Water Problems in a Hot Tub

hot tub spa chemicalsGeneral water problems in a hot tub can be avoided by being sure there is enough sanitizer in the water (bromine or chlorine – never mix the two) and that the pH level is between 7.2-7.6. A water test kit or test strips can be used to monitor hot tub water health.

If water problems such as foaming, bad smell and cloudiness occur, it is important to understand some basics so the treatment does not increase the problem.

First of all, hot water scents and aromatherapy fragrances should not be used to mask hot tub odors that may be caused by poor water chemistry as the problem is still there and can be addressed head on by using a shock treatment in the water with a non-chlorine shock.

Similarly, foam problems are not solved by a de-foaming. These products can reduce the foam in the spa so it can be used, but the underlying problem of why the spa is foaming needs to be addressed.  Are bathing suits or hair full of shampoo, soaps or oils?  If so, it is best to shower off before getting into the spa.

Foaming is a result of poor pH (outside the ideal range of 7.2-7.6) but also too many TDS or total dissolved solids in the water.

There are products that bind/coagulate particulates in the water so that they can end up in the filter.  See Hot Tub Outpost for details on the right hot tub chemicals for your spa.

To maintain a hot tub, you will need to regularly test the water.

Having a dirty filter puts a lot of stress on the pump. The pump has to work a lot harder to pull water through the filter.  Cleaning a filter and switching it out is a better way to keep the chemicals working right and also more economical.

The pH is important in the spa and should be held between 7.2-7.6.

Check the water 3x a week using the Monday-Wednesday-Friday hot tubwater care program at Hot Tub Outpost.

hot tub chemicalsFor sanitizer, either chlorine or bromine is used.

A pre-filter can also help eliminate contaminants and take out rust and iron while refilling the spa before it gets in the hot tub water in the first place.

Replacement spa filters are available at www.HotTubOutpost.com.

Plug and Play Hot Tub

plug and play spaA plug and play type hot tub allows for 120 volt operation in North America.  These units most often come with an included power cord with integrated Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI).  No electrician is usually needed as these plug right into a 120 volt power outlet with the provided GFCI cord.

Plug and Play hot tub models include the Dream Star, Mystic, Star Gazer, and Riviera available factory direct at www.HotTubOutpost.com.

These plug and play models are also convertible.  That means that at a later date, they can be field-modified to operate at 230 volts instead of 120 volts thereby making the built-in heater a 4 kw heater instead of a 1 kw heater, all without needing to exchange any components.  The upgrade is a simple dipswitch setting and the moving of 1 wire which can be done in a couple of minutes.  Of course if you choose to operate the convertible plug and play spa at 230 volts, you will need an electrician to install the main breaker, proper gauge wire run, gfci disconnect box and wire to the control box of the spa. The electrician will also need to unmount the GFCI cord as that is only for 120 volt operation.

See our other articles on how to convert a plug and play spa from 120v to 230v and how to choose a plug and play spa.

Not all plug and play spas on the market are convertible, but the ones at Hot Tub Outpost are.

Models that have this feature include the Mystic, Star Gazer, and Riviera.

The Mystic is a 4 person spa, Riviera is a 3 person spa and the Star Gazer seats up to 5.

The benefit of 110-120v hot tub is low initial cost and low installation cost.  Even the power cord is included, so no expensive external wiring is usually necessary.

The benefit of a 230v hot tub is that pump(s) can be run on high speed with heat still running, whereas at 120v the heater shuts off automatically when the pump is put on high speed so there is enough current to run the heater.  The heater is also 1kw at 120v but is 4kw at 230v, so the 230v spa heats faster.  A good solid cover will keep the heat in no matter which voltage you operate the spa at.

plug and play hot tub spaThe Dream Star is a 2 person hot tub that operates at 110v only.  It fits anywhere and is only about 250 lbs. so it is easy to set up anywhere or move.

The flex covers that are standard with this series come with a free hard cover upgrade from www.HotTubOutpost.com.

Getting into a hot tub is easy with a plug and play spa from Hot Tub Outpost.

Buying A Used Hot Tub

Used hot tub spasThinking about buying a used hot tub?  Found a hot tub in your new home or getting one second hand?  There are things to consider before jumping into that used hot tub for the first time.

It is a good idea to know about how old the spa is.  This can be determined from information on the spa pack or electronics box, or possibly listed in the owner’s manual if transferred with the spa.  Another method to determine a hot tub’s age is by serial number.  These are often date coded so that the month and year of manufacture can be determined.  The actual spa manufacturer also may be able to look up the serial number in their production database to help determine a spa’s age.

Typically a hot tub cover may need to be replaced after about 7 years.  Pumps that are older than 3 years or so and are broken may be better off being exchanged rather than repaired.  If the water quality was not maintained by the previous owner, then pump seals and other o-rings and gaskets in the system may wear, causing leaks.

At minimum, by filling and adding 2 capfuls of chlorine to attempt to kill bacteria in the lines are the best in super chlorinating the spa.  The new product is also available at www.HotTubOutpost.com for cleaning the pipes and inside lines of a hot tub and is highly recommended in addition to chlorine to give the pipes and hoses a new beginning.

