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Archive for the ‘Alternative Sanitizers’ Category

The Chlorine Free Spa – Is it Possible?

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chlorine free spa

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

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

 

Replace Your Filter Cartridge More Frequently

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

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

Drain Your Spa or Hot Tub More Frequently

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

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

Ozone + Minerals

DEL Ozone MCD-50

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

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

Non-Chlorine Shock

Cense shock by Zodiac

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

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

Keep Your Spa Water Balanced

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

Shower Before Using the Spa

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

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

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

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

Hot Tub Ozone Working? How to Tell

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It’s a common question we get from hot tub owners – how to tell if a spa ozonator is actually working?

No matter what spa ozone brand you have, eventually it will fail. All spa ozonators will begin to reduce output and will one day suddenly stop producing ozone, but how do you know when that day comes?

Today’s blog post will deal with how a hot tub ozonator works, but more about how it doesn’t work – along with the most popular ways to check ozone output.

It’s good to be skeptical, in these cases – your spa may become unhealthy, and allow bacteria and germs to thrive without an operational ozonator.

 

OZONE INDICATOR LIGHT

This can be a good ‘indicator’ of ozone being produced, if your spa ozonator has a light to indicate ozone production, other lights only indicate power. UV bulb ozonators should emit the usual eerie blue light when operating, and Del spa ozone and others with a CD chip usually have a small vibration sound when operating. However, keep in mind that things can appear normal at the ozonator, when ozone is not actually being produced.

BUBBLES AT OZONE JET

Ozonators produce tiny ‘champagne bubbles’ that are shot into the spa plumbing lines, and eventually work their way to the surface. Smaller bubbles are good, under 1 mm in size, larger bubbles are usually air. Depending on your ozone system, bubbles coming out through the normal jet or port (usually in the footwell area), may not always indicate ozone. Some hot tub ozone systems use air pumps or air venturi fittings that mix air with the ozone, so there are bubbles all the time, even when there is no ozone.

THAT OZONE SMELL

Clothes Pins - the solution to smelly spas and hot tubs?Ozone has a uniquely pungent yet fresh smell, and is recognized by most people in the air at concentrations as low as 10 ppb. It is strongest when lifting the spa cover after hours of being closed. It’s normally easy to smell, in fact, ozone comes from the Greek word ozein, which means ‘to smell’. Another method is to remove the ozone hose from (a plugged) injector, and hold the hose up to sniff for an ozone smell. Faulty check valves or injectors can cause ozone delivery problems, so be sure the entire system is going and flowing.

OZONE TEST KIT

An ozone test kit is available, and they work with a glass ampule that is connected into your ozone hose line (requires assembly). Turn on the ozonator and within a minute the color will change inside the ampule, in the presence of ozone. It won’t measure output exactly, but can give you an approximate level of ozone production. It also is a one time use test, and at $10+ each, not cheap enough to do too often.

POOR WATER QUALITY

Another fine indicator that your ozonator is depleted or not working is that the water quality has suffered or required more maintenance lately. Bouts of cloudy water, lack of sparkle, or even algae may have tipped you off. If you can rule out low pump run time, tired filter cartridge, bad water balance or lack of other sanitizers or shock, then you may have a problem with ozone output.

What Now?

Del MCD-50 spa ozonator shownIf you think that your ozonator is producing less ozone than before or no ozone at all – you are probably correct. Although new ozonators by Del have a 3-5 year lifespan before burning out, older models need a new bulb or renewal kit every 18-24 months. And although it happens, spa ozonators don’t often last far beyond the recommended lifespan. As mentioned earlier – all ozonators will fail, and stop working. It’s best to be prepared, and plan for a scheduled replacement.

New Del Ozone units are small and uncomplicated, to a point that replacement has become an easy DIY job to replace an ozonator. The Del Spa Eclipse or the Del MCD-50 include new hoses, check valves and injectors for a full ozone system replacement. Retrofits to most manufacturer ozone systems easily.

Although spa ozone As an alternative to replacement, many spa and hot tub ozonators have parts available such as replacement bulbs, CD chips and Renewal Kits, to make your system run like new again.ozone-hose

And once again I’d like to remind you – ozone manufacturers recommend that ozone hoses, ozone check valves and ozone injectors be replaced annually, for best results. Quite often you see, an ozonator failure is actually caused by a failure to one of these three key components.

For more information on spa ozonator troubleshooting, repair or installation, check out our other articles in the Alternative Sanitizers blog category.

Spa & Hot Tub Ozone Problems

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spa ozone bubblesOzone is one of the world’s most powerful sanitizers – over 200 times more powerful than chlorine. But one day your spa ozonator will quietly quit working.

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 a few years, it’s time for a renovation or replacement of the ozone generator.

 

Is My Spa Ozonator Working?

