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Brand Specific Forums => Hot Spring Spas => Topic started by: Galaxybrooks on February 01, 2021, 03:53:17 pm

Title: Freshwater Salt Cartridge Lifespan Experiences
Post by: Galaxybrooks on February 01, 2021, 03:53:17 pm
Hello fellow hot tubbers.  My new Caldera from Oct 2020 has been burning through Salt cartridges every 6 weeks since new.  Read through some posts and see some fellow Hot Springs/Caldera owners are experiencing similar problems.  Was wanting to hear some feedback from owners of the Freshwater Salt Systems that may have not experienced early cartridge failure, so we all know your out there, and/or what you've done to mitigate the problem and extend the life of the cartridge's.

Our dealer is discounting the cartridges for those who are having short lifespans but I'd rather not replace these things every other month if possible.  Testing for phosphates this week and will post an update in a few weeks.
Title: Re: Freshwater Salt Cartridge Lifespan Experiences
Post by: Hottubguy on February 01, 2021, 05:28:13 pm
I will start with I’m a dealer of Caldera. I have that system on my own tub and have been getting at a minimum 4 months out of cartridges most of the time closer to 6 months on my own tub. That being said I did have a run of cartridges that my customers were buying that were failing prematurely. On the cartridges you have is the clip on them black or grey?  The piece you push in to put the cartridge in the holder?  The newer ones are grey and they supposedly are a fix to that problem. I was swapping out the cartridges that failed quick for new ones and sent them back to Watkins for testing. I mailed In mid January and haven’t heard anything about them yet.
Title: Re: Freshwater Salt Cartridge Lifespan Experiences
Post by: Galaxybrooks on February 01, 2021, 06:55:10 pm
The original one that was installed at delivery has a black clip/button, I kept it. I bought a year supply of 3 in a box when I bought the tub and those are Grey including the one in the tub currently.  My current cartridge was installed around Dec 20th and today just went from 12'oclock/2'oclock position to 7oclock right in the yellow.  Last time that happened the tub stopped generating chlorine and the system went inactive about 2 weeks later.  I'm guessing a new cartridge will need to go in within a week or two.  I'm have a Tahetian model and I shock the tub once a week with oxidizer and add chlorine manually usually once a week when the chlorine levels drop to 1 or less for more than a day or two.  I need to keep output at 10 to maintain 3 ppm most of the time.
Title: Re: Freshwater Salt Cartridge Lifespan Experiences
Post by: Hottubguy on February 01, 2021, 07:28:24 pm
Is your dealer replacing the cartridges?  Are you on the same batch of three?  Did the original one last longer?  Why 10 for a output?  I could see the cartridges not lasting long if they were kept at a 10 all the time. I have a Geneva and keep my setting much lower but I do have ozone on my tub. Customers that don’t have ozone I usually have them keep setting on a Tahitian to a level 6-7 and it maintains a chlorine level.
Title: Re: Freshwater Salt Cartridge Lifespan Experiences
Post by: Sammi on February 01, 2021, 07:50:07 pm
Mine that have been failing have the gray button.
Title: Re: Freshwater Salt Cartridge Lifespan Experiences
Post by: Galaxybrooks on February 01, 2021, 08:16:32 pm
No replacement for what I purchased and still have 2 remaining from the box of three. My dealer is offering 50% off my next batch to make up for the shortened life span.  The original one lasted 6 weeks before the tub shut off the salt system.  10 is what is needed to maintain 3ppm without manually adding dichlor granules.  I would say the output is at 10 about 50% of the time.  When we leave for 3 days or longer I spike the chlorine up to 5ppm and reduce the output to 3 or 4 until we return like the manual suggests.  Usually return to a 2 or 3ppm unless the cartridge is almost dead.  When I lower the output to 6 or 7 the tub drops to .5 to 1 ppm chlorine with daily use.  After a couple days of staying below 3ppm I'll increase the output to 10 and add a little dichlor to assist with getting the levels back in line.  To summarize, I'm adding oxidizer shock once a week, manually adding chlorine once a week and keeping the output at 10 half the time along with a little ph up or down sometimes to keep things in target.  With the salt dial reading in the yellow as of today I'm assuming the cartridge I installed in Dec is on its last leg.
Title: Re: Freshwater Salt Cartridge Lifespan Experiences
Post by: Hottubguy on February 01, 2021, 08:23:04 pm
Seems like it’s a mixed bag by reading comments on different forums. I will say my customers for the most part aren’t experiencing these problems. We have a few here and there but overall the system has been doing what it’s supposed to be doing. Have they replaced the controller on yours at all?  Are you noticing a calcium or white buildup on the cartridge?
Title: Re: Freshwater Salt Cartridge Lifespan Experiences
Post by: Galaxybrooks on February 01, 2021, 08:31:00 pm
I'm thrilled to hear that.  Hoping to dial this in soon.  I was mistaken they've all been Grey clips. No replacement of any parts by the dealer. Yes there is a white haze covering both sides of the cartridge I replaced. Is it possible to clean the sides off and reinstall? 