Replace the cartridge filter with a brand new one for your model.  Determine if the cover is still good or needs to be replaced as well.

Used hot tubs can save money, but can also cost money to get them up to speed.  If the electronics and pumps work, and the spa does not leak, it is a good start, but the spa will need to be cleaned inside and out and brought up to proper operating standards. Note that if water chemistry was not properly maintained, another thing that may go wrong is that the spa heats slowly or not at all. This could be the result of a calcified heater element with calcium buildup on the element inside the flow through heater. This makes it harder for the heater to do its job and ends up costing the owner more in electricity.  The solution is to replace the heater.

buy used hot tubsThere are 2 types of heaters. Those with the sensors on the outside of the tube and those with sensors on the inside of the tube (like recent model Balboa heaters). The ones with sensors on the inside usually are not hooked up to a pressure switch, whereas older models have a separate pressure switch that makes sure the heater can only work when safe.

Get all your hot tub spare parts from www.HotTubOutpost.com.

Hot Tub PH and Chemical Maintenance

chemical for maintaining hot tubGetting the chemicals balanced in the hot tub does not have to be a chore.  Using the Monday-Wednesday-Friday program, spa water maintenance is easy.

Some things to be aware of about pH and hot tubs.

The pH scale goes from 0 to 14 with pH of 7 being neutral.  Anything higher than 7 is base and lower than 7 is acid.

Low pH Problems

Running the spa with low pH is very bad for the hot tub and can cause equipment damage.  Problems with pump seals, o-rings, gaskets, heaters and pumps as well as leaks may be a result of operating the hot tub with water that has low pH.  The solution is to keep an eye on the pH level with test strips and add Spa Up or PH increaser to maintain the 7.4-7.6 ideal pH range.

High pH Problems

This can put mineral deposits on the shell and make your spa feel like sandpaper.  High pH can cause calcium carbonate to precipitate creating a white coating all over the spa.

Operating a spa with high pH also causes cloudy water and is not good for the spa.

Ideal pH Range

The ideal range to maintain hot tub water in is between 7.2-7.6.  Better is between 7.4-7.6 just so there is no danger in the spa slipping into acid water mode below 7 pH.

Have Spa Up and Spa Down on hand and add whichever one is needed to keep the pH in the ideal range.

What about Sanitizer?maintaining a hot tub

This is the other very important chemical for maintaining hot tub water.  Be sure to have enough bromine or chlorine in the water.  The amount of sanitizer can be somewhat reduced if using either a bromine salt system or ozonator.  If using a mineral stick, they can also be reduced, but never eliminated.

QCA Spas has a chemical dispenser for tablets right inside the filter and the amount of bromine or chlorine added can be regulated on the device.  Alternatively a floater can be used to dose bromine or chlorine.

Find filters, covers, spa chemicals and accessories and supplies from the Hot Tub Outpost, www.HotTubOutpost.com.

Hot Tub Plumbing Repair Parts

hot tub plumbingWhether you are plumbing up a horse’s trough or fixing a hot tub, you’ll need the right PVC plumbing parts and glue to do the repair.

PVC fittings for spa repair include elbows, tees, connectors, reducers and maybe some pipe or hose.

Plumbing parts on a hot tub also include suction fittings, unions, manifolds, jets and valve parts.

Finding the leak is the first step to ordering the right parts to fix it. In spas with removable cabinet panels, it may be pretty quick to identify where the water is coming from. In spas that are fully foamed, this task can be more daunting.

So you found the leak and ordered all the parts you need from the Hot Tub Outpost.

You may need to cut out the old plumbing parts with a hacksaw or cutting tool, then smooth the edges and try to put the new pieces together without glue to make sure everything fits first. Clean and prime the connections, then apply the PVC cement to both sections, give a quarter twist and hold for about 30 seconds until dry. If you glued it well, your horse should be able to drink from the trough again, or you can go back to enjoying your hot tub.

Hot Tub Plumbing Part Types:

Elbows can be regular slip connection elbows where the pipe or hose fits inside the elbow, or if it is a “street” elbow, one of the connections will be where the hose or pipe goes over the connector.

Reducer bushings allow for the reduction of say 2 inch connections to 1 1/2″. There are reducer bushings all the way down to 1/2″.

Manifolds come in various port configurations starting with a 2 port manifold.  Common manifold types are 4-port, 8-port and 16 ports. 4s can be grouped to create a larger manifold as well. You may need plugs for any of the ports that do not need to go anywhere or for which there is not associated jet hose.

Manifold plumbing allows for even distribution of water through several lines, commonly used to route water from the main pump hose line to the individual jets.

hot tub plumbing partsThere are water manifolds to route the water and air manifolds for systems that use an air blower.

Valves help route the water or air and service valves may also be installed to help shut the water flow off around the pump or main spa pack/heater to allow for servicing of those components without the need to drain the spa.

Unions are usually glued on one side and allow for a component such as the pump or heater to be connected to the plumbing without hard-gluing it. This allows that part to be removed and replaced without needing to glue in plumbing, but sometimes the unions themselves need to be replaced and that involves glue.

PVC Glue: the best type is fast drying PVC glue such as by Weld-On.

Get all your hot tub plumbing parts at www.HotTubOutpost.com.