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How To For Spa Water Care




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Drain And Clean Spa

Although draining a spa is the most effective way to clean it, the draining process usually deters most spa owners from doing so. We recommend consulting a pool professional to reduce the risk of damage to property. However, if you need to drain your spa for whatever reason, here are two methods:

Slow yet cheap

The cheapest option for draining a spa is to connect it to a hose and allow gravity to do the work. However, this method will take several hours. Though, this gives you time to distribute the spa water evenly across your backyard, rather than flooding one area. Before you begin draining your spa, be sure to turn off your spa at the fuse box to negate the risk of electrical shock.

Sump pumps

Using a sump pump to drain your spa is a much faster method, usually taking around 10 minutes. Simply open your spa drains simultaneously. If using this method, we recommend standing by the spa for the duration of the draining process, or you risk damaging the pumps motor if it continues running after the spa is empty.

Where should you drain the water?

Many cities have laws in place that require you to drain your spa into the sewer system. This is not to be confused with a storm drain - never use a storm drain to drain your spa water. Otherwise, you can drain your spa onto your lawn and garden, given the chemicals have dissipated.

Cleaning your spa

While your spa is draining, there is plenty of time to clean or replace your filter. You can usually submerge the filter in a 20L bucket full of water mixed with a dose of filter soak and leave it for 24 hours to clean the filter.

Next, clean your spa shell. Once your spa is empty, follow these steps:

  • Spray your spa shell with spa cleaner, diluted white vinegar, or diluted bleach.
  • Use a soft cloth or non-scratch nylon scrubber to remove residue and debris.
  • Rinse all surfaces well, ensuring you drain all of this rinsed water.
  • Double check that all your jets are open after you’ve finished cleaning and rinsing.

Once you’ve completed the above, you can safely refill your spa and enjoy swimming.

Ways to Improve Pool & Spa Efficiency

Faced with rising energy costs and growing environmental concerns, pool and spa owners demand better operational efficiency than ever before. 

Here are 5 ways to keep your pool and spa running at peak efficiency:

1. Variable-speed Pumps

Switching from a traditional single-speed pump to a variable-speed pump has been shown to easily cut energy use up to 50 percent — and in some cases up to 90 percent. Reducing pump speed/RPM of 3,450 by 600 RPM to 800 RPM is a simple way to cut energy consumption by 50 percent, but still typically provide enough flow to operate the swimming pool properly. And as an added bonus, many utilities offer rebates for switching to variable-speed pumps. Depending on your location, you may receive far better rates at off-peak times. Run the pump during the day at low RPM and at higher RPM to clean the pool during off-peak hours.

2. Automation Systems

Regardless of your pump type, there are two key reasons automation saves money. First, you don’t need to run a pump 24 hours a day to turn over the pool or spa. In most cases, turnover can be accomplished in much shorter time frames controlled through automation. Second, automation gives you the ability to control the amount of power the pump actually uses. For example, running higher RPM cycles at night on a single-speed pump can produce 30 percent to 75 percent in savings.

Adjust the pump’s speed to the flow required to turn the pool over once a day, or what’s required to keep the pool clean and clear. Then only use higher speeds to operate in-floor, spa jets, solar and cleaning systems. Remember to run the pump as much as possible during off-peak hours to further reduce energy costs.

3. High-Efficiency Gas Heaters

New pool and spa gas heaters are more efficient than ever. In fact, the Department of Energy has changed the thermal efficiency requirement to state that all gas heaters for residential swimming pool use need to be 82 percent thermal efficiency or above.

Check the current efficiency rating of your heater. If it’s an older style heater, more than likely a replacement could save on gas costs and heat the pool or spa quicker. An added benefit is that the newer heaters have much smaller footprints and require much less space when installing them.

4. LED Lights

LED lights use less energy and have a longer life span than incandescent bulbs. Requiring less than 50 watts of power to operate versus the 300 watts required by incandescent bulbs, LED lights have been known to cut energy expenses by up to 90 percent.

