Spa Chemical Maintenance
You cannot operate a spa chemical free!
The importance of proper chemical maintenance of your spa cannot be stressed enough. Proper chemical care is not only critical for user safety and hygiene, but also to prevent damage to equipment due to poor maintenance.
Spas are often overlooked when compared with pools, as far as chemicals are concerned, by pool shop professionals, and owners alike. They are very different from pools in chemical requirements.
Proper chemical maintenance for spas is broken into 3 main categories -
3. Water Balance
Sanitation is achieved in a number of ways, some more effective than others in particular applications. The most popular effective methods are listed below.
Chlorine, Chlorine/Nature 2, Ozone, Biguanide / AQUASPA
We do NOT endorse the use of Bromine in spas AT ALL due to high incidence of equipment and component failure as a result of incorrect care when using this product. We offer no warranty on parts supplied when used in spas sanitised by Bromine. We highly recommend an alternate sanitiser as listed here - the cause - Bromine has a very low acidic pH that constantly drags overall spa pH down. The resultant acid bath, if left uncorrected, causes corrosion of all spa parts.
Ozone - This is definitely our preferred choice of sanitiser in the 24hr CD venturi injection version. A 24hr CIRCULATION PUMP IS ESSENTIAL FOR THIS SYSTEM TO WORK EFFECTIVELY. (otherwise we highly recommend you consider the AQUASPA chemical system discussed below). An extremely effective sanitiser when set up correctly. Don't assume all ozone systems work effectively - most spas are not set up with 24 hour ozonation. In these cases ozone must be complimented with significant doses of one of the other sanitiser systems listed above. Generally these systems only operate when the main pump is running 2-6 hours per day. Ozone only lasts for 18 seconds after the generator stops producing, therefore the other 18-22 hours per day need another form of sanitiser. These systems do cut down on chemical requirements, proportional to the time run per day. A corona discharge system fitted and set up to operate 6 hours minimum will effectively kill bacteria in the spa already, meaning that a residual sanitiser level of another type may be all that is required.
True 24 hour Ozone - Extremely effective sanitiser for spas. When ozone is generated 24 hours per day at the correct levels, it offers around the clock operation. The amount of additional sanitiser required is minimal. This can depend on a number of factors such as showering before use, number of users, and ozone levels produced. The addition of a non-chlorine oxidiser after each use will destroy user introduced organic waste, etc. The most effective form of 24 hour is that where the system incorporates the use of a circulation pump and a venturi ozone injector. These systems are generally found on American spas, but are becoming more widespread with a number of Australian Spa Manufacturers adopting this style of sanitation.
Two types of ozone generation exist - Ultra-violet and Corona Discharge.
UV generators are cheaper to purchase, but require frequent lamp replacement (every 3 years) to ensure effective output. Corona Discharge Ozone generators produce a constant output for their life at a higher rate than UV generators, so are more effective, but at additional cost. They are usually unrepairable, and require replacement. CD generators are the better choice.
Nature 2 / Spa Frog - This system utilizes a cartridge containing silver particles to react with bio-organisms with effective killing power. It is completely odour free, has no impact on pH, and requires no ongoing adjustments. It is simply replaced every 3-4 months when the spa is drained and refilled. When used in conjunction with chlorine (lithium Hypochlorite) correctly, this method is a good choice for minimising chemicals.
Chlorine - Lithium Hypochlorite only - a common cost effective sanitiser - it alters the pH - only very slightly high. It is also necessary to add chlorine 2-3 times per week when used as a sanitiser. It is an excellent additive in conjunction with the use of ozone or Nature 2.
You must NOT use swimming pool liquid, granular or tablet chlorine in spas. Lithium Hypochlorite is formulated for spas.
This is the process of burning out organic waste, body oils and fats, and breaking down the oxide barrier on chemicals and chemical by-products. This is a critical component of effective spa care and must be used with all sanitiser systems. Commonly used oxidisers are Chlorine, Potassium Monopersulphate, and Sodium Carbonate Peroxyhydrate.
3. Water Balance
Chemical water balance is often overlooked in spas, often as a result of mis-information. Proper water balance is critical to ensure a near neutral, slightly alkaline pH. This ensures spa user safety, extends the life of equipment, particularly heaters, and importantly, is necessary to maintain manufacturers warranty. There are a number of chemicals necessary to ensure a stable accurate pH.
1. pH Buffer - Total Alkalinity Increaser - Bi-Carb - this product stabilises pH and prevents 'pH Bounce' when kept at correct level.
2. pH Increaser - Soda Ash - used to raise pH when low.
3. pH Decreaser - Dry Acid - used to lower pH when high.
Total Alkalinity 80-120 ppm
pH 7.2 to 7.8
Chlorine 1 to 3 ppm
Ozone 0.01 ppm
To check these levels, it is necessary to test with the relevant test strips or kit. Testing frequency depends on use, water temp, and sanitiser system. Generally you should test at least weekly.
When adjusting - Total Alkalinity should be adjusted first, then pH, and sanitiser.
Other Chemical Products
Foam Retardant - a product that reduces surface foaming whilst using the spa - generally foaming is due to improper chemical care, detergents from clothing, body oils, etc. It's usually time to drain and refill when foaming occurs, rather than 'masking' the problem with this product. Don't use if not absolutely necessary.
Clarifier - clears cloudy water - it clumps minute particles to allow them to be trapped in the filter. As a side effect, it will reduce filter life due to clogging. Not recommended for use with Sundance Spas equipped with Microclean filters, Arctic Spas fitted with optional micro cartridges, LA Spas fitted with Bag Style filters, and any other similar designs - these filters provide super fine filtration, but will clog rapidly with clarifier, thus shortening filter life for Sundance Spas, artesian Spas and Arctic Spas, and increasing cleaning frequency for LA Spas and Southwest Spas filters. Only use a clarifier if you can't achieve clear water after 48 hours of refilling, and frequent filter cartridge washing. Don't use if not absolutely necessary.
Spa Bath Cleaner / Pipe Cleaner - frees built up grime inside spa bath pipework. This should be carried out twice annually.
Products we recommend avoiding - 'pool chemicals', Bromine, Liquid chlorine, liquid acid, 'multi action' chemicals (these chemicals adjust a number of levels simultaneously. This is not desirable when only one or 2 adjustments may be required. It results in over or under dosing, worse water condition and spa jet/heater damage).
Chlorine Remover - used with the AQUASPA chemical system to remove chlorie and bromine residue in existing spas as well as removing chlorine from town water supply when topping up or refilling your spa. An essential component to the AQUASPA range
Calcium Hardness Increaser - used to increase calcium hardness levels in your spa. Generally not required unless rain water is used to fill your spa.
Always refer to the manual for your spa for specific chemical instructions that may be applicable to your spa. Warranty may be void if manufacturers instructions are not followed.