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Archive for the ‘spa filter’ Category

Clean Spa Filters – in the Dishwasher?

June 27th, 2016 by

dirty-to-clean-filtersCan you clean your spa filters in the dishwasher? I think the idea came about when cartridge manufacturers suggested that Dishwasher detergent (not Laundry detergent!) could be used as an alternative to TSP, for soaking cartridges, to remove greasy oil deposits before cleaning.

But I’ve not seen a manufacturer of spa filters come out and suggest cleaning spa filters in the dishwasher. There are some people online that say that they clean their spa filters in the dishwasher (without soap or rinse aid), and using a no-heat drying cycle. Sounds OK, but will it really get the cartridge clean?

My dishwasher hardly removes all of the tomato sauce it should, but it’s a decent model. So I thought I’d put this to a test. Would my home dishwasher clean my spa filters?

The Dishwasher Spa Filter Cleaning Test

My spa filters had not been cleaned in a month, which is my usual schedule, so I removed my filter cartridge. It’s about 15″ tall, so was able to place it standing up on the lower rack of the dishwasher, and it just barely fit. I added a small amount of dishwasher detergent to the reservoir, and set it on the longest cycle, 115 mins, but with a no-heat drying cycle.

The Result? There was still debris stuck down in the pleats, even though it definitely looked a lot cleaner, from the outside. I’ve seen some suggest laying the spa filter on the top rack of the dishwasher, so I repeated the test in this manner, even rotating the cartridge twice during the cycle. However, there was still small debris and discoloration deep in the pleats.

How to Clean Spa Filters

The old method is still the best method. Hosing clean with a handheld garden hose nozzle. It’s wet and not particularly comfortable experience, but cleaning pleat by pleat in an up and down motion does the best job.

Here’s a step by step for cleaning spa and hot tub filter cartridges:

  1. Shut off Spa, open filter canister and remove cartridge.
  2. Spray carefully with a high pressure hose nozzle, to remove debris from each pleat.
  3. Soak the cartridge in a TSP solution, 1 cup per 5 gals hot water for 8 hours, rinse clean.
  4. Soak the cartridge in an ACID solution, 1 cup per 1 gal cool water for 1 hour, rinse clean.
  5. Allow filter to dry completely before reinstalling, to kill remaining microbes.unicel-filter-guy-using-protective-gear

Steps 3 and 4 are not always necessary. TSP (or dry dishwasher detergent) is a great grease remover, for oily deposits on spa filters. Muriatic acid (or dry acid) is used to remove mineral scale like calcium deposits. Be sure to wear proper protective gear when handling muriatic acid, and always add the acid to water (not water to acid).

Steps 3 & 4 can be combined into one, with a commercially available spa filter cleaning chemical, to accomplish both tasks of removing oils and minerals. We have Leisure Time Filter Clean for an overnight soaking, or Leisure Time Spa Instant filter cleaner; spray on formula works in minutes, not hours.

What Not To Do with Spa Filters

  1. Don’t clean them in the dishwasher, it’s not very effective and could damage the filter.
  2. Don’t clean them with a pressure washer, for obvious reasons.
  3. Dishwasher soap (dry) is OK, but Laundry detergent is Not OK.
  4. Don’t forget to Rinse thoroughly after Soaking, to remove all chemical traces.
  5. Don’t use DE powder as a Filter Aid, although Puri-Fiber or Aqua-Perl may be used.

 

unicel-guy-spraying-hose on spa filterIn conclusion; if you want to use your dishwasher to clean a hot tub filter, be my guest – it shouldn’t hurt the filter cartridge, unless you use a high heat dry cycle, which could melt the rubber and make a real mess. You can also use a small amount of dry dishwasher detergent, as long as you remember to rinse the filter well after the dishwasher shuts off.

As for me – I’ll just keep doing it the old fashioned way, I take a seat next to an empty trash can, and hose it clean inside the can. Difficult, but it keeps my shoes dry.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Dual Spa Filters: Double the Filtration!

April 25th, 2016 by

cabin-hot-tub-has-two-filtersHere’s a short story about how I doubled the filtration on a spa that we have on our vacation home. We rent out the mountain home and hot tub when we’re not using it (which is most of the year), and we were having some trouble keeping the water clean between visitors, without changing the water (too much).

My husband actually gets credit for the idea – he said “why don’t we just add another filter on the spa?”. We took a look at the complete spa filters on Hot Tub Works, and found one that would fit inside the spa cabinet.

Here’s how we added a second filter to our portable spa.

 

Adding a second spa filter

The filter that comes with most portable spas is a skimmer filter, located on the suction side of the spa pump. The second filter is added on the pressure side of the pump, or after the pump. These inline spa filters, as they are called, have an internal bypass feature that opens up when the pump is on high speed, so it won’t affect the jet flow.

Inline spa filters are available in 25ft, 50, 75 and 100 sq ft sizes. The canister becomes very tall, as the square footage of cartridge increases, and in my case, we opted for a 50 sq ft spa filter that we could fit underneath the cabinet.