Common Spa Issues & Solutions

1. Faulty Jets

Jets are one of the most desirable and relaxing features about a spa. In fact, most people associate the feeling of being in a spa with the use of jets. Not to mention, the jets are usually the most exciting aspect of spa use for kids. If your jets do not appear to be functioning properly, you could be experiencing one of the below issues. Note: We do not recommend the use of a plunger to attempt DIY repairs on your spa as it can damage your spa and void your warranty.

Debris & Clogs

The most common problem is debris obstructing or blocking the airflow through your jets. Calcium build-up is typically the culprit in this instance, but it is always best to ensure your jets are wide open and clear any debris. Then, refill your spa water, clean the filter, and as an added measure, we recommend checking all spa plumbing for any clogs.

Potential Air Lock

A recently refilled spa can sometimes result in airlock. The first step you can take to try and clear out the trapped air is to turn your spa jets on and off a few times. If this does not do the trick, you may need to loosen the top fitting on your pump until you hear air / see water escape. Once done, tighten the fitting again.

2. Noisy Spa Pump

A noisy pump can not only result in damage to your spa, but it can ruin the relaxing experience you want from your spa. If you suspect an odd noise coming from your spa pump, there are two sounds you should be listening for: a growling/grumbling noise or a high-pitched squeal. If you hear either of those, you probably have a problem with your spa pump.

Growling

Growling or grumbling is often related to a lack of water flowing through your pump. Clogs in your circulation system are usually the cause of. The quick fix for this issue is to ensure all valves near your pump are open and your spa water is topped off to allow sufficient water flow. 

Squealing

This sound is typically the result of bad bearings on your spa pump. While this sound is generally more off-putting than the growling mentioned above, you can continue to use your spa safely. Albeit, the noise will only worsen over time. The first thing to do is lubricate the bearings, this will alleviate the sound for the time being, but you'll likely need to replace the circulation pump down the track. 

3. Cold Spa Water

Unless it is the middle of the day, 40 degrees and your spa is outside, no one wants to jump into a cold spa. Furthermore, the phrase 'cold spa' doesn't even sound right. In the event of cold spa water, you should always check your water level first. Second, check your circulation system for clogs, ensuring you also wash or change your filter. 

If that does not fix the issue, try switching your heater breaker off and on, or press the heater's reset button. There's a chance your heat may have switched off due to getting too hot or if air is trapped in your lines, resetting the heater should start it up again.

Another cause for cold spa water is an airlock, which can occur after refilling your spa. We discuss airlocks in more detail below.

If you have reached this stage with no heat there's a high chance you have a bad heating element. This is usually a more technical task and one for your local technician. If you are confident with your troubleshooting abilities, you are able to remove the heating element yourself to see if it has burned out. If so, call a technician or ask for support from the manufacturer.

4. Weak or Low Water Flow

Weak or low water flow is another common issue with residential spas, and is generally related to one of the following:

Air Lock

As we mentioned above, airlocks can be a common occurrence after refilling your spa. An airlock means air has found its way into your plumbing lines and is preventing water from flowing normally. To fix an airlock, you will need to drain the air out of the system. First, turn off your entire spa system. Then, look for small bleed screws at the end of the pump, open them and let the air out. You may find that your system has screws on top of the pump as well. Once you have done this, reapply the screws firmly and turn your spa on to see if the water flow has returned to normal. 

Faulty Pump

Your spa pump is responsible for circulating water around your spa, including through the spas plumbing. If your pump isn't running, use a multimeter to test whether the pump is receiving power. If it is, but the pump is still not running, it likely needs replacing or repairing by a professional. This is a more serious issue and should be dealt with swiftly to avoid electrical problems down the track. Note: Water and electricity are deadly when mixed, so we always recommend contacting experts if working with electricity.

Filter Problems

If your filter is overdue for a wash or completely worn out, this will directly affect water flow. Check your filter for anything out of the ordinary and clean if necessary. If you notice signs of wear and tear, which will occur over time, you may need to replace them.

Low Water Level

Low water level is another common cause of reduced water flow. There needs to be sufficient water in order for there to be sufficient water flow, it's simple math. Luckily, this is an easy fix. Simply top off your spa and run a test to see if that resolved the issue.

