Hot tub water maintenance comes with specific challenges. The hot temperature and small volume of water can make proper sanitizing and balancing more difficult than a swimming pool. The key is consistency – find the routine that works for you and stick to it!
Many hot tub owners neglect certain aspects of water maintenance and this can have disastrous results. I could do a lengthy post on each aspect of proper maintenance on its own but in this post, we will give you the tools to keep your hot tub sparkling and protect your investment from an early demise.
Hot Tub Water Maintenance in 3 Steps
This aspect of maintaining a hot tub is often overlooked but it is really the most important. Ensuring that you keep the filters clean and running your filter through cycles long enough to clean the water effectively will go a long way in keeping the water clear and inviting.
It will also make your sanitizer more effective which means less chemicals used! Over the years we have seen owners throw so much money in chemicals at a problem that could have been solved by cleaning or changing the filters.
This means keeping the PH (acidity of the water), total alkalinity (a measurement of all of the things that affect the PH), and calcium hardness in an acceptable range. An imbalance in any of these things can cause a whole host of problems such as bather discomfort or cloudy water and can destroy the components and surfaces of your hot tub.
This means sanitizing (chlorine or bromine), oxidizing (commonly referred to as “shocking”), and controlling metals, minerals, dead organics and phosphates.
So how do we do this? First, pick a day of the week on which you will perform your hot tub maintenance and be sure to always do it on that day, then follow these steps:
- Remove the filters, rinse and replace
- Test the water with a test strip or other test kit and balance the water if needed
- Add sanitizer to the water
- Oxidize (or “shock”) the water
- Add other maintenance products (we recommend Summer Smiles Clarita Ultra 4-in-1 to control staining, scaling, dead organics and phosphates (it’s a clarifier too!) and Summer Smiles Soft which is a borate product that improves the feel of the water and adds a nice aroma to the water as well)
- Wipe clean the water line and head rests
Hot Tub Water Maintenance Tips
- It is good practice to shock the water after each use, especially if you are using the hot tub often or have had a lot of people in it.
- Remember to run your pumps for one cycle after adding any chemical to the water and leave your cover off the hot tub. This will allow the gases created by the chemical reactions to escape and not damage your cover and head rests.
- Have your water tested professionally in store monthly (it’s free!). We will test for things you do not test for at home because they fluctuate less and we will give you a more accurate picture of the condition of your water than home testing can provide.
- Clean your filters with a cleaning solution once every three months. Over time the pleats of your filter will become clogged with oils and dirt that rinsing will not remove. A clogged filter reduces water flow and is no longer filtering effectively. Replace your filters annually.
- Change the water every six months to a year. Before draining make sure you clean the plumbing! Over time, biofilm and calcium can build up in the plumbing and it is important to remove it. Using a pre-drain plumbing cleaner is essential.
- When re-filling we strongly suggest using a pre-filter that attaches to a garden hose. There are a lot of impurities in source water. Removing them from your fresh filled water will make it last much longer and give you the cleanest possible start!
Chlorine or Bromine:
Which Hot Tub Sanitizer Is Better?
People ask us all the time: Should I use chlorine or bromine to sanitize the hot tub? Which one is better? The answer is: they both have advantages compared to the other. They are both effective sanitizers.
The main advantage of chlorine is the that it is less expensive than bromine (about $12 per kilogram less!).
The main advantage of bromine has to do with what happens to your sanitizer as it is “used up”. When you add chlorine to the water it attaches itself to bacteria and organic waste that is in the water. When this happens, it becomes what we call a chloramine or combined chlorine (as opposed to free chlorine which is not harmful in the right ratio to the water).
Combined chlorine is bad for us, it makes our eyes hurt and can irritate the skin… and it stinks. When you go to a public pool and it smells strongly of chlorine and turns your eyes red, it is not too much chlorine but too many combined chlorines. Part of the reason we shock the water is to burn off the combined chlorines. Combined bromine has no bad effect on us! We still need to shock a bromine hot tub but we are not worried about the effect that the used bromine has on us. This translates into less potential for irritation and bad odours.
Whichever sanitizer you choose, follow the steps we have laid out for you here and be consistent with your water maintenance.
Coloured Hot Tub Water Issues
When you’ve been taking care of your hot tub for many months, your eyes will instinctively tell you whether something is wrong. It’s a little less vibrant and clear and it looks a little more dim and dirty.
Regardless of what type or size hot tub you have, water colouration is a real concern. These tips will help you fix coloured water issues.
Cloudy hot tub water can be caused by high calcium or alkalinity and poor filtration. Body lotions or makeup and hair products can also shift the water colour. If the water is cloudy it’s almost always from a few causes that we see in this order:
- The hot tub is not being filtered enough.
Solution: Increase filter cycles
- The hot tub needs to be shocked.
Solution: Shock the hot tub
- The hot tub does not have enough sanitizer:
Solution: Increase chlorine/bromine
- The hot tub has a strong alkalinity.
Solution: Balance the PH/Alkalinity
- The hot tub has too much dead organics, phosphates or fine particulate.
Solution: Use Clarita Ultra 4-in-1 and shock
If your water is green and cloudy you may have algae. To remove it, lower your pH level to 7.2 and add chlorine shock (non-chlorine “spa shock” will not kill algae). If you have had algae you should replace your filter.
If your water is green and clear it is likely copper in your water and can be more visible after adding sanitizer. Regular use of stain and scale preventer like Clarita Ultra 4-in-1 should prevent this from occurring, but if it does, a metal remover like All Out Ultra 4-in-1 should be used.
Yellow or brown coloured water can be caused by pollen and other dead organics in the water. Maintain your sanitizer level. The enzymes in Calrita Ultra 4-in-1 will also eat up these dead organics.
Discoloured yellow or brown water can also be caused by iron in your water which, like copper, can be more visible after adding sanitizer. Regular use of stain and scale preventer like Clarita Ultra 4-in-1 should prevent this from occurring, but if it does, a metal remover like All Out Ultra 4-in-1 should be used.