My calcium levels have always been on the low side of target around 25.

By the way thanks for all your input.
Title: Re: Freshwater Salt Cartridge Lifespan Experiences
Post by: Hottubguy on February 01, 2021, 10:03:25 pm
I would try cleaning it with either a muriatic acid or vinegar solution. Get the white off and put it in and try it again. My own tub was one of the original Freshwater tubs that they made available for beta testing. It has come a long ways from when it first originated. I wonder if your dealer just got a bad batch of cells. The ones I had that were bad were all from one particular order of replacement cells. Has the dealer been having problems with other customers systems?
Title: Re: Freshwater Salt Cartridge Lifespan Experiences
Post by: Galaxybrooks on February 03, 2021, 03:21:24 pm
As expected the system went inactive today a couple hours after I turned the output down to 6.  Right at 6 weeks again just like the first cartridge.  Replaced and back to 12o'clock on the dial.  Will update when I get the phosphates tested.
Title: Re: Freshwater Salt Cartridge Lifespan Experiences
Post by: Galaxybrooks on February 05, 2021, 02:37:51 pm
Got my water tested and phosphates came back at 3000.  I was told 125 is where I need to be.  Everything else was balanced well.  Going to get some phosphate remover from the dealer and update on progress as I go.
Title: Re: Freshwater Salt Cartridge Lifespan Experiences
Post by: Hottubguy on February 05, 2021, 09:40:02 pm
I would understand with a phosphate level of 3000 not holding chlorine but that shouldn’t make you fly through cells like you are
Title: Re: Freshwater Salt Cartridge Lifespan Experiences
Post by: jzellers on April 19, 2021, 02:54:21 pm
Got my water tested and phosphates came back at 3000.  I was told 125 is where I need to be.  Everything else was balanced well.  Going to get some phosphate remover from the dealer and update on progress as I go.

Hi, I am having similar issues, 5th cartridge in 8 months.  I am curious if you are on well water or city/municipal?  My technician has mentioned Phosphates before but has never tested.  I assumed that municipal water would not have such an issue but i could be wrong. 
Also curious if the phosphate remover worked.
Thanks
Title: Re: Freshwater Salt Cartridge Lifespan Experiences
Post by: Sammi on April 20, 2021, 11:14:56 pm
Got my water tested and phosphates came back at 3000.  I was told 125 is where I need to be.  Everything else was balanced well.  Going to get some phosphate remover from the dealer and update on progress as I go.

Hi, I am having similar issues, 5th cartridge in 8 months.  I am curious if you are on well water or city/municipal?  My technician has mentioned Phosphates before but has never tested.  I assumed that municipal water would not have such an issue but i could be wrong. 
Also curious if the phosphate remover worked.
Thanks

Is your spa fairly new? I received my spa about 7 months ago in September. I went through 5 cartridges by January. I drained my spa around January 9th, and started fresh with new water and a new cartridge. I added about 3 oz of phosphate remover per dealer testing instructions and almost 4 months later I'm still on the same cartridge. In fact my cartridge has outlasted my water as I just changed it again yesterday and am still using my cartridge from January.

