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Hot Tub & Spa Videos - Chemicals, Troubleshooting, Repair & Maintenance

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Hot Tub Maintenance Tips

How To Properly Clean A Used Hot Tub?

Until you learn about advanced water chemistry in hot tubs you can not fully appreciate just how disgusting the thought of using a used hot tub is. This is made even worse by knowing that most hot tubs are not properly balanced, maintained, chemically treated or prepared for long periods of inactivity or storage. What this all amounts to is that you should never use a second hand hot tub without completing a very specific cleaning procedure first. Simply rinsing the tub and cleaning the shell will not be enough to get the tub to useable condition.

Almost all of the bacteria in the hot tub will be located inside the pipes where you can not see just how bad the problem is. Since there are so many serious health concerns with hot tub related bacteria it is critically important that you perform a pipe flush on the spa before you consider using it. Perhaps even a few pipe flush procedures if the tub is of questionable condition. A hot tub pipe flush should be done every time the tub is drained, which should be every three months, and as a second hand spa owner you can safely assume that this has not happened since most people, even well meaning people, do not properly maintain their hot tub. In addition to pipe flushing, some old and heavily scaled hot tubs will need to be descaled before you can pipe flush. To descale a hot tub fill the shell with water being sure to close all valves to prevent the water from reaching the heater element, and add 4-8 Liters of white vinegar to the water and let it soak for 72 hours before draining, filling and pipe flushing.


Hot Tub Pump Turns On But Nothing Happens - Spa Pump Airlock

A very common problem that all hot tub owners will experience at some point, if not every time you drain and refill the spa, is pump air lock. Swimming pool pumps are a self priming pump which means that they do not need gravity to help them start and run. Hot tub pumps are not self priming which means that they require a gravity feed of water in order to run.

Due to the shape and orientation of the plumbing and pump installation on your hot tub you can end up with an air bubble that gets stuck at the suction side of the pump. The pump will turn on but no water will be moving through the system. A few ways to deal with this would be to fill through the filter area of your spa since this forces water down to the pump and usually eliminates air lock problems once the tub is full. Another way to deal with this problem is to try turning the pump on and off a few times quickly and this can often jog the air pocket enough for the pump to prime. Finally, the sure fire way to solve air lock is to slightly open the suction side union on the pump. Slowly unthread the union, being sure not to let it come right open and drain your tub, and the pump will prime as soon as the small bubble of air escapes through the union you have cracked open.





How Long After Adding Chemicals Can I Use My Hot Tub?

The amount of time that you need to wait to get in your spa after chemical corrections will depend on which chemicals that you are correcting. The most caustic chemicals such as chemical sanitizer, bromine, chlorine or and strong acid (pH down) will need longer to circulate longer to be safe than some less harsh spa chemicals. Ideally after any chemical saniitizer you want to wait overnight before using the tub. An ideal minimum value would be 6 hours and in a pinch it will probably be fine after as little as 2 hours so long as your water tests to be in safe ranges for all parameters.

Since many of the less harmful products such as oxidizers, oils, and mild pH correction additives will vent heavily after use it is ideal to wait a minimum of 1 hour after chemical correction before getting in the spa. Most of these "lighter" chemicals are safe to use within a few minutes of bathing so waiting a minimum of one hour and leaving the lid off the spa to vent will be safe in most cases. You should never add any spa chemicals while you are in the water, which you would think seems like something that does not need to be said, but you would be wrong.


Why Is There So Much Foam In My Hot Tub?

Foam in a hot tub is not a normal part of hot tub chemistry. Foam in a spa is a clear indication that there is a problem in the water that needs to be addressed. There are products that you can buy called "spa defoamer" which are just a liquid silicone product that lowers the surface tension of the water temporarily. This is a band aid for spa foam and actually serves to perpetuate the problem by using it. Instead, identify and rectify the underlying cause for the foam to begin with.

Hot tub foam is from impurities in the water. The two most common causes are high levels of dissolved solids (old water) and more commonly soap and oils in the water. Sweat, make up, body lotions, sun tan lotion etc are all oils that will absorb into your hot tub filter. Unless you are using a degreaser to clean your filters then this is very likely the problem you have. Cleaning filters with water is not enough to remove oil so you must use a detergent degreaser such as hot tub filter cleaner or automatic dishwasher detergent as an alternative. If the water in the spa has had a lot of chemical treatments or is older than 6 months old this can also be the cause and you should pipe flush, drain and refill along with degreasing the filters.


How To Clean A Hot Tub Filter? (And How Often)

Most hot tub owners do not realize that you must use a cleaning process to clean spa filters - simply rinsing them with water will not serve to resolve the problem as this will only remove the organic debris, hair and skin that is on the surface of the filter. The real problem is that the filter is made from paper and oils in the water will be absorbed into it. Every 30 days or so the filter should be swapped for a clean one and you should degrease the one that was in the tub. For this reason it is a big advantage to have two filters for your spa.

"Hot tub filter cleaner" is essentially a non-foaming detergent degreaser that is pre-mixed to the ideal concentration. You can also use granular automatic dishwasher detergent if you are careful to rinse thoroughly after soaking. The ratio of detergent to use is 1 cup to every 5 gallons of hot water and then soak the filter overnight in this solution. Rinse very well the next day with a garden hose and be diligent to get in between of each of the creases in the paper of the filter. Do not use a pressure washer as this will likely damage the paper of the filter itself.


How Often Do I Need To Drain My Hot Tub?

Any time that you are unable to restore clarity to your spa water, and you have already tried replacing the filter, you should probably drain and refill. Even if the water is clear you should drain and refill every 3 months in an ideal sense. Of course everyone wants to drain the spa as little as possible so three times per year is often adopted as a safe minimum schedule for draining and refilling. The worse you are with your chemical balancing however the sooner you should change your water.

If you are very meticulous with your water balancing and you do not use your hot tub very often, as in only one or two people once or twice per week, then you can potentially stretch as far as six months before changing the water. If you have heavier load or use of your tub, or if the chemical balancing is still a trial and error process for you, then you should not try to stretch to six months. It is very likely that you are being exposed to higher than ideal levels of chemicals in old hot tub water and future chemical corrections will become more difficult to manage. Always be sure to use a pipe flush product before draining the old water.


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- Swimming Pool Steve