Caring for your Residential Pool Verses Caring for your Residential Spa
From time to time people think that the maintenance and water treatment programs for spas and hot tubs (hereinafter “spas”) is the same as water treatment and maintenance for swimming pools. However, swimming pools and spas are very different bodies of water and their maintenance must be approached in different ways.
The difference in size and temperature between residential pools and spas prompts the need for a distinct approach to maintenance. For example, the average temperature range for a swimming pool is between 79–84 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas the typical spa ranges from 98–104 degrees. In spas, higher temperatures, along with numerous jets, leads to a much higher rate of evaporation than in swimming pools. Without the proper maintenance program and attention to water chemistry, the higher rate of evaporation can lead higher calcium levels and scaling. Likewise, because spas are much smaller, one person in a backyard spa is equivalent to approximately 83 people in a backyard swimming pool. The size difference between swimming pools and spas also means, that variations in chemicals has a greater impact on the water’s pH (measure of the acids or bases in the water).
Maintaining the proper water chemistry in your spa is extremely important. Proper maintenance and appropriate water treatments can help to prolong the life of your spa’s surface and components (i.e. jets, pumps, and blowers). Perhaps even more important, proper water chemistry is key to a sanitary spa.
When a person enters a swimming pool or spa, they bring with them germs. Due to their small size, this waste places a greater load on the chemicals being used to keep the spa sanitary and safe. The smaller size and higher temperatures of spa create a higher risk of infection than in a pool. Fortunately, according to the Center for Disease Control, the appropriate maintenance schedule and water treatment plan (including maintaining the proper pH and sanitizing program) makes the risk of infection low.
The foundation of spa chemistry is establishing the proper alkalinity. Without proper alkalinity, pH cannot be properly adjusted. For a spa, the total alkalinity should be between 80–120 parts per million (“ppm”).
Once the proper alkalinity is established, it is imperative to establish the proper pH. The lower the pH, the more acidic the water and the higher the pH, the more alkaline the water. If the pH is too low (too acidic) it can cause etching on the spa’s finish and be abrasive on the spa’s components. A pH that is too high can lead to problems with scale and calcium deposits. Achieving and maintaining a proper pH is critical for the longevity of your spa’s finish and components.
Ensuring that your spa is sanitary is key to the health of its users. Chlorine and bromine are the chemicals most frequently used to sanitize a spa. If sanitizing with chlorine, the proper level is approximately 3 ppm and if using bromine, the proper level should be between 4–6 ppm. Often, spa owners opt to use bromine instead of chlorine because it does not break down as quickly in hot water as chlorine.
Spas should also be shocked regularly. It is important to try to “shock” your spa with a higher amount of sanitizer after each use (regardless of whether there was one person in the spa or multiple people). Because chlorine and bromine break down in the high temperatures, the “shock” provides an additional sanitizing boost to the water. Additionally, water clarifiers should be used to help prevent the spa from becoming cloudy and should be implemented as part of your regular spa maintenance program.
With regular maintenance, your spa can remain beautiful, clean, and well-functioning for years. When it is time for a remodel or if you are ready for a change, Advanced Pool & Spa Inc., can assist you with your spa (and swimming pool) resurfacing and remodeling needs. Please visit our gallery at http://www.advancedpool-spa.com/gallery/ to look at some of our beautiful work!