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Cleaning, Preparation and Maintenance
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 Prepare Hot Tub   Balance & Treat Water   Initiate Sanitizer

Preparing your spa involves three basic steps: cleaning your equipment, balancing your water, and initiating your sanitizer system. We'll guide you through the easy procedures.

Prepare Hot Tub Equipment
First, flush your plumbing system and clean your hot tub, filter, and cover:
hot tub maintenance Repeat with each spa water change, or every 60-90 days.

Supplies needed:
  • Remove filter(s) and flush your plumbing system with Spa System Flush. Drain spa water.
Important: Prior to draining, we recommend flushing your hot tub's plumbing system with Spa System Flush to maintain the cleanest possible spa. If your spa has been dormant for awhile, this is especially helpful in removing debris & organisms from the plumbing system.
  • Reinstall filter cartridge (rotate with a clean, dry spare). Note: Replace if more than 1 year old, otherwise soak in Power Soak or EcoSoak filter cleaning compound (overnight or per instructions on package) then set aside to dry, if possible. See our Filter Replacement Guide for new filters.
  • Clean tub shell and cover with Clean All spa all surface cleaner. Repeat weekly or as needed.
Note: common household cleaners should be avoided as they can cause foaming problems and alter pH balance of hot tubs.
  • Treat spa shell with Gel Gloss.  Repeat several times yearly.
    never use car wax on a spa shell.
  • Apply 303 Protectant to vinyl spa cover, inside and out. (Repeat monthly to prolong cover life and protect from UV damage.) 303 contains no damaging silicone. Important: If your cover is waterlogged or worn-out, it should be replaced.
  • Spa is now ready for refilling with fresh water. If source is less than ideal, or if on well water, use the Pre Fresh Hot Tub Fill Filter.
  • Repeat these procedures with each water change.
  • Proceed with initial water balance.
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Balance & Treat Water
Now test & adjust TA, pH, hardness to prepare water for Sanitizer System of your choice:

hot tub maintenance Drain and replace spa water every 60-90 days, depending on usage.

Supplies needed:

3-way Test Strips --type needed depends upon Sanitizer System
Oxy Spa non-chlorine shock
Alkalinity Increaser raises low TA & pH; buffers pH
pH Decrease lowers pH which is too high
pH Increase (optional) strongly raises very low pH
Easy pH (optional) raises only pH, not TA
Increase Calcium raises low calcium hardness*
Hardness Test Strips for testing calcium hardness*
Metal Free Stain & Scale Control*
Scum Buster, Sea Klear enzyme scum digester - water clarifiers
ZorbO oil scum absorber (replace every 3-6 months)
Control the pH helps to lock in pH*

* asterisked items not needed with advanced Cleanwater BlueTM Sanitizer System.

pH Range
Balancing spa water pH

  • Begin filling hot tub spa with fresh water.
  • When about half full, add Stain & Scale Control and clarifying agents (Sea Klear & Scum Buster treatments) per label instructions.
  • When full, check water with 3-way test strips (see Using Test Strips).  Check first for Total Alkalinity, and then for pH. Adjust as necessary using Alkalinity Increase or pH Decrease, as follows:
Adjusting Total Alkalinity (TA): The ideal ranges are:
  • 30-90 PPM for Cleanwater BlueTM system
  • 80-120 PPM for Bromine or Nature 2 systems

If TA is low, add Alkalinity Increaser until a TA reading near the upper end of the appropriate PPM acceptable range is reached.

If TA is high, add pH Decrease until a reading near the upper end of the appropriate PPM acceptable range is attained.

Notes: TA which is on the high side is less of a problem than TA which is bit too low. Make sure to allow time for the adjusting chemicals to equilibrate in the spa water before taking measurements. In the case of stubbornly high pH/TA which is not responsive to pH Decrease, try Acid Magic.

Adjusting pH: The ideal range is 7.2 - 7.6 per diagram above (see pH Range)

Now check for proper pH level. Adjusting TA will very often bring pH into line.

