Time to Drain the Hot Tub?

 

“When is it time to drain the hot tub?”  I think this question hit the millionth-time mark in my pool-dude world.

Following that query is, “Well, the guy at the spa store said to drain my hot tub every three months.  My brother-in-law drains his twice a year and my neighbor drains his spa every month.”

First, while spa companies recommend quarterly drains, there’s some misinformation in that answer.

Barring no real problems with green water or some other nasty water issue, the only parameter to drain a hot tub is Total Dissolved Solids (TDS). End of story.

TDS measures all the solids that are in the tap water, not including what happens to hot tub water every time you use your spa.  In other words, when you are in the hot tub at 104 degrees, that steam is distilled water–lacking any minerals–leaving the minerals behind in the water.

Think of your hot tub like a giant tea pot.  When you use the hot tub and distill the water the TDS raises incrementally.  When TDS reaches 1500 ppm that’s when it’s time to drain the hot tub.

Why?  High TDS lessens the effect of your chemicals. That means disinfectants are less effective, as are all the other chemicals used.  And when minerals fall out of solution your spa’s innards will look like the inside of your teapot.  It’s okay for the teapot, but not for motors, pumps, heaters and plumbing. Think expensive repair bills.

When to drain your spa is not a time issue–not drain every 3 months, or whatever.  It’s how many times you use your hot tub combined with the natural TDS of your tap water.  And to complicate this issue is tap water TDS measurements can change weekly.  From the same water spigot I’ve measured TDS at 500 ppm and then 900 ppm several weeks later.

High TDS symptoms: You can’t keep your chemicals in solution, no matter how much you add, your spa has no water quality, bad smells, etc.

You can purchase a TDS meter usually for under $25.  I sell them for less.  Yeah, that’s a blatant bit of self-promotion, but, hey, I’m just another pool dude trying to make a living ;-)!!!  Call me at 505-690-4729 or E-mail me at riptidealchemy1@aol.com

Is Your Spa’s Heater Kaput?

HTF-0131

Your spa’s been heating up perfectly, well–it was actually kind of slow on the heating giddy-up.

But today that heater is as dead as finding a call center job in America.  So you call your local pool/spa dude.  “My heater’s out and I’ve got company coming in for the holidays. HELP!!!”

Accommodating your expert analysis of a heater gone bad (driven by your partner’s frantic screams of “That spa has to work before my picky-ass cousin arrives here next week—or else!!!!),  you shell out anywhere from $100 to $350 for a new heater, and that doesn’t include two-hours labor of about another $150.

When picky-ass (PA) cousin arrives, he states, “I hope the hot tub’s ready because my back is killing me after that long ride out here.”   You assure PA the tub is ready and hand him your best beach towel and bid him a less-than fond farewell as he marches out to the tub.  You grab a beer ready for a break from PA,  and something from your worst nightmare shrieks, “This tub’s as cold as the Arctic Seas used to be!”

You were rushed to get everything perfect before the company arrived and you probably didn’t have time to check your spa’s filters.  And if I asked you, “When did you last check your filters?”  an uncomfortable span of silence would follow.

This is exactly why manufacturers install pressure switches and flow switches to the heater.  Because if there’s no water flow or flow is restricted by 2 psi, the pressure switch or flow switch won’t close and energize the heating element.  In other words, it looks like your heater’s gone kaput.

Do you want the bad news now?  Dirty or aged filters restrict water flow.

What I’m saying is, if you went quiet when I asked the question about your spa’s filters, you would have had more green in your pocket, and a longer break from your hot tub soaking cousin.

If I could have sold expensive heaters instead of inexpensive filter cleaner solutions and filters, I’d be in that top 2% income bracket.  But since

So here are my top five spa filter maintenance points to save you time, energy and money.

  • Once a month remove your filters and hose them down using a spray nozzle.
  • When you drain/refill your spa, soak your filters in a filter cleaning solution from your spa store.
  • Do NOT use oils to scent your spa’s water that ARE NOT designed for hot tubs.
  • Every 6 months checks the fabric on your filters.  If it’s “fluffed” replace that filter with a new one.
  • Any filter over 3-years-old is ready to replace.  Remember: all the water in your hot tub is strained through that filter.  So after three years it is done straining.