Updated: Mar 11, 2020
The gateway to total relaxation is through a hot tub. But after you’ve finished soaking it all up be sure to add regular hot tub maintenance to your weekly routine.
We often hear of the concern people have with the level of maintenance involved with owning a hot tub. Although you will have to keep an eye on it, honestly, it’s not going to take up a lot of your time… and trust us, it’s so worth it.
Now then, before we get into what’s involved with owning a hot tub… a top tip would be to make sure that you purchase your hot tub from a reputable dealer. Why? Because they’ll be more than happy to pick up the phone and talk you through your hot tub maintenance and chemical care should you get stuck. They should also provide you with adequate chemical training to ensure sure your hot tub doesn’t turn into some crazy lab experiment.
One more thing that you should know before we move onto the 'fun stuff'- know what make and model your hot tub is. This is very important when reporting a problem to anyone who doesn’t otherwise know who you are or what you’ve bought, this information will allow you to get parts and service when needed. Seriously it will make the lives of everyone involved so much easier.
Hot Tub Maintenance, The Basics
So, you’ve decided to take the plunge and you’re a happy hot tub owner, what now?
Here’s the things which you’ll have to put into your daily, weekly and monthly calendar… time it right and you won’t need to miss a single Pilates class.
BISHTA (who are the hot tub industry watchdogs and promote safe water management) suggest that the water in your hot tub should be changed between 1 – 3 months. Now then, what we have found is that generally this is dependent on usage and how (sorry to say this) clean you are going into your hot tub. If you’re one of those who doesn’t wear fake tan, showers before going into the spa… then you’ll be pleased to know that your water may very well last up to the 3-month mark. On the other hand, if you’re one to host regular parties whereby there’s more people going in and out of your hot tub than a train station, who aren’t showering beforehand, then you may want to get that water changed considerably sooner. When you empty the hot tub, this is the perfect opportunity to give the spa a good old clean, we recommend adding some surface cleaner to a soft brush and giving the acrylic and cabinet (if it’s plastic) a once over. Don’t forget to clean behind the headrests. For a more detailed guide on how to change your hot tub water click here.
One thing that can prolong the life of both your hot tub water and the hot tub itself is your chemical care. Now then, this is the part where our customers usually look at us in despair. We’ll tell you what we tell them- it’s a lot easier than you think, and once you’ve got the hang of it (which usually takes a couple of weeks) you’ll be well equipped to set up your own YouTube channel giving chemical advice. Well… maybe not, but you won’t be far off.
First and foremost, please make sure that you always have some testing strips to hand. We’ve all heard the stories about someone who’s never tested their hot tub, maybe they just throw in a Chlorine tablet and let it sink to the bottom of the spa and so far, no one’s died. Please do not use this as an example of how to go about maintaining the chemical balance of your hot tub, it’s important that you get this right.
So, to test your hot tub first turn the pumps on for a good 30 seconds and then turn them back off again, this will ensure the spa water is mixed, enabling you to obtain an accurate reading. Take your test strip and dip it into the centre of the hot tub (where possible) for around 2 seconds. If you have 4-way test strips, here’s what you’re going to see: a reading for Chlorine, Bromine, PH and Alkalinity (TA). Now then if you’re using Chlorine, you can ignore the Bromine reading and vice versa.
Balancing the Water
Before adding your sanitiser (which will either be Chlorine or Bromine), you need to ‘balance the water’. This means you need to get your PH and Alkalinity (TA) levels right first. Whether you’ll need to be using PH+, PH- or TA+ will depend mostly on where you live. Different areas of the UK have varying types of water, for example in North Wales we tend to need PH+ and Alkalinity+ (TA+) where areas of England are the complete opposite. Check your PH and Alkalinity levels on a weekly basis.
It is a good idea to aim to get your PH level between 7.4 and 7.6. If the values are below this range the water will be too acidic, thus eating away at hardware and will likely irritate your skin and eyes. If the values are above this range then the water will reduce your sanitisers effectiveness, which will make your water prone to cloudiness.
For the Alkalinity it would be advisable to aim for a range between 80 – 120 parts per million (ppm). If the Alkalinity gets too high, there is a danger for scaling and cloudiness to occur.
How to add chemical
Stop! Dissolve the chemical before putting it into the hot tub!
When it comes to adding any chemical into the hot tub you should always pre dissolve it into a jug of warm water (yes you can give them a stir, but do not mix them with other chemicals). Then stick the pumps on and add into the filter housing, it’s always a good idea to wait at least 10 minutes before testing the water again and remember, whilst you’re a beginner it’s better to add too little than too much. It’s easier to add more chemical than it is to remove it.
