never want to over-flow the spa, so keep a close eye on it while filling!remote-hose

Keep a garden hose close-by. If your garden hose is too far away, set up a sub-spigot by running a hose from a splitter on your current spigot, to a spigot that is mounted on a stake. Then you always have a hose right next to the spa for filling or topping off the hot tub water level.

To take care of 95% of spa care tasks, just remember to…

dont-forget-

  • Test and adjust your spa 2-4x per week
  • Clean the spa filter every 4-8 weeks, replace every 1-2 yrs
  • Keep the spa clean; drain & refill every 2-4 months
  • Air-Out the spa cover twice per week
  • Add water as needed to keep it full

 

Until next time;

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

Fire up the Spa! How to Open a Winterized Hot Tub

March 27th, 2014 by

opening-hot-tub

 

Opening a hot tub is a lot easier than closing, and a lot less stressful, after you see that nothing’s leaking that is! Freeze damage on spa plumbing and equipment is a real possibility, especially with this brutal winter that gripped a lot of the U.S. this year.

If you read Jack Stone’s spa winterization instructions a few months ago to winterize your spa, then opening it back up should be a breeze.

Getting the spa ready for another season is something that I have done many times – and in most cases, it’s an easy hour long process.

 

CLEAN THE SPA

Since you have it empty, it’s a perfect time to polish up the hot tub interior. For wooden hot tubs, use a brush and baking soda to clean the interior. Don’t Ever use stain or sealer on the inside of the tub, but you can use it on the outside. Linseed Oil is a great product for wood, just wipe it on the outside. It’s also great for acrylic spa wood skirts – but it will darken the wood.

spa-care-cleaner-For acrylic spas, wipe down the inside with a moist, soft cloth. If you notice any stains or if you have a few small dirty puddles, use a spa cleaner like our Spa Care Cleaner to clean and polish your spa surfaces. Don’t Ever use household cleaners, they can damage your spa, and put strange chemicals into the spa water that could interfere with water balance or be harmful to your spa users.

Don’t forget to give your spa cover some attention too! While the spa is filling, place the spa cover on the spa and clean and condition to protect the vinyl with Spa Cover Clean, or one of our many other cleaners and conditioners, made specifically for marine vinyl exposed to the elements. Don’t Ever use Armor-All type automotive conditioners, which could damage your spa cover.

CHECK THE SPA

Open up the spa equipment access panel and inspect all visible pipes and equipment for any cracks or obvious damage. Check over any wires that are visible, looking for any rodent chewing damage. Replace any drain plugs that were removed, and check that the drain spigot is closed.

Inside the spa, check over the spa lights, jets and drain covers before filling the spa to be sure that they are all securely attached.

FILL THE SPA

pre-filter-Drop in a garden hose and fill her up! Most garden hoses flow at 5-10 gallons per minute, so a 300 gallon spa could fill as fast as 30 minutes. Keep an eye on it to be sure that you don’t overflow the spa. If your fill water could be improved, our Pre-Filter removes minerals, metals, contaminants, chloramines and odor.

START-UP THE SPA

With the filter cartridge in place and other parts such as a skimmer basket, you can fire up the system, or actually just push the button to start the circulation pump. Test all of your features, like lights, blower, waterfall, high speed pump mode. Check that the heater is on, and set to your favorite soaking temp.

BALANCE THE SPA

brom-booster-htwBalancing the pool water is super important to protect your spa and your spa users. In some parts of the country, tap water actually is pretty good spa water, in terms of the pH, alkalinity, and calcium hardness levels. In other areas, major adjustments need to be done to all 3 to bring them to their proper ranges.

If you use Bromine, you’ll need to build up your bromine bank, to be able to raise the bromine level in the spa. Brom Booster is our most economical way to boost the bromides in your spa, necessary if you use bromine tablets, or you’ll have trouble seeing a bromine level for several weeks, until enough of the tablets dissolve.

You’ll probably want to also shock the spa, after you balance the pH, alkalinity and calcium levels. Just follow the label instructions for the right amount to add for your spa. Shocking the spa is also done to initialize spa mineral cartridges, like Frog and Nature2 when you first add them.

HOT TUB OPENING PROBLEMS

No Power: If the spa is dead – no power, check that the breaker for the spa is on, and check any GFCI outlets for a tripped red Test button. If still no power, check that the wires are intact and all connector ends are pushed firmly in place. Steps beyond these include tracing the power circuit to find the short or end point. The problem lies where the power dies.

