In addition to draining your spa every month or two, you need to add a water sanitizer and balance your spa water to keep contaminants out. Many people do not like the smell and feel of the two, popular sanitizers, chlorine or bromine, but they are absolutely necessary to keep your spa water safe and clear.
We have noticed that black mold is more likely to grow on spa covers that use bromine than chlorinated spas as chlorine is a stronger sanitizer then bromine. Some think that chlorine has a stronger chemical smell than bromine, but we do prefer chlorine to bromine.
With both products, we find it is best to use a small, tablet dispenser in your spa. It should be tied up with a leash , so it does not move in front of your skimmer where acidic water from the dispenser can be sucked through the filtering equipment and heater. This, aggressive water can cause damage to your spa equipment. You can add dichlor. (granular chlorine) to your spa water instead of using the tablet dispenser, but you have to add it more often as it is not slow dissolving nor long lasting. We use dichlor as a way to spike chlorine levels if they are low upon testing. Chlorine and bromine tabs dissolve slowly, so if you have low, sanitizer level, you will need to have a product to spike it up quickly.
Tools and Chemicals Necessary to Balance Your Spa Water
To properly balance your spa water,you need to have some tools and chemicals of which i will list. These are the chemicals we have and use.
-chemical test kit (Taylor Complete Test Kit K2105 is a good one!)
-little chlorine tabs
-dry dichlor (instant dissolving chlorine)
You need to have a good, chemical test kit like a Taylor Complete test kit which comes with a cyanuric acid tester to test your chemicals at least once a week.
If you are not an expert, you should use a licensed, spa cleaning service.
Here is how we do our chemical balancing:
First thing is to test the water. Chlorine level, ph, and alkalinity.
We like to add a tablespoon of non-chlorine shock every visit. Non-chlorine shock will burn off bacteria and offensive, chlorine compounds like chloramines, so your freshly added chlorine will have less contamination and be more efficient.
We then add the estimated amount of chlorine tabs it would take to get a solid, chlorine reading of 3.0 ppm to 4.0 ppm of chlorine the next week. Chemical levels in spas can be volatile, because a little extra use or a few, extra bodies in the spa can strip out a lot of chlorine or vice versa when not used as much, so we tend to add a little more just in case.You have to know your spa and measure through trial and error to know approximately how much of your chemicals to add!! You need to be very careful and we recommend having a water chemistry certified, spa cleaning service unless you are an expert.
Once we estimate how many little chlorine tabs we want to add, we have to balance the ph. A little, trade secret is to add 2 drops of the green, chlorine, neutralizer solution when testing for ph and alkalinity instead of just 1. This is, because you may have slightly high, chlorine levels in your spa water and this can alter the accuracy of the results. Chlorine tabs will lower the ph as they dissolve in the water and this is why we use soda ash. If we have a low ph, we will add the appropriate amount of soda ash to raise our ph up to 7.8 ish as we know that the chlorine tabs in the dispenser are going to continue lowering the ph. Always read the instructions on the containers of your chemicals for proper measuring.
Now that we have balanced chlorine and ph, we need to test the alkalinity. We want between 80 and 120 ppm of total alkalinity and don't forget to add 2 drops of the #4, green solution. Chlorine tabs contain conditioner and will add conditioner to the spa water over time. Read more about conditioner here Pool Conditioner is Important..
Due to conditioner, tablet chlorinated spas tend to have higher alkalinity then bromine spas, because bromine spas do not contain conditioner. The only way to lower alkalinity in spa water is to add acid and you have to be very careful if you do so as a little bit goes a long way and you can really damage your spa and equipment if your spa water is corrosive from too low of ph or alkalinity.
If you have low alkalinity, you just need to add alkalinity up (sodium bicarbonate). This is common in bromine spas which drop in alkalinity more often then tablet chlorinated spas.
Taylor, Pool Water, Test Kits Come With Conditioner Testing
Conditioner bonds the chlorine to the water, so the water stays sanitized longer. Otherwise known as cyanuric acid, conditioner also adds to the total alkalinity and can make the water aggressive if over 80 ppm. For this reason, we recommend keeping your conditioner level under 80 ppm.
These, higher, conditioner levels are another reason that spa draining is so important every 3 to 4 months. The more you sanitize your spa with chlorine tabs, the more conditioner you add to your spa and that conditioner is actually an alkaline. We try to keep our spa water under 80 ppm of conditioner , because this cyanuric alkalinity has a factor that can make your spa water aggressive if your conditioner level is too high.
Alkalinity can get complicated, because of this cyanuric alkalinity factor, so we will try and keep it simple. Our test kits test for total alkalinity and if you keep your conditioner level under 80ppm, this cyanuric alkalinity factor is not enough to worry about. The idea you have to understand is that high, conditioner levels over 80 ppm can and will make your spa water aggressive, so drain your spa water if the conditioner level rises over 80 ppm.
This cyanuric alkalinity factor is why we switch our swimming pools to liquid chlorine in the colder months of the year, because swimming pools are more difficult to drain and need a lot more water to fill up. Draining swimming pool water is very important as well and this, current, California draught is making things very challenging.
A good rule of thumb is to drain your spa water as soon as your conditioner level is over 80 ppm., your spa water smells bad or is cloudy, or your spa water is more then 3 or 4 months old.
The next thing we will test is foam which can be done by turning the jets on. If you see the spa turn into a bubble bath, you know it needs some foam down.
Once you have balanced the spa water and added enough sanitizer to target ideal, chemical levels to last the following week, your spa is ready to use. Make sure it is brushed, cleaned, and hot and make this another, pleasurable, spa water experience in Irvine, Ca.
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