There are 3 main ways to install a secondary spa filter, under the cabinet, outside the cabinet, or top loading, through the cabinet corner.

UNDER THE CABINET

rainbow-spa-filterThis is how we opted to do it, because our spa shell or cabinet doesn’t have corners where we could cut out a 6-3/4″ hole and use a top load filter. We of course had limited space under the cabinet in the equipment bay area, under the spa, but took some careful measurements and decided that we could use a 50 sf inline spa filter.

Adding a second filter required a little re-plumbing from the pump, in and out of the new filter, and then back to connect to the return pipe. To clean the filter, I just close the suction valve and unscrew the ring, and then pull the entire canister and cartridge out.

You can use inline filters with bottom connections (at ground level), but the top mount style where the pipes connect on top of the filter, is usually easier plumbing, and bottom mounts need vertical space to pull out the cartridge. My inline filter is a top mount, sits a few inches off the ground, so you can separate the canister from the filter top (after loosening the brown lock ring).

Wherever you locate a spa pressure filter, be sure it is after the pump and that you plumb in the filter in the direction of the flow indicator (printed on the manifold, where the pipes connect). It should also be easily accessible for cleaning, without contorting your body in awkward positions!

OUTSIDE THE CABINET

hayward-star-clearIf there is no room inside your spa cabinet, you could go hot tub style, with the secondary spa filter located outside of the spa cabinet. Less attractive, but it makes the filter very accessible for cleaning and easy to monitor the filter pressure gauge. And, outside the cabinet gives you room to add a large second spa filter, like a 100 sq ft Waterway Extended Top Load spa filter. A Hayward Star Clear filter also makes a nice choice.

The usual way to install a secondary spa filter outside the spa cabinet is to use a 2″ hole saw attached to a drill to cut through the cabinet – 2 holes, one for the pipe coming into the filter (from the pump) and one for the pipe coming out of the filter and running back to the return line. Be sure to plan out the complete pipe run before you cut the holes, and be sure there are no wires or studs running over the area where you are using the hole saw.

You can use 1.5″ (or 2″) schedule 40 flexible PVC pipe or rigid PVC pipe, and try to use as few 90’s as possible to decrease the amount of added resistance. We installed our second spa filter using only two 90’s – but when installing outside the cabinet you’ll have to use 3 or 4, 90° fittings. Essentially, you are cutting the pipe after the pump, and diverting the water in and out of the filter, before reconnecting it to where the pipe was cut.

Use fresh PVC glue and primer, and only use deep socket couplings, aka pressure fittings (not drain fittings). You can find all the supplies you need at a good hardware/home store.

TOP LOAD FILTERS

top-load-filter-by-waterwayMany spas with a square cabinet have molded circular areas in the corners of the spa. Top load spa filters are those that stick out of the top of the spa shell, but under the spa cover. They are called Top Load because you unscrew the top and pull out the cartridge, or load the cartridge from the top.

Most Top Load spa filters are sized to fit a 6-3/4″ hole, which is cut into the corner of the spa shell, using a Jig Saw or Dremel tool. A lock nut holds the spa filter canister tightly against the spa shell. Top Load filters are not underwater, they sit above the water level. Spa Skimmers are another type of filter that can also be installed on some spa shells.

The plumbing on Top Load spa filters is on the bottom of the canister, with the connection point dependent upon the size of the filter. You can buy Top Load filters in 25, 50, 75 and 100 sq. ft. sizes, each one taller than the next. The plumbing connection can be either threaded, or slip for smooth pipe connection.

Use fresh PVC glue and primer, and only use deep socket couplings, aka pressure fittings (not drain fittings). You can find all the supplies you need at a good hardware/home store.

 

in-conclusion-3Soooo… if your spa can use extra filtration, to extend the water life (time between water changes), or to help reduce the amount of sanitizer or other needed spa chemicals – consider adding a second filter to your spa or hot tub.

You can thank me later!

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hot Tub Filter Leak Repair

March 23rd, 2016 by

leaking-spa-and-hot-tub-filtersHot Tub filters need some repair from time to time, besides replacing the cartridge. Today’s post is about common spa hot tub filter leaks that you can do yourself.

Common hot tub filter leaks can include cracked filter housings, leaking o-rings or gaskets, or pipe fittings that have shrunken or otherwise lost their seal where the pipes connect.

There are essentially three types of spa cartridge filters; the Skim filter, the Inline filter and the Top Load filter…

 

Skimmer Filter Leaks

waterway-skim-filter-at-htwThe usual problem with a skimmer filter is leaking around the filter housing. If the spa skimmer is leaking where the skimmer connects to the backside of the spa shell, you can seal it up with silicone or replace the square gasket that fits between the skim-filter and the spa shell. In either case, lower the water level below the skimmer by draining. A new spa skimmer gasket will be the best leak repair option, just remove the front cover plate to access the screws. Use a large #3 Phillips head to get the screws really tight, without damaging the heads.