When released into the water, ozone immediately begins to kill contaminants in your spa – when it’s working. But, how do you know if the ozone is working, or if it’s time for a new spa ozonator?

  1. Fine bubbles in the tub, from the ozone line, a steady stream of fine ‘champagne bubbles’ entering the spa.
  2. Spa ozonators have a power indicator light, which may mean that ozone is being produced.
  3. When you lift the spa cover, you may be able to briefly smell ozone that has gassed-off.
  4. If you remove the ozone hose from the check valve, you should be able to smell the ozone.
  5. Water quality deteriorates when ozone is no longer being produced, requiring more chemicals.
  6. Is your unit past its prime? Ozonators all lose effectiveness and fail after a few years.
    1. UV ozone bulbs last about 2-3 years, less if cycled on/off frequently
    2. Del MCD-50 CD chips last 3-5 years, Del CDS Spa Eclipse models last 2-3 years

Clogged Ozone Injector

ozone-injector Mazzei Ozone Injectors are the point of entry for the ozone gas, a venturi tee manifold, shown here. The injector draws in the ozone, mixing it with the water, where sanitation begins immediately. Injectors have an internal check valve for one-way flow only – ozone can enter the injector, but water cannot exit. If water comes out of the injector cap, or enters the ozone hose – this indicates a clogged or damaged injector check valve.

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 scale deposits. A new ozone injector will eventually be needed, if the injector is leaking water into the hose.

Broken Ozone Check Valve

A second, inline check valve is used on many spa ozone systems, to prevent water from backing up through the hose, and getting into your ozone unit. This is installed between the ozonator and the injector manifold. 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 in-line ozone check valves (shown here) every year. Cleaning a check valve with vinegar can remove deposits, but be sure that the one-way valve is still doing it’s job. You should be able to easily blow air through it, but only in one direction.

Damaged Ozone Tubing

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

Inspect your ozone hose often, from end to end for degradation, discoloration or cracking. Del recommends that ozone 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.

Expired Spa Ozonator

DEL Ozone MCD-50, it's what I use on my spaFinally, the ozone generator itself may have expired. There are two types of spa ozonators, UV and CD. Most spa ozonators have an indicator light, but they don’t usually have a failure light, so take note of manufacturer replacement recommendations.

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. Most UV ozone bulbs will still turn on, or light-up, but no longer produce the wavelengths needed to create ozone, so remember to replace the UV bulb on schedule.

CD, or corona discharge ozonators, will require a new chip or electrode every 3-5 years, to maintain ozone output. Del sells renewal kits for their larger CD ozonators, and it’s quite a simple repair. Newer spa ozonators by Del, such as the MCD-50 and the Spa Eclipse are now so affordable and long lasting, the entire unit is replaced, including hose and check valve (included).

Spa Ozonator Maintenance

Maintaining a spa ozonator is not difficult, once you know what to look for. The most important thing is to replace the ozonator or ozone parts (hose, check valve, bulb, chip) 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; and doing its 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 one day. Maintain your spa ozonator to keep your spa sanitary.

Installing a Hot Tub Ozonator

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Ozone is a powerful natural sanitizer that requires only annual attention (or less), and can handle the bulk of your water sanitation. And now, new models of Del spa ozonators now have 5 year lifespan on the CD ozone generator.

Installing a spa ozonator is nearly just as easy. Many spas already come with ozone, or are ‘ozone ready’, with an injection manifold already plumbed in place. Even if your spa has never had an ozonator, installing ozone on a hot tub can be an easy job.

With basic hand tools, and the manufacturer owner’s manual or installation instructions, you are ready to install an ozonator in 3 steps.

  1. Mount the Ozonator Unit inside the Cabinet
  2. Connecting the Ozone Hose to the Injection Manifold
  3. Connecting the Ozonator Unit to Power

 

Mounting the Ozonator

Many hot tub ozone installation manuals will advise to install the ozonator above water level, even though check valves and a ‘Hartford Loop’ in the Ozone Hose or vinyl tubing will protect the unit from water, described below. For most portable aboveground hot tubs, the ozonator is placed under the cabinet, high up on the wall, in an accessible area with good air circulation. For inground spas or for tubs with equipment sheds, if you can mount the ozonator above the water level easily, by all means do, but it is not a strict requirement.

Use all screws to firmly attach the ozonator unit to the wall or stud, high up on the inside wall. A secondary piece of plywood can be used for added strength, and to prevent drilling through the spa cabinet from the inside. Mount in a location that indicator or status lights can easily be seen and future maintenance or replacement can be easily accomplished.

Connecting the Ozone Hose to the Injection Manifold

Ozone Ready Spas: An ozone ready spa will already have an Ozone Injector plumbed in place, or may utilize an Ozone Jet Fitting to draw the ozone into the spa. Or you may just need to add an Ozone Injector to the pipe already designated for ozone, both described below, but – check your owner’s manual for ozone details.