Importance Of Pool Water Balance

The health of your swimming pool is determined by multiple key factors such as circulation, cleaning and chemicals. However, among the most important aspects of pool care is water balance. Balance and harmony is the key to healthy living, and the same goes for your pool water. If everything is balanced, you will avoid any potential issues with your pool, including cloudiness and algae growth.

Water balance is extremely important for a number of reasons:

1. It helps sanitising chemicals to work effectively.

Maintaining the pH balance in your water will ensure you get the most out of your sanitising chemicals. For instance, in water with low pH, your water is more acidic and will eat up the sanitiser faster. This doesn’t give your sanitiser enough time to do its job properly.

2. It decreases the chance of water problems.

If your water is acidic, and your sanitising chemicals, such as chlorine or bromine, isn't working as well as it should, then you are opening yourself up to water issues, including cloudiness and algae growth. Your sanitiser’s job is to keep these issues at bay by constantly killing off the bacteria and debris that causes them.

3. It prolongs the life of your pool equipment.

Low pH causes your water to be acidic. In this case, your water will do whatever it takes to increase its pH level. Your water wants to be balanced. It’ll start to take what it needs from PVC, vinyl, concrete, and other parts of the pool, thus corroding and deteriorating your pool and equipment.

In fact, most equipment manufacturer's warranties do not cover damage due to low pH.

On the other side, if your pH is high, this can cause scaling. Your water tries to get rid of everything that’s making it alkaline, so it leaves a film around PVC pipes, heater elements, concrete, and liners. For instance, extra scaling in your pool’s heater will cause it to use more energy to heat your pool. It’s like clogging your pool’s arteries from ingesting too much unhealthy food.

Treating Foamy Spa Water

Whether you're a new or seasoned spa owner, there's not much relaxation appeal to foamy water. In this guide, we take a look at the main causes of foamy spa water and how to treat it. Unlike soaps and shampoos that you use to create your traditional bubble bath, foamy spa water is very different.

What causes foamy spa water?

Foamy spa water shares many similarities with sea foam, with only minor differences in their chemical composition. Both spa and sea foam require three (3) things to develop: air, water and surfactants. Surfactants are sticky molecules that decrease the surface tension of liquids, making it easier for substances such as water and other contaminants to mix. All spas are made up of chemicals, detergents, proteins, salts and other compounds, many of which are surfactants. Even a properly maintained spa with ideal water chemistry will contain surfactants, which will cause foamy spa water if left untreated. The more surfactants you have, the more bubbles will form, eventually stacking together to create a foamy layer. 

What are the main surfactants to look out for?

A properly maintained spa will be evenly mixed with a combination of sanitising chemicals and calcium, both of which help to neutralise surfactants. The main surfactants your spa will be exposed to are:

1. Personal Products

The main offenders include makeup, shampoos, hair styling gels and mousses, hairsprays, sunscreens, moisturisers, conditioners and deodorants. These products will cause your spa's chemicals to react, causing foamy and cloudy byproducts. As we mentioned above, the more surfactants in your spa, the higher the chances of foam appearing. 

2. Bathers

Humans go through each day unknowingly collecting residual and non-residual contaminants. These include body oils, sweat and dead skin cells, all of which put your sanitising chemicals to work and can eventually cause foamy water if your spa chemicals are not balanced after use.

3. Soap & Detergents

Laundry detergent and soap are primary offenders. While important to wash your swimwear, be mindful of remaining detergent within the fabric. 

4. Beverages

Beverages, both alcohol and non-alcoholic contain sugars that can cause foamy spa water. We recommend keeping drinks away from your spa for safe measure. 

How to Get Rid of Foam in a Hot Tub

Foamy water is a common spa issue and not something to stress about. With a few simple steps, you can have your spa back to full health. 

Test Your Water:

The first thing you should do is test your spa water. The main things you're looking for is alkalinity, pH and calcium hardness levels, as well as total dissolved solids (TDS) - these are your surfactants. Determining your water chemistry at the time of seeing foamy water will also help you to understand the cause and prevent a foamy spa in the future. 

