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Hot tubs at Home
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I use Chlorine or Bromine?
The biggest difference between Chlorine and Bromine for sanitizing a hot tub is stability.
Chlorine is depleted more quickly than Bromine in hot water, so Bromine has a longer lifespan in your hot tub.
So, which is better?
That depends on the you. Both Bromine and Chlorine will keep your water clear and sanitary.
Chlorine does this by oxidizing contaminants—in plain English, it eats through the cell walls of bad stuff in your hot tub, effectively destroying them.
Bromine accomplishes the same task by ionizing contaminants.
Bromine breaks down more quickly than Chlorine when exposed to sunlight, which is one reason why it’s less popular as a disinfectant in pools.
However, if your hot tub is outside, as long as you keep it covered, the effect of the sun’s rays will be negligible.
Bromine is odorless and much gentler on your skin than Chlorine. If you have sensitive skin, or breathing issues such as asthma, you may find Bromine makes your hot tub even more comfortable to use.
While Chlorine is quick and effective at killing bacteria, Bromine can continue killing bacteria long after Chlorine has died and gassed off.
Bromine can also be reactivated by shocking your hot tub, so you won’t need to use as much Bromine as Chlorine – which simply dissipates and must be replaced.
Choosing between Chlorine and Bromine isn’t so much about which one is better, as they each have their strong points.
If you want inexpensive and effective, choose Chlorine.
If you’ve got sensitive skin, breathing problems, or just can’t stand that strong, bleachy odor in your hot tub, choose Bromine.
What is pH in a Hot Tub?
You might remember acids and bases from high school chemistry.
When a solution (that’s a chemical mixed with water) contains extra hydrogen ions, it’s acidic. When the solution has fewer hydrogen ions than plain water, it’s basic.
On the general pH scale, seven is perfectly neutral water. Lower numbers are more acidic, and higher numbers are more basic.
When you measure pH with test strips or a meter, it shows how acidic or basic your hot tub water is.
Ideally, pH levels in your spa should measure between 7.2 and 7.6 parts per million (ppm)—as close to that neutral seven as possible.
If your spa’s pH measures outside that neutral range, you could be in for some unhealthy and potentially damaging water symptoms in your spa, such as bacteria growth or corrosion.
How to Increase Ph in a Hot Tub?
When your pH measures low, you’ll need to add pH increaser. This will make your water less acidic.
Acidic water, that is, water with a low pH, will prevent your sanitizer (Chlorine / Bromine) from working properly and potentially corrode your spa components.Your aim is to keep your water as close to the neutral 7.5 pH as possible, ideally between 7.2 and 7.6.
You can buy pH increaser as a liquid or powder. Add only a small amount of pH increaser, allow it to circulate for at least six hours before retesting.
Some types of pH increaser will also affect alkalinity. For this reason, make sure you avoid adding a lot of increaser at one time. Make the adjustment in several small doses if a large increase is needed.
How to Decrease Ph in a Hot Tub?
When your pH measures high, the calcium in your water becomes less stable, and you’ll beginto see scale and cloudy water. To bring your pH back down to the 7.2 to 7.6 range, you’ll add pH decreaser, making your water more acidic.
When hot tub water is too base (high pH), it will also decrease the effectiveness of your sanitizer.
Also available in liquid or concentrated powder form, pH decreaser liquid gives you the best control.
Because pH decreaser also decreases total alkalinity, you’ll also want to make adjustments with pH decreaser in small steps, pouring in only a little at a time. Allow the liquid to circulate for six or more hours before retesting.
What Does Total Alkalinity (T/A) Mean?
Well, the term technically refers to the ability of a solution to neutralize acids—or buffer them.
In your hot tub, the importance of measuring TA (Total Alkalinity) is only slightly different.
TA acts as a buffer for the pH level in your water, keeping the pH level stable while allowing you to adjust TA without throwing the rest of your hot tub chemistry into chaos.
Total alkalinity is so important to your water balance, the first step in your water care process will always be measuring and adjusting TA before any other chemicals.
The ideal range for TA is 125ppm–150 ppm.
