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Archive for the ‘spa chemicals’ Category

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

November 18th, 2013 by

biofilms-in-spa-plumbing

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

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

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

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

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

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

CAUSES OF BIOFILM IN SPAS & HOT TUBS

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

PREVENTION OF BIOFILM IN SPAS & HOT TUBS

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

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

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

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

Cleaning Tools to Make Spa Maintenance Easier

November 4th, 2013 by

pleatco-cartridge-guyCleaning your spa or hot tub can be a bit of a chore. In my house, I was only able to pawn off some of the spa duties when I brought home some of these spa cleaning tools and supplies. Such as vacuuming the spa or cleaning the spa cover.

If you’re tired of certain spa maintenance tasks, and you are having trouble pawning them off on others, or making the spa off-limits until the spa is taken care of – take a look at some of these workload reducing hot tub tools.

Spend more time enjoying your spa, not cleaning it!

 

Easy Clean Filter Spray Nozzleeasy-clean-spa-filter-spray-nozzle

Some pool cartridge spray tools are too large for small spa filters. I always used my regular multi-purpose spray nozzle, and would have never thought to use anything else, until we had a manufacturer’s sales rep come to our office, handing these out.

I told him that I really didn’t need it, but he insisted, and left it on my desk. I took it home about a week later, and finally used it several weeks after that. I was so impressed, that I called him up to thank him. It makes an adjustable sharp or fan spray, which really gets in between the pleats.

Grit Getter

grit-getter-spas

This is the simplest little device, one of those things that I kick myself for not inventing. Squeeze the Grit Getter and it pushes out the air and water, and creates a strong suction that’s perfect for grit like sand or dirt.

The debris gets trapped in the body, just twist it to open, and dump out the grit. Made of a soft rubber-plastic, it floats when not being used, and is pretty much indestructible. Easy to use, and even kind of fun, everyone wants to give it a try. Also available with an extension pole, for use when you’re not in the spa.

 

Pool Blaster Spa Vac

spa-vac

For something beyond the manual vacuum power of the Grit Getter, this vacuum power vacs your spa, operating on 3 “C” batteries, which gives about an hour of cleaning time, which should last for several months, assuming you keep your spa covered, and your guests are clean!

There are several types of spa vacuums on the market, this one is the most maneuverable and easiest to set up. It also has an internal valve to keep debris inside, should you begin to lose battery power, a feature not shared by other spa vacs.

Comes with 3 extenders, which can extend the spa vac up to 8 foot in reach.

 

Spa Fill Water Filter

spa-pre-filterIf you pre-filter the water that you use to fill your spa, your spa water will be pure to start. This puts less demand on your spa filter and sanitizers, and mineral control chemicals. Helps reduce foaming and staining by removing impurities, minerals, salts and scale. It also removes organic contaminants, chloramines, and sulfides, which make water smell bad.

Just attach the hose water pre-filter to your garden hose, and turn on the water. You’ll notice a difference immediately if your water contains silt, is colored or has a strong odor. Each pre filter lasts for 3 spa fills, plus as many top offs to the water level as you need.

A must to use if you are using well water, or if your water comes from old systems or travels very far to reach your home.

 

Spa Skimmer Net

spa-skimmer-netIt’s tempting to think that you may never need a skimmer net for your spa or hot tub. After all, it’s covered most of the time, and probably out of the way of most large trees. But, a skimmer net can be a handy tool to have on hand. Leaves, bugs, fibers or dust can be quickly swept from the surface.

You might use it to scoop off loads of foam out of the spa, retrieve tossed toys or the floater. It can also be used to scoop leaves or items from the floor or benches of your spa. Our spa leaf skimmer has a large head and a telescopic pole that extends from 3 to 8 feet. Frame is weather resistant plastic, with urethane handle and polished aluminum tubing.

Earlier this summer my spa skimmer nets kept disappearing. After my third replacement, I found them down by the creek behind my house. Apparently these also work great for catching tadpoles and turtles, as my grandsons taught me.

