Upkeep of Your Spa and Hot Tub – Everything You Need to Know
There are few things more relaxing than lounging in a hot tub. No matter if there’s one already in your living quarters or are considering a future installation, knowing how to take care of a hot tub is an important part of keeping it in a new-like state.
Hot tubs are a lot different than your average bathtub, strewn with jets that shoot out sanitized and filtered water. Most models are built outdoors, though you could have one installed in an indoor setting. Nevertheless, check out the details below to learn what must be done to keep a proper harmony of clean water and functional mechanics on your hot tub.
1. Hot Tub Maintenance Basics
Hot tubs make for a perfect way to relax in your leisure time, and most are big enough to accommodate multiple people. But like a bathtub, they must be cleaned regularly in order to keep things sanitary. Failure to do so could not only make you and others sick from using a dirty hot tub but decreases the lifespan of the unit overall.
That being said, here are the basic areas of knowledge and items you should familiarize yourself with to perform meaningful spa upkeep:
The water in a spa is treated and cleaned with either chlorine or bromine. The former might be familiar to people who enjoy swimming in a pool. Chlorine absorbs water fast, particularly hot water. Because it breaks down quicker, it must be added to a hot tub more often than bromine.
Bromine has a lighter smell than chlorine and stays in the water longer. It doesn’t need to be added with the same frequency as chlorine, either. You can expect fewer refills with bromine.
Both chlorine and bromine do produce smells in the form of chloramines and bromamines. These are the waste products of bacteria left over once killed by the sanitizers. But how do you get rid of them?
The answer is with a shock treatment. Shock treatments involve the use of a stabilizer to rid the hot tub of organic compounds in the water, including chloramines and bromamines. It also reinvigorates the water. You can find shock treatment products that are chlorinated and contain no chlorine. Additionally, shocking your hot tub provides the catalyst for accurate readings of your hot tub’s pH and alkalinity levels.
Determine Water Calcium, or Hardness
When was the last time you checked the acidity of your water? In some cases, it’s not required for you to check. Look at the faucet of your garden hose or the nozzles around your shower head. If you notice, white, hardened material, that’s calcium buildup, a staple of water that’s high and pH. On the other hand, rust around the heads is a clear indication of “soft’ water with too much alkalinity. Let’s look at how it pertains to your hot tub:
- Too much calcium may cause buildup and blockages inflow
- Water that’s too soft may lead to an increased risk of corrosion (rust)
The key to a healthy hot tub is in keeping the water’s hardness at a balanced level. The easiest way to do this is by using a test kit. You can find them online or by asking the company that installed/will be installing your hot tub.
2. Water Chemistry in Your Hot Tub
Getting your ph levels right with a shock treatment must be done to a hot tub. It’s not as complicated as some might think, however. pH is the level of acidity existing in a substance, which in this case is water. Alkalinity is the gauge that determines how well water breaks down acid. A hot tub’s pH levels should be between 7.2 and 7.8 in their readings. Raise the pH if readings show too much alkaline, or are lower than the recommended gauge.
Feel free to do this with a professional, if you would like. Again, readings will be accurate if you’re adding chlorine and bromine to the water as needed. You’ll need a sample of water, so grab a clean cup and scoop up some water from the deep part of your hot tub, skimming off the top layer. Close the lid and send it out for testing.
The same applies when going about testing on your own, just grab a hot tub water test kit from online retailers or your local big-box retailer. You have two choices, either a test strip or a liquid test kit.
Test strips work better since less mixing is involved; just dip the strip in your sample container and the levels will show on its surface. After that, whatever the reading indicates determines the best hot tub chemicals you need for your spa.
3. Clean the Spa Filter
Hot tub filters are removable. Clean them in the sink whenever you can, which ensures that any residue is taken out of the grooves that line its body. Use warm water if you wish, it won’t hurt the frail material along with the cylinder. There are products that can clean up your filters without them being moved, but it’s still a good idea to manually do it yourself on occasion.
4. Cleaning Your Spa
One of the primary reasons for cleaning/flushing out a spa with a shock treatment is to prevent the interior pipes from getting filled with unwanted bacteria. Remember, body residue and compounds from things such as lotion and sunscreen fall off the body when in contact with warm water. And if the compounds have nowhere to go, they end up in the nether reaches of your spa’s pipes. This collection of grim is called biofilm.
While shock treatment does a job of preventing biofilm, it won’t be an effective treatment for hot tubs that aren’t properly drained and cleaned out. Use a normal garden hose to look at submersible pumps. Pumps tend to drain faster than hoses, so cleanup to the outer portion of the spa is a faster job to complete with one.
Once the water is drained, add in freshwater, making sure to blend in the appropriate amount of your favorite shock treatment brand.
To clean out your hot tub’s surface without draining the water, you can try a vacuum. The best hot tub vacuums will rid the surface and waterline of any residue, and prevent newly cleaned spas from getting dirty too quickly after a recent deep clean.
5. Hot Tub Circulation
All hot tubs rely on a pump to keep water flowing. It’s what allows streams of current to flow through the jets. Some spas have ordinary pumps which are large and may heat up the water slowly. There are also circulation pumps or circ pumps. Circulation pumps are ideal for residential hot tubs since they’re easier to install, manage, and typically last longer than a normal pump will.
There’s less obstruction in water flow since the size is small. They also heat up water faster than the larger machines. The hot tub circulation pump that’s best for you might vary on the kind of spa you have set up. If you don’t have one installed in your home already, stick to small pumps and avoid the larger, clunkier types.
6. Build Your Hot Tub Maintenance Calendar
Take a look at some of the requirements that you should do on a scheduled basis for proper spa maintenance.
- Add tasks/duties to the checklist, along with simple tasks that must be done, such as covering the hot tub. This obviously would be a task in progress, which could change as you get comfortable with a schedule that works best for you.
- Know what must be done most frequently (checking pH levels three times a week, knowing sanitizer levels, and removing stains from the waterline), and check them. It’s recommended to get pH and alkaline readings at least three times a week.
- shock the water using your favorite product. Some shock brands are concentrated, so read the instructions of the bottle before you add anything to the water.
- Rise off the filter with chemicals using the instruction provided above.
- Check for calcium buildup around the jets. It serves as an easy way to tell you how well the chemistry of the water is in the hot tub. If you see calcium or rust, drain out the water hot tub’s water and sanitize chlorine or bromine as soon as you’re able to.
- Draining and cleaning should be done at least four times a year. But if the spa is used heavily by many people, it might be best to drain twice with each passing quarter.
- Flush out interior pumps to remove biofilm. Frequently use your hot tub? Do this twice a year instead. Flushing involves treating the pipes with pip flush cleaner, draining using the same method shown every quarter, and allowing pump/jets to circulate the treated water for 30 minutes to an hour.
Do the procedures for hot tub maintenance that were described seem like lots of work to you?
It’s not as difficult as it might read on your screen. Just know what products you need, keep a cleaning schedule, and check the water’s health with test kits. No chemists are needed here, just follow the guidelines and you’re sure to keep a sanitary and pristine spa that family and friends love to lounge in!