When you adjust your alkalinity, add small doses, one at a time.
Allow the dose to circulate before testing again. Only after your TA is in the optimal range should you move on to adjusting pH.
Achieving the right TA may actually get your pH in the target range.
How to Cure an AirLock?
If you turn the hot tub on and you are running your jets but have no water flowing through them, you’ve probably got an air lock.
Don’t be alarmed; it’s not uncommon.
To correct an air lock, open all of your jets by turning their faceplates counter-clockwise.
Next, turn down the thermostat to keep the heater from turning on. Press the jets button to turn the jets on high. Let them run for 10 to 15 seconds. Repeat three more times, increasing run time by 10 to 15seconds each time.
When you see air bubbles coming from the jets, keep them on until all the air is released.
What is an Ozonator?
A piece of equipment rather than a chemical, an ozonator uses a dedicated line to take in air and create ozone, which it then injects it into the water.
The ozone destroys bacteria andcontaminants while causing solids to clump together for easier removal through the filter.
Despite some claims to the contrary, ozonators typically must be used in conjunction with chemical sanitizer. Because ozone doesn’t survive long, your water isn’t continuously treated inthe same way it is with chemicals that reside in the water.
You’ll still require Chlorine or Bromine to keep your water safe, but ozone may reduce the amount of sanitizing chemicals you need to use, so you’ll benefit from reduced chemical costs and fewer chloramines.
What is Chlorine / Bromine Shock?
In chlorine or bromine systems, as well as salt systems, you may use corresponding chlorine or bromine shock whenever treatments are needed. This type of shock is sometimes called super chlorination.
Typically, you’ll pour in a dose of shock immediately after each use of the hot tub, and weekly after balancing your water. You’ll require bromine shock weekly to reactivate your sanitizer in a bromine system.
The shock will target contaminants, such as sweat, initially creating even more chloramines. As the junk in your water is oxidized, the chloramines dissipate leaving effectively sanitizing chlorine or bromine in your water.
One downside to shocking this way is the odor from the chloramines. It can also be pretty hard on your vinyl hot tub cover, so leave your cover off until chlorine levels have gone back down to at least 5 ppm.
Can I use Fragrances in my Hot Tub?
One of the most offensive odors in hot tub water comes from chloramines. Algae and mildew can also cause nasty odors.
If you have a problem with smelly spa water, be sure to check all the possible water chemistry causes before you consider using a scent additive as a deodorizer.
If you’d just like to add a more pleasant scent to your hot tub, you can use scent additives created specifically for hot tubs which readily dissolve into the water.
Avoid using essential oils because they’ll build up and leave gross residue in your spa.
Be aware that adding anything like this to your spa could have a negative effect on your chemistry if you buy cheaply manufactured products.
It could also add potentially allergy-triggering dyes and scents to your spa water, which wouldneed to be removed by draining, cleaning, and refilling, should you have a reaction.
But if you’re on top of those things, go ahead and make your spa smell like a field of lilacs.
How To Prevent Limescale?
You can either clean up scale once it’s already happened, or head it off before it builds up.
If you wait until it becomes a problem, you’ll spend hours scrubbing away in your hot tub with diluted vinegar. Better to prevent it in the first place.
Calcium and limescale buildup can coat heat exchanges, driving up your heating costs and putting stress on your spa’s heating system. Rather than deal with all of that, you can use limescale preventer. We sell No Scale in 1ltr and 2ltr Bottles.
How do I test my Hot Tub water?
It would be impossible to manage your hot tub water chemistry properly without knowing what’s going on.
Even if you’ve just filled your Hot Tub with fresh water, there will be a level of chlorine and other minerals, and possibly even metals, in your water.
As a minimum, it is recommended that you test your spa water daily. If the levels fall outside of the ‘ok’ markers, you can use chemicals to make adjustments to those levels. Allow 5-6 hours before re-testing.
You can purchase test strips that give you all the important readings, so you won’t need to test in any particular order.
You do need to adjust the chemicals (and retest) in order though because alkalinity and p H are interdependent, and sanitizer levels can be affected by alkalinity, pH, and calcium.