 

Tub Rub

hot-tub-scrubber-pad-tub-rubThis is like a Magic Eraser for hot tubs and spas. You can use it by itself, or along with a spa cleaning chemical (never use household cleansers to clean your spa shell). It has a textured surface and is soft enough to get into the many grooves and curves of spa surfaces. Can also be used for your spa cover, although I normally prefer to use the 303 Spa Cover Wipes for cleaning the spa cover.

Textured sponges could be too harsh for some delicate spa surfaces, and may scratch like steel wool. Tub Rub is a textured fabric – not plastic, so it’s always gentle, and works great for scum removal, or for high gloss polishing.

 

These are some of the most useful tools and hot tub accessories that I use around my spa, to reduce the maintenance, or at least make it more manageable. It may even help you pawn off some spa duties to others! Or you could start charging admission, to use the spa! Yeah, right.

 

- Jack

 

Tips to Avoid Chemical Damage to your Hot Tub or Spa

October 22nd, 2013 by

DOS-AND-DONTSYour spa is beautiful, but to keep it that way you have to be careful. Spas are much less forgiving of chemical mistakes than pools, being up to 50 times smaller.

Part of the problem is you, and other spa users. 4 people in a 400 gallon spa is an equivalent bather load to 200 people in a 20,000 gallon pool. Spa users bring in loads of oils, body wastes, perspiration, cosmetics, soaps and hair care products, which your spa filter and spa chemistry have to deal with, since you don’t drain the spa after every use.

Here’s my tips on carefully managing your spa chemistry. Take care of these things, and your spa or hot tub will stay looking good, and you’ll avoid damage to the spa equipment, spa shell and spa cover.

DON’T USE CHEAP CHEMICALS

Cheap spa chemicals have been flooding the market in the last few years. These products are made in countries with lax environmental and product controls. Labeling is usually proper, but the ingredients are always cheap. Low grade clays, gums and oils used as binders. Cheaper derivative bases can have a reduced shelf life or create ‘side effects’ in your spa water chemistry. I liken it to the pharmaceutical industry. A generic drug may be OK, but there are other options out there you’d be best to stay away from. Cheap spa chemicals can be damaging to the spa filter, pump seals, and spa surfaces.

DON’T USE POOL CHEMICALS

Many spa manufacturers will void their warranty if you use pool chemicals in your spa or hot tub. The first problem is that the dosage rates are for pools, usually in 10,000 gallons, so it’s easy to screw up the math. Secondly, the big containers and scoops don’t allow proper measurement. Pools take pounds of adjustment chemicals, but in spas, we work in ounces. Third, Trichlor tablets (pool tablets) have a very low pH, and will give you trouble with your pH. Other pool chemicals are not made for the rapid dissolve rate that is necessary in spas, to keep harsh chemicals from contacting your shiny spa surfaces.

DON’T USE BIGUANIDES

Biguanides are a product that replaces bromine or chlorine in a pool or spa. I might get in trouble saying this, because we sell spa biguanides – but the truth is that they can gum up the filter, dry out the hoses, and attack some spa surfaces. Despite these side-effects, those users who are very careful in their dosage and water balance can avoid most of the downside, and enjoy the benefits of biguanides. How’s that for double speak? :-)

DO TEST & BALANCE WEEKLY

Test your water at least weekly, with a good set of test strips or a liquid test kit. And then – add the chemicals needed to adjust the range of Alkalinity, Calcium Hardness and pH. Low pH and Alkalinity can become corrosive and damage shiny spa surfaces, or weaken soft hoses and seals. If you have hard water, use Calcium and Scale Control, and for soft water, with low calcium hardness, add some calcium increaser. Keeping balanced spa water not only protects your spa shell and equipment, but allows your sanitizer to work more effectively at removing the loads of contaminants in the spa.