Skimmer filters that have cracks in the filter housing or cartridge canister have a different problem. This is usually caused by freeze damage, from water freezing inside of the hot tub filter housing. Small cracks on skim-filters can be successfully repaired with a two-part epoxy sealant, or heavy duty silicone – if the crack is small enough. If the entire bottom of the filter canister cracked, it may be wise to repair the entire skim filter assembly, or at least the canister portion of the skim-filter.

Skimmer filters for spas also have a few other parts to keep them in working order. Over time you may need to replace the skimmer basket or weir (the flapper door thingy). Some spa skimmers have a floating weir, or may have small clips and seals or adapters that need to be in place for proper operation.

boss-siliconeLeaking Pipes? The piece that connects to the bottom of your skimmer filter may be a threaded fitting (aka spigot or MPT), or it may be smooth pipe (aka socket or slip). If either begin to leak water, you can repair it two ways. First, lower the spa water to a point below the skimmer bottom. If you can access the inside of the skimmer with a small tube of high temp silicone, you can place a thick bead on the inside, where the fitting connects to the port. If you can’t reach it, you can try sealing the outside of the fitting, while running the pump, to suck the sealant into the void. Not always a permanent repair however.

 

Inline Filter Leaks

inline-spa-filters-at-htwAn inline filter is one that is not a combination skim-filter, but a separate filter assembly that is plumbed ‘in-line’, or attached to the pipe. In some cases, the inline spa filter is plumbed in place before the pump, although in most cases it is connected after the pump (and before the heater).

For a spa filter that is attached before the pump, cracks or loose filter parts can cause the pump to pull air into the system. When installed after the pump, the filter housing is under pressure and any crack or loose parts (like the lock-ring) will cause the pressurized filter body to leak water when the pump is on. In either case, the filter will leak water while the pump is off, since it’s installed below the water level.

A leaking spa filter housing (aka canister or body) cannot usually be successfully repaired for pressurized spa filters. The best repair is to replace the filter housing body or replace the entire filter assembly, which includes a new cartridge. A new complete spa filter will also include a new top assembly and bypass valve, to allow water to bypass the filter when the pump is running on high speed.

Small cracks on a hot tub filter housing that is installed before the pump (under suction) may be successfully repaired with an effective two-part resin-hardener type of epoxy sealant. For large cracks however, the best repair is to replace the spa filter housing or canister, or the complete filter.

spa-and-hot-tub-lubeMany times however, an inline spa filter may not be cracked, but leaks where the filter body attaches to the filter lid, via the round lock ring. A cracked lock-ring can cause this problem, as can a loose lock ring. Before you go hammering on the lock ring however, they are designed to require only hand-tightening. Over-tightening the spa filter lock ring can cause it to crack, so proceed carefully. In most cases, replacing the filter canister o-ring, and lubricating it with a proper o-ring lube will solve this problem.

 

Top Load Filter Leaks

waterway-top-load-spa-filterTop Load filters are accessed while in the spa, or standing outside the spa – no need to climb into the equipment bay to check the filter, although they can also be installed underneath, inside the cabinet. Top Load filters have the plumbing connections at the bottom of the filter housing or body, while the inline filters (shown above) have the pipe or hose connecting through the lid, at the top of the filter assembly.

If a Top Load filter is leaking from the lid, a new o-ring is the usual solution, properly lubed with a lubricant specifically designed for o-rings. Of course be sure that the lid is tight and threaded on correctly, but be careful not to over-tighten the lid.

If your spa filter canister is cracked and leaking water, the best repair is to replace the canister / housing with new. For spa filters that are installed before the pump, small cracks might be successfully repaired with a strong epoxy repair product, but for pressure filters, I would recommend replacing the filter body, or the entire filter assembly.

Hot tub filters leak also at the drain plug or air bleeder knob, if loose or without thread sealant like Teflon tape. Some filter plugs also have a tiny rubber gasket or o-ring that will need replacement after many years.

For spa filter pipe leaks, determine if you have threaded fittings or the more common slip fittings, connecting at the bottom inlet/outlet ports. If a slip (glued) fitting is leaking, you’ll need to replace the filter housing (or complete spa filter). For threaded fittings, screwed into the inlet/outlet port, you can cut the pipe and remove the fitting with large pliers. Replace with new, first smearing hi-temp sealant, followed by several wraps of Teflon tape (in a clockwise direction). Reconnect the pipes with a coupling or union.

spa-unionsIf the union is leaking, unions on either side of the filter inlet/outlet – first try to tighten the union nut gently to seal up the leak. Use large channel type pliers if needed, if hand tightening alone doesn’t seal up a leaking union. If pliers won’t work, close the spa valves and open the union (water will spill), and replace the internal o-ring with lube.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

5 Hot Tub Filter Problems

March 14th, 2016 by

tired-spa-filter-smSpa Filters are the Kidneys of your spa water, removing impurities and particles to keep systems working. If you were to run your spa without a filter, even a covered spa will quickly deteriorate in water quality.