Pump Hums: If your pump tries to start, but just hums and possibly trips the breaker, it may be ‘frozen’. With the power off, use straight pliers to turn the shaft of the motor. For pumps without an exposed shaft, the shaft can be turned at the rear of the motor. If the shaft spins freely, but the motor still just hums and won’t start, a motor capacitor is the usual problem.leak-seal

Leaks: Uh-Oh! Pumps that are leaking along the motor shaft likely need a new shaft seal. If there are visible cracks or leaks that you can see on the pipes or equipment, well – you’ll have to get the right materials for repair. Call us if you need assistance. If there are leaks from unseen locations under or behind the spa, they can be hard to find with the spa full of water, especially when they are very small. Try Leak Seal to seal up small spa and hot tub leaks.

No Heat: The first thing to check is that the pump is running and the spa filter is clean and properly positioned for best flow. Beyond that, spa heaters that don’t heat or don’t heat enough could have an issue with the thermostat, temperature switch, pressure switch or flow switch.

No Cover: If your spa cover is looking tired, or has become waterlogged, bent or broken – now is the time to order a replacement spa cover. Spring is when most spa covers are purchased, and after this winter, our spa cover designers sure are busy!

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara

 

Spa Foam: Eliminating Hot Tub Foaming

March 6th, 2014 by

foamy-hot-tubMy family and I took a short holiday recently, to a large theme park in Anaheim – I think you know the one I’m referring to. Well, we stayed in one of their theme hotels, which had a nice pool and spa. The spa water looked a little cloudy, but we got in anyway (after I checked the sanitizer level, lol). Turned on the bubbles, and whoa – did we get bubbles! Foam was nearly a foot high off the water. My kids thought it was hilarious fun and my wife didn’t seem to mind. I was disgusted, quite frankly.

Spa and Hot Tub foam is just plain nasty, when you know what has created the foaming water. A hot tub is not just a small pool – think of it as more of a large bath tub. When several people hop into a hot tub, the water becomes saturated with chemicals and soaps used on our skin, hair and bathing suits.

Causes of Hot Tub Foam

Every time you use your spa, the warm water absorbs dead skin cells, perspiration and dirt, and also lotions, oils, soaps, cosmetics and hair products. Over time, these invisible solids build up in the water, making the water ‘thick’.

Spa water chemistry also plays a role. A high pH and alkalinity and/or low calcium hardness levels creates an ideal condition for foaming. Add spa calcium increaser if you have soft water in your area, and your calcium hardness level is below 150 ppm. And, maintaining your pH level at 7.4-7.6 and your alkalinity in the range of 80-120 ppm will not only help prevent foaming, but has many other advantages.

Solutions to Hot Tub Foam

Spa Shock can break down many of these substances and reduce spa foaming in most cases, but spa shock has trouble removing oils and phosphates from the water.

Spa Enzymes can be used to break down oily, soapy substances, naturally. Enzymes actively seek and consume oils and scum which contribute to hot tub foam.

Spa Defoamer can be used to instantly remove spa foam. It’s a silicone solution that when sprayed on the surface, reduces surface tension, and spa foam disappears (if only temporarily).

Preventing Hot Tub Foam

The options above will do well to control a foamy hot tub, and keep the foaming to a minimum – but, it’s not really solving the problem.

Draining the Spa is the ultimate and inevitable solution to hot tub foaming. To prevent foaming caused by BioFilm, use Jet Clean before draining, at least once per year. If you can’t do a complete drain, you can drain half of the spa, and refill – and although it’s not a full drain & clean, you can fix a foaming spa problem, at least temporarily, in this manner.

Taking a shower before using the spa is always recommended, especially if you need to shower – and I think you know what I mean. Don’t use the spa as a bathtub.

Don’t Submerge if you have long hair, put your hair up to keep hair products out of the tub. Even those with short hair can bring in shampoo, conditioner and hair gel into the tub when they go under water.

Rinse your swimsuit in hot water if you have laundered them. Avoid wearing T-shirts or clothing that has been washed with soap. Trace amounts in your clothing or bathing suits will cause spa foaming.

Maintain Water Balance, with particular care to your pH, calcium and sanitizer levels.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works