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Archive for the ‘spa chemicals’ Category

10 Reasons Why Your Spa Water is Cloudy

January 23rd, 2014 by

cloudy-spa-hot-tub-waterWhy is my spa water cloudy? If I’ve heard that question once, I’ve heard it a thousand times. It may be the number one spa water problem plaguing spa owners.

There is a lot of misinformation out there about cloudy spa water – such as, “Bromine will make your spa cloudy”, or “Metals in the water cause cloudy hot tub water”, or the constant sales pitch – that if you just had this super-special-magical spa water treatment, your spa water problems will disappear.

If your spa or hot tub water is cloudy, hazy, milky – turbid, as I sometimes call it, your problem will be one of these situations below, or a combination of more than one.

1. High Calcium Hardness or Total Alkalinity

Your spa water chemical balance may be to blame, and it’s the first place I would check. Take an accurate reading of your calcium hardness, alkalinity and pH levels. In areas where hard water is common, calcium can easily come out of solution and cloud the spa water. If your calcium hardness levels are greater than 300 ppm, use Calcium & Scale Control to tie-up minerals in solution, and keep them from making your spa water cloudy.

If your test for Total Alkalinity shows high levels, in excess of 150 ppm, excess carbonates can come out of solution, and make the spa cloudy. High TA levels will also make it hard to control your pH, or keep it in range. Use pH decreaser to lower TA to around 100 ppm. If your spa pH level is outside of the range of 7.2-7.6, adjust accordingly for easier control of cloudy water.

TDS, or total dissolved solids, is not usually a concern in spas and hot tubs – but, if you have not drained your spa in years, for whatever reason – you may have a very high level of dissolved solids in the water. When water reaches it’s saturation point, where it can absorb no more solids, frequent bouts of cloudy water are the result. Time to drain and refill the spa.

2. Low Spa Sanitizer Levels

Some people are sensitive to bromine or chlorine, and try to operate the spa with as little as possible. That may be OK, if you have other sanitizers working, such as an ozonator, or a mineral cartridge, and your water chemistry is balanced, especially your pH level.

Otherwise, spas should always have a level of 2-3 ppm of bromine, or slightly less if using chlorine. When sanitizer level drops below 1.0ppm, particles and contaminants in the water begin to run rampant or grow at a rate faster than they are being destroyed.

A proper sanitizer level should destroy the particles that induce cloudy water. To help it out, shock the spa water regularly, especially after a several people have used the spa, or if sanitizer levels have mistakenly dropped to very low levels. If a chlorinated spa shock is clouding your water, try using MPS shock instead.

3. Cloudy Fill Water

Maybe the problem is not with your spa, but in your fill water. Nonetheless, balanced and sanitized spa water with proper filtration should be able to self-correct, and clear the water within a day or so. A spa clarifier can help coagulate suspended particles for easier filtration. In most cases, it may be better to use a spa pre-filter, to remove particulates that cloud your spa water. Just attach it to your garden hose when adding water or refilling your spa or hot tub.

4. Air in the System

Small particles of air, tiny bubbles – can make the spa water appear cloudy. If your spa has bubbles coming into the returns, but your air blower and spa ozonator are turned off – you may have an air leak, on the suction side of the pump. The suction side is anything before the spa circulation pump. A loose union fitting before the pump, or a loose pump drain plug can pull air into the system.

Low water level in the spa can also bring air into the spa, and give the water the appearance of being cloudy or hazy. Inspection of the pipes and equipment before the spa pump can reveal the source of the air leak, which can then be sealed up with sealants or lubricants.

5. Spa Filter Problems

This is a common cause of cloudy spa water. A spa filter cartridge may be positioned incorrectly, allowing for water to bypass the filter cartridge. Make sure the cartridge is fully seated on both ends to force the water to go through the pleated spa filter material.

A spa filter cartridge won’t last forever, and each cleaning reduces it’s efficacy a little bit more. After about 15 cleanings, replace the spa filter and you’ll notice an immediate improvement in water clarity. Depending on how much the spa is used, and how much is asked of the filter, you should replace the spa filter every 12-24 months.

Spa filter cartridges can also become gummed up with oils or minerals, drastically reducing their filtration ability. These substances can be very difficult to remove with a garden hose alone. Spraying a cartridge in spa filter cleaner before cleaning will break down greasy or crystallized deposits, and restore full flow to your filter.

DE filters are more commonly used on inground spas, and if a DE filter grid develops a hole, it will allow DE filter powder to come into the spa. This will cloud the water, and leave deposits of a light brown powder on the seats and floors of the spa.

6. Spa Pump Problems

There are a number of pump problems that can lead to cloudy spa water, the first being the amount of time the spa filter is running each day. You may need to increase the amount of time that the spa pump operates, to increase your daily filtering time. Running a pump only on low speed can also contribute to ineffective filtration. Run it on high for at least 2 hours every day.