And that’s exactly why you are here, searching for solutions to your vexing hot tub filter problems, and related water quality issues. So without further ado; here are the top spa filter problems and what to do about them.

 

stained spa filters

pink-filter-cartridgeA stained filter may not be a bad thing, if it doesn’t affect filter capacity, or even dirt distribution, or length of time between cleanings. Metals such as iron can stain a filter with a light brown orange stain. You may find your filter looking gray, green, yellow or even purple at times.

For spa filter stains that don’t hose off easily, the best thing is to give the filter a good cleaning in a good spa filter cleaner. This will remove oils and minerals and most metal stains from hot tub filter cartridges. Never use acid, bleach or other cleansers that contain soapy phosphates; you’ll never get it out and suds your tub.

If some stains remain after soaking and rinsing, these may not affect the ability of the filter cartridge, but depending on thickness, heavy stains can reduce the microscopic filter pore size to the point where areas of the cartridge are not utilized.

The better question may be – what is it that stains the cartridge? Is it in the water like metals or an algae, or a byproduct of certain chemical combinations? Are calcium hardness and pH levels high? Do you need to prefilter your fill water?

holes in spa filters

holes-in-cartridgeBack when I was servicing hot tubs for a living, I was cleaning a filter cartridge and noticed it had stitches. The lady of the house told me that she had ‘stitched them up!’, very proudly. OK, but for the rest of us a replacement cartridge is in order if holes are noticed. Even very small holes will reduce your filter effectiveness.

The better question may be – what caused holes in the cartridge? In this case, the lady of the house had, unbeknownst to her, a large pool pump installed on a small spa filter. It had blasted holes the size of a pencil in the spa filter cartridge. I’ve also heard tale of certain insects that have a taste for spun polyester, so store your spares accordingly.

cracked spa filters

split-filter-cartridgeWhen you speak of a cracked spa filter, what is usually meant is that one of the colored rubber end caps has developed a split or crack. Spa filters can also crack across the central support cage.  Both instances are rare, but if your spa filter has a crack in either end (not tiny crazing, but real splits) you will need to replace the cartridge.

The better question may be – what caused the end cap to crack in the first place? Could be the same as for holes in spa filters, a crack in the end cap could result from a spa filter pump that is too large for the filter size. Cracks or holes can also happen from closing a valve after the filter while the pump is running, or in some cases when an undersized filter is extremely dirty.

fuzzy spa filters

The tips of your pleated fabric, are they smooth and relatively fur-free? In some cases, spa filters can become fuzzy on the pleats and this can reduce your filter’s ability to trap dirt by reducing the spaces between pleats. It also creates a lot of turbulence for the water and dirt, as it enters the pleats (on a small scale).

Why does the spa filter cartridge seem to unravel at the edges? It’s usually from chemical problems in the spa, poor water balance or high sanitizer levels. It’s also caused by cleaning the cartridge with too much water pressure. A new spa filter is in order.

clogging spa filters

dirty-to-clean-filtersDoes your spa filter clog up again in a few days after cleaning? That’s not gonna work, in most cases a 2-4 week filter cycle can be expected, depending on the size of the filter cartridge, and how much the spa is used, and to some degree as mentioned above, the water balance.

A filter that clogs up quickly is likely coated with mineral scale, oily films, or both. A cleaning with spa filter cleaner is in order to unclog the microscopic passageways between the fibers of the filter. TSP can also be used for oily filters, but it won’t remove mineral scale from hard water.

If your filter is still clogging quickly after cleaning, it’s probably best to replace it, even if it’s relatively new. Assuming that it’s sized properly for the pump and installed properly, the filter cartridge lose life quickly when cleaning certain substances from the hot tub water.

The better question is – what vegetable, oil or mineral is clogging the spa filter?

 

  • Hot tub filter cartridges naturally degrade over time, the woven fibers separate and they are unable to filter the smaller particles. Or, filter cartridges become coated with oily and crusty deposits which are hard to remove, causing them to clog quickly. Replace your spa filter every 12-24 months.hose-off-the-cartridge
  • A few things you should not do – don’t put your spa filter in the dishwasher, and don’t use a pressure washer to clean it. Just hose it clean, soak it in one of our many spa filter cleaners, and rinse it clean again.

 

– Jack

 

 

 

 

Hot Tub Jets Not Working?

February 15th, 2016 by

rotating-spa-jets

It’s a common spa question that we get asked all the time. One day you’ll get in the spa and notice the hot tub jets don’t feel as strong as usual.

It’s almost always an easy fix, so don’t worry that you have major problems, you probably don’t. There should be a simple reason that the jets don’t have much ‘oomph’ lately.

Here’s the step by step process that we use in our call center to guide a spa or hot tub owner through a Hot Tub Jets Not Working issue.

