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Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Your Hot Tub Cover Stinks!

February 10th, 2014 by

smelly-spa-coversHey, no offense, but your hot tub cover smells bad. Maybe you’ve gotten used to it?

Don’t worry, it happens to most spa owners at some time or another; water is one of nature’s most erosive substances. Moisture seeps in and becomes trapped between the outer vinyl shell and the plastic wrapped foam cores. The warm, moist environment is perfect for mold and mildew and other forms of smelly stuff.

If moisture has penetrated further into the plastic wrapped foam core, the cover becomes waterlogged, which can quickly grow all sorts of dark and smelly slime, but also make the cover really difficult to remove, and not as effective at keeping the heat in the spa. Time for a replacement spa cover.

 

Smelly Hot Tub Cover ?!?

  • Broken or damaged. Cracked foam cores, ripped or worn spots, torn seams. A spa cover that loses it’s arched roof line, to keep water draining off correctly, will eventually begin to puddle water, which is probably time to buy a new spa cover! A spa cover with threadbare spots in the vinyl is also bad news, and although you can stave off the inevitable with a duct tape repair, the water will win, eventually.
  • Not Removed Regularly. Remove your spa top weekly for 2 hours of airing out. A better cover can withstand longer periods, but it’s a good habit to remove the cover and let it get some air on a weekly basis. If you can easily open the zipper to allow moisture to escape do so, but don’t remove fragile foam panels unless absolutely necessary.
  • Poorly Made. It’s easy to make a spa cover with tape and staples, but it won’t stop moisture very well. The best spa covers have foam panels vacuum-wrapped in 6 mil PE, with a single, continuous heat welded seam. Some covers don’t even try to keep the intense moisture from your spa from reaching the foam core, but a better spa cover uses a thicker vinyl cover, backed in 3 layers to keep outside moisture out, and on the inside, thick vinyl scrim heat welded to a thick internal barrier.
  • Bad Spa Water. If the spa water is not maintained regularly with sanitizer and filtering, or is not shocked often enough, bacteria and algae can take advantage of a hospitable environment to flourish. Low pH, high chlorine or high ozone levels can also deteriorate the underside of your spa cover. Because the cover is so close to the spa, it absorbs the chemistry of the spa. Clean, clear and sanitary water is the best environment to prevent smelly spa covers.
  • Not Cleaned / Conditioned. For outdoor spa covers, unless your back deck is covered or your spa is in a gazebo (which if it is, I’m jealous!), you have sun, rain, pollen, dust, pollution, and animals to contend with. If you have a partial roof, that can be worse than no roof at all, if an overhanging eave drains water onto the spa cover. Clean and condition a spa cover 2-4 times per year, so that it always looks great, and is protected from the elements.

Fix Your Hot Tub Cover!

  • Remove to Safe Location: This first step may seem obvious, but you need a good place to allow the cover to sit undisturbed from pets, wild animals, and winds. It should be a sunny location if possible, or a dry indoor location with low humidity can also be used.
  • Deodorize & Disinfect: You may not need to do both, it’s best to be as gentle as possible. Don’t use household cleaning products on your spa cover, strange chemicals can end up in your spa water. Gently clean all exterior surfaces with spa cover cleaner, and allow the panels to dry.
  • Remove the Panels: Again, this should be avoided if possible, because the panels could become damaged during removal or cleaning. But if you determine that there is something slimy inside, you can usually unzip and remove the panel for a cleaning inside and out. spa-cover-cleaner

Use a Spa Cover Cleaner to gently clean and deodorize your spa cover without phosphates, bleach, alcohol or who knows what. Follow label to gently clean with a soft cloth or dish sponge, rinse clean and dry. It removes most anything, from tree sap and berry stains to bird poop, pollen and pollution. Used regularly, it also protects against stains and repels dirt.

