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Thread: Is this mold?

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    Is this mold?

    allas.jpg

    I've had water quality problems for a long time. Now the water is clear, but that orange stuff keeps appearing on the walls of the spa just above the waterline. I wiped it off 4 days ago and it's already back. The water looks and smells ok.

    Various background information:
    - I use AquaFinesse to maintain the water
    - The spa cover is waterlogged, has some orange "skid marks" at one place (as opposed to growth-looking like the picture). The cover smells and looks ok otherwise.
    - Used to have foaming problems for 1 year (seems to be ok now, still a small amount of foam appears after the jets have been on, always around a particular area)
    - Used "JetClean" a few months ago and also last December
    - Haven't shocked the water in a long time
    - There is a ventilated "crawl space" under our house where you can find rocks and other objects with similar looking orange blobs on them. The colour is exactly the same, the composition/form looks different though. This makes me suspect the stuff in our spa is some local mold.

    I've been planning to shock it with Ultrashock and wipe all the surface areas including the underbelly of the cover. Also thought about JetClean, but it's so hard to get rid of the residual foam after using it that I don't know if it's worth it. And also, been wondering if it's worth getting a new spa cover (in case the mold grows from there). They just cost a lot (700€ where I live) and there's no guarantees it will help anything.

    Any advice would be much appreciated.
    Last edited by PihkaSisu; 10-09-2015 at 09:00 AM. Reason: aquafinesse

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    banditig's Avatar
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    Re: Is this mold?

    Not sure about your spa, but I have had an orange fungus under the porch from roof leak. Bathtub cleaner did help.
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    Re: Is this mold?

    If you have a spa bubbler in the floor run it at least once a day. Mine splashes fresh chlorine up the exposed tiles once a day.
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    Swampwoman's Avatar
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    Re: Is this mold?

    - Haven't shocked the water in a long time
    If it wipes off but stains a bit, it coud be iron bacteria. I don't know why you haven't shocked in a long time, but with a hot tub IMHO, you need to both regularly shock it to oxidize waste AND be certain you always have/maintain residual sanitation to avoid serious sanitation issues such as legionela or (more minor) rashes like pseudomas.

    Chlorine at correct level will kill iron bacteria.

    Is Aquafinesse a chlorine asked product, or is it bromine? What do you normally use to shock?
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    Re: Is this mold?

    Thanks for all the replies.

    Quote Originally Posted by Swampwoman View Post
    If it wipes off but stains a bit, it coud be iron bacteria. I don't know why you haven't shocked in a long time, but with a hot tub IMHO, you need to both regularly shock it to oxidize waste AND be certain you always have/maintain residual sanitation to avoid serious sanitation issues such as legionela or (more minor) rashes like pseudomas.
    Iron bacteria, interesting. It definitely stains when wiped, though it doesn't have a smell.

    Chlorine at correct level will kill iron bacteria.

    Is Aquafinesse a chlorine asked product, or is it bromine? What do you normally use to shock?
    AquaFinesse is used in addition to chlorine (small chlorine tablets put in a floater once per week, so the concentration may not be enough to kill iron bacteria). I don't have experience with Spabalancer Ultrashock but I'm planning to try it on monday. I have previously shocked the water with just crushed trichlor tablets, according to the instructions from my spa dealer, but the spa manual advises against using trichlor. Ultrashock is based on C2Oxide.

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    Re: Is this mold?

    ^i wonder if raising it to shock level for you cya with liquid chlorine or bleach might remove it...that way you're not adding any extra cya.

    I suspect the trichlor recc by mfg is because triclor over time might crash your ph/TA (its acidic.) I use trichlor tabs in a floater to maintain a residual FC, but I watch the ph/TA with my test kit and use liquid chlorine to shock/oxidize after every soak.

    Do you have access to a taylor2006k kit in Finland? Usually we recommend that for testing accuracy to solve water problems, but I know its hard to get ahold of the drop test type kits internationally.

    If a good bleach/chlorine doesn't eliminate the stuff, you might want to consider a water change and treatment with Ahhhhsome (if you can get it there) to clean out the lines...then going forward, make sure there's always some FC to avoid any other growths.
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    Re: Is this mold?

    Yesterday I added Ultrashock to the water and scrubbed all the surfaces above water level. Now, 23 hours later the orange growth is back in the exact same places The biggest growth appears to be next to the filters, I wonder if they are infested and spreading it.

    The hot tub dealers in Finland don't sell Ahh-some or the taylor2006k test kit, but they are on amazon. I'm guessing I would be able to get the test kit but not any chemicals off amazon.

    What is "cya"?