If below 7.2, add more Alkalinity Increaser until a reading of about 7.4 is reached. pH Increase, which is stronger, may also be used, especially if both pH and TA are very low, but keep in mind that both pH Increase and Alkalinity Increaser will also raise TA, so if TA is already high, you should use Easy pH, which will significantly raise only the pH.

If pH is above 7.8, add pH Decrease until a reading of about 7.6 is reached.

Once pH adjustments have been made, you can lock pH into perfect balance by adding Control the pH*. Often no need for further adjustments until the next water change! (*Not compatible with Cleanwater BlueTM).

Remember: pH which is a little on the high side is much less of a problem than pH which is too low (acidic). Low pH causes harmful corrosion; high pH can contribute to scale formation, but that is much less of a problem than corrosion. Properly balanced water will also have a better feel on the skin and allow your sanitizer to perform.

  • Test for calcium hardness with test strips. Add Increase Calcium to about 150 PPM if too low. Low hardness can cause foaming and other problems in some cases.
  • Circulate water and allow time for it to equilibrate before retesting.
  • Optional: After balancing TA & pH, add Control the pH according to directions on label. This will lock-in your water balance until next draining. (Not recommended if your water hardness is above 400-500 PPM as this product may cause high calcium levels to precipitate out of the water and cause cloudiness). Note: If you have added Increase Calcium, wait a day before adding Control the pH. If using the Cleanwater BlueTM system, hardness levels need not be adjusted or tested.
  • Add non-chlorine shock according to label directions (generally about 1 1/2 - 2 oz. per 500 gallons). 2 tablespoons = approx. 1 1/2 oz.
  • After hot tub is filled and balanced, place ZorbO oil scum absorber in spa water.
  • Run spa at least 3-6 hours daily to filter water and distribute sanitizer.
  • Replenish clarifier and/or scum digester products weekly or as needed, per label directions.
  • Always add each chemical to the spa water one at a time-- NEVER mix them together.
  • Test spa water weekly and readjust if needed.
  • Read and follow all label directions and cautions.
  • Proceed with sanitizer.

Initiate Sanitizer
Last but not least, setup your water purification choice:

Bromine  -or-  Cleanwater Blue  -or-  Nature2 

hot tub maintenanceNOTE: Directions for each of the 3 different systems we recommend are shown below. For help in choosing the right sanitizer for your spa, see Spa Sanitizer Comparison Guide

Bromine tablets

Bromine System Cleanwater Blue  Nature2
Conventional Tablet Sanitizer

Bromine tablets are placed in a floating dispenser which releases a metered amount of sanitizer into the spa as the water circulates.

Additional supplies needed for Bromine system:

Bromine tablets sanitizer
Floating Tablet Dispenser (adjustable type)
Granular bromine to establish an immediate bromine bank
3-way Test Strips (you may use either Bromine 3-Way Test Strips -or- Universal Test Strips which also include the hardness test.)

Bromine Procedure:
  • Drain and prep your equipment as described above.
  • Test water balance with Bromine 3-way Test Strips as described above. (Universal Test Strips may be substituted, which also include the Hardness Test)
  • Add Granular Bromine (1 teaspoon per 200 gallons of water). This establishes an immediate bromine reserve.
  • For bromine system, next load 3-4 bromine tablets in adjustable bromine float (refer to adjustment instructions that came with your float).

    adjustable bromine float for dispensing bromine tablets The float time-releases bromine continuously into your hot tub. Use our #AC1001 Floating Bromine-Chlorine Feeder for best results.

  • Bromine level may be tested after several hours with spa circulating. Ideally, maintain a level of 3-5 PPM using test strips. Do not allow to fall below 3 PPM.
  • Shock periodically with OxySpa non-chlorine shock, per label directions-- generally about 1 1/2 - 2 oz. per 500 gallons. (2 tablespoons = approx. 1 1/2 oz).
  • Test weekly.