Remember: Always Adjust alkalinity first (if needed), and in small doses. Then tweak pH, then add sanitiser. Finally, add calcium chloride if needed.
While each of the levels you measure affects at least one of the others if it’s off, the most susceptible to poor water care is pH.
When your pH is out, it can prevent your sanitiser from killing bacteria properly, possibly making you sick and costing your more time and money in sanitiser.
Water with wonky pH levels can corrode or cause scaling on important spa components, leaving expensive damage in its wake. It’s the most important level to get control over.
Alkalinity, however, helps pH levels remain stable when contaminants are introduced to your spa, so its job is also vital to keeping your water healthy.
How do I prevent / remove Foam from my Hot Tub?
Foam can appear in the Hot Tub because Body lotions, oils, hair products, cosmetics, soft water, and low-quality hot tub chemicals can all build up in your spa water and cause foaming when you turn on the jets and inject air through the water.
A few easy ways to prevent foam include rinsing off before you use the spa, keeping drinks away from the spa and making sure you use quality chemicals to balance your water.
If you want to remove foam from your spa quickly, you can use a product called ‘No Foam’. Just pour a capful of the liquid product into the spa and it will immediately dissipate. This product is great if you’re having a party and need to get rid of foam quickly, but it is just that a ‘quick fix’ not a cure.
To really fix a foam problem, regular filter rinses are where you should start. If the problem persists, Spa Sparkle can be used, or Drain & Refill the spa in a worst case scenario.
What is BioFilm?
BioFilm is a serious type of plumbing build up. Biofilm can cause quite the headache.
Biofilm is made of bacteria that has evaded your sanitiser and is commonly recognised as a resident in the bottom of a vase of flowers.
A thin, sticky layer of bacteria collects along the inside of your plumbing and over time, it attracts more and more bacteria to it, along with all the organic contaminants that enter your spa, such as body oils, hair and skin! In no time at all, the bacteria and contaminants become a self-contained Biofilm which serves as food resulting in the growth of more bacteria, as well as protection against your spa sanitiser.
It will make your water dirty, fill you filter and pipes, and complicate your water chemistry. It could even make your spa unsafe to be in because Biofilm can contain such bacteria as Legionella, methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and E. coli.
A simple shock treatment won’t be enough to clear this problem. To get rid of Biofilm you can either call us and book in for a full service, otherwise, you must use a pipe flush product and Drain, Clean and Refill the Hot Tub. If there is significant build up in your pipes, you may need to do this more than once.
Remember, you can avoid most serious problems by staying vigilant about properly cleaning your hot tub and maintaining balanced water chemistry on a daily / weekly basis and changing your water routinely, every quarter.
Why is my Cover Heavy?
No – you’re not imagining it – It was lighter than this once!
All Hot Tub Covers will become heavier over time. Hot tub covers have dense foam cores. Over time, that core slowly absorbs water, and eventually becomes waterlogged and grows heavier.
To slow this process down, your hot tub cover has a vapor barrier, which is a thin, plastic film that covers the underside of the cover to keep water vapor away from the foam core. But, the vapor barrier will eventually wear out through off-gas abuse and it will let the water through, causing the cover to become heavy and creating an even more serious issue…. It will lose it’s heat retention. Meaning you will spend more money, running your Hot tub!
To avoid un-necessary electricity bills or trips to the Chiropactor, when you feel that your hot tub cover has increased in weight, buy a new one. Don’t delay.
If you’re lucky enough to have a cover lifter installed on your spa, you’re used to easy cover removal. You may not even realise your Hot Tub cover is getting heavy at first because the lifter is taking the brunt of the extra weight. But just as lifting that soggy cover yourself could hurt you, it can also hurt your lifter AND your spa cabinet. The mechanism just isn’t meant for lifting a cover that weighs twice what it should, so before you enter into repair bills for the lifter and/or cabinet, try and be aware of the weight of the cover so you can pre-empt it’s replacement. Typically, we would expect a well built cover to last 3-5 years.