DO DRAIN & CLEAN REGULARLY

Draining and cleaning the spa is recommended every 3-4 months for spas that get used 1-3 times per week. For heavier use, drain the spa more frequently. Before draining, or at least twice per year, use a spa pipe cleaning product, like Jet Clean, to remove film and funk from inside your tubes, hoses and pipes. Once drained, use a spa friendly cleaning product like Spa Care cleaner to clean the spa surfaces. Don’t use household cleaning products, they can contain abrasives or phosphates. After cleaning the shell, restore the gloss to your spa with a spa polishing product like Citrabright.

DO SHOCK & SANITIZE CAREFULLY

Use anyone of our spa shocks, either chlorine or non-chlorine shock, according to directions and you’ll have no problems. Always use the measuring scoop, and add spa shock to the water with the jet pump on and circulating. To protect the spa cover, leave it half open or completely remove it for an hour after shocking the spa. Continuous high levels of bromine or chlorine in the spa can be very corrosive. Use a floater or feeder for tablets and monitor the level closely, so that it stays above 1.0ppm, and below 3.0ppm. If the level goes to high, turn on the jet pump and open the cover. Adding fresh water also helps dilute high sanitizer levels.

 

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

 

Hard Water Issues in Spas and Hot Tubs

September 30th, 2013 by

water-hardness-map-of-US

Are you located in the “Red Zone”? If so, you may have hard water in your home that you use to fill the spa. 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, the scale is no problem. Go about your business. In some cases, calcium hardness levels can reach levels of 400 ppm or more, which can lead to problems.

They reach a point where it begins to come out of solution, giving your 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 chart we’ve used here shows the generally accepted maxim that anything over 180 ppm is classified as “Extremely Hard” water. If you have a test kit or test strips that measures for calcium hardness levels in your spa, you can easily check your spa water to see where you lie on the continuum. 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?

so-what-who-caresOK, fair question, and a great SNL skit phrase. How about this? You don’t care if you don’t have a problem. If your hot tub water is some of the hardest, you’ve seen scale deposits before, and know that these salts leave ugly water spots, can be corrosive and when high enough, can interfere with sanitation and filtration.

Treatments for Hard 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.

Pre-Filter1. Filter the Calcium. Maybe you have an expensive home water softening system, and can fill the spa after it’s been treated. If not, you can use our Pre-Filter, to take out minerals, metals, chloramines as well as other particulate matter. Just screw it onto your hose and turn on the hose! Good for 2-3 fills.

2. Combine the Calcium. Using a product called CalTreat, by United Chemical, which bonds to calcium carbonate, until a large enough particle is created to be removed by your filter system. Follow the instructions carefully, and you can see your calcium level drop considerably.calcium-and-scale-control

3. Control the Calcium. Calcium and Scale Control is a product that keeps calcium and other minerals tied up in solution, making it unlikely that they will come out of solution. After the initial dose, just add a maintenance dosage whenever you add water to the spa, to keep minerals in a “sequestered” state. It will also loosen and dissolve some scale deposits.

- Jack

 

 

Guide to Hot Tub and Spa Chemicals

September 16th, 2013 by

bogus book, photoshop invention, not for sale, lol

 

Hot tubs and spas would be so much more fun if they didn’t need any guides! One of those important care areas is managing the spa water chemistry.

Spa chemicals are used for water balance (pH, alkalinity and hardness), and then there are the sanitizer chemicals, and oxidizers for shocking the spa. And there’s minerals, and ozone, enzymes and clarifiers. And half a dozen other spa chemicals.

 

It’s enough to make you dizzy. To make it easier, we group our spa chemicals into five groups:

leisure-time

 

Spa Sanitizers

Bromine is the usual method, although you can sanitize with chlorine. Sanitizing a hot tub usually means adding sodium bromide, to establish a bromine bank, and then using enough bromine tablets to reach 2-3 ppm. Shocking the spa with an oxidizer is used to help reactivate the bromide ions. This is known as the 3-part system.

Free is a non-chlorine sanitizer by Leisure time that is completely chlorine or bromine free. If you want to operate a spa without either of these halogens, you can use this biguanide based system to sanitize the spa water.