For extreme mold and mildew stains, a stronger disinfectant may be needed. If the initial cleaning has still left dark spots of mildew or mold on the inside surfaces of the spa cover vinyl, or on the outside of the wrapped foam core, you may try a diluted mix of bleach. Pour 1/2 cup of bleach into 1-2 cups of water, and use a sponge to apply bleach to small areas. Quickly wipe dry with a paper towel, rinse off and dry again.

spa-cover-conditioner-It’s best to use as little water as possible on the spa cover during cleaning, and to do it as often as needed. How often? If your spa is protected from most sun and rain, maybe twice per year. If it’s out in the open like mine, it should be 3-4 times per year. It only takes a few minutes to do honestly.

I clean my outdoor spa cover every 3-4 months, and then I let it dry. I come back a few hours later, put it on the spa and rub on the Spa Cover Conditioner, which goes on in under a minute. It always looks great!

And, I do remove my cover regularly, twice a week usually – and, I do keep my water balanced and sanitary. So, I’ve been lucky to have no odor problems with my spa cover lately!

Sometimes, the easiest cure for a smelly spa cover is to just buy a new spa cover – especially if the cover is 5 years or older.  A smelly spa cover simply means that your cover is taking on moisture, and things are beginning to grow!

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

Preventing Freeze Damage to a Spa or Hot Tub

January 20th, 2014 by

frozen-spaFreeze damage  is when water freezes and expands inside of spa pipes or spa equipment, like your filter, pump or heater.

Water expands about 10% when it freezes. For pipes or equipment that have a small amount of water inside, for instance a pipe that is less than half full of water, unused space inside the pipe allows for some ice expansion.

When pipes, pumps or filters are more than half full of water, there is little room for expansion, and even very thick materials can burst from the ice pressure inside.

Today’s lesson centers on how to avoid freeze damage in a spa or hot tub, which can be a complicated and expensive spa repair, and in some cases, could ‘total’ the spa, with repair costs of thousands of dollars.

There are 3 ways to prevent freeze damage in a spa or hot tub

1. Winterize the Spa

We don’t recommend that you winterize your spa, unless you are sure that it won’t be used for at least 3 months, or it cannot be maintained (at a vacation home, for example).

Winterizing the spa is a process that takes a few hours, to drain all of the water from the spa, and use air to ‘blow the lines’, to force water from the pipes, hoses and equipment.

We did an article on How to Winterize a Spa, if you are thinking about winterizing the spa. It’s not difficult, but if you want assurances of a proper winterization, most spa service companies offer this service.

2. Use Freeze Protection

Modern spas packs will have a freeze protection mode on the spa that will turn on the circulation pump when temps get close to freezing. If you don’t see this available in your control options for the spa, you may not have freeze protection.BALBOA-SPA-PACK

Freeze protection works with an air temperature sensor that communicates with a controller, wired into the pump power circuit. Freeze protection is standard equipment on all of our Digital, Flex-Fit and Balboa spa packs, which is the simplest way of adding freeze protection for older spas with air activated spa packs.

For help adding freeze protection to your spa, feel free to call our spa techs with some information about your spa.

3. Run the Pump

As long as water is moving through the pipes – all of the pipes, the water won’t freeze. Open up all of your jets, if your spa has the ability to isolate banks of jets. Low speed can be used, as long as all pipes are utilized.

The water need not be hot, or even heated at all – in most cases. As long as it’s moving through all of the pipes and equipment when temperatures are below 32 degrees. The heat from the spa pump, under a closed skirt, is also helpful to heat up the equipment. Of course, a spa cover should be used during winter to avoid ice forming on the spa surface.

During winter, it may be wise to operate your pump 24 hours per day in cold northern areas, or set the time clock to turn on the pump for 10 minutes every half hour.

 

ALSO HELPFUL TO PREVENT FREEZE DAMAGE: frozen-jacuzzi

  • Adding heat to your spa, a hot spa can give 24 hours of protection
  • Keeping a tight fitting spa cover in place and secure
  • Spa insulation – the more there is, the more protection you have
  • Hang a 100 watt shop light, under the skirt, next to the spa pack

 

FROZEN SPA!

If you discover a spa or hot tub that is solid frozen, and maybe you spot some freeze damage already, the equipment needs to be thawed out. If there are cracked pipes, using electric space heaters could be unsafe, under the skirt.

