Using Hot Tub Chemicals Correctly - Part I
Tuesday, 4 February 2014 | Jon Pennington
As a new hot tub owner you might find the task of monitoring the water daily a big chore, and might even feel that it is not worth the effort. Unfortunately, it is a task that cannot be avoided if you want to maintain yourself and your hot tub in good condition. Fortunately, by taking the trouble to understand and do things right for a few weeks, it will become an easy routine carried out quickly and easily.
Basically, the chemical treatment is designed to do two things, maintaining water balance and sanitizing the water. Spa water balance is needed to avoid damage to the equipment and also for effective sanitizing. Sanitizing is needed to keep the water free of bacteria and other harmful organisms, and also to maintain the water looking clean and clear.
Maintaining Water Balance
Unless water balance is maintained at acceptable levels, water can become too acidic resulting in corrosion of the equipment and irritation to skin, or too alkaline resulting in stains and cloudy-looking water. For most, water balance means just pH balance, which involves testing existing levels using a chemical test and adding pH Decreaser or pH Increaser to maintain the levels between 7.2 and 7.6. However, unless you maintain certain other levels, you might find that pH levels are fluctuating rather too rapidly.
Total Alkalinity (TA) is measured as parts per million (ppm) and should be maintained between 100 and 150ppm. Tests for measuring TA and chemicals for maintaining it are available in the market. Maintaining pH balance can become an irritating and difficult task unless TA levels are also kept at acceptable levels.
A third quality that needs to be measured and adjusted is Calcium Hardness (CH), which should be between 150 and 300ppm. This is more important in certain regions where water tends to have too much calcium. High CH can cause scale deposits and even clog the plumbing.
Your best option is to buy a complete chemical kit from your hot tub supplier and follow the instructions that come with each chemical.
Sanitizing the Water
Water sanitation is important if you want to keep the water healthy and pleasant. Without proper sanitation, the water can soon become malodorous and full of bacteria that can harm your health. The typical way to ensure sanitation is to maintain chlorine levels of the water between 3 to 5mg/litre. Too low chlorine levels can make the water a breeding ground for bacteria while high levels can make it irritating and unpleasant to use.
Chlorine is available in different forms, and granular form is quite convenient to use. Add the granules manually and check chlorine levels on a daily basis.
In addition to regular sanitation as above, you will also need to oxidise the water to remove organic stuff like dead skin and body oils. This is done through “shocking” using an oxidizing agent like Calcium Hypochlorite. The water should not be used for quite some time after the shock treatment. Follow the instructions that come with the kit.
In the second part of this article, we will look at some other issues with water.
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