How to maintain your Hot Tub

Here is the biggest tip for making sure your hot tub equipment lasts as long as possible:

Don't neglect the hot tub!

Seems like a simple concept, right? In the 15 years the owner of Ion Pools has been working in the industry the first thing he most commonly hears when a hot tub owner calls for a repair is:

"I didn't use it for a few months and when I went to use it again it wasn't working."

 

All Hot Tubs require at least weekly maintenance on the part of the owner.

If you follow the advice given on this page, you will lengthen the life of your hot tub equipment and reduce the overall cost of maintaining your hot tub by reducing the number of repairs.

Follow these basic guidelines for maintaining your hot tub
Details on each point are explained further down the page

  • Never Use Bromine

  • Have at least 2 filters or complete sets of filters if your hot tub requires 2 or more filters

  • Clean your filters at least once a month

  • Test and Adjust Water Chemistry at least once a week even if you aren't using it

  • Keep the hot tub sanitized but not over-sanitized

  • Completely drain and refill your hot tub no less than every 6 months

  • Never let a 'pool store' test your hot tub water

The problem with Bromine is most 'pool store' retailers give the wrong advice to hot tub owners. Even some hot tub retailers give the wrong advice concerning Bromine. You cannot fill a 'floater' with Bromine tables and just let it float in the spa without regularly testing for the total amount of bromine in the water and balancing the negative aspect of Bromine.

Bromine has a very low pH and Total Alkalinity and will make the water in your hot tub acidic which can quickly lead to deterioration of your pumps, heater and even the plastic jets. Bromine is often associated with degradation of jets and other plastic parts of your hot tub. The most common mistake with Bromine is using too much. If you must use Bromine then don't ever add more than a single 1" tab to the floater and adjust the floater so that the least amount of Bromine leaches into the water. Ion Pools recommends to go so far as to break the tab in half and just use 1/2 of a 1" tab at a time until it's fully dissolved.

Ion Pools prefers using a chlorine product that contains Sodium Dichloro-S-Triazinetrione (Dichlor) as it's active ingredient. This is most often found in a granular form that is perfect for hot tub sanitization as it can be precisely measured based on the size and average use of your hot tub. As little as 1 teaspoon is all that is required to add enough sanitizer to your hot tub. Dichlor is also pH neutral and won't cause the pH to drop.

When used in combination with a non-chlorine shock containing potassium peroxymonosulfate Dichlor is an easy, non-harmful method of keeping your hot tub sanitized.

Filter Care and Cleaning

Hot tub filters must be cleaned at least once a month or more based on use. Having a duplicate set of filters lengthens the life of each filter and allows you to always put CLEAN & DRY filters back in to service. The dirty filters should be cleaned with some sort of cleaner to dissolve and lift debris and oils out of the fabric. Filters are simply a fabric that needs cleaning just like your clothes, towels and other household fabrics.

I recommend using 1/2 cup of Oxyclean powder dissolved in a bucket/bin big enough to hold the filter(s).

  • Make sure the Oxyclean is fully dissolved in the water

  • Soak the filters for at least an hour but you can soak them longer

  • Fully rinse the filters and let them completely dry before reuse

  • If you don't spend at least 5 minutes rinsing each filter you haven't rinsed it enough

  • A dirty filter can lead to pump and heater failure

  • Never let a dirty filter completely dry

  • Never put a wet filter back in to service

If more than 2 people use the hot tub more than 1 hour per day then the filters need to be cleaned more often!!!

Water Testing

Your hot tub water should be tested at least once per week even if you're not using it.

Your hot tub water should also be tested after each use.

Within 12-15 hours.

A hot tub has what is referred to as 'high bather load'. The easiest way to consider this is to compare a hot tub to a pool. A pool that has 10,000 gallons of water might have a family of 5 regularly in the water. This is a ratio of 1 bather per 2000 gallons of water. The same family of 5 in a 500 gallon hot tub is a ratio of 1 bather per 100 gallons of water. The reason this is important is that any type of organic matter introduced into the water by bathers, harmful or not, is diluted more in a larger body of water and if sanitizer levels are adequate, they are more readily destroyed than in a smaller body of water. It's important to note that most residential, fiberglass hot tubs are not much more than 400 gallons. So, if 2 people are in a 400 gallon hot tub the ratio is 1 per 200 gallons...still much greater than 1 per 2000 gallons. Hot tub water is also hotter than pool water making it a better environment for the growth of microorganisms.

Water quality is about 2 things: Sanitizer and Water Balance. The correct sanitizer level ensures your water remains clean of harmful organisms. The correct water balance makes the water feel better to you and keeps the equipment from being damaged by the out of balance water.

You will be testing for the following parameters:

Sanitizer

2-4 ppm* Chlorine or Bromine will keep your water clean. (but you're not using Bromine, right?)

pH

7.4-7.6 is ideal for both bather comfort and equipment longevity.

Total Alkalinity

80-100 ppm* Total Alkalinity will act as a buffer preventing the pH from changing rapidly.

Calcium Hardness

150-200 ppm* Calcium Hardness will keep the water from making your skin dry and itchy feeling and prolong the life of the equipment.

