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Thread: New Spa - Lots Of Basic Questions

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    New Spa - Lots Of Basic Questions

    I resently bought a portable spa with a vinal liner. I am a little overwhellemed reading about all the different chemicals and products avalible. I bought a chemical starter kit with the following:
    - 5 Way Test Strips
    - Bromine tablets, with floating dispenser
    - Spa Shock
    - pH Up
    - pH Down
    - Foam Away
    - Something to prevent scale buildup

    I put in the inital water Friday night. I did a water test both days after. I added bromine the first full day. It said to add 1 tablet per 100 gallons. So, for my 280 gallon spa, I added 2 tablets and a bunch of powder from the bottom of the bottle. The powder spilled out of the dispenser and felt like sand on the bottom of the spa. It disolves slower than I expected. A few basic quesions.

    My eyes arn't the best, but I think the pH and alkilinity were in the "good" range today, I built up about 1ppm of Bromine. Is it normal for it to take a long time to build up at first? I remember that my water was always on the hard side, from when I had a fish tank. But there is something on my test strips that says "Total Hardness". The scale goes up to 250 or something, but mine is always at 0. What does this mean? Does it need changed? How?

    I am also a little confused about spa shock and how it works. It seems that procedures are different with Bromine than Clorine. I have not added shock yet. I have heard a lot of conflicting advice on when to use it. My understanding is that it is not nessicary at first because it does not add bromine, just reactivates the used "waste" bromine that is there. Correct? And there is no way to test or moniter the level of "waste" bromine. So you just kind of guess and put some in once a week? Or if the water gets cloudy?

    Also, is it safe to pickup the bromine tablets with my fingers? That white dust went everywhere. It said to wear gloves and eye protection, but is it really THAT dangerous, as long as I don't eat it? How about other chemicals?

    Thank you for your help getting started. I will probably have a lot of dumb questions at first. I haven't used the hottub much yet, but I love it. Can't wait to add a light, and ozoner, and... wait, I am already over budget.

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    Re: New Spa - Lots Of Basic Questions

    Welcome to TFP

    Bromine is a pain and most people change over to chlorine within a year... Bromine can work well but I and many others just had problems and changed over.. I am not sure if you read the how to for chlorine and bromine

    How do I use Bromine in my spa (or pool)?)
    How do I use Chlorine in my Spa (or pool)?)

    we call test strips, "guess strips" because they are just about the worst things ever, you can do the same by blindly throwing chem's in... a drop test kit is what you want and need and you really do not "need" the TF100 below but I still recommend it (I also have a pool so I use mine all year) a 6 way kit from walmart or other store will work...

    I hope this helps
    Pool: Intex 16x32 15000 gal, 2 speed 340042, Pentair CC320 Filter, CircuPool SJ45 Salt System, Intermatic PE653RC; Hot Tub: 650 Gal SWG Megachlor
    links: pool school * Recommended-Levels * SLAM * CYA chart * Test kits * How To Post Pictures * Poolmath * OCLT ** Support your website if we helped you :) **

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    Re: New Spa - Lots Of Basic Questions

    I have to agree that having a real test kit makes all the difference. The strips just don't work. So, worth the $70-100 for a good test kit. Once you have it, it is so much easier to manage the water without guessing. I have the TF-100 for my pool too, but works well for the spa.
    18,000 gallon in ground pool built 2008, PebbleSheen surface, Aquapure salt system, Jandy 580 filter, Polaris sweep with booster pump, 2 stage filter pump, Suntopia solar heat; Marquis 630 ultimate spa, 2008, 390 gallons, built in ozonator, Saltron Mini Salt Water chlorine Generator for spa

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    Re: New Spa - Lots Of Basic Questions

    I diden't realize my first post went through as a big block of text, making it very hard to read. I added line breaks, so you may want to reread it now.

    What, in your opionion, makes bromine more complicated than clorine? It looks the opposite to me, because with clorine, you have more readings to keep track of such as CWA.

    Thank you for your sygjections about the test kit. I will look around and get one sometime. But I would like to use up the test strips first. They may not be the best, but I will try and deal with them for a few weeks. The ones they sent me were actually expired, so they are going to send me new ones. I think I would eventualy like an electronic tester to take away the guess work.

    The pH said 6.2 today! I think and hope it's a bad reading. I don't think it could fall that much in 2 days.

    On the bromine test pad, the edge was pink, and the center was white. Not sure what that means. It seems the tablets in the floater simply won't disolve fast enouf, they are barely smaller than when I started!

    The "Combined Chlorine" test showed about "10" at the top of the scale. I don't know how. I am using Bromine, not Chlorine. Any ideas? I know the bromine tablets have some chlorine in them, but just enouf to activate the bromine, and this is combinded, not residual..,

    What do you think as far as touching and handling the chemicals goes? And needing gloves?

    Thank you!