 

 

is the pump working right?

spa-and-hot-tub-pumpThis is the important first question, but it’s really many questions. Like, is the pump “Air-Locked”? Which can occur if you just drained the hot tub. Some systems need to “burp” out the air in the pipes in front of the pump, usually by loosening the union nut or pump drain plug, to allow air to escape.

Some hot tubs have two pumps, a circulation pump for filtration, and another jet booster pump. Or, many hot tubs have a single, two-speed pump that accomplishes both functions. So another question is, is the Jet pump working, or is the pump’s High Speed working?

If the jets seem to have less than the normal volume of water coming through, be sure that the pump is turning on like normal. Digital spas typically have to push the display to enter the Jet Mode. Older spa controls use an air button to activate the jet pump. The air switch button and the air hose can fail or lose effectiveness over time.

 

Dirty Spa Filter?

filter-cartridge-for-spasA dirty spa filter can slow water flow down noticeably, but not completely. Your spa heater won’t work if your water flow rate is very low, so if your heater is working, chances are your filter is pretty clean. A dirty spa filter can allow small bits of debris to pass through. Replace your spa filters every 12-18 months for best results.

 

Clogged Drain Cover?

spa-drain-cover-twoThe drain covers that are located in the foot well area of a spa or hot tub have very powerful suction, and if something like a napkin, plastic wrap, cup or t-shirt comes close it will block the water flow. Check that your drain covers are not covered with something blocking the water flow.

 

Low Water Level in Spa?

spa-skimmer-levelIf your spa skimmer is drawing in air, or sucking air – this will drastically affect water flow, and also shut off the spa heater. Is the Water Level OK in the spa? You will need to add some replacement water every so often, to replace water lost to evaporation and drag-off. Keeping your spa cover straps clipped helps reduce evaporation further by pulling the cover tight against the spa.

 

Air Leak in Front of Pump?

spa-pump-union-and-drain-plugUsually it’s the pump union in front of the pump that is loose, or the o-ring inside is out of position. But it could be a valve or any connection on the pipe that is in front of the pump, or the pipe that brings water into the pump. If anything is loose or cracked in front of the pump, the pump will suck in air. The point which is leaking air when the pump is On, will also leak water when the pump if Off. With the cabinet door open, shut off the pump and look for any spray or drips on the pipe coming into the pump.

 

Clogged Pump Impeller?

spa-pump-impellerFor most hot tubs with a good spa cover, the tub stays pretty clean. But if your spa was left uncovered and took on leafy or seedy debris, it could clog the pump impeller. The impeller is a closed vane type and for many portable spas, there is no pump strainer basket to catch debris.

To check your impeller, shut off power and close valves on both sides of the pump. Remove pump unions (a gallon or two of water will spill), and turn pump to look inside of the pump impeller housing. If it is clogged, you will usually see some debris in the center eye of the impeller.

To proceed further for cleaning, remove the screws or bolts holding the impeller housing cover in place to expose the impeller. Use flexible wire or plastic to ream out the impeller vanes, to remove the clogging material. Re-secure the impeller housing cover, tighten the pump unions and open the valves.

 

Is the Jet Adjustable?

spa-jetMany jets are adjustable at the nozzle or by rotating the outer ring, and many can be turned almost off, which increases the flow to the other jets nearby. You may find it easier to manipulate the jet adjustment while the pump is off, but should not be necessary. Try turning the jet nozzle left or right, or turn the jet outer ring or ‘scalloped bezel’.

 

Is the Jet Clogged?

Spa Jet InternalSpa Jets can also become clogged, but it doesn’t happen very often. When it does, it’s usually a broken part of a part that has lodged itself in such a way that it blocks part of the water flow. In some cases, spa jets can become clogged from clumps of calcium, or debris that has pushed through the filter. For many spa jets, the internal jet assembly can be removed (unthreaded) from the jet body, for inspection. Inground spas can use a wire or thin rod to ream out the small orifices, when the jet is not easily removable.

 

Are the valves all open?

open-spa-valvesFor most spa and hot tub systems, there are two diverter valves, on either side of the pump. These can be closed for equipment service, without draining the entire spa. Sometimes, these valves will vibrate into a closed position, especially slice valves used on many spas. Check that the valves inside the cabinet are open.

Another type of valve is used on some spas to operate different banks of jets, or sets of spa jets. Usually a large knob or dial will allow a spa user to open and close jets while seated inside of the spa. Some hot tubs or inground spas may require a valve adjustment outside of the spa.

On inground spas, there is often no valve or diverters to adjust individual spa jets, but you can often adjust the jets themselves or turn individual jets on and off.

Air valves will add volume to the water, and are often surface knobs that can be turned to open or close the air intake line. Open them to see if volume increases sufficiently. Air lines should be closed after use, so you don’t bring a continuous stream of cool water into the spa, which will make your heater work harder.

