Are all those Spa Chemicals Needed?

Service Person checking Spa Water Chemistry
Service Person checking Spa Water Chemistry

From a Retired Spa Serviceman

After a 38 year Run in the Business I Retired a few years ago and I am still getting calls from Friends about the Chemicals for their Hot Tub. My method has worked very well for Hundreds of Tub Owners.

First I have to tell you a Story about why I Started to advise Customers on How to Maintain a Clean, Safe and Usable Hot Tub. If you don't want to read the Story Skip down to The Basic Solution

The Day I Sent the Bromine Back

I started in the Pool Business back in the 80's. I Operated 2 Pool Stores and Hot Tubs were gaining in Popularity. I enjoyed the Challenges and the Complexity of the Electrical System. The Mechanical Workings has been repalced with Circuit Boards and Sensors.

I remember the day like it was Yesterday. The Date was April 19, 1995. This was a very Sad Day, I will spare you the Details of the Day as to why it was Sad. You can do a Search of the Date then you will know why.

I had scheduled a Repair for the Morning. When I got to the Location I was informed there is no Back Entrance and I would have to go through the Home to the Back, it was in Tempe, AZ. Everyone there was Glued to the TV and I stopped for a moment to see what was going on. Then I proceeded to the Back Yard.

The Pump was leaking from the Mechanical Seal, this was a very Common and Re-Occurring Problem that I was concerned about. Some Hot Tubs would have the Problem maybe once a year. I thought that I was doing something wrong.

I replaced the Seal and while waiting for the Spa to Refill. I was sitting on a Piece of Carpet with my legs Crossed thinking about the Event that happened that Morning. I was also thinking about a few of the Leaky Seals I had replaced in the past month or so.

Something had to change even though that was part of my Business, repairing Spas. I just happened to look up under the Spa inside with the Side Panel off, I noticed a Sticker put there by the Manufacture. It Stated, Do Not Use Bromine it could Void the Warranty. I never saw that Sticker again during my 38 year Career.

Advise from the Expert

That same day I called a Good Friend of mine in Piru CA. The President of a Chemical Company developing Pool Water Chemicals. I considered him to be the Worlds Expert on Pool Water Chemistry.

I asked him why A Spa Manufacture would put that Sticker on their Product. His answer, "because Bromine Naturally has a Low PH and that along with the waters Speed Destroys Metal and Plastic".

I don't want to get into an explanation of PH other than in Chemistry it is the Potential of Hydrogen or the Power of Hydrogen referring the Acidity of Something. When I got back to my Store I took all of the Bromine off the Shelves and sent it back.

I followed the advice of the Expert in Piru until I retired from the Spa Business. Hundreds of Customers followed the suggestions and The Seal Replacements was reduced to a few a year.

Why Bromine

Why use Bromine in any Hot Tub? Bromine lasts longer in Hot Water. In a Commercial Spa like Hotels and Exercise Places that is most likely an important Ingredient to maintain a Proper and Safe water.

A Backyard Spa isn't used like a Commercial Spa with all kinds of People in and out.

The Basic Solution

Here is what we did. This may not work in every location in the World, but because of our Hard Water here in the Phoenix area it worked very well.

Sodium DiChlor, short for Dichlor-S-Trianzinetrione. a Granular Chlorine This a fast dissolving Sodium based PH neutral (7.0) Product that will not add Calcium to the Water.

Bromine comes in on the PH Scale at about a 4.0 and most Tri-chlor Chorine Tablets are even lower at about a 3.0 PH. Continued use of the Lower PH Product will lower the PH of the Water to where it becomes corrosive and begins to break down or dissolve all the Metal Parts it comes in contact with, like Seals, Heating Elements, Pump Shafts and so on. Low PH water will cause a skin irritation for some.

You want the water in the Tub to be Hot and without Chemicals that your Skin could absorb.

I would tell my Customers that had a Smaller Spa (5' by 5') to add 1 Heaping Tablespoons of Dichlor, a bigger Spa Add 2. Some would use the Cap from the Bottle of Chorine. The Bottle Cap most likely has 2 Diameters so use the inside part of the Cap.

Add the chlorine 1 time per week. Chlorine does it's job then it is gone, it's not like the old Pac Man that would keep on eating. Run the Pump on High Speed. You can add to the Filter Cavity or just throw it across the Water.

If you Test the Water for Chlorine after an hour or so you may not get a reading. That is OK, the Idea is you clean the water up 1 day and enjoy Chemical Free Water for the next 6 days. Maintain the PH high like from 7.6 to 8.2 but you should not have to add anything for that, but if the PH goes down from Heavy use just add 1 or 2 Tablespoons of Baking Soda from the Cupboard.

Starting out you may find that is not enough, Depending on usage, you may have to increase a little the next week. Don't add more in the Middle of the Week because the Idea is Chemical Free Water during the Week.

If you are going to have Friends over and you will be using the Spa more than Normal you could add a small Amount of Chlorine Before the Party.

If you forgot to add Chlorine and you are having Friends over tonight and the Water is Cloudy. Just add the Chlorine and Run the High Speed Jets to Filter the Cloudy water Clean. DiChlor is fast moving it will do its job right away. You should not have a Chlorine Odor because it has done its job, Killing what made the Water Cloudy.

You should have the water Circulating or Filtering automatically for at least a couple of Hours each Day.

Some of the Sundance Spas have a foam Looking Filter attached to the other Filter. The Low Flow Circulation Pump that heats the water passes through that to Filter to catch the Very Fine Particles in the Water. The Bigger Pump on High Speed pulls water through the Paper Cartridge Filter. Not all Spas have a Low Flow Circulation Pump.

Changing the Water

The Water should be changed about every 3 months or so. This is a Bigger Job if there is no Draining Spout built-in. Be sure to turn off the Power before getting Started.

The Simple way to Siphon the Water Out of the Spa is Siphoning on the Ground.

Use the Hose that you fill the Spa with. Put the Hose over the Edge so the End Touches the Bottom of the Spa, then put the Cover Down to hold the Hose in Place. Turn on the Water for about a minute to get all the Air Pockets out.

Turn the Water off then quickly Disconnect the Hose form the Hose Bib and Drop it to the Ground. The Water should start to Flow Backwards out of the Hose.

You can move the Hose to a Spot where you want the Water to go after the Flow is started. You must keep the End Down, once the End gets lifted to High, the Siphon will stop and you have to start over again.

It will take a couple of hours to drain, also check to be sure the hose in the Spa is still touching bottom.

Internal Links

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Hot Tub GFCI Trips

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“Water is Life’s Matter and Matrix, Mother and Medium. There is No Life without Water”
Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

Albert Szent-Gyorgyi A Hungarian Biochemist, 9-16-1893 - 10-22-1986 Credited with first isolating Vitamin C and Discovering the Components & Reactions of the Citric Acid Cycle.

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