Minerals can help reduce the necessary bromine level to 1.0 ppm in most cases, and provide extra power to fight and kill bacteria, viruses and pathogens in the spa water. Silver and copper ions will seek out and attack these contaminants, and they work continuously, just replace the cartridge every 4 months. We have 3 major brands, shown below, plus Mineral cartridges for Hot Spring and Sundance Spas. spa-mineral-sticks

 

MPS / Shock

MPS, or MonoPerSulfate, is a non-chlorine type of spa oxidizer, an option to using chlorine granules in the spa to remove contaminants and to boost up the bromide bank on a brominated spa.

Most people I know – will shock the spa after a group of people use the spa, but maybe not if it’s just a quick single person dip. Shocking a spa is not like shocking a pool, in such a small vessel, only tablespoons of spa shock is used to quickly do the job.

We carry many types of spa shock, all are either MPS or chlorine granules. A few of my favorite spa shocks are shown below. spa-shocks

 

Clarifiers

Clarifiers are helpful for small, marginal spa filters. If your water ever gets hazy or cloudy, or if you can see particles floating around in the water, above the spa light, you may want to use a clarifier to coagulate and improve filtration.

Algaecides work by invading the algae cells directly and disrupting their processes. An algaecide can be a good back-up to your spa sanitation, helping to reduce effects of low bromine levels or inconsistent chemical maintenance.

Foam Out is used when your spa becomes foamy, although it can also be an indication that it’s time to drain the spa! If you have already drained it, and still get sudsy, adding a small amount will remove surface spa foam.

Enzymes are a great way to eliminate spa foaming. They also digest oils and suds, making your sanitizer more effective with less oily organics and detergents to deal with.

Metal Out is a chemical used to lock up minerals in the spa water, to keep them from staining or attacking shiny spa surfaces. Hard water areas, or spas filled from an untreated well should use a metal sequestering agent.

 

Balancers

Balancers will help you control the water balance of your spa. Test your spa water at least weekly and make any needed adjustments to keep your spa water in balance. This is important for important for sanitizer effectiveness, protecting your spa components and for bather comfort.

spa-balance-chemicals-htw

 

Cleaners

The cleaners category has everything you need to clean your spa, top to bottom. Cleaners for spa covers, cleaners for the inside of your spa shell, spa pipe cleaners, spa filter cleaners.

Don’t use household cleaners on your spa, you don’t want any residue from kitchen, bathroom or automotive cleansers to mix with your spa water. Use only products designed for use with spas.spa-cleaners

 

And that’s all there is to it! 5 categories of spa chemicals. You’ll need to use at least some of these spa chemicals from each category at certain points during your spa maintenance.

I hope that this guide to spa chemicals was useful, and has made the plethora of spa and hot tub chemicals more manageable to think about and work with.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’Daniel Lara

 

5 ways to Improve your Spa Filtration

August 29th, 2013 by

water-animated-6

 

Is your spa filter too small? Having the best spa filtration you can get will not only make your water cleaner and clearer, but will make it safer and easier to manage, with fewer chemicals.

Without further ado, let’s get on with it – here are 5 ways you can improve your spa or hot tub filtration. If you have tips of your own to add, leave a comment at the bottom of the post.

 

 

Spa Filters with more Square Footage

Some of the more popular spa filters we sell are available in two different square footage. For instance, the HTF-2370 has the same dimensions as the HTF-2390, but the former is 25 square foot of filter surface area and the latter is 50 square feet. This is accomplished by adding more pleats to the cartridge – double the pleats and you double the square footage! Spa filters with more square footage are more expensive, but doubling the surface area will give you longer filter cycles and better overall filtration.

Clean Spa cartridge with Filter Cleaner

Cleaning your pool filter cartridge is an important task that shouldn’t be rushed. Cleaning between each pleats with a garden hose to flush out the dirt and work loose debris in the fabric. To loosen the dirt trapped in the spun polyester fabric, use a filter cleaner before hosing the cartridge clean. Just add the recommended amount to a bucket of water, and soak your cartridge for the time specified. Then hose it clean. Spa filter cleaners loosen mineral deposits, dirt and oils, to allow your cleaning to be much more effective.