Sanitiser Chlorine/ Bromine
Okay, you’ve balanced your water, congrats… now for the sanitiser. Whether you’ve decided to opt for Bromine or Chlorine the principles are the same, these are the chemicals which are there to kill the bacteria in your hot tub and keep you safe. So, it’s very important that you always have a good level of these in your spa water at all times, because otherwise your hot tub will turn into a breeding ground for god knows what- nobody wants to bathe in pond water.
Repeat the same process as above with pre dissolving your granules into a jug of warm water and add into the filter housing whilst the pumps are on.
Now then, a question we get quite a lot is ‘do I really need Chlorine/ Bromine granules if I use the tablets’ the short answer is yes, yes you do. We class granules as a boost, if there’s 4 of you splashing about in the hot tub and you all get out, whilst you step out of the hot tub you’re actually taking Chlorine/ Bromine out with you (hence why we advise you to shower afterwards). Now, the danger is that if you went back to test the spa water, you may be out of sanitation. This is where your granules come in, you’ll use this to bring your sanitation levels back up to where they need to be. One thing which is important to understand is this: the more bacteria that is in the water, the harder your sanitation needs to work which will affect the speed of which it is used up.
Well… then, why do you need tablets? Your tablets will generally be kept in a ‘chemical dispenser’, or ‘floater’ as we like to call them, just don’t go shouting about how you left a floater in your hot tub. You may very well get some funny looks. So, the tablets are therefore used as a means of maintaining the required level of sanitation in the spa (please remove this when using the hot tub). A good use for this is if you’re going away for a few days, throw a floater in, stacked full of tablets and you can rest easy knowing that your hot tub water will be in tip top condition when you arrive back.
We would recommend that for the first few weeks at least, that you test the hot tub before you go in and once you come out. By doing this you’ll be able to get a general feel of how your use of the tub affects the Chlorine/ Bromine levels. Once you’ve got the hang of this, you can reduce the frequency of which you test the hot tub.
Another thing that you should be adding to your arsenal is non-Chlorine Shock, this is a brilliant way to help kill the bacteria in the water, it’s also your sanitisers right hand man. We would advise to add non-Chlorine shock to your spa once a week.
Other chemicals you might have heard of
There are a range of other chemicals which we won’t delve too deeply into, but we’ll briefly go over some of the main ones.
Spa Sparkle, this helps to keep your spa water crystal clear.
Foam Away, exactly what it says on the tin. This helps to reduce the amount of foam which may be building up in your hot tub.
Surface Cleaner, ideal for making your hot tubs acrylic sparkle. You owe it to your hot tub to keep it looking fresh.
Hot Tub Flush, this eliminates the build-up of soap, oil and body fat deposits. It’s a concentrated internal cleaner for the pipes etc. Hot Tub Flush also removes calcium scale and other unwanted nastiness.
Top tip: Don’t wash your swimming costumes in the washing machine, don’t use washing liquid, soaps etc. The reason being that whatever chemical or detergent is in your costume will stay in your hot tub when you leave, this is generally what causes excessive foam. If you’re looking to give your swimming costume a clean, just rinse/ soak in warm water.
What’s catching all of that not so pleasant stuff, like skin, hair, body oils and god knows what else? You guessed it, your filters. As such, you want to ensure that these are regularly cleaned and well maintained, because an unhappy filter is an unhappy hot tub.
To clean your filter, first turn off your hot tub at the isolator. The reason being that otherwise you may find it very difficult to remove the filter if the hot tub goes into a filter cycle. You also don’t want the hot tub to suck in anything which could damage the hot tub which would otherwise have been caught in the filter.
Next step, spray down the filter with a high-pressure hose pipe, the aim is to get the filter looking white again… or as white as possible.
Then spray the filter with filter cleaner and leave to soak in a bucket of warm water for a minimum of 1-2 hours.
Wash the filter cleaner off the filters using a high-pressure hose pipe, if you can BISHTA recommend that you then leave them to dry before installing them back into the hot tub.
You should aim to clean your filters once every 2 weeks and replace them with new ones every 6 months
Cleaning the hot tub cover
Once a week we would advise that you wipe down the inside and out of your spa cover, this will help to protect the cover against mould and mildew.
Top tip: Have a cover lifter installed. Replacement covers are expensive and as they age and fill with water, they can become very heavy. A cover lifer will not only make your life so much easier as opening up your hot tub becomes a breeze, but you will also prolong the life of the cover- saving you money down the line.
Yearly hot tub maintenance
You’ve made it this far, pat yourself on the back because you’re officially a hot tub pro. Now then, over the year your hot tubs endured a lot and as such you may want to think about giving it some much needed tender loving care. We highly recommend getting all hot tubs serviced on a yearly basis, where we will ensure that everything is still in working order. It is also recommended to have a Bio-Clean, over time Biofilm can build up in the pipework of the spa which restricts the flow of water and protects bacteria from your sanitiser. Giving your hot tub a Bio-Clean (providing it has been carried out by trained professionals) will eliminate the Biofilm and leave you with one seriously happy hot tub.