Get our Bromine Pro Starter Kit at a very special price.
Includes step-by-step instruction card!

Spa Sanitizer Comparison Guide

Cleanwater Blue odor-free spa sanitizing system

Cleanwater Blue System Bromine   Nature2
Advanced Alternative Odor-Free Liquid Sanitizer

Cleanwater Blue is an easy-to-use, healthy alternative mineral water purifier in liquid form. It works by releasing mineral ions into the hot tub water. One bottle lasts 4 to 6 months. (Note: Replaces old RainForest Blue system).

Additional supplies needed for Cleanwater BlueTM system:

Cleanwater Blue spa purifier, bactericide - algicide
Cleanwater Prep calcium sequestrant
Cleanwater Purge compatible scale & metal inhibitor
Copper 3-way Test Strips for testing copper ion level, plus TA and pH
Dichlor for startup and occasional shocking (optional, but recommended)

Note: Cleanwater System products are supplied with handy dosage cups & easy instructions.
Cleanwater Blue System Quick Start Guide
(requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)

Cleanwater Blue Procedure:
  • Drain and prep your equipment as described above.
  • Determine spa water volume while refilling, per easy supplied instructions.
  • Test TA & pH water balance with Copper 3-way Test Strips as described above.
  • Add 1 tablespoon Oxy Spa non-chlorine shock per 150 gallons.
  • Add 1 teaspoon Dichlor per 250 gallons at startup (optional, but recommended).
  • Add 10ml Cleanwater Prep per 100 gallons, clean filter per supplied instructions.
  • Add 5ml Cleanwater Blue per 100 gallons.
  • After the first 2 weeks, add 5ml Cleanwater Purge twice a month.
  • For exceptional water quality, use the Earth-friendly ZorbO oil scum absorber
  • Test only twice a month -- add more Cleanwater Blue and Cleanwater Purge as needed, per supplied instructions.
  • Read and follow all label directions and cautions.
  • One bottle lasts 4-6 months, depending upon spa size and use pattern.

Get our Cleanwater Blue Pro Starter Kit at a very special price.
Includes step-by-step instructions and Quick-Start Guide!

Spa Sanitizer Comparison Guide

Nature2 odor-free hot tub purifier

Nature2 System Bromine   Cleanwater Blue
Alternative Odor-Free Cartridge Sanitizer

The Nature2 spa purifier fits inside your spa filter cartridge. The unit sanitizes by releasing a small amount of minerals into the hot tub water during circulation and lasts for 4 months.

Additional supplies needed for Nature2 system:

Nature2 sanitizer
Dichlor for startup and occasional shocking
MPS 3-way Test Strips for testing TA & pH (also gives MPS shock level)

Nature2 Procedure:
  • Drain and prep your equipment as described above.
  • Refill spa and add 1 teaspoon Dichlor Granular Chlorine or 3 tablespoons Oxy Spa - potassium monopersulfate - non-chlorine shock per 250 gallons.
  • Test water balance with MPS 3-way Test Strips as described above.
  • Run spa at least 4 hours daily.
  • Add 1 tablespoon Oxy Spa per 250 gallons, before each use.
  • Add 3 tablespoons Oxy Spa per 250 gallons, once a week, or as needed per Nature 2 test strips indications.
  • Occasional shocking with Dichlor granular chlorine will help when hazy water due to high bather loads is a problem.
  • For exceptional water quality, use the Earth-friendly ZorbO oil scum absorber.
  • Read instruction sheet packed with unit before using.
  • Replace every 4 months.

Get our Nature2 Pro Starter Kit at a very special price.
Includes step-by-step instruction card!

Hot Tub Vac

Every spa owner needs one of these!

The Shake-a-Vac II is the easy way to clean grit and debris from the bottom of your hot tub. Great for quicker draining too!


Spa Depot, The, Spas & Hot Tubs - Dealers, Olympia, WA

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