Anyone that owns a hot tub knows that there is a bit of a learning curve to hot tub ownership. With that in mind, we thought we would compile our list of questions that are frequently asked by new hot tub owners and give you the answers!
Can You Run A Hot Tub Without Chemicals?
One of the most common questions we get from new hot tub owners is “can we run our hot tub without chemicals?” The answer is no. Hot tubs require chemicals to make the water safe for you to use, and to protect the hot tub itself from damage.
While you will always need to add chemicals to your hot tub, there are ways to reduce the amount of chemicals that your hot tub requires. Ozonators, for example, produce ozone gas that help to kill bacteria, greatly reducing the amount of sanitizer (chlorine or bromine) that you will need to add to the water to keep it safe. Ozonators are typically added at the factory though. If you already have your hot tub, products like the Nature 2 mineral cartridge can also help to control bacteria in the water, without needing to retrofit your hot tub.
What Chemicals Do I Need To Put Into The Water?
When you add chemicals to water you are generally doing one of two things:
- Keep the water in your hot tub clear and safe to use by killing bacteria.
- Extending the life of your hot tub, and making the water more comfortable to be in, by ensuring that the water is well “balanced”.
To keep the water clear and safe to use you will need to regularly add either chlorine or bromine sanitizer to the water. If you’re using tablets, you will need to add new tablets every week or so. If you’re using powder, you’ll need to add more after every use, or every 2-3 days when not in use.
Along with regularly adding sanitizer, you should also “shock” the water once every 1-2 weeks. Shocking the water removes used up sanitizer that build up in the water over time. To shock your hot tub you can either use a larger dose of sanitizer, or a specialty shock product. For more info, talk to your hot tub retailer.
Water balancing chemicals are chemicals that change the pH, alkalinity and calcium hardness of the hot tub water. When the pH, alkalinity or calcium hardness of the water are “out of balance” you will notice your skin gets dried out and your eyes get red and irritated. Over time, unbalanced water can also corrode the metal components of your hot tub, damage rubber seals and o-rings, or cause scale to form in the plumbing and on the walls of the hot tub.
Adding chemicals to improve water balance is only done when needed. You should never get in the habit of regularly adding balancing chemicals as water balance changes aren’t consistent. The only way to tell if you should add water balancing chemicals is to get your water tested.
How Often Should I Test The Hot Tub Water?
So how often should you test your water for balance? We recommend having your water professionally tested for balance once every month. Having your water professionally tested not only gives you more accurate results than home tests, you’re also provided with a print out showing you exactly what steps you need to take to get the water balanced again.
Along with getting your water professionally tested once per month, we also recommend that you test the water yourself with a simple at home testing kit 2-3 times per week. When testing the water at home, your main concern should be your sanitizer level. If your sanitizer level is low, add more before using the hot tub. If it’s too high, stop adding your chlorine / bromine until the level comes back down to within the normal range.
How Do Hot Tubs Keep The Water Clean?
Chemicals alone can’t keep a hot tub clean and clear. Without a filtration system, hot tub water would quickly fill up with oils, lotions, small debris like sand and leaves, and dead bacteria.
For this reason all hot tubs come equipped with a micro filter. This filter is usually located near the surface of the water inside of the “skimmer”. The skimmer catches dirt and debris using a floating door or weir. Once trapped inside the skimmer, larger debris is caught in the filter basket while oils, lotions and smaller debris is caught in the micro-filter.
To keep your hot tub filtration system running well, you need to periodically clean your micro filter.
How Often Should I Clean / Replace My Filter?
We generally recommend giving your micro filter a basic clean every 1-2 weeks. To do this, simply remove the filter and clean it with some running water, either from your sink or garden hose.
Along with these basic cleanings, you should also chemically clean the filter every 3-4 months to remove any built up oils and lotions. This can be done by submerging the filter in a specialty cleaning solution. Talk to your retailer for more information.
Cleaning your filters will only go so far however. Over time, micro filters wear out and need to be replaced. To maintain good filtration, replace your hot tub filter every 12-18 months.
Why Is My Water Cloudy?
Cloudy water is usually caused by one of four things:
- Not enough sanitizer in the water.
- Poor water balance.
- Poor filtration.
- Old water.
If your hot tub water is cloudy, take a sample of your water in for testing. If the water test shows problems with either sanitizer or water balance, follow the directions to fix the problem. Your water should then clear up in 1-2 days.
If the water test shows everything is good, your problem could an old filter. If your hot tub filter is more than 12 months old, replace it. If your filter is still pretty new, the issue could be that your hot tub water is “old”.
How Often Should I Change The Water In A Hot Tub?
Even if you add the right chemicals and regularly clean your filter, the water in your hot tub will eventually need to be changed.
Over time, hot tub water accumulates various minerals and other ultra fine debris; commonly referred to as total dissolved solids (or TDS for short). When your TDS gets too high, your water will become cloudy very easily, will develop foam when the jets are on, and can feel “hard” on your skin.
Generally speaking, you should change your hot tub water when the TDS gets to a level of 1500. For most hot tubs, this means you will have to change the water every 3-4 months, although you should get your water tested to confirm. Self-Cleaning hot tubs from Hydropool are the exception. Their ultra efficient filtration system allows them to go up to 6 months in between water changes.
For new hot tub owners, maintaining a hot tub can seem daunting at first. There are many little things that you must remember to do in order to keep the hot tub running properly. Once you’ve owned a hot tub for a little while, however, you get more comfortable and realize that maintaining a hot tub is actually pretty simple. All you need to do is follow a basic weekly, monthly and annual maintenance schedule and you will enjoy many years of worry free hot tub ownership!