How do I keep my water clear?
The most common question I'm asked is, "how do I keep my water clear?" Or the other variation of this question, "why is my water cloudy?" Unfortunately, the question can be an open invitation for many sales people to take the customer for a financial soaking. Overall, Central Oregon is blessed with very high quality water. With this in mind, cloudy water can usually be cured with a couple of simple procedures and a relatively small investment. Bottom line, you don't need a barrage of chemicals to remedy this simple problem.
First and foremost, be sure your filter is clean. When I tell this to people, I get a variety of responses ranging from "what filter?" (not a good answer), to "I just cleaned it" (good answer). There are a lot of ways to clean filters including the dishwasher, a chlorine bleach solution, or simply a good squirting with the garden hose. Personally, I believe the best filter cleaners are the products specifically designed for cleaning filters. Found at your local spa dealer, these products deep clean microscopic oils and lotions from the filter fibers. Now, whether you use an overnight soak or an instant cleaner will really depend on how dirty the filter is, and how long it has been since the last cleaning. Either way, get your filter clean and keep it clean. This will also reduce your utility bills and increase the longevity of your pumps and motors.
Next, drain the spa and clean any algae or scum buildup from the spa surface. This in itself can be quite a project if the spa hasn't been cared for. Make sure that the spa is thoroughly rinsed and drained before refilling.
Finally, refill the spa being extra alert not to over-fill. While the spa is filling, add a tablespoon of di-chlor spa chlorine to the water. Since the pump is not on, be sure the chlorine is being adequately circulated and not allowed to sit on the bottom of the spa. Once the spa is filled, turn on the power which should automatically start heating the spa. After the spa is warmed up, test the chlorine levels and the pH of the water. Adjust according to the directions and continue to check and adjust daily until these indicators stabilize at the recommended levels.
Once the proper levels are attained, simply add chlorine to the water after each use. One tablespoon per person is a good rule-of-thumb. You'll probably adjust the amount you use after a week or so depending on the spa size and how you use the spa. Lastly, every week or so, add spa shock to the water. This chemical will help the chlorine sanitize better, and add a little sparkle to the water.
Total cost for all the products mentioned here (assuming you have none) should be less than $80, and last anywhere from three months to a year. As a general rule, clean your filters monthly using a stiff sprayer on the garden hose. Deep clean the filters and change the water every three months. If you have concerns with your particular spa or usage, find some one you trust at a local spa dealer and get the answers you need. If you're not sure about the information you're, getting, seek a second (or third) opinion. Remember, ignorance is not covered by your warranty.
Just K-I-S-S, and your whole spa experience will be oh so much better!
Whoa partner! Don't get yourself all riled up thinking this article is going in the wrong direction. When I say kiss, I mean Keep It Sweet and Simple! By following a few basics, you'll find that maintaining your spa is as simple as A-B-C.
A: Always keep your pH at the proper level. pH is a measurement of the acidity or alkalinity of the water. When the pH is too low the water has a higher acid level. This can be particularly damaging to the plastic components of the spa, which is just about everything. If the pH is too high, the water is said to be alkaline. When this occurs, your sanitizers will be less effective at killing bacteria and your spa may develop a ring of calcium deposits at the water line. Spa products for adjusting alkalinity and pH are very inexpensive, but trust me, they're worth their weight in gold.
B: Be sure to sanitize your water properly. The old saying "if a little medicine is good, then a little more is even better" does not apply here. There are a number of sanitizers available, and all have specific instructions for their use. Improper use of chemicals can severely damage your spa, and cause serious health problems. All sanitizers should have available simple methods for testing their levels in the water. Be sure your test kit has notexpired and is designed for the chemicals you are using.
I am constantly asked if ozone is used in the spa, is there a need for chemical sanitizers? When some one tells you that ozone eliminates the need for sanitizers, they're pulling the wool over your eyes (and the rest of your head as well!).
Ozone is a great supplement to properly used spa sanitizers, but not a replacement. It should also be noted that the most common ozone generators, UV Light and Corona Discharge, have a limited life span. Depending on your spa,these units can become useless at generating ozone in as little as 12-18 months. Further, if your spa does not have an ozone dispensing system like the patented Mazzei system, an ozone generator can be nothing more than a highpriced sales gimmick.
C: Clean your filters monthly (and change your water quarterly). Filters play a very important role in the health of your spa. If clogged or dirty, they can damage your pumps and motors, increase the cost to operate your spa, and distribute harmful bacteria into the water. There are many ways to clean filters, but the best way is to use products specifically designed for cleaning spa filters. While other methods and products seem less expensive, in truth, they are either less effective or can damage the filter and even the spa surface. Quality spa filters are expensive to replace. But if properly cared for, good filters can easily last you up to two years.
It's amazing how much time and money you can save with just the basic spa products and a simple maintenance schedule. It's easy, just KISS and follow these A-B-C's to keep your spa clean and healthy. Remember, the more enjoyable your spa is to use, the more you'll enjoy using it.