My dealer said all their customers were struggling with the cartridges since last fall. But they also acknowledged they weren't treating phosphates much. They tested but didn't necessarily treat it. I think its a combination of bad cartridges and phosphates issues.

It will be telling when my current cartridge goes out. I still have 3 that I purchased from last fall. My current cartridge came from a different cartridge order back in January. When its time to put a new cartridge in if the new cartridge doesn't last very long I'll for sure that the batch was bad.
Title: Re: Freshwater Salt Cartridge Lifespan Experiences
Post by: Galaxybrooks on April 25, 2021, 06:19:00 pm
Thanks to everyone for adding to the thread.  Update since February after treating phosphates. Good news, phosphate remover did its job and brought levels down to zero and made the water super clear after adding the clarifier.  I've had the water tested once a month since January and levels have all been inline with manufacturer recommendations.  I continue to oxidize shock once a week.  I've been able to reduce the salt output levels down to normal use levels with good results.  I do an occasional manual chlorine shock to 5ppm when I travel and always come back with Chlorine levels around 2 to 3ppm.  Bad news, my last 2 salt cartridges both went out after 8 weeks like clockwork.  I've just picked up a new batch of 3 and a system cleaner and will be doing a full drain and refill and running the cleaner through the jets after the current cartridge goes out.  Hopeful that after a refill I'll get 3 to 4 months out of these things.
Title: Re: Freshwater Salt Cartridge Lifespan Experiences
Post by: Olivia23 on April 26, 2021, 02:54:22 pm
That's good to hear. I'm getting ready to put a down payment on a Hot Springs Envoy and I've been debating about taking off the Freshwater system because of all the issues people are having. I really want the saltwater system since everyone says it feels so much better on your skin but I wonder if it's worth the headache and the cost.
Title: Re: Freshwater Salt Cartridge Lifespan Experiences
Post by: Spatech_tuo on April 26, 2021, 04:23:21 pm
That's good to hear. I'm getting ready to put a down payment on a Hot Springs Envoy and I've been debating about taking off the Freshwater system because of all the issues people are having. I really want the saltwater system since everyone says it feels so much better on your skin but I wonder if it's worth the headache and the cost.

This is where good dealers come shine. Its interesting how it seems phosphates are key to getting this to work properly but a good dealer should be setting up the customer to win on water care no matter the system being used. Discuss all of this with your dealer in detail and see if it seems like they'll be a good guide, sometimes its not the salesperson but someone else at teh dealer who knows this area best (hopefully its everyone there but not always).

Its great to get info here but the dealer should be directing you from the moment the spa is delivered (or even beforehand really) rather than you learning here after you've been struggling in your back yard. When products are new dealers have to learn as well but its not like this was unveiled last month. We all say how important the dealer is in the customer satisfaction area and this is an example.
Title: Re: Freshwater Salt Cartridge Lifespan Experiences
Post by: jzellers on May 11, 2021, 11:05:44 am

Yeah, my spa is about the same age as yours.  I have drained once and it didn't affect the cartridge lifespan.  I have also tried lower output settings and that didn't seem to work either.  If the issue persists I will have to make the dealer test for phosphates. 


Got my water tested and phosphates came back at 3000.  I was told 125 is where I need to be.  Everything else was balanced well.  Going to get some phosphate remover from the dealer and update on progress as I go.

Hi, I am having similar issues, 5th cartridge in 8 months.  I am curious if you are on well water or city/municipal?  My technician has mentioned Phosphates before but has never tested.  I assumed that municipal water would not have such an issue but i could be wrong. 
Also curious if the phosphate remover worked.
Thanks

Is your spa fairly new? I received my spa about 7 months ago in September. I went through 5 cartridges by January. I drained my spa around January 9th, and started fresh with new water and a new cartridge. I added about 3 oz of phosphate remover per dealer testing instructions and almost 4 months later I'm still on the same cartridge. In fact my cartridge has outlasted my water as I just changed it again yesterday and am still using my cartridge from January.