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    Swampwoman's Avatar
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    Re: Is this mold?

    CYA is Cyanuric acid and it is a component of all stabilized chlorine products, such as tabs and dichlor powder, meant to protect the chlorine from burning off so quickly due to UV, and in the case of hot tubs, buffering or reserving chlorine for residual use etc. It is also called "stabilizer." However, it generally only leaves the water with draining or dilution and therefore can build up to high levels that cause problems. Instead of just buffering chlorine, at that point it can render it virtually ineffective.

    So the problem is that by using tab or powder forms with cya is that at high levels it actually PREVENTS the chlorine from working to correct sanitization levels...

    Here at TFP, the cya:FC relationship is the foundation of water care -- see the chart link in my signature. Essentially, your Free Chlorine needs to be a minimum of 7.5% of your CYA level to work (unless saltwater generator is used, in which case the constant flow of FC compensates and the min. fC level varies slightly.)

    For each 10 ppm of chlorine product you add (tab or powder) about 6 ppm of cya is added. Cya is most problematic when it reaches near or over 100 ppm, but can also be a problem at lower levels if your FC is not kept in proportion.

    Since you don't know your cya and don't have a test kit that can read it, I would recommend a water change at this point, as I suspect your sanitation levels are not high enough to combat the growth. Going forward, you could use the dichlor-then-bleach/chlorine, whereby you keep a residual amount of chlorine via dichlor (which has cya) but you shock/oxidize bather waste with liquid chlorine (no cya in liquid chlorine) after each soak. (eg in my hot tub I use 2 ounces after each soak but tat depends on hot tub size and length of soak).

    If you search the hot tub forum section a bit, you will find posts with recommended approaches to sanitation from chemgeek, who is very knowledgeable on this and many other topics

    Update: Here is the link that details hot tub care...the section on sanitizing explains how to manage using dichlor-then-bleach and how to calculate.
    How do I use Chlorine in my Spa (or pool)?)

    Hope that helps give you a start on TFP methods and hot tub water maintenance
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    Re: Is this mold?

    Welcome to TFP PihkaSisu.

    I'm going to agree with swampwoman, your FC has/is most likely not being maintained high enough for your CYA level.

    Do you ever test the water? Your pH is very important as well.

    You are going to need a FAS/DPD chlorine test kit, as well as a test for pH, CYA, CH & TA.

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    Re: Is this mold?

    Thanks for helping out. I spent a few hours reading up on this forum and some other places, but this is some complicated stuff and I don't understand everything. I'm not even sure if the orange stuff is organic. I noticed that when I wipe the waterline clean, then set the pumps on, small amounts of the orange stuff immediately start attaching to the waterline again. Can bacteria/fungus attach so quickly?

    Here are some measurements using AquaChek Pool & Spa Test Strips (pictured) and HotSpring Portable Spa Test Strips:

    FC: High (both strips) (I've kept 2 chlorine tablets in slow dispensers for 5 days now. I usually keep just 1.)
    ppm Stabilizer: 0-30 (AquaChek)
    TA: 0-40 (both strips)
    pH: ? (both strips showing weird color, is it because low alkalinity is messing up the pH readings?)
    Total Hardness ppm: 50 (HotSpring test strip)
    Total Bromine ppm: high (HotSpring test strip, I don't use bromine so I thought this was weird)

    measurements.jpg

    Within the past 2 days a lot of white flakes have appeared in the water (some floating, but most of it appears to be on the bottom). It was hard to get a good picture of them:

    white_flakes.jpg

    Could it be white water mold? I've had some white flakes in the water previously which I assumed has been floating debris from decaying "insulation rings" around lights, filter areas, etc (next 2 pictures) My spa dealer said that the decaying of those "insulation rings" doesn't cause any harm, not sure what to think about that.

    insulation_rings1.jpg
    insulation_rings2.jpg

    However, I've never seen white flakes in such high amounts. Maybe Ultrashock was so harsh that it took off a lot of small particles from the insulation rings that were already in bad shape? Can it be pieces of biofilm that it took off from the piping? Is it possible that the orange stuff is merely some kind of insulation-ring-debris/calcium/metal combination? Also, how come the particles are not getting filtered out?

    The ground underneath my spa has been moving the past 5 years. One side of the spa is currently 5-7 centimeters lower than another side of the spa. Can this cause circulation problems or "water pockets" that can't be drained properly? The builder who constructed the patio has promised to fix it. I'm hesitant to change the water right now because we will have to drain the spa in a few weeks when the builder comes anyway.