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    Re: New Spa - Lots Of Basic Questions

    I did not use gloves for the bromine some chems actually test as CC depending on what was used.. stay upwind and be careful when using MA

    I am not sure about the PH, just as you saw, test strips are just not up to the task and who knows exactly what your PH is..

    chlorine is added until you get to a certain level and then kept at that level depending on CYA

    Bromine has to be done a different way and requires activating and well I could never get it right.. I had white slime, pink slime, black slime and until I went to chlorine it just would not go away..

    I now use a salt water generator and it is awesome
    Pool: Intex 16x32 15000 gal, 2 speed 340042, Pentair CC320 Filter, CircuPool SJ45 Salt System, Intermatic PE653RC; Hot Tub: 650 Gal SWG Megachlor
    links: pool school * Recommended-Levels * SLAM * CYA chart * Test kits * How To Post Pictures * Poolmath * OCLT ** Support your website if we helped you :) **

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    Re: New Spa - Lots Of Basic Questions

    Okay, thanks. Yeah, the pool store lady said touching Bromine isen't that bad, "the guys" do it all the time. What is MA?

    Well, I went to the local pool store with my mom. And she knew the employee on duty. We talked for almost an hour! She diden't know a lot about water chemistry, just the basics, and I could tell some of the questions I asked were over her head. She said "simpler is best". But I am going to go back tomarrow when another employee is working that has a chemistry degree! And take another water sample too.

    The water sample I took today, TA was too low (only 33), but pH was good. The opposite of what the test strips. She sold me a TA increasing product, hopefully it doesen't mess up pH. I am going to take another water sample tomarrow, and also take my test strips to the store for comparison. I will post back with the results.

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    Re: New Spa - Lots Of Basic Questions

    pool store, why, why, why

    you need to set down and read pool school again.. Pool School - ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry that 20 dollar PH up is baking soda that you could have got 4 pounds for 5 dollars from walmart.. You really do not need a chemist degree to read the TF100, trust me, I have no degree
    Pool: Intex 16x32 15000 gal, 2 speed 340042, Pentair CC320 Filter, CircuPool SJ45 Salt System, Intermatic PE653RC; Hot Tub: 650 Gal SWG Megachlor
    links: pool school * Recommended-Levels * SLAM * CYA chart * Test kits * How To Post Pictures * Poolmath * OCLT ** Support your website if we helped you :) **

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    Re: New Spa - Lots Of Basic Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by cowboycasey View Post
    pool store, why, why, why

    you need to set down and read pool school again.. Pool School - ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry that 20 dollar PH up is baking soda that you could have got 4 pounds for 5 dollars from walmart.. You really do not need a chemist degree to read the TF100, trust me, I have no degree

    I read that, but I didn't think pool school really applied to bromine spas. I don't have a pool. I took my test strips to the pool/spa store for them to test, and even then, they are no where near the correct reading. The company sent me new ones, which are expired in October of 2015 too! Time to start shopping for a good digital tester...

    That wasn't pH up that I bought, it was TA up. It seems to be working, I just need more of it. Here are the results from the pool/spa store. They use ClearCare Expert:

    Test: Yesterday Today
    Total Chlorine/Bromine 1.78 2.76
    pH 7.6 7.9
    TA 33 60
    CH 123 129
    Copper 0 0
    Iron 0.1 0.2

    So the bromine and TA are getting better. I am not sure if the bromine went up because I added more tablets, or did a non-chlorine shock. Hopefully I can bring down the pH after the alkalinity is higher. They said the high iron and low CH isn't a big deal. What do you think?
    No personal pool. Personal Spa: 280 gallon soft walled, AG Vinyl, 120V, 24/7 circ. pump + air blower
    Maintenance employee at small water park.

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    Re: New Spa - Lots Of Basic Questions

    I think you should:
    1. Stop going to the pool store for water analysis
    2. Get one of the recommended test kits. Not a digital tester, not a Walmart special, but the tried and true kit everyone here trusts and understands.
    3. Read the information in the Pool School link
    16 x 32 IG plaster pool, 23k gallons, built 1992, DE filter, Pentair VS pump, IoThyngs controller, Taylor 2006 test kit, SoCal water restrictions
    Newbies with green pools, see SLAM and Recommended Test Kits. My company: IoThyngs

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    Re: New Spa - Lots Of Basic Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Amail View Post
    I think you should:
    1. Stop going to the pool store for water analysis
    2. Get one of the recommended test kits. Not a digital tester, not a Walmart special, but the tried and true kit everyone here trusts and understands.
    3. Read the information in the Pool School link
    1. I will eventually, once it's reasonably balanced and I get a good test kit that I am comfortable using. I am just getting started now.
    2. What's wrong with digital testers? Some have good reviews and I think they would be easier to read.
    3. I did read it, but as previously stated, it is geared more toward chlorine pools than bromine spas.
    No personal pool. Personal Spa: 280 gallon soft walled, AG Vinyl, 120V, 24/7 circ. pump + air blower
    Maintenance employee at small water park.

