Hot Tub Supply Spa Depot
 
FAQ
Water Chemistry
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Is there a difference between the various brands of spa chemicals?

Yes and no. Some of the chemicals are identical from one brand to the next. Products that raise or lower pH or total alkalinity are usually the very same compounds. Look for the best buys on these. The Spa Depot offers a lower price and/or larger size for the money. Non-chlorine shock, potassium peroxymonosulfate or monopersulfate compound (MPS), is a good example. We sell our 2 pound non-chlorine spa shockOxy-Spa Non-chlorine MPS Shock  for less than some stores charge for 1 pound! Compare and you will save money.

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What is the best sanitizer to use?

Bromine (in the form of tablets) is the sanitizer preferred by most hot tub spa owners because it is less irritating, less likely to cause "red eye" and does not have the strong odor of chlorine. The pool-type chlorine (found in chlorine tablets) is not suitable for hot tubs. Bromine disinfects as well as chlorine and has the advantage of evaporating more slowly in hot water. bromine spa sanitizerBromine Tablets 1.5 lbs. If you are looking for a good odor-free alternative to bromine or chlorine, we recommend alternative sanitizersCleanwater Blue or alternative sanitizersNature 2.

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How is bromine maintained?

Upon startup of your spa or hot tub, it is recommended to add a small amount of granular bromine. This establishes an immediate bromine reserve. The proper bromine level is then maintained by using bromine tablets in a floating device, not surprisingly called a "brominator" or "float". The best brominators are adjustable for proper dispersion of the sanitizer. floating chemical dispenserFloating Bromine-Chlorine Feeder (#AC1001)

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What is the proper level of bromine or chlorine in spa water?

The National Spa and Pool Institute recommend a minimum level of 2 parts-per-million (PPM), an ideal range of 3-5 PPM, and a maximum level of 10 PPM of free chlorine or bromine in spa water.

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How is sanitizer level measured?

Measure chlorine or bromine easily with test strips. Many spa owners check their water daily, others find that once a week is sufficient, especially if bather load is not excessive and a floating brominator is used.

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Is there an alternative to bromine and chlorine?

Yes. Now there are great alternative sanitizing systems on the market: alternative spa sanitzerCleanwater Blue and alternative spa sanitzerNature2 which contain no bromine or chlorine. Maintaining water balance is essential, and regular use of non-chlorine nonchlorine shockOxy-Spa Non-chlorine MPS Shock is recommended when using these systems.

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What is the purpose of shocking compounds?

Shocking the spa water is the process by which suspended organic matter is oxidized or broken down. This is necessary because this organic matter is the material on which bacteria feed. Sanitizing alone does only half of the process of maintaining clean water. We recommend the addition of a non-chlorine oxygen-based shocking compound
(non chlorine shockOxy-Spa) regularly.

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Is there a difference between shocking compounds?

Definitely. There are chlorine producing shocks, and non-chlorine shock treatments such as our non-chlorine shockOxy-Spa that release oxygen to breakdown foreign matter. The non-chlorine treatments are preferred by many because they have no harsh chlorine odor. There are so-called "buffered" shocks on the market.  These are expensive, and nothing more than regular shock with a little sodium carbonate added.  Save money by buying our pure monopersulfate compound, and add your own inexpensive pH Buffer/Alkalinity Increaser or pH Increase to the spa water, if necessary.

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What is the importance of pH?

Maintaining proper pH level is essential for proper operation of a hot tub spa, regardless of the sanitizing method used. If the pH falls too low, resulting in water that is too acidic, the sanitizer will dissipate rapidly, pipes and motor seals will corrode, and bathers will notice eye discomfort. If the pH rises too high, resulting in water that is too basic or alkaline, damaging scale may form, water may become cloudy, and eye discomfort may also result.

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What is the recommended pH range?

The National Spa & Pool Institute recommends a range of 7.2-7.8, with 7.4-7.6 being considered ideal.

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Is there a way to lock pH into balance?