Replace your Spa Cartridge on Schedule

I usually recommend that people replace their cartridge on schedule, every 12 – 24 months. The wide range depends on how often you use your spa, and how often the filter needs cleaning. Spa cartridge filters are not meant to last forever. The fibers loosen, and allow particles to begin to bypass over time. It’s a generally accepted notion that you should replace your cartridge after 12-15 cleanings. I have a reminder set on my Outlook calendar that helps me remember when to replaced my spa filter, which helps me keep on schedule.

Drain your Spa on Schedule

I usually recommend that people drain their spa on schedule, every 3-6 months. Here too, the range depends on how often you use the spa, how large the spa is compared to usage, and how well the overall water quality and water balance has been. Over time, total dissolved solids can build up which interferes with water balance. Draining the spa also gives you a chance to use a biofilm remover, like Jet Clean to clean the pipes and hoses of bacteria and polish up the spa with a cleaner like Citrabright.

Use Enzymes or Clarifiers

Spa enzymes are a natural product that digests body oils, make-up, soaps and other sticky substances. Added to your spa, it will reduce sanitizer demand and increase your filter cycles while making your filter more effective. These are the same type of enzymes used in cleaning up oil spills in the ocean, so it can handle your little spa or hot tub oil problem. Using a spa clarifier is another way to increase your spa cartridge filtration, by coagulating small particles into larger, more easily filtered clumps.

Some spas and hot tubs have woefully undersized cartridge filters. If you can’t upsize the filter, you can use these tactics above to improve your filtration, or to compensate for poor filtration, without resorting to heavy doses of sanitizer.

- Jack

 

Spa & Hot Tub Chemical Safety Lessons

August 26th, 2013 by

spa-chemical-safety

Spa Chemicals can be hazardous. Here’s some stories of  “When Spa Chemicals Attack” – or more correctly, when humans misuse or mishandle spa chemicals, and the injuries and fatalities that can result.

Earlier this month, a small explosion occurred in the New Jersey home of Russell Rocca. He was mixing chemicals used in his hot tub, and doing something wrong. He may have added water to chlorine, instead of the other way around – or, the chlorine may have been contaminated with other chemicals or any organic contaminant.

Lesson #1 – Always add chemicals to water (not water to chemicals), and always keep your chemicals clean – never let dirt, leaves or any contaminant mix with an oxidizer like chlorine or bromine.

And just 5 days ago, a hotel employee in Victoria, Canada mixed together two spa chemicals, and the reaction released a toxic gas, resulting in a hotel evacuation and haz mat response. Fortunately no one was injured, although the employee was taken to the hospital with breathing difficulties.

Lesson #2 – Never mix pool or spa chemicals. Adding an acid and a chlorine together can produce a mustard gas that will dissolve your lungs. Keep chlorine and bromine tablets and shock in a sealed container, stored separately from your acids like pH down or stain removers.

One of our spa techs here has an interesting story. It didn’t make the news, because police and fire were not notified, but it goes like this. He was servicing a spa on a weekly route that he maintained, and needed to shock the spa. Not having a scoop, he cut an ‘empty’ soda bottle in half and used it to scoop out the spa shock from a larger bucket. In a few short minutes, he looked back to see the back of the pickup truck on fire.

Lesson #3 – Never allow any liquids to contact your spa chemicals. Soda pop is very acidic, and alcoholic drinks even more. Use only clean and dry scoops to measure and add your spa chemicals.

According to the CDC, most injuries associated with pool and spa chemicals fall into these groups:

  • Mixing incompatible chemicals
  • Spills and splashes onto skin or into eyes
  • Dust inhaled when opening container

Storage for your Spa Chemicalsfile-box for spa chemicals

Spa and hot tub chemicals need a clean, cool and dry area, out of the reach of children. Some spa steps have storage areas beneath a flip up lid, but these may be unsafe for chemical storage. I use a small plastic file box for mine. Not a large one, but a smaller version that’s just perfect for the upright and narrow bottles used for spa chemicals.