Another issue could be with the spa impeller. It could be clogged – full of pebbles, leaves, hair or any number of things. The vanes on a pump impeller are very small and can clog easily, which will reduce the flow volume considerably. Another possibility is that the impeller is broken – the pump turns on, but the impeller is not moving, which will reduce flow rates to zero.

If you have no flow from your pool pump, there could be an air lock, especially if you have just drained and refilled the spa. To fix an air lock, shut off the pump and loosen a union on the pump and allow air to escape, tightening it when water begins to leak. If the pump doesn’t turn on at all – well, there’s your cloudy spa water problem. There could be a tripped GFI button, loose wires, bad contactor or relay, or another control problem.

Air leaks before the pump, as discussed above, also makes the pump less efficient by reducing the overall water volume. Water leaks after the pump is also a problem, in that your water level will soon drop below the skimmer intake, begin to take on air, lose prime and stop pumping your water through the filter.

7. Biofilm Problems

Biofilm is a slimy bacteria that coats the inside of pipes and fittings. In extreme cases, it will cloud the water, and you may notice slimy flakes floating on the water, or have severe issues with spa foaming. Biofilm forms quickly in a spa that has sat empty and idle for some time. If you suspect a biofilm contamination, lower the pH to 7.2 and use spa shock to raise the chlorine level above 10 ppm. Follow this up with a treatment of Jet Clean, to remove biofilm deposits.

8. Salt System Problems

Salt systems are becoming more popular with spa owners, although they are much more prevalent on swimming pools. The issue with salt systems is that it is possible to place too much reliance on them, and never check your chlorine level. Spa salt cells also need occasional cleaning to maintain chlorine output.

Adding salt to your spa when needed may cloud your spa temporarily, until the salt becomes fully dissolved. When adding salt, be careful not to overdose, and run the jets on high for greater agitation of the water.

9. Biguanide Problems

If you use a non-chlorine, biguanide sanitizer in your spa, and have difficulty with cloudy spa water, you are not alone. This is the main complaint of using a PHMB sanitizer. You may find relief by draining and refilling the spa, and changing the spa filter, which is probably gummed up with residue. Using spa chemicals with any amount of chlorine, or using algaecides or any non-approved chemical will not only cloud the water in a biguanide treated spa, but can also create some wild colors, too!

10. Soaps, Lotions, Cosmetics and Hair Products

This problem is common to just about every spa, unless you are careful to shower well before using your spa. Everything we put on our body and in our hair can end up in the spa, and can bring oils, phosphates and detergents into the water, and a hundred other undesirable chemicals. These can consume sanitizer, clog spa filters and make the spa water cloudy and foamy. If your spa has a high bather load, or is used as a giant bath tub, you can expect issues with water clarity. Adding spa enzymes can help control greasy gunk, and reduce sanitizer demand and clogging of your spa filter.cloudy-spa-water

Cloudy spa water is not so difficult to find and fix – but remember that you may have more than one of these issues working against you. Consider each cause of cloudy spa water carefully – it’s likely one or more of these situations above. Draining the spa regularly is one more piece of advice to prevent cloudy water – depending on how much the spa is used, draining it every few months is a good preventative way to keep your spa water from becoming cloudy in the first place!

 

- Jack

 

6 Embarrassing Spa Problems to Avoid

January 2nd, 2014 by

spa-problems - image purchased thru PresenterMediaWhen you own a spa or hot tub, you want it to be in tip top shape, especially if friends come over to enjoy it. They may not understand all of the complex mix of water chemistry, filtering and heating that is going on – they just magically expect the hot tub to be… magic!

A spa or hot tub is not that much work, maybe 30 minutes per week, to keep the water clean, and all systems go, ready for any spur of the moment entertaining you may do.

Based on my years of being a spa owner, and just as many years working for spa companies in customer service, I have curated this list of the Top 6 most embarrassing spa problems.

Smelly Spa Cover

Woo-Wee! What is that smell!?! If your spa has a smelly, musty odor of mildew, chances are – your spa cover is to blame. Remove it from the tub completely so that you can give it a good whiff, away from the spa. If the smell is coming from the spa cover, you have some cleaning to do. Spray the inside plastic and vinyl with a diluted bleach solution, to kill any external mold and mildew. Then allow it to dry, with the spa cover off of the tub, for several hours. For extreme cases, you may need to gently remove the inner foam panels, and apply the treatment to the panels and to internal surfaces. If you have any rips or separations that is allowing moisture to get inside your spa cover, patch them properly, or start thinking about replacing your spa cover!

Foaming Spa Water

cloudy-spa-water-smWith the jets on full blast, a small amount of surface foam is nearly impossible to avoid, and is completely normal, like the white caps on ocean waves. What I’m talking about here is when the foam begins to build on itself, and become noticeable. Hint: When children begin giving themselves foam beards in your hot tub, it’s reached a problem stage; time to take action. First, check your pH and Alkalinity and adjust if necessary, to 7.5 and 100, respectively. Be sure that your test strips are not expired, old strips can give false readings.