Yes. There are now products on the market such as pH lockpH Proper that will lock pH levels, once they are established, into nearly perfect balance between water changes. This eliminates the need for constant pH checking and adjusting.

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How is pH measured?

We recommend using test strips to measure pH. water testing stripsTesting Department

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How do I raise my pH level?

The pH level can be raised by the addition of a product containing sodium carbonate (pH increaser - Spa UppH Increase). This will also raise the Total Alkalinity. Sodium bicarbonate (pH bufferpH Buffer/Alkalinity Increaser) can also be used, but will have less of an effect on pH.

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How do I lower my pH level?

The pH level can be lowered by the addition of a product containing sodium bisulfate
(pH decreaser - Spa DownpH Decrease). Although Muriatic Acid is an excellent pH reducer, it is not recommended because its fumes and skin burning properties.  pH lockAcid Magic is a Muriatic Acid replacement which is very effective in lowering pH and TA, but is much safer.  It will not burn skin and has virtually no fuming.

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What is the importance of total alkalinity?

Maintaining the proper range of total alkalinity will prevent wild fluctuations in pH, will reduce the tendency toward corrosion of pipes and fixtures, and will reduce the scale forming potential of the spa water.

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What is the recommended total alkalinity level?

The National Spa & Pool Institute recommends a range of 60 to 180 parts-per-million (PPM) with an ideal range of 80-100 PPM.  Generally speaking, between 80-120 PPM is good.

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How is total alkalinity measured?

You can measure total alkalinity with test strips. water testing stripsTesting Department.

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How can I raise my total alkalinity level?

The total alkalinity level can be raised by the addition of a product containing sodium bicarbonate (pH bufferpH Buffer/Alkalinity Increaser). This compound will normally bring up low pH into the acceptable range.

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What is the recommended calcium hardness of spa water?

The National Spa & Pool Institute recommends an ideal range of 200-400 parts-per-million (PPM) with a minimum level of 150 PPM, and a maximum of 500-1000+.

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How can I measure calcium hardness?

Calcium hardness can be measured using Hardness Test Strips.

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How can I increase the calcium hardness of my water?

Add a calcium increaser containing calcium chloride to boost calcium levels that are too low. Note: calcium increasers should not be used when using a pH locking product.

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Is there a way to prevent algae formation?

Yes. Regular shock treatment and maintaining sanitizer to proper levels will help greatly. If algae persists, add a spa algaecide.  Keep you spa at normal operating temperature at all times to minimize the possibility of algae formation, as it does not thrive as well in hot water.

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What is the cause of cloudy water?

Cloudy water can be caused by pH that is too high, but the most common cause is excessive contaminants in the water. Make sure your filter is clean and in good condition. Add a water-clarifying agent.

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Which water clarifier is best?

There are two basic types of clarifiers recommended: flocculants that actually coagulate foreign matter so it can be more easily trapped by the filter media, and enzyme scum digesters which break-down oils and lotion residues which can cloud hot tub spa water.

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What causes the musty odor I detect when I open my spa cover?

A common cause is mold or mildew growth on the inside of the spa cover itself. These organisms grow here because they don't come in contact with the sanitizer. Condensation forms on the inside ceiling of the cover, then rains back down into the spa water, contaminating it as well. The remedy is simple: clean the inside of your cover at least once a month (spa cleaning productsClean All spray is perfect for this) and apply a cover protectant (vinyl protection products303 Protectant) to help prevent re-growth of mold.

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White flakes occasionally collect on the bottom of my spa. What causes them, and how can I get them out?

These are most likely calcium scale deposits which have formed on heater parts, and then flaked off. The easiest way to remove them from your spa is to vacuum them out... the spa & pool vacuumShake-a-Vac Spa & Pool Water Vac (#AC1021) is very effective for this. Remember to keep your water balanced (TA & pH). This will help prevent future scale formation.

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I adjusted my TA, and it is correct, but now the pH is too high.  How can I lower pH without making my TA too low?