Separate your pH down and other acids from chlorine or bromine tablets, or spa shocks and oxidizers. Sealed plastic chemical containers are safer for storage than bags or boxes. For child safety, make sure that all of your chemicals have child proof lids, and that you store them out of their reach.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

 

 

The Chlorine Free Spa – Is it Possible?

July 22nd, 2013 by

no-chlorine

It’s a common question that we get in our call center – can I run my spa (or hot tub) without chlorine? My quick and smart answer is usually “sure, you can use bromine!” Then they say “isn’t that the same thing?” It’s not really, as bromine has less of a smell, is not quite as harsh on skin and hair, and has other advantages over chlorine.

But seriously – the real answer is Yes!, you can run your spa without chlorine, or bromine, and still have a safe and sanitary spa. It requires using some modified methods, to make sure that pathogens don’t thrive – but it can be successfully done. Here’s how.

 

Replace your Filter Cartridge More Frequently

For most spas under halogen treatment (chlorine or bromine), I recommend that the spa filter cartridge be replaced every 12-24 months, depending on it’s size, and on how much the spa is used. For those who wish to go chlorine free in the spa or hot tub, I’d recommend that you double the frequency, and replace your spa filter every 6-12 months.

Some spa filters are available with more square footage. When you search for a replacement spa filter, by dimensions, model number or cartridge number, you may see two spa filters listed that have the same dimensions, but one costs more. The more expensive spa cart will have more pleats and thus more surface area, which will do a better job of filtering.

Drain your Spa or Hot Tub More Frequently

Draining the water out of your spa should be done every 4-6 months, depending on your rate of usage, or if the water goes bad. For those using a non-chlorine method in the spa, increase the frequency to every 2- 3 months, or at least every 4 months.

When draining a non-chlorine spa, be sure to use a Spa Purge product to remove any build up inside the pipes, hoses and jets of your spa. Without a halogen residual, biofilms can form faster and create a bio-hazard in your spa water. I use Jet Clean every other time that I drain my spa, to keep organics and oils from building up in hidden crevices.

Ozone + Minerals

DEL Ozone MCD-50, it's what I use on my spa

For a spa that doesn’t use chlorine or bromine, you need something to kill bather waste and bacteria. My recommendation is to use a spa ozonator and a mineral sanitizer, like Nature2 or Spa Frog. The combination of these two – an ozone sanitizer and a mineral purifier, takes care of most disease causing bacteria.

Check on your ozonator regularly to be sure that it’s on and operational, and replace the mineral cartridge as directed, to keep a proper amount of silver and copper ions working. These two treatments working together will do most of the job in keeping your spa water healthy.

Non-Chlorine Shock

cense

Ozone + Minerals do most of the job, but to be sure, you need to oxidize the water, or shock the spa. Non-chlorine shock has no odor, and does not affect water chemistry. You can use the spa immediately after treating the water.

My recommendation is to use a few tablespoons of non-chlorine shock after every spa use, or at least weekly to control and destroy any pathogenic microbes that are able to get around the ozone and mineral treatment.  Also known as MPS, Zodiac Cense is a great product that will oxidize quickly and also adds a nice scent to the water.

Keep your Spa Water Balanced

This is important no matter what your spa sanitation method is, but especially when you are operating a chlorine free spa or hot tub. Maintain your pH level at 7.2-7.5, your Alkalinity at 80-120 and your Hardness at 180-220. Use fresh test strips or fresh reagents and test your spa water at least twice per week, adding water balance chemicals as needed.

Shower before using the Spa

please-showerI know some people (ok, I’ve done it too) who treat their hot tub like a big bathtub. After working in the yard all day, or dancing all night – they jump in the spa to “clean off”. Well, when you bring perspiration, body oils, make up, or if you’ve gone to the bathroom (#2), without washing yourself, this creates a large sanitizer demand in the water.