Second, use a spa filter cleaner to will remove oils and grime. Advanced spa foam can be caused by excess biofilm – use a spa purge like Jet Clean to strip the pipes and jets clean. Afterwards, drain the spa, refill and balance the water. If your spa is used heavily, begin using an enzyme like Natural Clear to control organics. I don’t believe in using Foam Out, by the way – that just covers up a problem.

Noisy Equipment

When something doesn’t sound quite right, just like in your automobile, that’s a good clue that something is wrong. Loud spa pumps are the most common noisemaker, and this usually means that the bearings are shot. At this point, you can have a motor shop rebuild the motor, or you can replace with our spa motors. You could also replace the entire pump, for a simpler, but more expensive repair. Spa blowers can also become noisy over time. They also have motor bearings and brushes, internal to the motor. Most blowers are inexpensive to replace, so they aren’t usually repaired, but some motor shops will work on them. A loud chattering is usually the sound of a contactor and a quieter clicking is often a relay. This could be a connection or voltage problem, or these spa parts could be defective.

Privacy Problems

namarata privacy panel

If your spa is visible from other people’s houses, that’s kind of a bummer. There are a few spa cover lifters that will hold the spa in an upright position, providing a nice bit of privacy, but only on one side of the spa. Other ideas are cheap window treatments, like bamboo blinds, or using lattice wood, to block some light, but still allow a breeze to blow through. Using a pavilion or a pergola around an above ground hot tub helps to design more privacy around the spa. It goes both ways remember – your neighbors want their privacy too, so make efforts to block noise from the spa – like loud laughter, music and other sounds of frivolity. Having the Police called to your hot tub at midnight, by a tired and sleepless neighbor, is definitely best to avoid!

Heater Problems

No one likes a cold spa, and even worse is a spa that’s only 95 degrees or so. Most spas will begin to lose temperature when the cover comes off, and people enter the spa, soaking up the heat. If your spa heater is having trouble maintaining the heat in your spa, it could be a problem with the thermostat, or some other part. Daniel wrote Top 5 Spa Heater Problems, which covers some common mechanical failures, and some embarrassingly easy fixes to the problem.  Low heat could also be caused by a very cold night, and a very small spa heater. Some spas just don’t seem to hold their heat in very cold weather. If this spa problem happens to you, consider upsizing your heater element (call us for help). Another cause of heat loss in the winter, is the lack of sufficient insulation under the spa, around the tub. Some spas are packed in with insulation, and some have barely nothing.

Itchy Rash

spa-rashes-
Uh-Oh! If your guests complain to you hours or days after using the spa, of a red, pimply rash on their skin, your spa may be harboring some recreational water illnesses. We go into it in much more detail in our article about waterborne illnesses in spas and hot tubs. Essentially, you want to drain the spa and do a complete and deep clean. Use Jet Clean in the pipes, and replace your spa filter. Most importantly, to prevent it from happening again, maintain good water balance and keep enough sanitizer in the water – at all times. Shock weekly, or at least every other time you use the spa to kill such things as pseudomonas aeruginosa in your spa.

Don’t sweep spa problems under the rug, these symptoms are your hot tub’s way of telling you there’s a problem. If we can be of any help to you sorting out your spa problems, give us a call or send an email – spa techs are standing by!

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

The Secret to Hot Tub Water Chemistry

December 9th, 2013 by

snake-oil-salesman

 

The secret to spa and hot tub chemistry? It’s not sold in a bottle, or a fancy egg shaped container. It’s not a magical potion that you drop into the spa, or pour in once a month.

My friends, listen closely – the secret to clean and clear hot tub water is a multi-faceted approach. It’s may not be easy, and it’s not especially rapid, but it’s truly a miracle.

Come closer, I want to whisper the secret to hot water perfection. The secret is …

“TEST AND BALANCE YOUR SPA WATER CHEMISTRY WITH REGULARITY”

 

Of course, you also need good filtration, with a relatively new spa filter cartridge. Replace every 12-24 mos. And, you also need to run the filter pump every day. I run my spa circulation pump 24 hrs per day.

Testing Spa Water?

Most people just use spa test strips, and they are a lot simpler to use than the dropper type of spa test kits. If you want greater accuracy, you can use the Tru Test digital test strip reader, which is great for those with poor eyesight or some level of color blindness. Use a spa test strip that will test not only for pH and bromine, but also for calcium hardness and total alkalinity. I recommend the 6-in-1 test strips by AquaChek.

Balanced Spa Water?

“Balanced” spa water essentially means that your pH, Alkalinity and Calcium Hardness are within the proper range. Adjusting the levels should go hand in hand with testing. Use a pH decreaser if your pH or alkalinity is too high. If your calcium hardness is too high, as it is in many parts of the country, use Calcium Control.

Sanitation is also a very important part of water balance. Keep a consistent sanitizer (bromine or chlorine) level in your spa. Augmenting it with minerals or ozone will make the water more forgiving of slip ups or occasional low sanitizer levels. Use spa shock after every use to kill bacteria.

That’s it – that’s the secret. Test and Balance, with regularity. But you probably knew that already…

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

 

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