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Thread: New spa owner--all of a sudden use of jets causes coughing!

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    New spa owner--all of a sudden use of jets causes coughing!

    Hello all.

    My husband and I are new spa owners - 1 year now. The first nine months went silky smooth. But right after changing the water for the first time (8-02-10) we've had problems with cloudy water, twice green water, and often times an odor. Sometimes it smells of mildew and sometimes it smells of chemicals. Also, a few weeks after we refilled, we have had an increasing problem with coughing while the jets are in use. Over several weeks of researching online and calling customer support at Master Spas and visiting with our local spa experts we have made some adjustments and finally have our clear water again. However, we still have odor and cough when using the jets. Upon the advice of Master Spas we had our water tested. The only thing the test found wrong with our water was that the hardness was too low (70). Over this weekend I added a calcium increaser to increase the hardness by 100 ppm. I had the water tested again yesterday and it only increased the hardness to 130--(Our manual says our hardness should between 180 and 250.) The following were all results:

    free chlorine: 0
    pH: 8
    TA: 120
    CH: 130
    CYA: 55

    I should also mention that we sanitize with Dichlor once a week and shock after each use (this per our users manual). We were told that due to our Eco Pure filters it is not uncommon to have a reading of 0 free chlorine--that supposedly means the Eco Pure filters are doing their job. (I'm still confused about this--how am I supposed to make sanitary adjustments if I can't read what the levels are??)

    Average use is two people twice a week. I considered that to be low usage so we waited 9 months to change the water the first time instead of the recommended 6 months--maybe we were wrong. We also change and clean the filters every 5-6 weeks.

    At this point it is the coughing that is the real problem. I've read enough to know now that there could be gunk lurking in our plumbing that could be causing this, yes?? Is that something that would not necessarily show up on a water analysis? I'm ready to drain and start over. I have read about using a Spa Purge.

    Does anyone have any knowledge about what we have been experiencing? Any help would be greatly appreciated. We didn't realize we would have to become proficient in chemistry but we're willing because WE LOVE OUR SPA!

    Kind regards,
    Shelia
    Master Spas LSX 700
    410 gallons
    Macro Pre Filters and Eco Pure Polishing Filters
    Corona Discharge Ozone Generator
    4 pumps

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    dmanb2b's Avatar
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    Re: New spa owner--all of a sudden use of jets causes coughing!

    Hi Sheila, welcome to TFP

    I am by no means a spa expert, but with FC at 0 and CYA at 55, your water can not be anwhere close to Eco friendly or Pure In all seriousnes, it sounds like your water is not being properly sanitized, despite your dichlor additions. To me it sounds like you have something organic using up your chlorine way faster than you are adding it back.

    Can you let us know how you are testing, eg strips or drop based kit? With CYA at 55, I'm thinking your FC should be around 4-6ppm.
    24'x52" AGP (13,500 Gallons), Intex SWG, (2)Solar Bear 4x20 panels, Hayward S220T Filter, 1/2hp Pentair Superflo

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    Re: New spa owner--all of a sudden use of jets causes coughing!

    Hello!
    I'm using test strips. Do you think it's possible that the ozonator is not working properly? I'm still trying to learn as much as I can about the mechanics of our spa!

    Shelia
    Master Spas LSX 700
    410 gallons
    Macro Pre Filters and Eco Pure Polishing Filters
    Corona Discharge Ozone Generator
    4 pumps

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    Mod Squad zea3's Avatar
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    Re: New spa owner--all of a sudden use of jets causes coughing!

    Hi Sheila! Welcome to TFP!

    Don't rely on pool store or test strips, both tend to be very inconsistent and inaccurate with their results. A drop based test kit such as a TF 50 would be a good choice. I assume you are not using bromine in your spa?

    I just read this page about the Eco Pure system. I am very suspicious of their claims. Anytime someone offers something for sale that will eliminate the need for most or all chemical sanitizers I become very doubtful. If this system works the way it says (I'm not convinced it does) then how long must you run the pump and filters to sanitize the water? How much time does it take for a complete turn over of water in the spa? Water is only being sanitized as it passes through the ozonator. It probably takes a couple of hours for all of the water to pass through the system. If you are not running the pump long enough before and after use then the ozonator cannot sanitize all the water. This is one of the reasons TFP advocates the use of liquid chlorine as a primary sanitizer. Chlorine has a very fast kill time for bacteria and viruses.

    My thought is that you need to decontaminate the spa. There may be biofilm in the plumbing that is re-contaminating the spa even though you changed out the water. Your filter media should also be decontaminated or replaced.

    I think your main problem is lack of sanitation in the water. You can't rely on ozone and filters alone for sanitation.

    Please use the google search at the bottom of the page to search for "ozonators and spas". This will lead you to several threads were people have had similar issues and how they resolved them.
    TFP Moderator
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    Re: New spa owner--all of a sudden use of jets causes coughing!