Alkalinity: Another way to say water is basic is to call it alkaline. When your hot tub water has alkalinity higher than 150ppm, it begins to form scale. It also cannot keep pH stable, compounding all the issues that may cause foamy water. The ideal level is 80-120ppm.

pH: Your spa water is too basic if the pH is higher than 7.6. When this happens, you'll wind up with two problems that cause cloudiness: scale formation and ineffective sanitising. You may need to use a pH decreaser to get things back to normal. The ideal level is between 7.4 and 7.6. 

Calcium hardness: Ideally, your spa's calcium hardness will be between 150-400ppm. If your levels are too high, you'll see scale build up and foaminess.

Drain and Refill:

After you’ve tested your water and documented your water chemistry, the most effective way to remove foam is to completely drain, clean and refill your spa. At this stage, it's also a good idea to check for any faults in your spa's system, as these can also be the cause of cloudy and foamy water.

Once you’ve drained, cleaned, and refilled your spa, test the water again, adding chemicals where required. If your water chemistry is in the ideal ranges, let your spa circulate the water for at least 12-24 hours. When the circulation is complete, test the water one more time to make sure it’s ready for bathers.

Why is my spa water cloudy?

Even though swimming pools and spas are both used for swimming, the two are very different. Unlike pools, spas have a low volume of water kept at high temperatures, which amplifies the effect of all contaminants that enter the water. Without adequate care, your spa will not only go cloudy but pose serious health risks to bathers. 

To fix cloudy spa water, we first need to understand the cause. Keep reading below to learn more.

What Causes Cloudy Spa Water?

The average residential spa holds roughly 1,500 litres of water and will usually sit at a temperature of 36°C to 38°C. This low volume of hot water can be the perfect environment for dangerous bacteria to thrive if you do not maintain proper water chemistry. However, the growth of harmful bacteria is one of several causes of cloudy spa water. 

Algae and Debris

Dead leaves, grass clippings, berries and all other types of organic debris can find their way into your spa. As the debris deteriorates, you will begin to notice cloudiness in your spa water if the water lacks sufficient sanitiser. Ensure you have enough sanitiser to fight against unwanted debris and manually remove larger debris to prevent damage to your circulation system. Another common spa issue is dealing with algae. Algae bloom in water with poor chemistry and can attribute to cloudy water if not treated. 

Metals

There are various ways metal can get into your spa. One of the most prevalent causes is high concentrations of metal in household water sources. Over time, using water that contains metal can alter your water chemistry, stain your spa shell and corrode spa components. 

Low Sanitiser

In pools and spas, sanitiser works to disinfect and purify your water to ensure safe swimming. However, sanitiser quickly runs out if there is a large volume of contaminants in the water. If you recently had a lot of guests use your spa, there's a good chance your sanitiser levels have depleted trying to combat against all the body oils, sunscreen, shampoo and other foreign chemicals. 

Humans

Unfortunately, one of the biggest threats to your spa is your bathers. Humans go through each day indirectly collecting residual contaminants that cause issues for pools and spas if left untreated. These include makeup, lotions, sunscreen, hair products, sweat, body oils and many more. Be sure to check your chemistry if many people are using your spa. 

Filter Problems

A slightly more obvious potential cause of your cloudy spa is a dirty, faulty or misaligned filter. Your filtration system is responsible for tackling larger particles and debris that would take your sanitiser too long to break down. Try troubleshooting your system and call a technician if problems persist.

Poor Water Chemistry

Similar to swimming pools, the main cause for cloudy spa water and most water-related issues is a chemical imbalance. The key things to look for include:

High pH: Your spa water is too basic if the pH is higher than 7.6. When this happens, you'll wind up with two problems that cause cloudiness: scale formation and ineffective sanitising. You may need to use a pH decreaser to get things back to normal. The ideal level is between 7.4 and 7.6. 

High alkalinity: Another way to say water is basic is to call it alkaline. When your hot tub water has alkalinity higher than 150ppm, it begins to form scale. It also cannot keep pH stable, compounding all the issues that may cause cloudy water. An alkalinity decreaser may help. The ideal level is 80-120ppm.

