Hot Tub Buying Guide
Balance your chemicals
Balancing the chemicals in your tub is essential to maintaining healthy water and a functioning tub. It is important to keep your chemicals in balance, not just for the people who will be soaking in the tub, but for the tub itself. Proper chemicals and balance can prolong the life of the tub. And, of course, we want our tubs to run well for as long as possible.
Regular maintenance is essential to hot tub health. Hot tubs are different than pools and different than bath tubs. We would never keep the water in a bath tub sitting day after day. The hot tub, of course, has a filter system so that water is being cleaned and is moving. But the heat creates a great environment for bacteria and other microorganisms to grow. Add in the residue left from the people who soak in the tub and there is plenty in that water that needs to be treated. Deodorant, soap residue, makeup, lotions, oils, perspiration and more all end up in the water. In order to combat these contaminates you will need a sanitizer. There are quite a few options from chlorine and bromine to ozone and mineral purifiers and more. Whichever sanitizer you choose you want to keep the levels in check and also will want to shock your tub every so often.
Now there is more to treating a hot tub than just killing those pesky bacteria and germs, you also need to keep the pH in check. Each tub is different because your water source is different and your tub use varies. Your needs will vary depending on the frequency and duration of use, the number of hot tub visitors and the contaminants they bring and your water source. It is very important to test your water regularly.
How to test your water? Well, it is very simple. Use test strips. These will be available wherever you purchase your chemicals - the local spa dealer, the home improvement store, online. Follow the instructions carefully. You don't want to contaminate the strip with careless actions - your fingers have oils that can change results. Also, test strips have an expiration date. They will break down and not provide accurate results past their date, so be sure to check that before dipping. Take the test strip and put it into the water, at least a foot below the surface. Compare the strip to the color chart provided with the kit. The strip will measure the sanitizer, the pH, and alkalinity. Be sure to look at the strip in good light with a background that doesn't distract or distort the colors. The results will give you an indication of the health of your water. Do you need to add sanitizer or adjust the pH?
You need to measure the pH to keep the water neutral, to keep it from being too basic or to acidic. You want your water pH to be in the range of 7.2 to 7.8. Too low and the acidic water will seek balanace and start to corrode your tub. Too high and the tub might develop scale. There are pH up and pH down products available for you to adjust the water accordingly. Be sure to follow the instructions and retest the water.
You also need to check the water's total alkalinity. TA and pH work together and it's important to keep them working well in balance. Proper TA allows the pH to stabilize. Check these levels regularly.
Calcium hardness is another thing to test. The amount of calcium in the water indicates the water's hardness. Your source water is likely hard or soft and because of that you will need to adjust to get an appropriate level. If the water does not have enough calcium it will seek that out and begin to corrode your tub. If it's high, you will find calcium deposits on your tub. There are products available to raise the CH in your tub.
Change your water. Yes, even with the proper maintenance, checking and adding and balancing chemicals your water still needs to be changed. The chemicals keep things in check but materials still build up in the tub and the tub water needs to be changed periodically. This will vary depending on the frequency, duration and numbers of tub users, but it is recommended to change your tub water every 3 months.
Check your chemical levels with a test strip. According to your results, add the needed products. Check your levels again. Enjoy your hot soak. You deserve it.