If you have a camping tent large enough to place over the spa, you can thaw out a spa in a few hours. When I was servicing spas in Colorado, we had a tent we used whenever we’d get a ‘frozen spa’ call. We used a small kerosene heater once the tent was set up over the spa, and monitored it closely. If there was freeze damage, (and there usually was), we would drain it completely, make the repair and fill it back up.

Adding hot water to the spa is another old trick. With a small adapter, a garden hose can be attached to most sink faucets, to bring hot water to the spa, to raise the water temperature for a faster thaw. In some cases, you can gently wet frozen pipes with warm water – just don’t spray any motors, electronics or controls.

 

SPA POWER FAILURE!

COLD!

If your power fails during winter, remember that a heated spa with a good fitting spa cover has enough warmth to prevent freeze damage for 24 hours or so, longer if it’s very well insulated.

To maintain some heat under the spa skirt during a power failure, you could hang a 100 watt shop light in a location close to the spa pack. In some scenarios, a small space heater may be safe to use also, inside the spa cabinet, in a dry location, until power is restored.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’
Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Spa & Hot Tub Ozone Problems

January 6th, 2014 by

spa ozone bubblesOzone is one of the world’s most powerful sanitizers – over 200 times more powerful than chlorine. Using ozone in a spa or hot tub allows you to use fewer chemicals and may even require less filtration time.

Spa ozone is produced in a small ozonator underneath the spa cabinet, and it is delivered to the water by a small hose that carries the O3 gas to an injector fitting, where it is sucked into the spa plumbing.

But, over time, ozonator output decreases, and after 2-3 years, it’s time for a renovation or replacement of the ozone unit.

 

Is My Spa Ozonator Working?

When released into the line, ozone immediately begins to kill contaminants in your spa – when it’s working. But, how do you know when it’s working?

  1. Bubbles in the heater return line. A steady stream of champagne bubbles entering the spa.
  2. Spa ozonators have a power indicator light, but this doesn’t mean that ozone is being produced.
  3. There are ozone test kits, which tells you if your ozonator is producing ozone.
  4. If you remove the supply tube from the check valve, you should be able to smell the ozone.
  5. Water quality will deteriorate when ozone is no longer being produced, requiring more chemicals.

 

Clogged Ozone Injector

ozone-injectorAn injector is the point of entry for the ozone gas, which is located in the center of a venturi manifold, shown here. The injector draws in the ozone, mixing it with the water, where sanitation begins immediately.

If an injector becomes clogged with debris, gunk or scale, it will block the small amount of ozone gas pressure. To clean an ozone injector, remove the hose, and ream out the injector with a piece of wire or a very small screwdriver. Vinegar can also be used to help dissolve heavier deposits.

Broken Ozone Check Valve

A check valve is used on many spa ozone systems, to prevent water from backing up through the hose, and getting into your ozone unit. Check valves are one-way flow devices, designed to only allow gas (or water) to flow away from the unit.

ozone-check-valveOver time, ozone check valves can become stuck, or blocked by gunk or scale, much like the injector problem discussed above. Del ozone recommends replacing their check valves (shown here) every year. Cleaning a check valve with vinegar can remove deposits, but be sure that the mechanism inside is still doing it’s job.

Split Ozone Tubing

ozone-hoseThe tubing, or hose that carries the ozone from the ozonator to the injection manifold will deteriorate over time. Clear hose often becomes yellowed and brittle, and will eventually split, requiring replacement.

Inspect your ozone hose often, from end to end for degradation. Del recommends that the tubing be replaced every year, to prevent unexpected failure. Also inspect the barbed connections on the end of the hoses. Too much pressure can cause these to crack, and leak ozone.

Ozonator Expired

ozone-CD-chipFinally, the ozone generator itself may have expired. There are two types of spa ozonators, UV and CD. Spa ozonators using UV, or ultraviolet light to produce ozone, will need a new UV bulb after a certain number of operational hours, usually 8000-10000 hours.