*'ppm' is 'parts per million' referring to the amount of the product in the water in a ratio of product to water. For example, standard household bleach is 5% chlorine in a solution with water. Or, 5 parts chlorine per 100 parts water. The amount of chlorine you need to safely sanitize water is a great deal less than the amount of chlorine in a bottle of chlorine bleach.

Test Sanitizer and Water Balance using a quality test strip or liquid drop test.

Aquachek Test Strips have proven to be the most accurate and reliable on the market.

Taylor Test Kits are the standard for commercial/public facilities.

There is no reason not to use them in your home pool or hot tub.

They are simple to use and accurate but do take a little more time to use.

If you have children, the liquid test kit can be a fun way to get them to interact with the care and maintenance of your pool or hot tub.

Draining and Refilling your Hot Tub

Your hot tub should be completely drained and refilled with fresh water at least every 6 months. More often if it is used a lot. Ion Pools defines that as more than 2 people for 1 hour every day or 16 hours a week.

You can break that down a lot of ways:

  • 1 person for 2 hours a day

  • 4 people for 2 hours Friday and Saturday and 2 people for 1/2 an hour every other day of the week.

  • An all day party on Saturday with 8 people getting in and out of it.

You see the point, right?

The more it's used, the 'older' the water gets: particulates build up in the water and filter and it will get harder to sanitize at normal sanitizer levels.

Let your eyes and nose be your guide. A clean hot tub should smell like nothing. If at any time your water smells like a dirty sock and a normal application of sanitizer and shock doesn't work:

DRAIN & REFILL

Why your local 'Pool Store' is your worst enemy if you own a hot tub.

The majority of hot tub owners are either not the original purchaser or live to far away from the retailer they purchased their hot tub from for it to be convenient to return to that location for regular water testing.

Often, hot tub owners will rely on the nearest 'Pool Store' to test their water and recommend specific applications of chemicals. This is a bad idea because (most of the time) the person doesn't understand the difference in scale between a 10-15 thousand gallon pool and a 300-400 gallon hot tub.

 

The best thing you can do for yourself and your hot tub is to learn to test and adjust the water yourself.

All the products we recommend come with complete dosage instructions. You will only be using chemicals by the Teaspoon (or less) with the exception of Calcium Hardness increaser which you'll only be using by the cup or so.

Nature2 Spa Mineral Stick

The Nature2 is an excellent addition to any hot tub sanitizing program. It works by dispersing silver ions into the water that kill bacteria and microorganisms. Silver has been used for thousands of years and continues to be used today in sanitizing systems for NASA space programs and in many other industries across the world. Adding a Nature2 stick to your hot tub is a good way to reduce the demand for chlorine and is another step you can take to make sure your hot tub stays fresh and clean. You simply place it next to the filter or in the filter basket and replace it every 3 months.

Ion Pools is an Amazon Affiliate. Please support the business by using the links below to purchase your spa care products. If an item is out of stock, please contact us for alternate selections. All products are chosen based on our use of them in the field over the last 15 years. Clicking on the links below will take you to the item page where you can select and add them to your cart. Clicking on the cart in any window will take you to the cart with all selections you have made.

A Note about Ozone and Ultraviolet (UV) systems.

 

Your hot tub may have come equipped with an Ozone or UV systems (or a combination of the two). These systems generally work very well to assist in the maintenance of the water but they are not designed to completely sanitize your water. Yes, the salesman might have told you that or the marketing material may say so. But, the fine print in your owner's manual will say that some sort of EPA registered sanitizer must also be used in conjunction with the Ozone/UV system to guarantee safety.  Also, these units generally wear out in 3-5 years and need to be replaced. We highly recommend keeping these systems working or adding a system if your hot tub did not originally come equipped with one. And, if you happen to own a hot tub in a vacation rental, it is highly recommended that you have one installed on your hot tub.

Hot Tubs and Vacation Rentals

Hot tubs by your well known manufacturer's like Jacuzzi, Hot Springs, Dimension 1 and others are manufactured to be used in a single family home. A hot tub used in a vacation rental is considered to be commercial use by most hot tub manufacturers and they may not warranty the product for this use. Most fiberglass hot tubs do not carry an NSF rating for commercial multi-family use. There is a link to the NSF website below. Currently, there are few regulations in Florida for this situation because these types of hot tubs are considered 'portable' and 'appliances'. It is a grey area in the industry. But, the lack of oversight creates an opportunity for potentially hazardous situations if the hot tubs are not properly sanitized during a rental or fully sanitized, drained and refilled between each group of renters. If you have your 'pool guy' also taking care of your hot tub chances are he has no real idea how to properly do it and is over sanitizing the water and not maintaining the correct pH which is damaging your pumps and heater. Ion Pools offers a vacation rental specific cleaning program designed to make the hot tub environment as safe as possible should you chose to have a hot tub in a vacation rental. We also offer a safety inspection to note any safety issues that may be present that you are unaware of.

If you are someone staying at a vacation rental house and renting from one of the many online rental agencies we can only advise you to make sure the hot tub is protected by a GFCI circuit and if the water isn't crystal clear or smells like 'funky' don't use the hot tub.

This page is a work in progress - please check back for more Hot Tub care information.