For spas and hot tubs that have not had an ozonator before, and are not ‘ozone-ready’, there are 3 ways to introduce the ozone gas into the water line.

  1. ozone-injectorPlumb an Ozone Injector into a 3/4″ Water Hose: For this method, locate the 3/4″ diameter water hose that leads to one of your spa jets. Choose a jet on the ‘end of the line’, or by itself, and preferably near the bottom of the tub if possible, to give the ozone another second or two to work as it bubbles up to the surface. Coordinate the ozonator installation with a drain & refill of the tub, unless you have a valve or other means to stop water flow while the injector is quickly inserted. Cut the hose with a razor knife or shears, and push the hose over the Ozone Injector and clamp firmly in place. The injection fitting, where the Ozone hose connects, should be facing up, and the indicator arrows should point in the direction of water flow. If there are no arrows, the end that you cannot blow air into, is the exit for the water.
  2. Attach Ozone Hose to a Spa Jet Air Intake: Most spa jets are combination Air and Water jets, mixing at the jet for increased force. Some spa jets receive air from an Air Manifold, and on other spas using ‘Stacked Jets‘, the air line runs in/out of each jet, and to the next. If you have a single hose and a single air port on your spa jets, cut the hose at the manifold and at the jet, and plug the manifold end. For a stacked jet configuration, remove one jet from the air loop, bypassing that valve, and use adapters and plugs to connect your Ozone Hose.
  3. Plumb an Ozone Injector Manifold: This method uses a large PVC manifold to connect to your 1.5″ or 2″ PVC plumbing – after the pump and heater. You will need about 24″ of clear space to install the large manifold, or with several 90° fittings, you can create the space. Glue the manifold in place, and you are ready to connect your Ozone hose.

Hartford Loop & Check Valve: In addition to the connection point for the Ozone Hose, you also need to run the hose in a loop above water level, and install a check valve, to prevent water from backing up into the ozonator, which could easily damage or destroy the unit.

A Hartford Loop is simply running the hose above the water level with a 6-8″ wide loop, in between the ozonator and the injector. An ozone check valve is then placed in the ozone hose, between the loop and the injector, as redundant protection against water damage.

All Ozone check valves will fail eventually, and should be replaced every 12-18 months, as a preventative measure. Ozone Hose also becomes brittle in a few years, and should also be on a replacement schedule.

Connecting the Ozonator Unit to Power

Most hot tub ozonators are equipped with either a J&J mini plug or AMP plug, to connect directly to your spa controller circuit board, and as such, is controlled by your system to only operate when the pump low speed is operating, instead of running 24 hours per day. If your ozonator comes with an AMP plug, but you have J&J plugs, short ozone adapter cords are used to connect to your spa pack.

For hot tubs without a spa pack controller, or old systems without an ozone connection port, the power wires can be hard-wired directly to the spa pump time clock, to operate only when the pump is operating, preferably only on low speed. You can also connect your ozone hose into the plumbing of a 24 hour circulation pump.

Finally, if your spa has a GFCI outlet powered by the pump or controller, you can power the ozonator directly into the 115V outlet with a regular 3-Prong grounded plug.

 

 

– Jack

 

 

Saltwater Chlorine or Saltwater Bromine?

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saltwater-chlorine-or-saltwater-bromineSalt water chlorine vs. salt water bromine. Which is better?

The chlorine vs. bromine debate, along with the pros & cons of using a hot tub salt system have been hashed out before on this blog, but what if you already love spa salt water generators, and wonder about using sodium bromide, instead of sodium chloride as the necessary salt.

Bromine is better than chlorine in a hot tub, as it stays potent in high temperatures and in a wide range of pH values, and has less odor. So why not use Sodium Bromide instead of Sodium Chloride in a spa or hot tub with a salt generator?

  • Sodium Bromide salt is much more expensive than Sodium Chloride salt. This is because of the higher cost of raw materials. It costs only $5 in NaOCl after draining the spa (unless you use Dead Sea Salts, which are much more costly), but to replace the NaOBr, it can cost $25, each time you drain.
  • Bromine Generators cost twice as much to purchase than equivalent spa chlorine generators. Roughly $200 for salt systems, and $400 for bromine systems.

But wait ~ aren’t Bromine tablets also twice as expensive as using spa chlorine tablets? Yes. Bottom line is that Bromine costs more than chlorine, no matter how you introduce it to the water.

For many spa owners, it’s worth the extra cost to have a Bromine spa.

Spa Chlorine and Bromine Generators

saltron-mini-power-supply-and-cellCan you use bromide salts with a salt chlorinator? You could, after draining and refilling with fresh water, add sodium bromide ions to the water to create bromine, instead of chlorine. However, salt chlorine generators such as the Saltron Mini are optimized to work with sodium chloride, although the manufacturer told me that either salt can be used.

