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Archive for the ‘spa filter’ Category

Filling a Hot Tub with Well Water

July 24th, 2017 by

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

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

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

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

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

 

Can Well Water Stain my Spa?

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

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

 

Is Well Water Hard to Balance in Spas?

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

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

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

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

 

Pre-Filtering Well Water While Filling a Hot Tub

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

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

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

 


 

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

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

 

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

New Uses for Old Hot Tub Water

April 25th, 2017 by

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Water your lawn

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

Water your trees and bushes

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

Water your home foundation

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

Pump it into your pool

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

Pump it into a doggy pool

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

Wash your car or boat

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

 

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

 

Maintain optimum water balance

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

Shower before using your spa

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

Shock after using your spa

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

Install a larger or second spa filter

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

Install an ozonator or mineral purifier

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

Use spa clarifier or spa enzymes

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

Use a spa water prefilter when filling

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

Filter the water longer each day

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

 


 

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

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

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Earth Day Hot Tub Tips

April 15th, 2017 by


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

Save Energy: Improve Insulation

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

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

Reduce Chemicals: Secondary Sanitizers

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

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

Save Water: Improve Filtration

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

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

 

Happy Earth Day!

 

– Jack

 

 

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. Soak the cartridge again in your TSP solution, 10 minutes, to neutralize remaining acids.
  6. 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 our spa filter cleaner, a 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. A spray nozzle that works great for cleaning spa filters is the Filter Flosser, it really gets in there deeply, even if your hose pressure is not so great.

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