I’m not saying you must always shower before using the spa, but if you don’t – be sure to give it a good shocking afterwards with MPS.

It can be awkward to ask your friends to shower before coming over, so using an Enzyme product can help break down oils and organics and retain healthy spa water that all can enjoy.

And that’s it! You can successfully operate a healthy spa or hot tub without using chlorine and bromine, if you follow these steps above.

 

- Jack

 

 

5 Important Spa or Hot Tub Care Tasks

July 15th, 2013 by

spa-hot-tub-care

Owning a spa or hot tub is not so complicated. Compared to a swimming pool, there’s a lot less work involved. But there is some work required, and maybe your spa has been a bit neglected lately, as sometimes happens during summertime.

Depending on your level of spa use, the frequency of these tasks will vary. Following each task below, follow a task frequency, mirroring your hot tub usage.

 

  • High – Daily use by several people; or commercial spas and hot tubs
  • Medium – A few times per week, by a few people.
  • Low – A few times per month, by a few people.

1. Spa Water Care

spa-water-testsTesting the Spa water, balancing the chemistry and visually checking the water clarity. Pretty basic stuff? Yeah, easy to do – and easy to forget to do. Most spas and hot tubs have something of a “chemical personality”, and are usually fairly consistent in what needs to be chemically managed – as long as you are consistent with your water tests and adjustments.

Not even a “spa guru” like myself can avoid the sometimes mundane task of testing the spa water quality and making micro-adjustments to the water balance. pH, Alkalinity, Hardness all need to be checked every time the spa is used. Neglect this task, and your spa water clarity and health can quickly spiral downward.

Draining the spa should be performed on a regular basis, every 1-4 months, depending on your usage, or even weekly, for high use commercial spas. You’ll find the water much more manageable if you set a schedule to drain it regularly.

2. Spa Filter Care

spa-filter-cartsNext up on our list of Hot Tub maintenance items – cleaning your spa filter cartridge. This task is simple enough for my 8 year old to do, once I showed her how to remove the spa filter and spray deeply into the pleats from top to bottom. It’s one of her weekend chores, and only takes a few minutes with the garden hose.

To help us remember, I created an email reminder to myself to make sure it’s done weekly, and another every 4 months, to soak the filter in our Filter Fresh spa cartridge cleaner for a deep cleaning.

Spa filter cleaners remove oils and mineral deposits that clog up the cartridge, reducing water flow and dirt holding capacity. Just soak the cartridge in a solution of filter cartridge cleaner, or use the spray on type of cleaner. Then, hose it off very thoroughly to flush out the deposits and the cleaning chemical.

Over time, even this loses it’s effectiveness, and it’s time to replace the cartridge. If everything is going well with the spa water, I buy a spa filter replacement every 18 months. High use hot tubs may need to replace the cartridge every 3 months, depending on the size of the filter cartridge.

3. Spa Pipe Care

spa-biofilmI’m not talking about leaks, although you should inspect for leaks in your spa, and promptly repair any that occur. I’m talking about bacteria deposits, sometimes called Bio-Film, that can develop and grow inside the pipes, hoses and jets of your spa.

Using a product like Tub Rinse, add it to the spa before you plan to drain the spa. High use spas should use this every time the hot tub is drained. This will reduce the amount of organics in the spa, which allows the sanitizer to work more effectively, and keep your spa water looking clear, even after heavy use. For my medium-use spa, I use it every other time I drain the hot tub.

Just pour it in and allow it to circulate for an hour – before you drain the spa. The first time you use it, you’ll be shocked at all of the nasty brown gunk that it removes and foams to the surface. It would be similar to a person who finally brushes their teeth after months of only using mouthwash. Yuck!

4. Spa Equipment Care

spa-equipmentYour spa pack is the main control center for your spa or hot tub, and includes your spa heater. To care for your equipment, remove the access panel at least monthly to inspect for leaks, the presence of rodents, rust or corrosion. Use bug spray or mice baits if you notice evidence of either. Check your time clock and reset it if there has been a power outage.

