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Hot tub water care / chemical instructions

Keep your spa water clean

in about 5 minutes a week.

 10 Main goals

  1. Always fill your spa through the filter holes to flood pumps.
  2. Top off as needed to keep at the proper operating level.
  3. Test water after each use and a minimum of 2 times each week.
  4. Keep 3 to 5 ppm of chlorine in your water at all times.
  5. Keep your pH between 7.2 and 7.6 at all times.
  6. Clean your filter elements every month, buy a spare and rotate.
  7. Keep your venturi air controls turned off when not in use.
  8. Keep your cover open for a minute or two after adding chlorine.
  9. Make sure any granular chemical dissolves fully.
  10. Change your water twice each year

 The details about pH

 Keep your pH at 7.2

This is the single most important component as far as protecting your spa from damage and also making sure your sanitizers work properly.  All sanitizers will work as close to 100% efficiency as possible when your pH is between 7.2 and 7.4.  A higher or lower pH will cause your sanitizers to work much less efficiently.  One tablespoon of chlorine added to water that has a high pH of 7.8 or above might be only as effective as one teaspoon at that high pH so you are wasting chemical.  Sanitizers could lose as much as 50% or more of their effectiveness when the pH is too high or too low. 

High pH will destroy your spa over time.  pH above 7.6 will force the calcium out of the water and will stick to all surfaces inside the spa forming a gritty buildup.  It will feel like sandpaper and will build up on your heater causing it to overheat and break, on your jets, causing deterioration, on your pump seals, causing them to leak and ruin the motors.  Rotating jets will stop rotating and generally speaking the effects of high pH will slowly destroy your spa.  

Low pH will destroy your spa over time too.  Low pH is an acidic condition that will eat away at everything.  It will eat the metal right off your heating element causing it to crack and break.  It will corrode your pump seals causing them to leak water into the motor destroying the motor.  Your jets will be eaten away until the jet inserts start popping out.  This happens because the jet insert becomes smaller due to the acidic nature of the water eating away at it.  Eventually they are too small to fit snugly and they pop out.  Check and adjust your pH at least 3 time each week (or more) and expect to have to adjust it up to 30 times in the first month or two after filling or refilling it.  After a month or two of adjusting your pH, normally lowering it with pH minus, it should begin to stabilize and not require such close monitoring.  Never add more than 2 tablespoons of pH down, pH minus to a 500 gallon spa in an 8 hour period.  pH down is acid so you need to use only small amounts.

 Add a mineral sequestrant as you are filling your spa

There's a good chance the water you put into your spa will have a high total alkalinity and your pH will keep bouncing up above 7.6.  One major problem with high pH is that the calcium in the water will be very unhappy and will want to get out of the water and stick to all the hot tub surfaces.  The long term solution is to get your pH down to about 7.2 and keep it there.  That can take a couple of weeks sometimes though.  In the short term, use a good dose of mineral sequestrant.  We normally suggest using 2 or 3 times what is recommended on the product label due to our very high mineral content in our water here in the Midwest.  This liquid product will surround the mineral particles and prevent them from adhering to the surfaces in the spa.  Without it you will notice a gritty buildup of calcium forming on the spa surfaces.  This is bad.


Details about Sanitizer / Chlorine / Bromine / Silver Nitrate 


Before your newly filled spa water is even warm, dissolve 1 to 2 tablespoons of high quality granular chlorine in warm water and pour that solution into the spa.

In addition to the use of Ozone, UV, and Mineral sanitizers, for super clean water it is necessary to use a chemical sanitizer like chlorine to provide a residual and keep surfaces and your filter elements clean.  For the cleanest water possible we recommend manually adding small amounts of chlorine.  Keep between 3 and 6 ppm of chlorine in your spa water at all times.  Check the sanitizer level each time you get out of the spa and 2 to 3 times a week if you aren’t using it much.  When you’re finished using the spa, dip a test strip into the water, adjust your pH if needed and check the chlorine level.  If that level is any lower than 3 ppm you should add one to two tablespoons of granular chlorine. (depending on the size of your spa)  Your goal is to keep the level at 3 to 6 ppm at all times.  The gallon capacity of your spa will determine how much chlorine you will need to add.  When you fill your spa with fresh water, add one tablespoon of chlorine to a jar of warm water, stir to dissolve and pour that mixture into the spa.  Wait until it’s evenly distributed throughout the spa and test it.  If 1 tablespoon took you from 0 ppm to 5 or 6 ppm, you have added exactly the correct amount.  If one tablespoon took you from 0 ppm to 2 ppm then you need to add more next time.  With a few trials you should be able to determine exactly how much chlorine to add to increase your sanitizer level to the desired 3 to 6 ppm based on your sized spa.  


How much chlorine do you need to add?

