Spa and Hot Tub Care – Take a deep breath!
Don’t worry. It isn’t too hard. Remember, if things get out of control, you can always drain the spa and start over!
Here are a few easy tips to help you care for your spa. These simple hot tub maintenance and cleaning tasks will keep your water crystal clear, sanitary, and ready to use. Keep reading to learn the five easy tasks to maintain proper water chemistry and keep your spa equipment in top shape:
Keep Up with Water Chemistry
First, you need to test the water. Then, you can use the test results and make small adjustments to pH, alkalinity, calcium hardness, and sanitizer levels regularly. This means testing the spa water 2-4 times per week and adjusting levels as needed to keep the water balanced within the appropriate ranges:
- Chlorine: 3.0-5.0 ppm
- Bromine: 3.0-5.0 ppm
- pH: 7.4-7.6
- Total Alkalinity: 80-120 ppm
- Calcium Hardness: 150-250 ppm
Keeping a log is a good idea to track your test results and make notes on adjustments. In many cases, you’ll notice patterns in water chemistry, especially with pH and sanitizer levels.
Clean the Spa Filter
The spa filter is usually under the skimmer basket or a filter compartment and can be accessed from the side of the spa, or it can be a small tank assembly that is opened up underneath the spa. You’ll need to locate it first to clean or replace the filter during your spa and hot tub care routine. If it’s underneath the spa, there should be a closable valve that helps prevent water from rushing out when you open the filter. Some water spillage is inevitable when opening it up. The usual method to access the filter cartridge is loosening a large nut or turning the filter body counterclockwise. But if done carefully, this will be very little.
If your spa filter has a pressure gauge attached, the cartridge needs to be cleaned when the pressure rises 8-10 PSI higher than the freshly cleaned pressure reading or when the flow is noticeably reduced. If there’s no gauge on your filter, clean the filter monthly or biweekly according to manufacturer recommendations for your hot tub. Cleaning frequency depends on the size of the filter, the water capacity of the hot tub, and frequency of use.
Replace your spa filter approximately every 3 – 5 years, again depending on usage. The general rule of thumb is to change it every 10-15 cleanings because that’s what breaks down a cartridge. Every time it gets cleaned, the fibers loosen up, losing some of their dirt trapping ability. Keep track of your spa filter’s age and/or cleaning cycles, and pay attention to the filter material because soon, it’s going to be “Hasta la vista, baby!”
Clean the Spa
Speaking of regular hot tub care, full cleaning of all surfaces, the waterline, and plumbing should happen whenever the spa or hot tub is drained, which should be about every 3-4 months. Use quality cleaning products specifically designed for cleaning hot tubs to keep out phosphates, nitrates, and other contaminants that can negatively affect water quality. Be sure NOT to use any household cleaning products or soaps.
For accumulated dirt and debris, vacuum seats and floors with a small vacuum made specifically for spas and hot tubs. The more powerful spa vacuums can quickly remove even large leaves from your hot tub. Most are battery-powered, but there are other styles available.
You can remove floating debris with a simple skimmer net. If you leave the cover off during a windstorm and the spa is full of leaves, use a skimmer net to scoop up larger leaves under the water.
Air Out the Spa Cover
One of the most important things you can do to increase the longevity of your spa cover is to remove it at least twice per week. Use a spa cover lifter to remove it completely. If you don’t have a spa cover lift, gently place it off the spa. Give your cover a few hours to breathe and get away from the constant heat and moisture. If you’re not using it at the time, this is a great opportunity to add chemicals or shock the spa if needed.
Another good spa maintenance practice is the cleaning and conditioning your vinyl spa cover. Especially if your spa is outside, using a spa cover cleaner can quickly remove airborne oils, dirt, tree sap, and pollen. After it’s clean, use a cover conditioner to replenish the vinyl plasticizers that keep your vinyl spa cover soft, strong, and looking great.
Add Fill Water
This hot tub care tip is so often forgotten. However, if the skimmer starts to suck air instead of water, it can damage the pump. The water level should be in the middle of the skimmer intake or a little higher. You don’t want it too high, and you never want to overflow the spa, so keep a close eye on the water level while filling.
Again, to handle 95% of spa and hot tub care and maintenance tasks, just remember these five easy tips:
Test and adjust your spa water balance 2-4 times per week.
Clean the spa filter monthly and chemically clean every 3-4 months.
Add water as needed to keep the spa full.
Keep the spa clean; drain and refill every 3-4 months.
Air out the spa cover twice per week.
That’s all there is to it! If you have any questions about the timing of different hot tub care tasks, or if you’re looking for professionals to do the maintenance for you, call The Pool & Spa Store today.