Electric terminals can be coated with a dielectric grease (shut off power first) to keep oxidation from forming. If there is nothing out of the ordinary spotted, this job will go quickly.

If something looks amiss with your spa equipment, and you’re not quite sure which steps to take, give us a call for some spa troubleshooting help.

5. Spa Cover Care

spa-cover-care-tipsSpa covers need to “breathe”, and should be removed from the spa several times per week, to allow the spa to gas off – any accumulated odors and gases. It also gives the spa cover a break from the hot water and chemicals. Remove the spa cover completely, and store it folded and upright, to allow any water to drain out.

Inspect the underside of your spa cover for any rips in the plastic, cracks in the insulative foam, warping or water retention. If any of these has occurred, you should plan on replacing with a new spa cover soon.

Cleaning and conditioning the vinyl of your spa cover will keep it looking new and it can often double the lifespan of your spa cover. My spa cover gets a quarterly “spa treatment” – I use the 303 spa cover cleaner and conditioner wipes. It only takes me about 10 minutes to clean and protect the spa cover. This shines it up real nicely, blocks UV rays and helps keep it clean, but the best advantage is that it keeps the vinyl supple and soft.

Ignore this spa task, and your spa cover material will start to shrink, shrivel and eventually it will crack and become threadbare.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Using Bromine in a Spa or Hot Tub

July 4th, 2013 by

when-to-shock-your-spa

For spa sanitation, you can use chlorine, but why – when bromine is superior? Bromine has several advantages in a hot tub:

  • More stable than chlorine at high temperatures
  • More stable than chlorine in wider pH ranges
  • Bromine has much less odor than chlorine
  • Unlike chlorine, combined bromine is still effective

In using bromine, there is one small but important, and often misunderstood difference from chlorine.

BUILDING A BROMIDE BANK

To be effective, a residual of Bromides must be present, also known as a Bromide Bank, or Reserve. Notice that I said Bromide, not Bromine. Bromides are converted to Bromine in the presence of an oxidizer, such as spa shock, liquid chlorine, or ozone.

Bromine tablets are actually a mixture of chlorine and bromides. It can take several weeks for enough bromine tablets to dissolve, to build an effective level of bromides in the spa – so that bromine can be created. Each time you drain the spa, the bromide level drops to zero.

The best way to build a bromine bank is to add Sodium Bromide to your spa, each time you drain and refill. After building your Bromide Bank, shock the spa with your preferred oxidizer to activate the bromide ions, and convert them to hypobromous acid, the killing form of bromine.

2-Part and 3-Part Bromine Systems 3-PART-BROMINE-SYSTEM

A 2-Part Bromine system is basically adding Sodium Bromide (Step 1) and Shocking regularly (Step 2) to re-activate the Bromide ions into Bromine. A 3-Part system is also adding Bromine Tablets (Step 3) as a way to prevent gaps in sanitizing.

If you just add bromine tablets, without first adding Sodium Bromide, you will have trouble getting a good reading for Bromine levels in the spa, and the water could be unhealthy. Build a bromide bank first, of 10-15 ppm of Sodium Bromide, shock the spa, and then add a few tablets to a bromine floater to maintain a bromine residual of 3-5ppm (or 1-3ppm for Spas using mineral purifiers or ozonators).

HOW TO USE BROMINE IN HOT TUBS

In Summary, using Bromine in your spa or hot tub is best, but to be effective, there needs to be a good level of bromide ions in the water. Regular oxidation, or shocking is also important to convert the bromide into bromine. Use bromine tablets to more easily maintain a consistent bromine level.

  1. Add sodium bromide to your spa, following the label instructions, each time you drain and refill.
  2. Use spa shock after building your bromide bank, and weekly thereafter, to activate bromine.
  3. Use bromine tablets in a small floater, to help maintain bromide and bromine levels.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works