 

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

 

 

Save 4 Ways with a New Spa Filter

August 21st, 2015 by

unicel-cartridge-guy-with-htw-logoSpa cartridges are one of our fastest moving products here at Hot Tub Works. We ship over 50,000 spa filters per year to spa owners all over the country. So it’s only natural that we’re going to talk about them on the blog!

Yes, we like to sell hot tub cartridges, but it’s a product that feels good to sell, because I know that it’s improving water quality and health, and reducing energy and water consumption. It’s a win-win for us both!

So for those spa owners out there that still think their cartridge can last another few months (we recommend changing it every 10-15 cleanings or every 12-18 months, whichever comes first), here’s some ways that a new hot tub cartridge saves.

save-money-2SAVE MONEY:  A new hot tub cartridge filters so much better than a worn filter cartridge that you will find you need less chemicals to keep it clean like MPS, clarifiers or foam-out. A new spa filter can also reduce staining, or deadly deposits on your heater core. New cartridges on schedule can allow you to run the pump less, while using fewer chemicals. Using an old cartridge requires more pump run time and more chemicals to compensate for the inability of older cartridges to trap fine particles. You’ll save more money than you spend on regularly replacing a spa filter cartridge.

saving-water-is-coolSAVE WATER: If you are under water restrictions in your area, or would just prefer to reduce the frequency of draining and refilling the tub (which also saves money), buying a new spa filter on schedule will enable you to increase the length of time between water changes. For those of you under extreme hot tub water restrictions, changing water only once or twice per year, we recommend a new cartridge every 6-12 months. Some of our customers are finding success with draining only halfway every six months, but also replacing the spa filter cartridge at the same time.

world-energySAVE ENERGY: Everyone likes to save energy. Spas and hot tubs are not huge energy hogs, but every little bit helps. As mentioned earlier, new or almost new hot tub filters are so much more effective than old or almost old cartridges, that you can actually run the pump 1-2 hours less per day, and maintain the same water quality. As a filter cartridge ages, the constant battering from the water flow and from periodic cleanings forces open small gaps between the woven polyester fibers. This allows small particles to pass through unfiltered, requiring – you guessed it, more filtering (and or more chemicals) to keep the water clean and clear.

your-precious-timeSAVE TIME: Why do you save time? A new or almost new spa filter cartridge will filter the water more effectively, which means that your water will stay clean and balanced more easily, with less water problems. It also can last twice as long before it needs cleaning, as compared to a 24 month old spa cartridge, which clogs quickly from oil and mineral deposits that don’t come out, even with chemical soaking. What’s worse is that as spa filters age, they can’t trap the small particles anymore. New filters can filter down below 20 microns, but an old cartridge may not trap sizes of 35 micron particles, which is where particles become visible to the human eye.

 

In case you’re wondering, I change my spa filter every 15 months, like clockwork. Set yourself an email reminder with the link to your particular spa filter, so you can reorder your spa filter on schedule. Maybe we should start a spa filter subscription service!?!

 

– Jack

 

Hot Tub Filters: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

June 22nd, 2015 by

mystery-filter-cartridgeOnce upon a time, if you wanted a replacement spa or hot tub filters, you went down to your local spa store and bought or ordered a replacement filter cartridge. There wasn’t a choice of brand, they were all made by Unicel, or Aladdin.

As the number of pools and spas using pleated filter cartridges grew to more than 5 million in the US – more domestic manufacturers entered  the ring, namely Filbur and Pleatco.

Spa filter cartridges are surprisingly simple to manufacture, all you need is a machine to make neat pleats in the fabric, and roll it into a tube, and a second machine to shape and stamp the end caps.

This has given rise to a large number of imported spa filters being dumped on US shores, in packed shipping containers. After arrival they are sent to large retailers such as Walmart and Home Depot, and other mass merchants.

reemay-filter-fabricThere are some important quality differences in these cartridges, imported from Singapore. It starts with the fabric, which is not Reemay®, but something called remay, as in “quality remay construction”. That really burns me up, and I hope the DuPont legal team has some recourse against those who use copycat names.

According to sources at Unicel, the fabric used in most imported hot tub filters is inferior; and “low-end manufacturers are using low-grade spunbonded polyester to reduce costs, however there is a significant difference in cartridge performance”.

Let me give a personal opinion, and excuse my French; the spa filters from Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart and others are crap. And not just because they use something other than Reemay, but also because the fabric weight is not posted, or even mentioned.spun-bonded-polyester

For spa filter cartridges, a 3 oz. fabric weight (per square foot) is most suitable, with 4 oz. used on high flow systems, or very large spas. What is the weight of the fabric used in the spa filters sold by Home Depot, Lowes and Walmart? No one knows, it seems to be a closely guarded secret.

Below are some of the features of a Pleatco hot tub filters – compare that to their Pro line filters, which merely says “installs in seconds” – well, duh.