My dealer said all their customers were struggling with the cartridges since last fall. But they also acknowledged they weren't treating phosphates much. They tested but didn't necessarily treat it. I think its a combination of bad cartridges and phosphates issues.

It will be telling when my current cartridge goes out. I still have 3 that I purchased from last fall. My current cartridge came from a different cartridge order back in January. When its time to put a new cartridge in if the new cartridge doesn't last very long I'll for sure that the batch was bad.
Title: Re: Freshwater Salt Cartridge Lifespan Experiences
Post by: mgulya on September 10, 2021, 02:38:36 pm
So I have a Caldera spa that just hit 1 year in July, and I too have the Freshwater Salt system cartridge.
Here is what I have learned to make my life easier:
1. I ordered Phosphate test strips https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00MGKF32C/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1 (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00MGKF32C/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1)
2. Phosphate remover: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00PZZFQRM/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1 (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00PZZFQRM/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1)
3. when ever i get 1 0 reading of chlorine in my tub i test for phosphates and depending on the reading seems like once i hit 300 i lose chlorine, 1st I add 1 cup of liquid shock followed by the phosphate remover. 24 hrs later i retest and see where i am at. this keeps my water good for about 10 months.
cartridge issues i had 1 work for the 4 months and reach when the display said time to change it out.
every other cartridge somewhere in the 2-3 months will say low output levels. once i put a new one in everything works. My dealer says it is a chemical balance issue but i just got all my levels perfect and it still says low output.
has anyone figured out how to get 3-4 months with these cells. mine are all black with a grey little button and gray tabs on the side.
Title: Re: Freshwater Salt Cartridge Lifespan Experiences
Post by: wcmorris on September 15, 2021, 08:39:17 am
I've had my new Envoy for a little over a month now and have been struggling to get the salt system to work properly. I initially had an issue with alkalinity and pH being high and it took weeks before I could get it balanced. During that time, the salt system always showed 'okay' with the arrow hovering in the left yellow and sometimes hitting perfect. I had my best stretch with the salt system after I took a water sample to my dealer and they said I needed to lower the phosphates. Once I did this, it seemed to run pretty well for a week or two. However, I have also noticed it's had trouble maintaining chlorine on it's own. I've been adding non-chlorine shock twice a week to help it maintain and I've been boosting the salt cartridge and leaving it between 8 and 10 output just to keep the chlorine levels within range. Yesterday, the green light started blinking and it looks like now my salt cartridge is dead after 1 month.

I'll say that when the system works it is nice. The water feels soft and doesn't dry out my skin like a typical hot tub. But so far is been a headache to maintain and now my cell is dead 3 months premature. I think I'll give it once more shot now that I understand the system a little more maybe I'll have better luck. If it still struggle then I'll probably abandon it and look at the @ease system instead.

Any suggestions on how to have better luck with the salt system is appreciated. For instance, should I be shocking the tub twice a week? When do I boost instead of shock? What would you expect the output level should be set to for two people using the tub for 30 minutes a day?
Title: Re: Freshwater Salt Cartridge Lifespan Experiences
Post by: Sammi on September 15, 2021, 08:32:07 pm
Put Ah-Some or another similar product in and drain it.  Then start over with fresh water, balance alkalinity and ph, and use Spa Guard Chlorine Enhanced Spa Shock once or twice a week depending on usage. I put some in after about every 3rd or 4th spa usage and keep my output on 6. The system has worked great since my first drain and refill using the above method. Oh yeah - also have your water tested for phosphates.
Title: Re: Freshwater Salt Cartridge Lifespan Experiences
Post by: wcmorris on September 16, 2021, 10:51:49 am
Put Ah-Some or another similar product in and drain it.  Then start over with fresh water, balance alkalinity and ph, and use Spa Guard Chlorine Enhanced Spa Shock once or twice a week depending on usage. I put some in after about every 3rd or 4th spa usage and keep my output on 6. The system has worked great since my first drain and refill using the above method. Oh yeah - also have your water tested for phosphates.