Is there a difference between Salt Brominators and Salt Chlorinators? There are small differences in the salt cell coatings and in the salt level required for operation, but the operation or technology is the same. They both convert ions into a sanitizer, which afterwards revert back to the base salt, where the process can begin again. Spa Salt Bromine Generators, such as Tru Blu and the Gecko Alliance in.clear bromine salt system for spas.

What type of Salt is used in a Saltwater Hot Tub? If you are using sodium chloride, be sure to use a pool salt with a high 99% level of purity, without added caking agents, desiccants or iodine added. For a bromine spa, add pure sodium bromide salts to the spa, the same bromide booster that is used to build the ‘bromine bank’ when using bromine tablets. Many spa salt system owners also use Dead Sea Salts, which contain potassium and magnesium, in addition to sodium.

Hot Tub Ozonator VS. UV Light VS. Minerals

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OZONE-VS-UV-VS-MINERALS
When it comes to sanitizing your spa or hot tub, you have a lot of choices. When I first started hot tubbing, we didn’t have all these fancy purifiers, and until the 80’s we had to use pool chemicals!

Chlorine and Bromine are an easy way to keep the water constantly protected. But – there’s a dark side! It smells bad, bleaches suits, dries skin and hair, and can be unsafe to store and use.

And that’s why a cottage industry sprung up, offering alternatives to traditional sanitation methods. Let’s talk about all 3 – Ozonators, Ultra Violet light, and Mineral Purifiers.

Hot Tub Ozone

del-mcd50-ozoneHow it Works: Ozone is called the ‘World’s Most Powerful Sanitizer’ and indeed packs quite a punch. An ozonator or ozone generator shoots a small electric charge across an air filled gap to separate oxygen O² into O¹. The singular oxygen atom quickly bonds to a nearby O² molecule, to become O³, or Ozone. The additional oxygen atom makes O³ very unstable, destroying any unfortunate particle that gets in the way.

Down Side: Ozone is cheap to produce, however the circulation pump must be running, to draw the gas into the line. When the pump is off, ozone is not being produced. Ozone also has a very short life, and due to the gaseous state, it will rise to the surface and gas-off quickly.

Maintenance: Spa ozonators require replacement of the ozone tubing and check valve every 1-2 years. CD (Corona Discharge) models require CD Chip replacement every 1-2 years, while AGP (Advanced Plasma Gap) units can last up to 5 years.

Effectiveness: Using a spa ozonator can allow you to reduce reliance on high levels of chlorine and bromine, by as much as 50%, according to manufacturers. Ozone destroys Giardia, Pseudomonas and Crypto and is a powerful oxidizer.

Hot Tub UV Light

spectralightuv-lampHow it Works: UV light purifiers work by irradiating the water, as it rushes by a UV lamp that is producing a specific wavelength 254 nm within the UV-C spectrum. When exposed to UV light of this specific wavelength, living particles actually have their DNA rearranged and become unable to reproduce. This renders the particles as inert, and only from a millisecond of exposure to the UV-C light.

Down Side: Like Ozone, UV light is cheap to produce, but is only being produced while the pump is running, pushing water over the UV-C light bulb or lamp. UV system strength can be reduced by high water flow rates, cloudy water and water temperature. And it has no ‘shelf life’, sanitation only takes place for an instant, while the water is passing under the eerie blue light.

Maintenance: Spa UV light systems use a special bulb to create the UV-C light. In most cases, these bulbs will need to be replaced every 1-2 years, as they begin to lose effectiveness over time. Cleaning the quartz lens regularly is also recommended, to remove dust or grime deposits.

Effectiveness: Like Ozone, UV purification is a tried and true secondary sanitizer, and can reduce your reliance on chlorine or bromine. It also inactivates (renders inert) parasites and pathogens like Ozone, when sized and used properly.

Hot Tub Mineral Purifiers

spa-mineral-sticks-for-hot-tubsHow They Work: Mineral purifiers for hot tubs and spas are slim cartridges that you drop into the hole in the center of your cartridge filter. They’re filled with Silver and Copper pellets which slowly dissolve at a controlled rate. The silver and copper act together as a biocide, with silver oxide as the sanitizer and copper working as an algaecide. Using a mineral stick, like the others, can allow you to reduce chlorine or bromine usage by up to 50%.

Down Side: Mineral sticks for spas are also not as powerful as ozone, and cannot kill the strongest of pathogens that may come into the water, although they come close.

Maintenance: Most mineral sticks are replaced every 4 months, when the silver and copper depletes. No other equipment involved, so no other maintenance is needed.

Effectiveness: Unlike ozone and UV, mineral sticks create lasting protection by maintaining a residual of silver in the water. You will notice an immediate improvement in water quality and can appreciate using less sanitizer or filter aids to keep the water clear.