  • High performance pleated polyester media – (100% Reemay)
  • Reinforced antimicrobial end caps
  • Extruded PVC center cores
  • Molded threads, no loose inserts

If you want the best performance out of your hot tub filters, stick with an established and well known brand like Unicel, Filbur, Pleatco or Aladdin. Don’t be tempted to buy a half priced cartridge that won’t even last half as long, and you’ll have a cleaner and healthier hot tub.

Take it from me ~ I’ve used the cheapo cartridges before, and within two days the water is hazy, and within a week I had to clean the cartridge. After two months, I threw it in the trash can. A good hot tub filter, from the brands I mentioned above, can last 2-3 times as long, with less cleaning and better filtering.

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

Spa & Hot Tub Maintenance

February 20th, 2015 by

image from ThermospasWell hello again, my dear readers; I would have thought this topic would go to one of our more technical writers, but my hot tub was voted as the most well-maintained, and they asked to know my secret! 🙂

Flattery will get you everywhere I suppose,  so here I am with some basic spa and hot tub maintenance information. What do you need to know to take care of a spa or hot tub? Read on, dear reader.

 

Care = Prevention

When we talk about spa care and hot tub maintenance, you really are practicing problem prevention.  There are a number of things that are done on a regular basis, regular hot tub maintenance tasks, and then there are those best practices or methods that are used to keep your spa running well, while being energy friendly and safe for pets and children.

 

Spa & Hot Tub Chemical Maintenance

  • Test spa water for pH, chlorine/bromine, alkalinity and calcium levels 2-3x per week.
  • Adjust pH, alkalinity and calcium as needed. Maintain a constant chlorine/bromine level.
  • Clean the spa cartridge filter when the pressure gauge rises 7-8lbs, or 1-3x per month.
  • Set the 24 hr pump timer to run on low speed for a total of 12-18 hours daily.
  • Drain the spa every 3 months to prevent buildup of dissolved solids.
  • Refill the spa using a pre-filter that screws onto a garden hose.
  • Shower before using the spa, and Shock after using the spa.

 

Spa & Hot Tub Equipment Maintenance

  • Spa Covers: Use a spa cover lift, air-out the spa cover 2x per week, clean & condition spa cover 3x per year.
  • Spa Filters: After cleaning allow it to dry fully before reinstalling. Use filter cleaner 2x per year, replace filter every 1-2 years.
  • Spa Pumps: Run on high speed only during use or adding chemicals. Don’t allow pumps to run dry, or with an air-lock, or low water level.
  • Spa Heater: Maintain proper water chemistry and keep a clean cartridge filter to protect your heater element.
  • Spa Cabinet: Protect from direct sun, lawn sprinklers or rain splash around edges. Stain and or seal the surfaces as needed.
  • Spa Shell: Acrylic or plastic spas should be polished when emptied, wood hot tubs require cleaning without chemicals.

 

Saving Money & Energy

  • For daily use, keep the temp at 98°, or 94° if you only use it every 3-4 days.
  • Bump up the temperature to 101° – 104°, and then shower before using spa.
  • Keep your spa cover tightly fitted, and for extra insulation, use a floating foam blanket.
  • For colder areas, add R-30 insulation to poorly insulated spa cabinets.
  • Set the spa timer to operate mostly outside of peak daylight energy use hours.

 

Spa Safety

  • Covered: Don’t forget to always keep the spa tightly covered, with safety clips attached.
  • Locked: Indoor spas should be in locked rooms; lock doors and fences to outside spas.
  • Secure: Be sure that spa drain covers are safe and secure.
  • Spa Rules: Use safety signs and teach children the spa is only used with adult supervision.

dont-forget-2

 

Make a list or set a reminder in your calendar to not forget these important hot tub maintenance tasks. And if you have someone else in your family doing it as a chore, believe me, you better follow up behind them!

I hope I was able to answer all of your questions about taking care of a spa! Leave a comment if you have any other ?’s about hot tub maintenance, or you want more information on any of my tips above!

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

 

Spa & Hot Tub Error Codes – OH, OHH, OMG

January 6th, 2015 by

balboa-control-OH-errorIn our series on spa and hot tub error codes, we turn our attention today to the HOT messages that your topside control may be trying to give you.

OH, or OHH, or OHS (Overheat) all mean that a temperature sensor has detected unsafe water temperatures of 108° – 118° F, and your spa is in an emergency cool down mode, shutting off the heater, and turning on circulation pumps and blower to help dissipate heat.

Open the spa cover to allow excess heat and steam to escape. The spa obviously should not be used when OH or OHH is flashing on the topside control; as the water could be scalding hot for several more minutes. After the water cools, a high limit switch may be need to be reset on some spa packs; look for a red reset button. Press any topside button to reset a digital spa after the water has cooled to 100° F.

What causes a Spa to Overheat?