Thanks for the input. Sounds like you had the same issues I've been dealing with so glad to hear you got it figured out. I'll follow the same method and see if I have any luck.
Title: Re: Freshwater Salt Cartridge Lifespan Experiences
Post by: swaney on September 17, 2021, 09:19:38 pm
Galaxy
 How many gallons is your spa?
Title: Re: Freshwater Salt Cartridge Lifespan Experiences
Post by: Galaxybrooks on September 26, 2021, 09:23:57 pm
I believe it's 375. 

Update since my flush, drain, and refill first week of June.

I'm still on the same salt cartridge heading into the end of 4 months next week.  I'm going to say a drain and refill with proper balance to begin with makes all the difference.  Considering the summer has been hot and we have been traveling the tub spent a lot of time in vacation mode but even so the tub has been pretty good at sanitizing with a 4 to 5 setting when in use.  In fact most of the time it's been at at 3 or 4.  Weather here in NC has been starting to get back into the upper 50's at night so we have been using the hotub a lot the last week so I've had to use Oxidizer and the boost function to keep up with the demand.  Being I'm close to 4 months on the mineral stick and cartridge that may be part of the need for turning up the salt settings.  Salt has been at a perfect 1750 for the most part.

Final thoughts I think the drain and refill helped but given the summer months contributed to little use I'm going to have to see how things go moving forward in the cooler months as we frequent the warm bath waters of Caldera in the ole backyardo.

My dealer had been as helpful as possible and stand behind that most people don't have much trouble with the system and their now recommending a drain and refill If things aren't working as expected.
Title: Re: Freshwater Salt Cartridge Lifespan Experiences
Post by: JohnMillard on February 23, 2022, 11:42:31 am
Having same problem.  Every ~ 45 days, like clockwork, the salt cartridge fails.  The've been out five times and are trying one more thing tomorrow, but they say if that doesn't fix it then I'm relegated to replacing for the lifetime of the tub every 45 days and they will credit the short life of each cartridge.  Not happy with this response after spending almost $20,000
Title: Re: Freshwater Salt Cartridge Lifespan Experiences
Post by: jonat on March 01, 2022, 03:35:51 pm
I received the following from my dealer today:

"Greetings from the Mainely Tubs Service Team,

We are reaching out to you today, not only as a valued customer but also as a salt system hot tub user.

We wish to update you with some very important changes to the salt system water care procedures. We have seen an increase in foaming and shortened life spans of customer ACE® cells and FreshWater® salt cartridges. Normal explanations and corrections have not been as effective as we would like to see, which prompted Mainely Tubs to do some research and testing. Our findings have revealed that the cause, in most cases, is related to high levels of phosphates in the water.

Phosphates are not harmful and are naturally occurring compounds in our lives that are found in our food, water, and bodies. They are introduced to our water with detergents, lotions, rain and snow runoff, dirt and soil, animal droppings, lawn and garden products, etc. We have discovered phosphates in both well and city water supplies.

Due to these findings, we are now recommending that our salt water customers test for phosphates.

If Mainely Tubs or you should discover a phosphate issue, there will be an added step to your water care treatment. It requires an additional test and if positive will require that you add the appropriate amount of Natural Chemistry® Phosfree® phosphate remover, which is a product that Mainely Tubs now stocks and sells, including the appropriate Natural Chemistry® Phosphate test strips. While this is an added step and expense, we feel strongly that once this becomes part of your normal tub maintenance, if needed, you will experience better water quality and a more enjoyable hot tub experience."