CD, or corona discharge ozonators, will require a new chip or electrode every few years, to maintain ozone output. Del sells renewal kits for their CD spa ozonators, and it’s quite a simple repair.

Spa Ozonator Maintenance

…is not so difficult, once you know what to look for. The most important thing is to replace ozone parts on a schedule, to prevent damage to the ozonator, and poor spa water conditions.

Hot Tub Works carries a full line of spa ozonators, and ozonator parts to keep your spa ozone equipment running smoothly; doing it’s job.

Your spa ozonator probably won’t make it known that there is a problem – you have to go looking for it. Remember, eventually (2-3 years), your spa ozonator will quietly quit working. Maintain your spa ozonator to keep your spa sanitary.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Most Common Spa Parts Sold

December 23rd, 2013 by

HTW-spa-parts-awards

It’s that time of year again – the year end, where we take a deep dive into our product sales numbers for the year. Spa cover sales were off the chart in 2013, but this article is about the most common spa and hot tub parts for the year.

Who cares, right? Well, this little ‘information snack’ can give you a clue as to what items might be most likely to fail on your own hot tub or spa. It can help you in diagnosis to at least know what these spa parts are, and a little bit about how they function, or don’t function, as the case may be.

So without further ado, here are this year’s winners “The Most Popular Spa Parts” for 2013.

May I have the envelope please?

 

 

SPA-PARTS-HEATER-ELEMENTS

HEATER ELEMENTS

A worn spa heater element is not usually the most common cause of spa heater problems, until 2013. I think that a voltage spike must have gone off somewhere, and killed thousands at a single time. Our heater element sales doubled this year – something is going on!

 

spa-relays

RELAYS

A spa relay is an electrical switch, which relays power from one component to another. Contactors are another type of mechanical spa relays, for larger loads like your spa heater. Cube relays, shown here, were a big winner in 2013, over 1000 sold in all types of sizes.

 

spa-filters-

SPA FILTERS

Your spa filter is not meant to last forever. We recommend changing it every 12-24 months, depending on how much you use the spa, and if the cartridge is big enough to do the job. I guess people started listening to this advice, we actually ran out of some spa filters for a few weeks last month. Ordered more!

 

spa-pump-wet-end

WET ENDS

The wet end of your spa pump is the end of your spa pump that contacts water, or gets wet. The other end is the motor, and it should be kept as dry as possible. A new wet end can cure all sorts of spa problems that usually include leaking water around the pump area. Includes volute, seal and impeller.

 

SPA-PARTS-PRESSURE-SWITCHES

PRESSURE SWITCH

They say, that most spa heater repair calls are due to a dirty filter, not allowing enough water to flow. The pressure switch is what senses the low flow and prevents the heater from turning on. Don’t want to clean your spa filter? Must be a faulty pressure switch – replace it!

 

SPA-PARTS-ORINGS

O-RINGS

The most popular o-rings for a spa are inside the unions. When a union is opened, the o-ring often flushes out to an unreachable spot, under the spa. There are also o-rings in some spa filters, chlorinators or used in the wet end of the pump.

 

SPA-PARTS-LED-LIGHT-BULBS

LED SPA LIGHT

For those of you that forget to turn off the spa light when you close it up, I thank you. Sales of LED spa bulbs were up so much, I suspect that most of the halogen spa light bulbs have finally burned out in America. Lots of upgrades to LED spa light bulbs this year.

 

SPA-PARTS-SPA-COVER-CLIPS

SPA COVER CLIPS

Must have been windy this year too, as something bumped up spa cover strap clip demand above the usual few hundred sets sold each year. These clips can also be used to add additional straps to the skirt, or over the top of your spa cover, for extra safety and wind resistance.

 

spa-check-valve

OZONE CHECK VALVE

The ozone check valve keeps ozone traveling in one direction, out of the ozonator, and doesn’t allow air to flow the other way. Check valves are also known as one-way flow valves. For spa ozonator optimum operation, replace the check valve and maybe some hosing, every year or two.