Each person using the spa will leave behind organic matter and will burn up a certain amount of chlorine, possibly a half teaspoon or so.  This organic matter (body oils, ammonia, lotions, perfumes, deodorants, sweat, etc) will require the oxidization power of the chlorine to break it down allowing it to be filtered out.   A small clean, freshly showered person will burn up less chlorine than a large dirty un-showered person.  When the test kit reads 3ppm or less, run all the jets and add sanitizer immediately after you finish using the spa.  Leave the jets running and the cover open for a minute or two.  The organic matter left behind is broken down right away, before it can contribute to bacterial growth. By the next day when you want to use the spa again it will be super clean and the chlorine level will be lower because it was reduced getting rid of the organics from the day before.  You will be left with really clean clear water with a barely noticeable chlorine residual.

  What happens at zero ppm of chlorine? 

If you let your chlorine level drop below 1 ppm or to zero the organic matter left behind by the last users will cloud the water due to the bacteria growing in that nice warm water.  Yes, a living organism will be born into your hot tub. This living bacteria will attach itself inside the pipes and will grow stronger each day.  Once present, you can add a tablespoon or two of granular chlorine to try and clear up the water, but the chlorine will be very quickly consumed by the bacteria that is present.  Once that chlorine is consumed the bacteria will continue to multiply and grow.  You will learn that the water usually will not clear up with just one application of chlorine.  You may weaken the bacteria and reduce it some but as soon as it finishes consuming the chlorine you just put in it will go about it’s business growing, multiplying, and clouding your water.  Bacteria is easy to prevent but very difficult to get rid of once you allow it into your spa.  Your filter element will also grow bacteria often in the form of a living slime.  This stuff is a real filter clogger.  When this happens it’s usually best to replace your filter elements as it can be very difficult to remove all the slime.  When you keep the proper 3 ppm to 6 ppm of chlorine in your water this sanitizer level actually helps to keep your filters clean and free of obstructions.  Even with a very powerful ozone system you would still need a chemical sanitizer because ozone is a gas and does not kill bacteria on surfaces, in the pipes, on the filter, etc.

 What does it take to clear cloudy water? 

Once you allow bacteria to inhabit your spa you have to work much harder to get rid of it.  Bacteria is easy to prevent but difficult to get rid of.  You will probably need to add small amounts of chlorine every few hours for 3 or 4 days and keep the level at about 6 ppm. If you try to kill the bacteria by adding a bunch of chlorine all at once it will kill the bacteria faster but that high level of chlorine will also damage your spa, eat away at your heater, ruin your pump seals, etc.  You need to do this in a controlled manner.  Check the level in the morning and again at noon, and also at night.  Add small amounts of chlorine as needed to maintain that 6 ppm level for several days. In cases like this it is usually just easier and cheaper to drain your spa and start over with fresh water.

Make sure you have excellent filtration.

You want your filter system working at maximum efficiency to maintain crystal clear water.  It's a really good idea to program your spa for continuous 24/7 filtration, at least initially and if your water isn't perfect, if the water is cloudy and the pump is not running, it's only getting worse.  Your goal is to find the minimum number of hours of filtration per day to keep your spa water nice and clean.  That number of hours per day will vary based on your individual usage.  How many people each week, how long, how clean are they when the go in, etc.  Refer to your spas owners manual for instructions on how to program the filter cycles.  Once a month or more use cartridge cleaner chemical to soak the elements overnight.  It’s also a good idea to buy a spare set of filter elements so you always have a clean filter ready to be put into service.

Turn off the air controls

Each jet in your spa has 2 separate lines running to it.  A water line, and an air line.  The air line is connected to one or more valves that are normally located on the top lip of your spa.  When you open these air controls, air is allowed to be pulled into the water flow as the water moves through the jet.  This happens using the venturi principal.  This air makes the massage from the jets feel softer, more powerful, and more comfortable.  These air controls should be turned off at all times except when you are in the spa using the jets.  By turning these controls off no air is allowed into the water when you aren’t in the spa to enjoy their effects.  This lack of air helps to keep your pH stable and inhibits bacterial growth.  It also helps to make your spa more efficient and reduces evaporation.  The result is a lower operating cost, lower chemical use and a more stable pH.

Adding granular chemicals  

You should always dissolve any granular products before adding them to your spa.  A simple way to do this is to keep an empty chemical container or other plastic container with a lid nearby.  Pour the granular product into the empty container.  Holding the container upright slowly submerge the container in your warm spa water until it’s about 3/4 full.  Put the lid on, shake the container then pour the dissolved chemical and warm water back into the spa.  This will prevent any un-dissolved granules from sitting on the surface of your spa possibly discoloring the finish.  It also prevents someone from sitting on granules of acid or chlorine and allows the chemical to disburse into the water faster and more efficiently.  Full disclosure, you can slowly sprinkle granular chemicals directly into the spa when the water is hot and with the jets and air controls all turned on.  If you do this just make sure everything dissolves.

 Who should take care of the spa?

The term “too many cooks spoil the broth” does not apply when referring to hot tub water maintenance.  That’s because nearly everything that should be added to your hot tub water is determined by the test kit.  Everyone using a hot tub can learn these simple instructions and everyone can test and adjust the water as needed on a regular basis and when they finish using the spa.  Keeping a spa clean, healthy and under control takes approximately 4 to 5 minutes each week and is a very simple task once you know the basics. 

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Leisure Concepts Inc.  2501 Perry St Madison WI 53713  608-257-4200 or 800-809-9111