(The test strips and remover are cheaper on Amazon.)
Title: Re: Freshwater Salt Cartridge Lifespan Experiences
Post by: Sammi on March 01, 2022, 10:45:48 pm
Having same problem.  Every ~ 45 days, like clockwork, the salt cartridge fails.  The've been out five times and are trying one more thing tomorrow, but they say if that doesn't fix it then I'm relegated to replacing for the lifetime of the tub every 45 days and they will credit the short life of each cartridge.  Not happy with this response after spending almost $20,000

Have they tested for phosphates? As previously noted my tub has worked great getting 4-6 months out of my sticks now (had the same issues as you the first 3 months). Stagnant water on first start up and high phosphates are the two culprits I've discovered. Phosphate remover is cheap, and really only needs to be used at initial fill.
Title: Re: Freshwater Salt Cartridge Lifespan Experiences
Post by: jonat on March 03, 2022, 02:58:31 pm
Just tested my new spa for phosphates - wow! a 1000 reading. PhosFree coming tomorrow.
Title: Re: Freshwater Salt Cartridge Lifespan Experiences
Post by: LRing1961 on May 05, 2022, 12:51:41 pm
I have a 2019 Limelight Flash. I've had it two years and kept perfect records on each cartridge change. For me it's every 6 weeks. All have been grey button (i'm pretty sure - certainly all of the last batch were). I keep it at 7, per dealer recommendation. I tried it at 3 and 4 for a while, but we use it every day, 20-30 minutes per day, and it wasn't keeping up.

Is this normal? It feels like A LOT of cartridges, which are not cheap, by the way.
Title: Re: Freshwater Salt Cartridge Lifespan Experiences
Post by: cranbiz on May 06, 2022, 09:20:40 am
I have a 2019 Limelight Flash. I've had it two years and kept perfect records on each cartridge change. For me it's every 6 weeks. All have been grey button (i'm pretty sure - certainly all of the last batch were). I keep it at 7, per dealer recommendation. I tried it at 3 and 4 for a while, but we use it every day, 20-30 minutes per day, and it wasn't keeping up.

Is this normal? It feels like A LOT of cartridges, which are not cheap, by the way.

Are you testing for Phosphates? If not, start testing. The phosphate level should be 300ppm or less for optimum salt cartridge life.
Title: Re: Freshwater Salt Cartridge Lifespan Experiences
Post by: LRing1961 on May 06, 2022, 06:55:03 pm
Just talked to my dealer. He checked my phosphate level and it's zero. He says I should be getting 4 months from each cartridge, but I'm getting 6 weeks.

He said that the granular shock (orange top bottle) that I regularly use contains a stabilizer and my levels of stabilizer were off the charts. There's a name for it, some kind of acid, I think it begins with an "a". Anyway, he sold me some liquid chlorine and told me to drain the tub and start over with fresh water, and to get rid of that shock I've been using. We'll see how that goes.
Title: Re: Freshwater Salt Cartridge Lifespan Experiences
Post by: Sam on May 08, 2022, 01:23:34 pm
Cyanuric Acid.  It stabilizes chlorine but builds up and causes problems.
Title: Re: Freshwater Salt Cartridge Lifespan Experiences
Post by: LRing1961 on May 08, 2022, 01:32:01 pm
Yes! Thank you! Anyway, he switched me to a much cheaper liquid product. We'll see what happens.

Should I look up what problems Cyanuric acid causes? Do I even want to know?
Title: Re: Freshwater Salt Cartridge Lifespan Experiences
Post by: Sammi on May 08, 2022, 09:55:05 pm
Its a chlorine stabilizer user in granular chlorine. It accumulates. I've been using Spa Guard Chlorine Enhanced Shock (orange cap) and haven't had any issues. I add 2-3 tablespoons about every 4th use and haven't had trouble with CYA climbing. If you are vaing trouble then the liquid is definitely worth the try.
Title: Re: Freshwater Salt Cartridge Lifespan Experiences
Post by: cranbiz on May 09, 2022, 10:03:55 am
You don't want CYA above 30PPM. Less is better in most cases.

As said above, it stabilizes chlorine and helps keep levels of chlorine in the sun (UV). In a hot tub that usually isn't exposed to sunlight, it doesn't break down.