 

spa-timerTIME CLOCK

I wonder if time clocks have an internal time clock, that tells them when to quit? If so, a lot of them went off this year, and another surprise superstar category is being recognized here today. Replace your clock when the internal motor or battery fails.

 

Congratulations to all of our winners today at the 2013 Spa Parts Awards ceremony. These hard working spa parts my not be recognized for large contributions to capital, but their unit sales figures have catapulted them to our list of the most common spa parts of the year. :-)

 

- Jack

 

DIY Spa Cover Repair Videos

December 19th, 2013 by

spa-cover-repair

 

Making my own repairs around the house is something I take great pride in. I’ve been accused of being too independent, and taking it a bit too far sometimes. Like the time I thought I’d install my own whole house generator. That was a big job, too big. But spa cover repair, how bad can it be?

If you like to make your own repairs around the home, and don’t mind patching things up, to get a few more years of life, this blog post is for you. Here’s some videos of some real boot strap pioneers, with ideas on how to repair a few common problems with spa covers.

Spa covers can be repaired if they aren’t allowed to go to far before receiving some attention. And if you have two of these major defects at the same time, it may be more economical to replace the entire thing with a new spa cover.

Here’s some ideas for you spa owners with an independent streak! There’s a lot of DIY hot tub repairs happening!

 

Repair Tears in the Vinyl Covering

The cover of your spa or hot tub cover is made with marine grade vinyl. It’s tough, but not tough enough. Over time, UV rays will deteriorate the vinyl, and you may notice threadbare areas. Or, your spa cover may have fallen victim to the sharp claws and teeth of a pet or wild animal. Or, It could have been dragged against something sharp, tearing or ripping the fabric. As this video shows, you can patch a spa cover, using tapes and a vinyl repair kit or patch glued on top of the problem area. This will help to lock out moisture and prevent the hole from becoming larger over time.

Replace the Vinyl Covering

If your problem is not an isolated hole or trouble spot, you may choose to recover the spa top with new marine grade vinyl. With a large sheet of unbacked vinyl, a can of contact cement and a large spreader, you can cover over the entire top of the spa cover, and the sides too. In this way, you not only get a newer appearance, but you cover many holes or thin areas all at once. You can find marine grade vinyl at a boating supply shop, or at a good fabric store. You may not find the heavy duty 30 oz weight that we use on our spa covers, but if you get something close you can add a few years to your hot tub cover.

Replace the Foam Inserts

The foam panels of your spa cover is what gives your spa much of it’s rigidity and is the main insulation for the spa cover as well. Large dogs, heavy snow load or kids using it as a dance floor can all cause the panels to break. As this video shows, you can open up the panels and replace with a high r-value home wall insulation board, which you cut to the shape of your existing foam panels. Then wrap it tightly in 6 mil plastic. It won’t have the r-value of our 2 lb foam, nor the advantage of our vacuum sealed 6 mil wrap, with heat welded seams, but a panel replacement of this type can be quite effective.

Replace the Cover Straps

Your hot tub cover straps serve an important dual purpose – to keep the cover secure during high winds, and also to help lock out youngsters and others who shouldn’t be using the spa, at least not alone. You can add extra spa straps if you want more protection, or if your spa cover straps have dry rotted and broken off, you can replace your spa cover straps and clips. We sell a set of spa cover strap clips and you can buy nylon webbing (strapping) at any fabric store.

Of course, there are some things that you can do yourself – you can even make your own spa cover! We would like to remind you how important your time is, and suggest that when the time comes, take it easy and buy a new spa cover from Hot Tub Works instead!

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’
Daniel Lara

 

Hot Tub Repair Business – Train to be a Spa Repair Man

December 16th, 2013 by

spa-repairman-hot-tubs-tooMany of us here at hottubworks got our start in the retail end of the spa business, but others are from the service business.

A Spa and Hot Tub repair company will offer several services, namely equipment repair and replacement, regular service and maintenance accounts, winterize, summerize and spa relocation services. They could also have spa inspection services for realtors, and orientation services for new spa owners. With factory training, you can perform warranty service for major spa manufacturers.

