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Basic Hot Tub Water Maintenance
Following these spa water chemistry basics can assure you a happy, healthy hot tubbing experience.
Since you won’t be draining your tub after each use – like you do with the bath tub – you need to take measures to keep the water in your tub sparkling clean. Think of your hot tub as a really small swimming pool, with some specific chemical needs. You need to make sure your water has the proper balance of chemical properties, so that it is neither too alkaline nor too acidic, as well as maintaining a sanitizing process to keep the water healthy and free of harmful microorganisms.
Sanitizer: Purifies Spa Water
Always maintain your sanitizer. Warm water is an ideal breeding ground for potentially harmful microorganisms. Without an effective sanitizer system in place, you might as well have a huge Petri dish on your deck :-)
Bacteria from our bodies, as well as airborne mold spores, algae, and even viruses can find their way into the water and multiply like crazy. Make sure to invest in a quality spa sanitizer system that will effectively manage (kill) these microorganisms and keep the spa water safe and healthy.
Shock: Oxidizes Contaminants
Shock that tub! A shock treatment is the process of adding a chemical - like non-chlorine MPS shock or dichlor granular chlorine - to your spa water which breaks-down (oxidizes) any left-over organic material from the sanitizer process (as well as any other floaties in the tub, like dirt, soap films, hair spray and sweat).
If allowed to stay in the water, these contaminants provide a food source for bacteria and algae. Regular shock treatments eliminate these food sources on which the bacteria feed. Regardless of which sanitizer process you use, periodic shocking is essential for clean, clear hot tub water. Shocking will also permit your sanitizer to perform at peak efficiency.
Balanced Water: Keeping the Alkalinity and pH Equal
What is this… 7th grade science class all over again? Alkalinity? pH? Don’t worry, it’s easy to control your water balance. When the mineral components of spa water are correct proportion to one another, the result is balanced water.
Balanced means that the water is neither too alkaline (high pH), which causes destructive scale buildup on equipment, nor too acidic (low pH) which may erode plumbing and cause costly damage to spa pumps, seals and heaters.
Balanced water also has a more pleasant feel to the skin, and allows your sanitizer to work more effectively. To measure the balance of your tub’s water, take periodic measurements with test strips and add chems as needed.
Total Alkalinity & pH
Total alkalinity is the measure of all the alkaline material in the water and is a good indicator of the ability of the water to resist changes in pH. Too high TA is much less of a problem than too low. Always adjust TA first, then check the pH level. Maintaining the proper TA will often bring the pH into line automatically. Water chemistry is balanced by adjusting its TA and pH with compounds such as Alkalinity Increaser, pH Decrease and pH Increase.
Water hardness is measured by the amount of dissolved calcium in the spa water. Insufficient calcium hardness can promote equipment corrosion and also result in water foaming problems. Although there is no practical way to reduce extremely high hardness levels, it is easy to increase levels which are too low by adding Increase Calcium.
Stain & Scale Prevention
To prevent problems with spa shell staining and scale formation, be sure to add mineral stain and scale prevent chemicals when you change the spa’s water. Typically you should change your spa water every 2-4 months, depending usage.
Not All Spa Chemicals are Created Equal
Keep in mind that not all spa chemicals are made for all types of spas! Vinyl-lined tubs require a different set of chemicals that acrylic (hard-sided) tubs. Make sure to consult with you local spa technician to make sure you pick the right chemicals for your tub.