High calcium hardness: Ideally, your spa's calcium hardness will be between 150-400ppm. If your levels are too high, you'll see scale build-up and cloudiness.

Removing & Preventing Spa Stains

Are you seeing stains on your spa shell or on your spa's fixtures? Not to worry, this is a very common issue. However, if left untreated, stains can prove to be more than just ugly, they can damage your spa. Luckily, most spa stains can be removed quite easily, and further steps can be taken to help prevent future stains from appearing. 

Like most pool and spa related issues, the best place to start with removing spa stains is to determine the type of stain and the cause. 

Common Spa Stains

While various types of stains exist, the method for removing them all is similar and often uses the same products. The most common spa stains include:

1. Rust

2. Corrosion

3. Typical grime and dirt.

4. Calcium build-up.

Removing Spa Stains

Unlike other pool and spa issues such as algae blooms and cloudy water, no chemical product exists that will remove your stains automatically after circulating through your spa water. Usually, the most effective way to remove stains is to drain your spa and do it manually. 

To remove spa stains, follow these easy steps.

1. Ensure your spa is completely turned off.

2. Drain the water from your spa.

3. Dry your spa's shell to remove any leftover water.

4. Apply necessary stain removing/spa cleaning chemicals, carefully following the instructions on the packaging.

5. Thoroughly scrub your spa. 

6. Rinse your spa clean and allow it to dry.

7. Refill your spa.

8. Balance your spa water.

Now that you've successfully removed all the stains from your spa, let's see if we can keep them from reappearing.

Preventing Spa Stains

The most effective way to prevent many common spa issues, including stains, is with ideal water chemistry. And this does not mean once, this means at all times. However, even if you do maintain perfect spa water chemistry, that doesn't mean you will never again have to drain your spa and wipe down the shell - we recommend doing this a few times a year. 

To maintain proper water chemistry in your spa, you need to balance three (3) key factors: alkalinity, pH and calcium hardness.

Alkalinity: Another way to say water is basic is to call it alkaline. When your hot tub water has alkalinity higher than 150ppm, it begins to form scale. It also cannot keep pH stable, compounding all the issues that may cause foamy water. The ideal level is 80-120ppm.

pH: Your spa water is too basic if the pH is higher than 7.6. When this happens, you'll wind up with two problems that cause cloudiness: scale formation and ineffective sanitising. You may need to use a pH decreaser to get things back to normal. The ideal level is between 7.4 and 7.6. 

Calcium hardness: Ideally, your spa's calcium hardness will be between 150-400ppm. If your levels are too high, you'll see scale build up and foaminess.

Best Way to Test Spa Water

To ensure the safety and comfort of your swimmers, it's important to regularly test your spa water for any chemical imbalances. Fortunately, regardless of whether you test the water using DIY methods or take a sample down to your local pool shop, testing pool and spa water is not a complicated task.

The main 3 ways people test their spa water is:

   1.   Using spa test strips (available at most pool retailers)

   2.  Using a liquid spa testing kit (also available at most pool retailers)

   3.   By collecting a spa water sample and taking it to a local retailer or technician for professional assessment

1. Using test strips

Test strips are very easy to use, and you can usually rely on instructions for use on the packaging of the product. However, these are the steps involved:

Collect a sample: The easiest way to collect a good sample is to grab a plastic or glass container, turn it upside down, dip it roughly elbow length deep aiming to be as close to the middle as you can (without falling in!), quickly spin it the right way up and grab your sample.

Use test strip: Open the test strip container and take one out with your hand. Next, dip it in the sample you collected and hold it in the water for 5-6 seconds before taking it out.

Examine strip: Wait 15 seconds after removing the test strip from the water to allow the chemical level indicators to change colour. Simply compare the colour of the strips to the back of the container. If your colour matches the ideal colour for that chemical, then you are in the clear. However, it's always best to ensure all colours match the ideal colour swatch on the packaging of the test strips. Basic test strips will only test for chlorine/bromine, pH and alkalinity, and we recommend testing at least once a week. 

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