Spa and hot tub repair companies may also work on Jetted Tubs, usually installed in modern bathrooms. They could work with commercial spas and hot tubs like municipal spas, hotels, condos, resorts and therapy centers, or they can go a more residential route and work on inground or aboveground home spas; some indoors, but mostly outside on the patio.

So that’s your customer. But what about you? What skills are needed to become a successful spa entrepreneur? A successful spa technician, or a spa repair person will wear many hats.

  1. Chemist: You will be called upon to correct bad water conditions, with accurate testing and chemical additions.
  2. Electrician: Most spas are quite electrical, with loads like the pump motors, heater, blower controlled by a pcb, or printed circuit board.
  3. Engineer: Hydraulics and flow mechanics. Make repairs to the plumbing, install new spa equipment or an entirely new spa.
  4. Teacher: A good spa tech and business owner will make a business of teaching and instructing spa owners how to manage their spa.

I find that people with HVAC experience, including home appliance techs tend to understand spas and hot tubs pretty well. It really is not that much different than a large washing machine! Well, that’s not entirely true, they are indeed more complicated than a washer, but that’s what also makes it interesting!

 

Where to Get Spa Training

CPO TrainingCPO

The Certified Pool Operator CPO, course is a national certification program, that yeah – mainly is focused on pools, but there is also a lot of spa information. Many of the concepts of swimming pools cross over to spas and hot tubs.

Professional Training

CHTT

Many professional associations, such as the American Pool & Spa Professionals APSP, or the International Hot Tub Association IHTA, offer training through their local chapters, or at their national and regional trade shows. Some even have a certified professional courses that you can take and earn a ‘degree’ in spa repair.

Spa Repair Forums

SPA-FORUMS

Bulletin Boards are a great way to learn about spas and hot tub repair. Read the posts, read the replies – now you know! There are a few discussion boards or forums out there that deal with spa topics. I’d like to point out the Hot Tub Works spa repair forum first and foremost. Spa Forums.com also has a nice chunk of info online. RHTubs has another good spa forum.

Retailer Resources

HOT-TUB-TOOLBOX

At Hot Tub Works, we are proud of the videos and articles that we have put together on all sorts of spa and hot tub technical topics. The Hot Tub Toolbox is our library of articles and videos on various pool topics. Our friends at Spa Depot also has a nice spa info section, laid out by category. You can find lots of high quality spa and hot tub information online, and it’s all free.

Spa Repair Books

ULTIMATE-GUIDE

There are not a lot of books about spa repair on the market. Most books about spas are glossy coffee table books, or cover a very limited range of information. There is one book called The Ultimate Guide to Spas and Hot Tubs, which is jammed full of good information, in 320 illustrated pages, spread over 9 chapters. Tool Tips and Tricks of the Trade are given in each subject area.

What Else Is Needed?

Aside from good knowledge of spa care and repair, you’ll also need have a few other things for a successful spa repair company.

  1. Business License and registered Trade Name.
  2. Separate bank account and insurance policy.
  3. Advertising and Networking to add clients.
  4. Service vehicle with tools and supplies.
  5. Webpage or Online Directory listings.
  6. Great customer service skills.open-for-business

Your state or city may have other specific licenses to register the business, such as an Occupancy Permit, or special contractors license. You’ll need to file tax returns for the business, and pay any other license fees in your area.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’
Daniel Lara

 

Indoor Hot Tubs vs. Outdoor Hot Tubs – Which is Better?

October 28th, 2013 by

outdoor-hot-tub

I love my outdoor hot tub, soaking under the stars. I couldn’t imagine it inside, but – there are some benefits to having an indoor hot tub.

My spa sits on the back patio, just steps from the back door, but during colder months, it can feel like I’m crossing frozen tundra on the way out of the spa.

And on really cold nights, which doesn’t happen too often here in southern California, wet hair can stiffen up – and well, I just wear a hat if it gets that cold…

 

 

Benefits to Indoor Hot Tubsindoor-spa

  • Climate controlled environment.
  • Tub, controls and equipment out of the elements.
  • Lower spa heating costs.
  • Indoor convenience – lighting, music, tv, bathroom.