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    Re: New Spa - Lots Of Basic Questions

    Here is the article in Pool School about bromine spas
    How do I use Bromine in my spa (or pool)?

    But, I like this article better for PH, TA and borates.
    How do I use Chlorine in my Spa (or pool)?

    As for digital testers. Yes, certainly they are easier to read. But, are they accurate? What do the good reviews say about verifying their accuracy? How do they validate the measurements? Calibration? Repeatability?
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    Re: New Spa - Lots Of Basic Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by flyoffacliff View Post
    1. I will eventually, once it's reasonably balanced and I get a good test kit that I am comfortable using. I am just getting started now.
    2. What's wrong with digital testers? Some have good reviews and I think they would be easier to read.
    3. I did read it, but as previously stated, it is geared more toward chlorine pools than bromine spas.
    1. The problem with pool store analyses is they tend to wander all over the map. Many times we've seen PS results that are nowhere near accurate. I realize you're just getting started, and there's a lot of information flying at you. We're here to steer you in the right direction. The kit's easy to use, we'll help.
    2. Depending on what tester you get, it may be accurate and it may not be. It may be thrown off by different CYA levels, or pH levels, or any number of other factors. The probes may corrode and alter your readings. The test kit has chemicals and reagents that tell you exactly what you're dealing with for each chemical you're measuring. It's not as easy as a digital probe, but it's infinitely more trustworthy.
    3. Bromine vs Chlorine aside, there is a lot of good information there about how to use your testing kit, what the different chemicals in your spa are for, where they should be, and why you shouldn't put PS Product (sanitizer, AquaClear, Scrubber, or whatever snakeoil they're currently peddling) in your spa.


    I know it seems daunting, but once you start doing it you'll see it's really quite simple. I can't for the life of me figure out how pool stores have bamboozled people into thinking they can't maintain their pools and spas.
    16 x 32 IG plaster pool, 23k gallons, built 1992, DE filter, Pentair VS pump, IoThyngs controller, Taylor 2006 test kit, SoCal water restrictions
    Newbies with green pools, see SLAM and Recommended Test Kits. My company: IoThyngs

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    Re: New Spa - Lots Of Basic Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by pooldv View Post
    Here is the article in Pool School about bromine spas
    How do I use Bromine in my spa (or pool)?

    But, I like this article better for PH, TA and borates.
    How do I use Chlorine in my Spa (or pool)?
    Can I suggest that these articles be added to Pool School. I have a bromine spa in addition to my SWCG pool and have needed this sort of info in the past but it was very hard to find as the info is buried in a thread that is almost a decade old.
    Vinyl 18'x36' in-ground 100,000 L, Jandy Aquapure 1400 SWCG, Jandy Lite2 heater, StaRite System3 filter, Evac tube solar heating panels

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    Mod Squad pooldv's Avatar
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    Re: New Spa - Lots Of Basic Questions

    These are in Pool School.

    Go to Pool School
    Table of Contents
    Further Reading
    They are toward the bottom

    Now everyone has a whole new list of stuff to read!
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    Re: New Spa - Lots Of Basic Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by pooldv View Post
    These are in Pool School.

    Go to Pool School
    Table of Contents
    Further Reading
    They are toward the bottom
    That's almost as buried as the Ark of the Covenant at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. You have to know to go to the T of C page and then F for Further Reading and U for Using Bromine.

    Why not have it in the Table of Contents under B for Bromine usage in Pools/Spas? Or better yet have a subsection of Pool School for Spas or Spa Chemistry?
    Vinyl 18'x36' in-ground 100,000 L, Jandy Aquapure 1400 SWCG, Jandy Lite2 heater, StaRite System3 filter, Evac tube solar heating panels

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    Mod Squad pooldv's Avatar
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    Re: New Spa - Lots Of Basic Questions

    Thanks for the suggestion! We are working on reorganizing things.
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    Re: New Spa - Lots Of Basic Questions

    Well, I think I am ready for a test kit. I realized through personal experience, and reading this forum that, test strips are inheritly inaccurate, even the digital "AquaChek" ones. I see mixed reviews for pretty much everything though. I am surprised it seems there are only 2 real choices, Taylor, and Lacrosse. Is there a method or kit that is best for for bromine spas, not chlorine pools? I guess I don't need CC or CYA since I am on Bromine, but I don't really see a kit without these. Is there a reason?

    I like the looks of the ColorQ, since it is digital, but pretty accurate. Not sure which model would be best. They are all expensive. Or maybe the TF-100. It seems like a better value than the Taylor kits?

    Input appreciated. Thank you!
    No personal pool. Personal Spa: 280 gallon soft walled, AG Vinyl, 120V, 24/7 circ. pump + air blower
    Maintenance employee at small water park.

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    Mod Squad pooldv's Avatar
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    Re: New Spa - Lots Of Basic Questions

    I use the TF-100 from TFTestkits.net. It is the best value. More here, Pool School - Test Kits Compared
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