 

Your mileage may vary, but having a secondary sanitizer makes sense and is recommended by the MAHC (Model Aquatic Health Code). It can help reduce reliance on harsh chlorine or bromine, and also acts as a nice back-up for those occasional gaps in coverage, if you know what I mean.

In most cases, all of these systems tend to cost the spa owner about $100 per year, but you can realize some savings in other chemical costs, and will enjoy the peace of mind knowing that your spa water is extra-clean, I know I do! I use Nature2 and Del Ozone on my own spa.

Saltwater Hot Tub – Bromine or Chlorine

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saltwater-hot-tubs Before I write a post, I survey the ‘information landscape’ with a few keyword searches, to see what’s been written about the topic. There’s a lot of misinformation out there about saltwater hot tubs. Sounds very familiar, I heard the same discussions ten years ago about swimming pool salt water systems.

It smells like fear – fear of change, fear of losing bromine tablet sales, fear of the unknown. What really happens is that when a saltwater bromine or chlorine generator is installed, you won’t need to buy, store, transport or handle bromine tablets anymore.

You’ll still need other spa chemicals, because you still have to balance the pH, alkalinity and calcium hardness levels. You may still need to use clarifiers, enzymes or foam out. And, you’ll still need to test the water regularly, and clean and replace your spa filters. In short, you’ll still do everything you do now, with exception to adding bromine tablets or oxidizer to the hot tub.

Saltwater systems for hot tubs are not a miracle product, but it does have a few benefits over sanitizing with bromine tablets or bromides/oxidizer or chlorine.

  • Softer water due salts; sodium chloride (for chlorine) or sodium bromide (for bromine).
  • Fewer peaks and valleys of sanitation. With other methods, levels are less consistent.
  • No worry about checking and adding tablets or shock to reactivate bromine.

SOFTER SPA WATER

Water softness or hardness is in direct relation of how much calcium is in the water, or the calcium hardness measurement of the water. For spas and hot tubs, low calcium from soft water is not a good thing, but that’s not what I mean when I say that saltwater hot tubs have softer water.

What I really mean is that the water feels softer on your skin, it feels almost silky, slick, or oily. This is because of the salts in the water, similar to how adding bath salts or spa crystals to your spa or bath water makes the water feel more … luxurious? It’s also less drying to the skin, as opposed to using tablets or shock oxidizer.

FEWER PEAKS AND VALLEYS

peaks-and-valleysA salt chlorine or salt bromine system can maintain a very consistent level of sanitizer in the water, with digital controls to program an exact level of chlorine or bromine. When using bromine tablets, it’s harder to control the dissolution rate of the tablet. When the floater or brominator is first filled, more bromine will be released than when the tablets are almost gone. To control this problem, you will need to turn down the brominator dial (or the floater holes), and as the tablets dissolve, open it up more.

For bromine spas that don’t use tablets but use a shock (MPS or Dichlor) to activate bromide ions, turning them into bromine, the problem is even more pronounced. Immediately after adding the oxidizer, the bromine level can shoot up very high (peak), and then slowly drop back down to a low level (valley).

LESS WORRY

With a saltwater hot tub system, bromine or chlorine production is steady and controlled, and you don’t have worry about adding more sanitizer at the exact moment it runs out, or catching it before it runs out, or drops to near zero levels. However, keep in mind that inline saltwater chlorinators or saltwater brominators only make chlorine or bromine when the pump is running. The Saltron Mini and other drop-in types of salt cells are an exception to this, since they are not plumbed inline, but hang over the edge of the spa or hot tub. But if your spa pump is running daily, any type of salt system can create enough chlorine needed for daily disinfection.

A lot of people don’t know that a saltwater hot tub can be either bromine or chlorine. Add sodium chloride NaCl, regular table salt, and your salt cell will create chlorine. Add sodium bromide salts however, and your saltwater hot tub will be a bromine hot tub. Bromine is more stable than chlorine in high temperatures and in varying pH levels, and is considered a better sanitizer for hot tubs.

Hot Tub Salt Systems are not a miracle productSalt systems for spas allow you to make your own ‘locally sourced and organic’ chlorine or bromine, on-site. But that’s all it does – replacing bromine tablets or other means of sanitation. Not a miracle product – it won’t reduce spa maintenance by too much, but it does have at least three clear benefits over traditional methods.

Del Spa Ozone Maintenance

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new-spa-eclipse-newOzone has been used in spa and hot tubs for years, as a powerful sanitizer that kills 99.9% of pathogens and contaminants.

When used with a spa mineral stick, an ozonator can do the bulk of spa water sanitizing, requiring only a small amount of bromine, and/or regular spa shock to oxidize organics that hide in small spaces, away from the ozone.

BUT – Ozonators Wear Out! They need to be rejuvenated or renewed – by replacing the ozone bulb, chip or electrode. In addition, hoses, injection fittings and check valves also need regular replacement.