For simple spa chemistry balance -- think of a three legged stool. One leg of the stool is Total Alkalinity (TA), one is pH, and one is sanitizer. Each leg must be even, or the whole stool topples over. When balancing spa water, always start with Alkalinity, then pH, and then sanitizer.  In your unusual case, try this: Purposely raise your Total  Alkalinity 20-30 ppm too high, then lower the pH by adding  sodium bisulfate pH decreaserpH Decrease - pH & TA Reducer 1 lb. (#CA1018). By starting with a high TA, you'll find that the two will likely balance out when you adjust the pH. Remember: if you cannot get your water to balance perfectly, it is better to be a little on the high pH and/or TA side, than too low (corrosion).

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We use our spa in the summer (at reduced temperature) to cool-off.  Will that adversely affect the water chemistry?

Lot's of tubbers do the same, and it's perfectly OK to enjoy your soak at a lower temperature.  Keep your water in balance, and it should be fine. If you have kids, remember, a hot tub is not a small swimming pool.  If they use it as a play pool, with frequent trips in and out (as most kids will do) you will have to change your water often.

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What can be done about the harsh, choking fumes my spa emits when I operate the air jets?

It is important to let your spa breathe. When opening the cover, be careful not to take in a lung-full of trapped gasses (from ozonator, chlorine, or bromine) which have accumulated there over time. Let it air-out.  Make sure to keep your water pH and TA balanced, and sanitizer at proper level.  Prior to each use, run the jets for a few minutes with the cover open. This will release some of the dissolved gasses in the water.

Excessive chloramines can also be a cause.  To remedy, shock  or superchlorinate the water with chlorineGranular Dichlor. If the problem persists, consider switching  to an odor free alternative purifier system like alternative sanitizerCleanwater Blue or alternative sanitizerNature2.

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My bromine level got way too high.  How can I lower it?
Whether bromine or chlorine the easiest, fastest, and cheapest way to reduce an excessively high level is simply to drain a portion of the water, and replace it with fresh.  You may need to re-balance your TA & pH after adding water.

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Where can I find conversion tables for tablespoons to ounces?

You'll find the answer to that question, and many more weight, measure, and electrical conversions on our dry & liquid conversion chartConversions Page.

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What can be done to prevent dry skin from spa usage?

We have an excellent product, Just Soft Spa Moisturizer from inSPAration which will help to eliminate dry skin conditions.  Simply add skin moisturizer for the spaJust Soft Spa Moisturizer to the water prior to use.  Its soothing conditioners, including Aloe Vera, do wonders for the skin.  If you are using Bromine or Chlorine as your sanitizer, you may wish to consider an alternative which is more gentle to the skin:  Alternative Sanitizers.

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My water immediately turned green.  What is going on?

Most colored water problems result from the presence of metallic impurities such as iron (rusty color), copper (green) or other minerals (black, brown, etc). These discolorations may be present in the source water, or can be the result of the acidic action of water with low pH on: pipes, metal heater parts, and equipment.  Prevent and correct this condition by using water discoloration controllerMetal Free water discoloration control and by keeping spa water in balance.

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How can I prevent the formation of oily scum on the spa water?

The spa water cleanerZorbO oil scum absorber will wick-up many times its weight in body oils and lotion residues from your hot tub spa.  Use the ZorbO in conjunction with a good scum digester such as spa water cleanerScum Buster or spa water cleanerSpa Perfect.

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After recently using a hot tub I got some small reddish bumps under the skin. What would cause this?

Check for symptoms of Hot Tub Folliculitis (Pseudomonas).  Read more about the symptoms, as well as hot tub decontamination and prevention: Spa Microbiology 101.  Contact your health care provider if you have symptoms.

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What caused my gold jewelry to turn color after handling spa chemicals?

Although pure 24k gold will not tarnish, gold alloys of lesser gold content, particularly lower-quality jewelry below 14k, is susceptible to corrosion from exposure to various chemicals including: chlorine, bromine, household bleach and even those found in perspiration. When handling chemicals, avoid contact with your jewelry, and if contact occurs, be sure to promptly rinse with clean water.

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