The first and foremost consideration is going to be money. All of us have a rough idea of what we'd like to spend for a spa. After shopping various spa locations, you will soon have a rough idea of what's available for your money. This may either be encouraging or disappointing. Like everything in our world, prices have gone up. And if you haven't purchased a spa in a decade or so, you may have a minor case of "sticker shock". The bottom line is that you will more than likely get what you pay for. The higher priced spas will be of better quality materials, equipment, and construction, and have better warranties.
Second consideration, what is the primary purpose of the spa...entertainment or therapy? This can be a little more complex than it appears. Quality spas can last 15 even 20 years. So while the spa you purchase today may be forfamily fun, years down the road, your needs may be more therapy oriented.
Third consideration will be what I call features. I will simply touch on some and give the pros and cons, and occasionally my opinion. My hope here is that you consider each and do your own research into what's best for you.
Loungers: Most first time buyers want them, veteran owners typically don't. If they fit you, and you're not a "floater", they can be wonderful. They do take up more foot space and thus limit the versatility of the spa.
Stereos: Typically add $500-$1,500 or more to the price. Their warranties are limited, and they are vulnerable to damage (especially by kids). If you get a stereo, be sure you also get the topside controller...you'll be glad you did.
Televisions: Oh, Pa-LEEZ!! (But if you're interested, I do sell up to a 60" plasma)
Waterfalls: Physical therapy-wise, they do nothing. For soothing ambience, they are nice.
Ozone Generators: With a Mazzei type distribution system, I like them. Without, you're wasting your money!
Turbo (or Blower): It really depends on the spa. Some provide additional therapy.
Cover Lifters: Absolutely!
Finally, size is everything! Bigger is not necessarily better! It simply gives you more flexibility. Obviously, the smaller the spa, the fewer the options you have for its use. Again, what is the primary purpose for the spa...today and in the future? And, I'm sorry, but those of you with a family of four that think you're going be happy with a spa for two, can't be serious. Even the relaxing effect of the spa won't make up for the stress this situation will create.
By planning your spa purchase wisely, you can plan on years of enjoyment from your spa purchase.
Where to put a spa is much more than simply setting it down, filling it up and turning on the power. There are a number of factors that should be considered when placing a spa at your home.
Some folks, be it a small minority, put their spa inside their home; usually in a garage, spare bedroom or garden room. Besides the warm, moist air of the spa fogging up windows, it can also create mildew if the room is not well ventilated. Personally, I think the best part of the spa experience is being outdoors.
When talking with people about their new spa purchase, I always ask where they intend to place the spa and why. Most have plans to put it on a deck. Surprisingly, the reason being they think that's where it's supposed to be. Unfortunately, many people don't have a big deck and the spa may take up a considerable amount of space.
Another reason the deck seems logical is that it is near a door to the house that will be used to access the spa. Typically that door is near a bedroom. Again, this seems like an excellent idea except the door may be right next to that same bedroom window. And while the newer, quality spas are very quiet compared to their older counter parts, in the dead of night, even the quietest spa motors will create enough noise to wake a light sleeper.
A last reason to reconsider placing your new spa on the deck has to do with safety. That's right, safety. Consider this situation. You and your significant other have made a bee-line to your spa just after a two inch dumping of fresh powder snow. You gingerly hi-step your way to the spa, up the steps, throw the cover back, and are soon relaxing in soothing hot water, gazing at the blanket of stars over your head, and sipping your favorite grape juice.
After an enjoyable time in the spa, you prepare for the return trip to the house. Your significant other makes the self-sacrificing offer of carrying the glasses if you'll put the cover back on the spa. So, off she goes, dashing through the snow dripping water with each step.
Now, it's your turn. Anticipating the sub-freezing temperature, in a flash you're out of the water, dripping wet, barefoot, standing on a very narrow 12 inch step with a fresh glaze of ice on it. You need only to wrestle the spa cover, negotiate the steps of ice, and dance the frozen path to a warm house, all without slipping and breaking something near and dear to yourself.
If you take this same scenario with out the steps, everything becomes easier and safer. Solutions, sink the spa half way into the deck, or set the spa next to the deck and build a ramp-way to the spa. Either way, you'll find it easier to remove and replace the spa cover, easier to enter or exit the spa, and the area around the spa will have a more open, spacious look and feel to it.
What about sinking the spa all the way into the deck? While this has a very Sunset magazine look, it really isn't very practical. With the spa so low to the deck surface, most cover lifts become un-useable or cumbersome. The spa cover will be at risk of being damaged by kids playing on it, or someone inadvertently falling on it. Finally, it's very difficult to enter the spa with out a handrail. Even more so if you suffer from back or knee problems.
In the end, the best location for your new spa should be a balance of function and aesthetics. Integrate the spa into the entire back yard design. At the same time, position the spa to allow for its full enjoyment while making the most of the surrounding yard. Remember, the more enjoyable the spa is to use, the more it will be enjoyed.