Low Water Flow (LF, FLO), is the usual cause of an overheating (OH, OHH) spa or hot tub. When water doesn’t flow fast enough through the heater, it removes less heat, and the temperature of the water increases. Eventually, the temp sensors or high limit switches will detect the increased water temperature, and shut everything down. The causes of low water flow in a spa include:

  • Dirty spa filter cartridge
  • Closed or partially closed valves or jets
  • Pump has an air lock, or has lost prime
  • Low water level in spa, skimmer sucking air
  • Spa drain cover is obstructed or pipe is blocked

What else causes a Spa to Overheat?

If your water flow is perfectly fine, then you could have a problem with the thermostat or high limit switches used on older spa packs, which could fall out of calibration, or become too sensitive. Digital spas have electronic sensor circuits, which are more durable than mechanical switches, however temperature sensors, hi limit sensors, relays and circuit boards also eventually fail on modern spas.

In most cases, for newer spas anyway, the water flow problem can be quickly remedied and the spa will cool, reset and start again on it’s own. Some panels need a prompt from you to restart. For spas without digital controls, you may need to manually reset the high limit switch near the heater housing.

Spa Overheating Troubleshooting Flow Chart

Here’s a Cal Spa troubleshooting flow chart that has some other possible triggers of seeing OH, OHS, OHH or HH blinking on your spa panel. Open the spa cover and let the spa cool down for 10 minutes, then touch the control panel to reset the circuits, or push a red reset button on air systems.

cal-spa-OH-OHH-OHS-HH-error-code-trouble-chart

OH, HH or HOT trouble codes, or a hot tub overheating is not usually a spa heater problem – it is almost always a flow problem, and when it’s not a flow problem, it’s a bad temp sensor, high limit or a stuck relay.

Here’s another Cal Spa troubleshooting flowchart for spa error codes OH, including testing the spa heater element for excessive resistance, done with the spa heater and all systems powered Off, and only by someone qualified to test safely.

cal-spas-OH-spa-heater-code-trouble-flowchart

So, the next time your spa throws you a OH, OHH or some other Overheat error code, you know what to do. Clean or replace the spa filter, open all the jets and turn the pump on high. If you still have problems, check over your temp sensor and hi limit circuits for wire or plug or sensor problems.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Replace or Renovate an Old Hot Tub?

August 4th, 2014 by

old-ugly-spaMost spa owners grapple with this question, if they live in one place long enough.

It usually happens like this – one day a spa repairman hands you an estimate for repair, in excess of $1000, and in addition to that, it’s time for another spa cover, and the cabinet is looking, well – less attractive than it once looked.

The manufacturers life expectancy of a spa, even good spas, is only 10-15 years.

However, you could keep renovating the spa every 10 years, and keep the same spa shell forever. A new spa pack every 10 years, maybe a new topside control. Excluding any catastrophic damage from extreme neglect, you could operate this way for 30 years, easy.

However, you just happened to catch a glimpse of the glitzy new spa models, with so many jets and features, and you think it may be time for a brand new spa. I know many people that do it like this; every 10 years, they just go out and buy a new spa.

 

What’s your Type?

It all comes down to what type of person you are. Take my little quiz below:

[] Yes  [] No – Do you prefer to replace or repair other home appliances, when they need repair?

[] Yes  [] No – Do you buy a new car every 3-5 years?

[] Yes  [] No – Do you enjoy DIY repair projects around the home?

[] Yes  [] No – Do you own 3 or more flat screen Televisions?

If you answered Yes to 3 or more of these questions, you are what experts call a “replacer”. If you answered No to 3 or more questions, you are what we call a “repairer“.

 

What’s your Threshold?

New Spas range in price from about $3000 to $9000, with the average price falling just north of $5 grand. For many people, they would consider a new spa when repair costs exceed half of the cost of a new spa. Like an insurance actuary, you analyze the risk and benefit of repairing, renovating and refurbishing your existing spa, versus ‘totaling’ the spa, and plunking down some cash on a new one.

sick-carThe comparisons to automobiles are intentional, and here’s another one; keep in mind that your old spa has very little trade-in value. You may sell it to a close friend or family member, but really, no one else wants to buy somebody’s used spa. Some spa dealers will take it off your hands, if they are in the business of refurbishing, or if you buy a new spa from them – but  don’t expect them to write you a check for it.

It’s mostly a financial decision, or it should be, but often some emotion creeps into the equation. You may start to weigh the benefits of a new spa such as high tech features, warranty, appearance, size or seating configuration. Go ahead, add in these benefits, crunch the numbers again and see where you stand.

 

Spa Renovation Ideas:AquaRock Morocco 90 Spa

  • Refinish the wood Cabinet exterior
  • Construct a Pergola or Privacy Screen
  • Replace the Spa Pack and Control Panel
  • Clean and Polish the Spa Surfaces
  • Replace the Spa Cover
  • Replace the Spa Filter

You can do all of these things above for less than $2000, so if it were me, I’d Renovate my spa, until the cows come home. But then, I guess I’m just a repairer at heart. But I also have a threshold – I’m in year 11 now with my current spa – I think I can make it to 20 years…!

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works