Hot Tub Ozone Maintenance:

You can do your own spa and hot tub ozone maintenance. A screwdriver is usually all that’s needed, and directions for repair or replacement of a spa ozonator are simple and easy to follow, even if you are repair-challenged!

Replacing Ozone Hose:

ozone-hoseOzone is a very powerful gas that breaks down the ozone tubing over time. Nitric acid is created in small amounts, and within 2 years the hose will begin to weaken so much that a hole will burn right through it, spilling ozone into the spa cabinet. Inspect the hoses twice per year, visually for any staining and by hand for thin spots. Ozone Hose Lifespan: 1-2 years.

Spa Ozone Check Valve Maintenance:

SPA-PARTS-OZONE-CHECK-VALVEA Check Valve is a one way flow valve, allowing the ozone to travel in one direction only. It connects in the hose between the ozonator and injector. Ozone Check Valves can only be installed in one direction (in the direction of the Flow –> arrow). Eventually, the check valve will need to be replaced (with an exact duplicate) or it can damage your ozonator by allowing incorrect ozone flow. Ozone Check Valve Lifespan: 1-2 years.

Spa Ozone Injector Maintenance:

ozone-injectorThe ozone injector is usually a small 3-way manifold or Tee, which fits into a larger 3/4″ or 1″ hose. In the middle is a smaller hose connection, where the ozone hose is attached. Injectors don’t commonly fail, but they do clog quite often. If you have no ozone bubbles in your spa, chances are you have a clogged ozone injector. They can clog with calcium or chemical build-up, and block the flow of ozone bubbles, which usually enter at a floor spa jet.

To clean a clogged ozone injector, remove the hose and hose fitting from the injector. With the spa running, simply insert a bent paper clip or tiny eyeglass screwdriver and move it back and forth to break up and suck in any crusty deposits that block ozone from flowing into the injector. Then reconnect the ozone hose and you should see ozone bubbles in the spa again. Ozone Injector Life Span: 10 years.

Spa Ozone Generator Renewal:

The engine of a spa ozone generator, the device that actually creates O³ from O² eventually wears out and will need to be replaced. Be prepared for the day when the ozone bubbles stop suddenly, and your spa water grows quickly dark and turbid.

Spa ozone is created in 2 ways – with a UV bulb or with Corona Discharge, which creates a small electrical charge to create ozone, like a tiny lightning bolt. Corona Discharge (CD) units are powered by a chip or electrode. CD units last much longer than UV bulbs, but newer models can last over 5 years.

UV Ozone Bulb Replacement: If you no longer see the eerie blue glow coming from the inspection port of your long, tubular ozone bulb housing, check that it is still plugged into a power outlet. If all good, order the exact replacement bulb, if still available. Actually, a better recommendation would be to replace the outdated bulb unit with a longer lasting CD unit. Ozone Bulb Life Span: 1-2 years.

spa-eclipse-renewal-kitCorona Discharge CD Chip Replacement:  After several years, the CD chip will wear out on ozonators like the Spa Eclipse. It will wear out especially fast if you are running the circulation pump 24 hrs per day. Whenever the pump is running, CD chip ozonators produce ozone. Replacing a CD chip on a Del Spa Eclipse is very easy. Simply unplug the power cord to the unit and remove the back screws. Locate the CD chip, in the bottom of the case, and disconnect the wire plugs. Reconnect the new cell the same way, and you’re back in business! Del Ozone CD Chip Life Span: 2-3 years.

mcd-50-renewal-kitCorona Discharge Ozone Cell Replacement: The Del MCD-50 ozonator uses an electrode that can last much longer than the CD chip used in the Spa Eclipse. But eventually it too will wear out, and it has an indicator light to let you know. Renewal kits for the  MCD-50 include a new Ozone Cell, Power Supply, Hose Barb, O-ring and Fuse. Pull off the cover (with the power off), and you can replace all 5 parts in under 5 minutes, OK, maybe ten. Replace the front cover and test it out. MCD-50 Cell Life Span: 3-5 years.

del-ozone-apgSpa Eclipse NEXT GENERATION uses the new APG technology – Advance Plasma Gap.  The latest and greatest spa ozonator, it has more ozone output and last longer than it’s predecessors. It also has an auto voltage sensor, so you can connect to 115V or 230V without switching wires or settings. The maintenance to the Next Generation ozonators is the same for hoses and check valves, but the AGP cell is not sold as a part, you just replace the entire box, which is a small job of unmounting and remounting, and connecting the hoses and wire plug. APG Module Life Span: 4-6 years.

How to Know if a Spa Ozonator is Working? 

  • Ozone bubbles are visible in the Spa, at a lower jet, or the heater jet, usually.
  • Ozone smell when you open up the spa cover after being closed for some time.
  • Indicator light on the ozone module, as a visual indicator of operation.
  • Test it with the new Del Ozone test kit.