Problems with Indoor Hot Tubs

  • Humidity levels when spa cover is removed.
  • Possible floor damage if spa begins to leak.
  • Spa pump noise and chemical smell in the home.
  • Getting it inside – spas are larger than most doors.

 

If you are seriously considering putting the spa or hot tub indoors, consider the following.

  1. The floor must be non-skid, easily cleaned and water proof. Think outdoor tiles or bathroom tiles.
  2. The floor also must be strong enough – to support a spa that can weigh over two tons when full.
  3. The walls and ceiling should have a vapor barrier installed to protect wood studs and rafters.
  4. Drywall soaks up moisture, instead look at architectural plastic, wall tile or cedar planks.
  5. A dehumidification system or unit is a must, or windows and fans to eject moisture when using the spa.

 

spa-gazeboAnother option to installing your tub inside the house is to extend the house around the tub. Gazebos were practically invented for spas and hot tubs, or you could screen in the back patio to make a “Florida room” type of spa enclosure.

Gazebos can be a simple roof with open sides, or for an authentic Japanese style ‘hot house”, they can be completely enclosed, offering protection for the spa and privacy for you and your ‘tub buddies’.

What’s your pleasure, an indoor spa or an outdoor spa – or an outdoor spa inside a structure? Leave me a comment below, about your feelings about spa location - indoors or outdoors?

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

Tips to Avoid Chemical Damage to your Hot Tub or Spa

October 22nd, 2013 by

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

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

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

DON’T USE CHEAP CHEMICALS

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

DON’T USE POOL CHEMICALS

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

DON’T USE BIGUANIDES

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

DO TEST & BALANCE WEEKLY

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

DO DRAIN & CLEAN REGULARLY

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

DO SHOCK & SANITIZE CAREFULLY

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

 

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

 

Accessorize your Spa or Hot Tub

October 15th, 2013 by

spa-swingWhat’s the hottest and coolest accessories for your spa? You probably already have the basics nailed down – spa cover lifter, spa steps and all of your hot tub chemical, testing and cleaning supplies. So, let’s move on to advanced spa accessories ~ fun and fanciful conveniences to help you enjoy your spa or hot tub more!

A spa is so wonderful just by itself, it’s hard to improve upon the experience, but these bits of small whimsy can add up to more time together in the tub. I have all of these items at home, and they have all added something special to my spa sessions, especially the spa swing! (shown left)

Bluetooth Speaker Set

Mini Bullet speaker setIndoor/Outdoor speakers by Grace Digital are extremely water resistant – not water proof, but they can be carefully set on the edge of your spa, or set them up on a drink table or tall side table that you can reach. These connect to any MP3 player, or music on most smartphones. Play your music selection through the wireless speakers, or with your device pull up online radio or music services like pandora and spotify.

Side Bar Drop Leaf Spa Table

spa-drop-leaf-tablesThis is my favorite type of spa table, for use with food or drinks, keys, phones or you can place your music speakers on it. The Side Bar measures 57 inches long and 15 wide, at nearly 2″ thick.

Add some stools and it makes a great spot for dining or conversation with those not in the spa. Folds down against the spa when not being used. I have 2 of these, the one on the far side is filled with (mostly) fake plants.

Towel Warmer

towel-warmerNothing is better than a warm towel when you come out of the hot tub. The towel warmer rack is a popular option, just stand it up near the spa, turn it on, and hang your towels on it before you get in the spa.

New on the market is the Towel Spa, which heats up towels and robes in just minutes, in a small compact size that holds 3-4 rolled up towels. Impress your guests with a toasty towel after their soak. Not waterproof, this will have to be located indoors, or in a protected outdoor location.

Booster Seats

spa-booster-seatFill it with water for a soft and steady spa seat. For those that are less than 5 feet tall, today’s newer and deeper spas can make it hard to keep your head above water. And, let’s face it – many spa seats, although contoured, are less than comfortable, for sitting or other things…

Be head and shoulders above the rest with this water filled booster seat. Adjust the firmness and height of the seat by how much water is added to the seat fill valve. Comes in 3 colors to match your spa.