    Also, there are some tiny round orange specks attached to spa surfaces under a particular headrest and also the "floor" near the filter area, picture:

    under_a_headrest.jpg

    If you touch them with your hand you can feel them on the surface. I've tried scrubbing them with a hard brush and also with paper. I assume I could get them off with a knife or something but I don't think that's wise. Not sure if this is related to the stuff that I have on the waterline or not.

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    Re: Is this mold?

    Some background info:

    Before this orange-waterline-problem the spa was disconnected for 2 months due to a mechanical problem (turned out to be just an airlock). The spa dealer always promised to come "in a few days", and after waiting for 1 month we drained the water (although we didn't vacuum it so we didn't get all the water out). At the beginning of these 2 months the water was maybe 6C and at the end the temperature outside was 15-20C. There was a small odor at the end of the 2 months but nothing bad and when we refilled the water looked clear.

    Also, at one point in the summer before all this there had been some orange/white goo near the waterline. At the time I wiped it off and it didn't reappear, so I'm guessing it wasn't the same stuff that we have now. It also looked different as I recall. I found a picture, but it appears to be after partially wiping them off:

    earlier_this_summer.jpg

    Because of the low temperature, clear water, and the similar occurence earlier, I thought that the 2-month-standby didn't cause this orange stuff, but maybe I'm wrong?

    Not sure if this is relevant at all. Sorry about the long post :/

  12. Back To Top    #12

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    Re: Is this mold?

    It's been several weeks since I changed the water and filters. The orange stuff came back a few times and I kept wiping it off, then it just disappeared and hasn't come back since!

    Unfortunately, the foam (or whatever it is) has gradually reappeared. Basicly, the water looks crystal clear until I put the pumps on. After stopping the pumps, foam/grease looking stuff appears on the surface. I asked about this in March and there were some guesses it might be residual Jet Clean that I used earlier. I think we can rule that out now, since the water was fine after the last water change.

    Here is the video from March: Spa water quality problems - YouTube

    I'm really baffled what it could be. It appears to have gradually emerged during a period of time when we haven't soaked in the spa, so I don't think it's body oils ec. If it was something organic I would imagine it would have some kind of reaction to chlorine? I don't think it's caused directly by AquaFinesse since we didn't have this issue 2 years ago and the water source hasn't changed either. I'm thinking it has to be something inside the spa that slowly "leaks" into the water?

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    Re: Is this mold?

    You probably have some sort of biofilm or other growth in your pipes, but of course AquaFinesse will claim that this can't happen when using their product so go figure. If you were in the U.S. then I'd recommend you use Ahh-Some since that is the most effective product at removing biofilm and greases from plumbing and other spa surfaces.
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    Re: Is this mold?

    Quote Originally Posted by chem geek View Post
    You probably have some sort of biofilm or other growth in your pipes, but of course AquaFinesse will claim that this can't happen when using their product so go figure. If you were in the U.S. then I'd recommend you use Ahh-Some since that is the most effective product at removing biofilm and greases from plumbing and other spa surfaces.
    Do you think it's safe to use the spa?

    I don't think I can get Ahh-Some here, but I did use JetClean once in the summer and once last December. Maybe I should try a different product the next time I change the water :/

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    Re: Is this mold?

    Probably fairly safe when the pumps are off, but when they are on they may aerosolize whatever this material is and if it's some kinds of bacteria that can be a real problem. Not likely, but biofilm isn't good to have. Legionella is rare, but not something to mess with. If it's just greases/oils, then it's not harmful.

    Aquafinesse claims to be able to handle these things so if you haven't done so, I suggest you contact them directly to see what they suggest. They should stand by their product. Let us know what they say.
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    Re: Is this mold?

    Try to get tube clean, in the Neteherlands it is also verry diffecult tot get chemicals.
    But tube clean we have.
    And in the beginning i use also Aquafines but sinds i,m on this forum i use dichloor/bleach methode, and the water is still clear here now for 4 months.
    But in the beginning it is hard to undertand (dichloor/bleach)
    Aquafiness is making the water cloudy.
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    Re: Is this mold?

    Quote Originally Posted by chem geek View Post
    Probably fairly safe when the pumps are off, but when they are on they may aerosolize whatever this material is and if it's some kinds of bacteria that can be a real problem. Not likely, but biofilm isn't good to have. Legionella is rare, but not something to mess with. If it's just greases/oils, then it's not harmful.
    Do you have any ideas how I could test what it is?

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    Re: Is this mold?

    I don't know what kinds of consumer bacteria test kits you've got. They aren't even that common in the U.S. but there are some (e.g. Watersafe drinking water and Watersafe bacteria test strips test for E.coli and many other fecal and non-fecal bacteria).
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