Spa Ozonators don’t last forever! If your spa ozonator troubleshooting has led you to this page – consider the possibility that your ozone device (bulb, chip, electrode, cell) is no longer producing ozone. They don’t go bad gradually, they go all-of-a-sudden. One evening you’ll lift the spa cover and discover dull and lifeless spa water. Shock the spa and order your spa ozone parts, hoses and check valve – to keep your ozonator running in top condition!

And remember, you don’t have to stick with the branded ozonator that came with your spa (it was probably made by Del anyway!).

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

 

Salt Water Spas and Hot Tubs – FAQ

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Image Credit: MISES.orgYou’ve heard about salt water spas or salt water hot tubs – as an accessory with a new spa purchase, or an easy add-on to an existing spa or hot tub.

To be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of salt water systems, let me say that right up front. But they do have certain advantages over other methods of keeping your water disinfected, and could be the best choice in some situations.

Here’s answers to the most Frequently Asked Questions about salt water hot tubs.

 

HOW DO SALT WATER SPAS WORK?

Well, I’m no chemist, but when you add water (H2O) and salt (NaOCl) together, you have all the ingredients needed to make chlorine. But first, you have to separate the molecules, breaking apart the Hydrogen, Oxygen, Sodium and Chloride. This is done through electrolysis, passing the water over two electrified platinum or titanium plates, (the salt cell) one positively charged (the anode) and one negatively charged (the cathode).

The small electric current causes the water and salt molecules to break apart (disassociate), and recombine into HOCl and NaOH, or Hypochlorous Acid and Sodium Hydroxide. Hypochlorous acid is pure chlorine and it instantly begins to sanitize the water. After some hard work killing off any germs in the water, the chlorine converts back to chloride and recombines with sodium, to form salt once again, in a continuous process.

Or, more simply – you add salt to the spa, about 2 lbs per 100 gallons, and hook up the salt chlorine generator device, and pass the water through it. As the salty water passes through the tiny electrolysis machine (electrified metal plates), it comes out the other side with a small amount of chlorine.

WHEN DO SALT WATER SPAS NOT WORK?

They usually do – but there are some times when the technology can fail. Like if you stop heating your spa and the water temp cools way down, below 60°, the salt cell will stop producing chlorine. Also, if the power goes out, or when the spa is turned off, the electrically powered salt cell also turns off, unlike a bromine or mineral floating dispenser.

If the salt cell becomes clogged or coated with minerals (which are naturally attracted to the charged plates), chlorine output can be severely reduced. Salt water systems also need the proper salt level in the water to operate, if too high or too low it affects output and cell life. And good water balance is important, if your pH and Alkalinity is or calcium Hardness is off, chlorine output and cell life are compromised.

If you are in a “hard water area”, where water comes out of the tap very hard (over 400 ppm), you may have a problem with mineral clogging of the salt cell, and a shorter salt cell life. Most manufacturers recommend a low calcium hardness level. If your calcium hardness level is over 150 ppm, look for a self-cleaning salt system.

And finally, your salt cell will eventually lose its mojo, and stop producing chlorine (or bromine) altogether, which can be 1-5 years, depending on the model.

ADVANTAGES TO SPA SALT SYSTEMS?

  1. Softer, silkier water – because of the salt added. And if you use Dead Sea salts, you also get potassium and magnesium, and sodium.
  2. No binders and fillers – bromine and chlorine tablets or granules contain additives that just junk-up the spa water.
  3. Fewer chemicals to store and handle. You may still need some tablets and/or MPS on hand, but will only need them rarely.

DIS-ADVANTAGES TO SPA SALT SYSTEMS?

  1. Salt is corrosive. Even at low levels of 2500 ppm, damage could occur to shiny chrome finishes, or soft rubber parts.
  2. Galvanic corrosion can make it easier for spa staining to occur, if your water has high levels of copper, iron or manganese.
  3. Draining a salt water hot tub can damage a lawn or landscaping, from high salt levels.

COST OF MAINTAINING A SALT HOT TUB?

In the long run, the cost of s salt water hot tub system is going to be about the same as using chlorine granules or bromine tablets. Salt is cheap (but Dead Sea salts are considerably more), but you’ll need to replace it every time you drain the spa. And the salt cell (plumbed inline, or draped over the spa side) will need to replaced in 1-5 years, depending on the model. Do the math before you buy, and you may find that traditional methods will be cheaper – in the long run.

TYPES OF SPA SALT SYSTEMS?

They all operate the same way, with a Salt Cell and a power source or Control Panel. The traditional cell is installed into the plumbing, where you cut out a foot or so of piping (after the heater, and any other purifier equipment), and plumb the salt cell in place. There is another type with a cell and cable; drop it over the side of the spa, and it just rests a foot or so below water, like the Saltron Mini. Most spa salt systems have a control box, wall mounted or spa mounted, for status and diagnostics, and allow control of chlorine output, with simple Up (^) and Down (v) buttons.