Color Lights

LED-spa-bulbMost spas of any age, except for the new models, have a boring white light in the base of the tub. My spa was like that too, until I upgraded the bulb to a color LED spa bulb. Now I can cycle between four colors, although we leave it on red most of the time. This LED spa bulb replace #912 type bulbs, on a 12V spa lamp. Add some ‘chromatherapy’ to your spa sessions by simply changing the spa light bulb!

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

Winterizing a Spa or Hot Tub

October 7th, 2013 by

spa-under-snow

Most portable spas are not winterized, many spa owners find that winter is one of their most enjoyable seasons with their hot tub. But, if this is a summer home, or if you are more of a 3 season spa user, you can shut down the spa for the next 3-4 months. Power outages or maintenance needs may also make you decide to winterize the hot tub. If a tub full of water were to freeze hard for several days, it can destroy a hot tub beyond repair.

 

Essentially the process is the removing all water from the spa equipment, pipes and hoses. Any water left in the spa can grow stagnant bacteria, or if there is enough to fill a tight space in the pipes, it will freeze and expand, and crack pipes or equipment.

Clean the Pipes

Using a product like Tub Rinse, added to your spa the night before draining will remove bacteria formed in the pipes or jets. If untreated before draining the water from the spa, the bacteria can thrive with just the moisture left in the pipes. This is a very important step that should not be overlooked, or dismissed as spa suppliers just trying to sell another chemical. :-) We do like to sell spa chemicals, but really – this one is a very necessary chemical. Use twice per year, and always before draining the spa for an extended period of time.

Drain the Spa

Open up the spigot on the bottom of your spa, most spas will have one that you can attach a garden hose. A small submersible pump can also be used. A siphon could also be used, with some degree of success. In addition to the spigot, remove any drain plugs you have on your pump or filter, or unscrew the unions on each side of the equipment (don’t lose the o-ring), to allow all of the equipment (pump, filter, heater…) to drain out.

Once the spa is drained completely, and the lines are blown out, use towels or sponges to get any remaining drops of water, and allow the shell to air dry for several hours with the spa cover removed. It’s important to remove every bit of water, from the pipes, seats, floors, equipment – everything.

Blow the Lines

When the spa is nearly drained, turn on the spa blower (if you have one), and let it run for several minutes. If you have air controls for the blower (jets or seats, for example), adjust the controls so that the blower is forcing air into all areas.shop-vac

You can blow the lines out, or suck them out with a wet/dry vac (just reverse the hose). Use a large wet/dry vac, and seal the end of the hose up against the hole in the bottom of the skimmer, and the drain, and on all of the spa jets. Depending how your jets and plumbing are arranged, you may have more success with vacuuming, or vice-versa, with blowing. Usually, some combination of both will be most successful.

In most cases, for the spa jets, you’ll want to start up at the higher jets, and work your way down to the floor jets. Seat air jets or ring jets take some precisely focused air and a dry towel laid across the bench or floor to absorb the water as it spits out of the air jets. When vacuuming, a sheet of plastic may be helpful, to cover other jets connected to the same manifold, to increase suction on the jet you are vacuuming water from. Blow or suck (sorry), the air until you no longer see any water or mist being extracted or pushed out. Important!

Non-toxic RV or Pool antifreeze can be used as a last resort, but it can get a little slimy and smells bad, so I’d advise you to do without, unless you are not certain that all the water has been removed, with no puddling areas inside air or water manifolds or pipe.

Miscellaneous

  1. Use spa filter cleaner It’s crucial to remove scale, minerals, dirt and grime from the cartridge.spa-cover-conditioners
  2. Lubricate union o-rings on equipment connections with a Teflon based lubricant.
  3. Shut down power at the breaker, be sure the spa will not turn on while empty.
  4. Secure the cover tightly, and treat with spa cover conditioner.

 

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works