If you are the new owner of a spa, congratulations! A spa or hot tub can be a great place to relax alone or with friends. Unlike a pool, a heated spa can be used year round. And if you’ve ever owned a pool, you will find that maintaining a spa is much more simple than maintaining a pool. While many of the tasks are similar, everything is on a smaller scale. If you’ve never owned any type of pool or spa, get ready to spend a little bit of time on a regular basis to keep your investment at its best. It won’t take a lot of time, but regularity is the key. Here are a few beginners tips to keep your spa clean!
Testing the Water
The biggest factor in keeping your spa sparkling clean is testing the water and making small adjustments regularly. This means testing the water two to four times a week. You will want to test and adjust pH, alkalinity, calcium hardness, and sanitizer levels. It’s a good idea to keep a log of the levels and the adjustments you make. This could be as simple as a little notebook in which you jot down the numbers each time you test the water.
Keeping the water balanced is relatively simple. You will need a test kit, which you can get at any pool supply store. Follow the directions on the test kit to test for the levels of your spa water. Remember, a spa has a much smaller volume of water than a pool. So all of your adjustments will be small. Don’t add too much of any chemical all at once. And if you are testing two to four times a week, the necessary adjustments should be relatively small. Don’t go too long between tests and adjustments. Regular small adjustments will keep your spa water crystal clear and healthy to bathe in. Don’t wait to until the water is out of balance to make larger adjustments.
What Water to Use
In most places, regular tap water should be just fine for filling your spa. However, the exact levels of chemicals in tap water varies considerably. They may vary regionally or even from house to house as your plumbing differs. Depending on the chemistry levels of your tap water, you may have to make different adjustments after filling your spa. In some areas you may have unusually hard or soft water. Alkalinity, pH levels, and the presence of chloramines, metals, and minerals all vary.
One way to make sure you are starting with the most neutral water possible is to use a spa pre-filter. A pre-filter will remove the finest particles and silt as well as odors and metals. Once the spa is filled, you can test the water and adjust as necessary.
Cleaning the Spa Filter
It is a good idea to clean your spa filter cartridge regularly. How regularly depends on how much you are using your spa. If your spa filter has a pressure gauge, it will be easy to tell when to clean it. Simply make a note of the spa pressure after a full clean. When the pressure level rises 8-10 pounds over the initial pressure, it’s time to clean your filter.
If your spa filter doesn’t have a pressure gauge, there are other ways to tell when to remove and clean the filter. One way is to keep track of the flow of water through your filter. If you can notice that the flow is reduced, it’s time to clean the filter cartridge. Another way is to simply clean it on a schedule. Depending on how much you are using your spa, a good rule of thumb is to clean out the filter cartridge every 4 to 8 weeks. If you are using the spa a few times a weeks, clean the cartridge every 4 weeks. If you are only using it occasionally, you should still be cleaning the cartridge at least once every 8 weeks or every other month.
Locating the Spa Filter
Typically, there are two places you may find your spa filter. In some spas, it is located under the skimmer basket. You should be able to access it from inside the spa. In other spas, it will be located in a small tank underneath the spa. If the spa fitler is underneath the spa, there should be a large valve that can be closed when removing the filter. This keeps the spa water from draining out. In most spas you can remove the cartridge filter by loosening a large nut or just by turning the filter body counter clockwise. Don’t worry if you spill a little water when removing the filter cartridge. If you’re careful, you can keep spillage to a minimum, but some spillage is inevitable.
Replacing the Spa Filter
Eventually, you will need to replace your spa filter. Replacing the filter shouldn’t be too expensive or complicated, but it is necessary. The filter will need to be replaced every one to two years, depending on use.
The biggest factor in when you need to replace the filter is how often you clean it. With each cleaning the fibers in the filter cartridge are loosened a little bit. Over time, the particle trapping power of the filter is reduced. So if you want to know exactly when to replace your filter cartridge, keep track of your cleanings. Replacing your filter every 10 to 15 cleanings is a good rule of thumb. If you wait much longer than that you may find that your spa water is becoming cloudy as the filter is no longer able to filter out dirt and particles properly.
Cleaning the Spa
Unlike a pool, a spa is easy to drain and refill. This gives you more options when it comes to cleaning the spa. If you find the walls of your spa are looking dirty, you can drain the spa and wash them down. But make sure not to use regular household cleaners. Any soap or cleaner that you use to wash the walls of your spa could end up in your spa water, which you don’t want. If you use anything that suds, you could end up with a bubble bath in your spa. Instead, check your local pool store for specialized spa cleaning solutions. Then, use a soft cloth, some spa cleaner, and a little elbow grease to clean off the walls of your spa.
Of course, you don’t need to drain the spa for every cleaning. It’s a good idea to get a spa vacuum. You could use a pool vacuum if you have one, but spa vacuums tend to be smaller and cheaper. Regularly vacuum your spa to remove dirt and small debris that has settled on the seats, steps, and bottom of your spa. For larger debris, like fallen leaves, a simple pool skimmer will let you manually scoop up the floating debris.
Care for the Spa Cover
You may not realize it, but your spa cover actually gets a lot of rough use. The underside is constantly exposed to heat and moisture. Meanwhile, the top of your spa cover is open to the elements. It is affected by heat, cold, sun, and rain.
To keep your spa cover in good condition, let it “rest” twice a week. Simply remove the cover from the spa and air out for a few hours. You can also take this opportunity to clean the top of the cover. Use some spa cover cleaner to get rid of the dirt, oils, pollen, and tree sap that may build up on your spa cover. Then follow that up with some spa cover conditioner to keep the vinyl supple and strong and reduce the chances of drying out or cracking.
Keep the Spa Full
Keeping the spal full is an important way to preserve your skimmer. If the skimmer start to suck in air, it can damage the skimmer, pump, and filter. It’s best to keep the water level right about the middle of the skimmer intake. Slightly higher is ok, too, but don’t overfill. Be careful when topping off the spa water not to overflow the spa.
Simple tap water from a garden hose is fine for refilling the spa. If you are testing and adusting the chemical levels in your spa regularly, any changes caused by the tap water can be controlled.
Professional Help With Spa Maintenance
Regularity is key to maintaining your spa. If you think you don’t have the time or inclination to regularly maintain your spa, don’t just stop caring for it. The professionals at The Pool Butler are ready to help you maintain your spa to keep it ready for action all year round. We can work with you to set up regular maintenance visits. Simply contact us online or call us at 770-439-2644 to set up your spa maintenace today.