BROMINE OR CHLORINE SALT SYSTEMS?

A salt water hot tub can be bromine if you use sodium bromide or chlorine if you use sodium chloride. So you don’t have to switch from bromine, just because you start using a salt chlorinator. It depends on which types of salt you use – sodium bromide salts will convert to bromine and sodium chloride salts (regular salt) will convert into chlorine. The cost of using the Bromides will be higher however, but bromine does have benefits over chlorine in a hot water environment.

super salty~ I hope you enjoyed this little lesson on salt water spas and hot tubs. Salt water hot tubs are quite enjoyable, and have great benefits, as long as you maintain good water balance, proper salt levels, and don’t overwork the cell. Use MPS shock (non-chlorine shock) after each use, to reduce the amount of chlorine needed, which will extend your salt cell life.

Corrosion issues can be solved by using a zinc anode somewhere in the spa, which will protect shiny finishes. Staining and scaling issues can be solved by using a Stain & Scale control.

Give us a call, or leave a comment below if we can help out in any way!

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

 

 

Spa and Hot Tub Ozone Generators

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spa ozone bubblesBefore there was ozone, it’s amazing we kept spas clean. We drained them a lot. An ozonator generator can kill 99.99% of impurities in a spa or hot tub. There’s almost nothing it won’t kill.

Ozonators typically last about 2-3 years before needing a regeneration kit, or replacement. The new Spa Eclipse can last up to 5 years, and uses Del’s new Plasma Gap ozone generation technology.

Adding ozone to a portable or inground spa is a simple affair, with installation possible in under 10 minutes. Install ozone on your spa, to both purify the water and invigorate your senses.

Del Spa Eclipse

spa-eclipse-newThe New Spa Eclipse Next Generation Corona Discharge system is the new kid on the block and replaces all previous versions. Featuring DEL’s exclusive Advanced Plasma Gap technology, the newly engineered design is now equipped with Auto Voltage Sensing. Higher ozone output and longer life than other CD technology, the DEL Ozone Spa Eclipse is the ultimate solution for water treatment in spa applications. Considerably more energy efficient than UV ozone generators, the Spa Eclipse is lower in overall power consumption, heat generation and operating cost Includes Ozone supply tubing, check valve, mounting screws, installation manual, and water chemistry guide. For hot tubs up to 750 gallons.

Dimensions: 5”H x 3.4”W x 2.3”D, 1lb
Output: 50-70 mg/hr;
Power Consumption: 110V/220V = 10W

Del MCD-50

del-spa-mcd-50The Del MCD-50 is for spas or hot tubs that want higher ozone production for optimal water quality. MCD-50 is serviceable and reliable with the longest lifespan of any spa ozone generator on the market, typically running for five years. The MCD-50 has a 50 milligram/hour ozone output, and also uses less power than many larger spa ozone generators. Uses a ceramic tube Corona Discharge method to quickly produce ozone. Mounts to the inside of spa or hot tub panel. Includes 44 inch cord with 4-pin AMP plug; ozone supply tubing, check valve, mounting screws, installation manual, and water chemistry guide. UL Listed, for hot tubs up to 1000 gallons.

Dimensions: 8.6”H x 6.1”W x 2.8”D, 3.75 lb
Output: 50 mg/hr; 580 PPM; 2cfh
Power Consumption: 110V = 50mA, 6W / 220V = 35mA, 9W

Installation of a Del Spa Ozonator

del-ozone-installation-in-a-spa-or-hot-tubTo install a Del MCD-50 or Spa Eclipse in your spa, find a suitable mounting location on the inside cabinet, above the return line (after the pump and heater). Place it as high as possible on the underside of the spa cabinet.

The ozonator doesn’t have to be located directly above the injection point, but it should be within a few feet. If the unit is mounted above water level, the hose can run straight to the injector, but if installed below water level, loop the hose up above the water level on it’s way to the injector.ozone-injector

Most spas or hot tubs that area “Ozone Ready” have an ozone venturi manifold, or vacuum injection point already installed on the spa return line. For an older spa or wood hot tub adding an ozone generator, you can install an ozone injector to your return hose. Just cut the hose and push it over the barbed ends of the injector, and connect the hose to the injector fitting and tighten down the hose nut.

After mounting the unit, connect the ozone supply tubing and connect the 4-pin AMP plug to the ozone (or accessory) port on your spa pak controller.

OZONE-MOLECULEOzone is the world’s most powerful sanitizer. Adding it to your spa can help ensure a bacteria-free hot tub or spa. If you have any questions on how to add an ozonator for hot tub or spa, give us a call – we have spa techs standing by!

 

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works