The world over, hot tubs provide a delightful,
safe and healthy experience for millions of people every day. If your spa is kept clean, balanced and sanitized, it can
provide the same for you. We'll discuss spa sanitation problems and
their easy prevention.
The Hot Water Environment
same factors that make our spas attractive to us: warm, wet, and
bubbly, can also make a poorly maintained hot tub
attractive to microbes. Some of these can make us sick. Hot water
opens our pores and allows microbes an easier route to possible
infection. We can inhale contaminated water droplets made airborne
by the spa jets.
are not small swimming pools.
Due to their warmer
water temperatures, lower water volume, and higher
loads, a little extra care must be
taken to properly maintain hot tub water quality. Maintaining a
healthy spa is really quite easy, takes just a few minutes out
of your busy schedule, and will help prevent problems.
Our Natural Defense
Your Nose Knows!
So how do you know if your water is healthy and
properly sanitized? Fortunately, we have spa test strips to monitor
sanitizer and water balance levels, as well as a
||Each of us is
equipped with a very sophisticated test instrument: our nose!
(Many of us have used this device to test milk from our
refrigerators for freshness).
So if the spa water smells foul
or sour, it likely has problems. Trust your nose,
your water, choose a good
and monitor it. If you are new to this, take a few moments to
of Water Chemistry for a good basic understanding. Regular use of
System Flush will help clean your spa's plumbing system from the inside. Make it part of your regular spa maintenance routine.
several types of microorganisms, which can grow in spa water:
bacteria, fungi, protozoans, and viruses. We use sanitizer
systems to eliminate and prevent them.
Some of these are pathogens,
which can, under certain circumstances, cause disease. These organisms
can come from a variety of sources including other humans and animals,
from the ground, from water or even airborne sources. In a poorly
maintained spa they can form
in the plumbing system, on surfaces, and in nooks and crannies. Left
unchecked, they will rapidly multiply.
Culprits include various forms
of Pseudomonas, which can affect ears, eyes, skin (rashes) and the
respiratory tract. The microorganism that causes Legionnaire's Disease
is commonly found throughout our environment, particularly in soil. It
can thrive in warm water where sanitizer level is inadequate, and has
been known to become airborne via the action of the air jets in spas.
Another is Mycobacterium avium, which can cause flu-like symptoms.
Interestingly, researchers have
found that many people who complain of "allergic reactions" to
sanitizing chemicals are actually suffering from skin rashes caused by
bacteria due to inadequate sanitizer levels!
More about Pseudomonas
Hot Tub Folliculitis is a is a condition caused
by Pseudomonas bacteria, and is often seen where spa sanitation is at
fault. The most common symptom is an itchy rash or small reddish
bumps, sometimes confused with bug bites. It can develop into more
serious problems. This condition usually clears without scarring. It
may recur if the infected hot tub is not properly cleaned and
disinfected. Contact your health care provider if you develop
Two Types Pseudomonas Outbreaks
- The most frequently seen kind is called
transitory Pseudomonas contamination. In roughly 15% of the
population, Pseudomonas is a naturally occurring organism on the
skin. When a heavy bather load (such as a party) occurs in the spa,
all the sanitizer may be temporarily used up. This gives the
organism an opportunity to spread from the carrier to others in the
tub. Once the bathers leave the water, the spa's disinfectant
residual can be re-established, killing the organisms before they
can set up a more lasting residence in the spa.
- The second kind of outbreak occurs when
Pseudomonas has been allowed to set up residence in the spa. If the
sanitizer residual falls too low from neglect, or is not
re-established soon after a heavy bather load, the organism can set
up residence in the water, on surfaces, on the filter(s), and in the
spa's plumbing system. It can even infect a dirty or waterlogged spa cover. The longer the sanitizer is neglected, the worse this problem
can become. This is because once it sets up residence, Pseudomonas
covers itself with a slime layer or biofilm which shields it from
the sanitizer. Fortunately, we have good methods to deal with
resident contamination and biofilm removal.
Hot Tub Folliculitis
History of using hot tub within last three days
Itchy, bumpy, red rash appearing within 2 days of hot tub
Bumps may develop into dark red tender nodules
May develop small blisters
Multiple members of family or party with same rash and same hot
Contact your physician
for medical advice immediately
if you suspect an infection.
*Note: Although your doctor is an expert
on human conditions, he may not necessarily have training on the
sanitation of spas. If you're having recurring or persistent
problems with contamination, please read
Tub Decontamination Procedure.
Following these basic procedures
will help prevent problems:
- Start out with cleaner water. The Prefresh Spa Fill Filter attaches to your garden hose and provides purified filling water.
- Encourage good hygiene. A
shower prior to use is a good practice.
- Monitor bather
load, adjust water
& Total Alkalinity, and
- Avoid using spa when wounds
or open cuts are present.
- Maintain adequate sanitizer
level at all times. Check bromine or chlorine before each use with
test strips; alternately, maintain
Blue or Nature 2 per package instructions.
- Shock treat regularly with
monopersulfate to effectively oxidize contaminates.
- After heavy use of the spa, or when smelly or
cloudy water is noticed, shock with
to quickly clear up problems.
- Maintain proper pH level to
optimize sanitizer effectiveness.
your water frequently using spa water
- Keep waterline and adjoining
- Clean filter regularly with a
commercial cleaning compound such as
Soak or Power Soak. Replace annually.
- Thoroughly clean spa at each
drain/refill. Don't forget to clean your spa cover, inside and
out. We recommend the use of an effective non-foaming, pH neutral
product such as
All, which will not alter water chemistry.
- Prior to each draining, use
System Flush to rid your plumbing and heating systems of
oils, dirty buildup, etc.
- If your
cover is smelly and in poor condition, replace it. Why? A
contaminated and waterlogged spa cover can continuously
inoculate your spa water with microorganisms, not to mention waste
- For recurring problems, refer to
You'll probably want one of these!
The Shake-a-Vac self-priming spa drain and vacuum will help you keep a cleaner spa by removing grit and debris.