    Hello Zea3. Thank you for your reply.

    We sanitize with Dichlor once a week and shock after each use which is two nights a week. We run our filter system per the default of two 2-hour intervals a day, sometimes more often if we feel it's needed. We certainly are not relying on our ozone generator to sanitize without the use of some kind of chlorine. The water in our tub is circulated through the system 10 times per hours according to the manual.

    I agree that we should decontaminate. Do you supposed it's ok to decontaminate with our filters in place since they are in new condition?
    Master Spas LSX 700
    410 gallons
    Macro Pre Filters and Eco Pure Polishing Filters
    Corona Discharge Ozone Generator
    4 pumps

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    Re: New spa owner--all of a sudden use of jets causes coughing!

    Does anyone out there know why we're coughing all of a sudden when the jets are running? First nine months, no problems. Shortly after first drain and refill, problems began. Is it from possible gunk in the lines? When I ask our local "experts" and our spa manufacturer customer service, they say they have never heard of such a thing and have no idea why we might be coughing. We're not imagining it. It is real. Please someone help us with information.
    Master Spas LSX 700
    410 gallons
    Macro Pre Filters and Eco Pure Polishing Filters
    Corona Discharge Ozone Generator
    4 pumps

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    dmanb2b's Avatar
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    Re: New spa owner--all of a sudden use of jets causes coughing!

    My only guess is there maybe outgassing of chloramines when the jets start aerating the water. When you turn the spa on, do you get a strong chlorine odor?

    You may be best served by a complete drain and fill with an initial dosage of liquid chlorine and then use the spa to test if the iritation/coughing issue continues.

    Without being able to confirm you are running the spa with a residual chlorine level and a low CC level...it could be a multiple list of issues.
    24'x52" AGP (13,500 Gallons), Intex SWG, (2)Solar Bear 4x20 panels, Hayward S220T Filter, 1/2hp Pentair Superflo

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    Re: New spa owner--all of a sudden use of jets causes coughing!

    Thank you for that info dmanb2b.

    When you say to refill "with an initial dosage of liquid chlorine" . . . how does the liquid chlorine actually differ from the granular chlorine (dichlor)?

    I so appreciate everyone's assistance!
    Master Spas LSX 700
    410 gallons
    Macro Pre Filters and Eco Pure Polishing Filters
    Corona Discharge Ozone Generator
    4 pumps

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    dmanb2b's Avatar
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    Re: New spa owner--all of a sudden use of jets causes coughing!

    You're welcome...you can certainly use dichlor for the initial dose as well, but continued use of dichlor or trichlor adds CYA to your water and liquid (unstabilized chlorine) does not. The higher your CYA level, the higher your minimum FC requirement becomes. When you get a chance, please check out our pool school page (button on upper right of this page) which explain various water chemistry issues as well as why we recommend getting a good drop based testing kit, so that you know for certain what is going on with your water chemistry.
    24'x52" AGP (13,500 Gallons), Intex SWG, (2)Solar Bear 4x20 panels, Hayward S220T Filter, 1/2hp Pentair Superflo

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    Re: New spa owner--all of a sudden use of jets causes coughing!

    I suggest reading Using Chlorine in a Spa to learn about the Dichlor-then-bleach method and also to look at the link to this post on the decontamination procedure that can remove any biofilms that may be present.

    The most common cause of spa problems is insufficient amounts of sanitizer and/or oxidzer being used. If there were no ozonator, then every person-hour of soaking at hot (104ºF) spa temperatures requires around 5 fluid ounces of 6% bleach or 3-1/2 teaspoon of Dichlor or 7 teaspoons of non-chlorine shock (43% MPS) to oxidize the ammonia and organics from your sweat and urine. On days when you do not use the spa, the typical Free Chlorine (FC) drop is 25% so from 4 to 3 ppm, for example.

    However, when an ozonator is being used, the chlorine demand changes. If you were using the spa every day, the chlorine demand might get cut in half as the ozone could handle some of the bather waste. On the other hand, if you use the spa infrequently, such as once a week, then the ozone actually increases chlorine demand by oxidizing some of the chlorine making the daily FC loss more like 50%. Your situation is somewhere in between, but it does sound like you are not using enough sanitizer after each soak. You want to use enough such that you still measure at least a small (1-2 ppm FC) residual by the start of your next soak.
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  11. Back To Top    #11

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    Re: New spa owner--all of a sudden use of jets causes coughing!

    You're all awesome. We're purging, draining and refilling this weekend and follow advice and see how it goes.

    Chem Geek you've helped me better understand how the ozonator affects the demand of chlorine. Thank you. We're getting there . . . with the help of you all and this wonderful site.

    Thank you.
    Shelia
    Master Spas LSX 700
    410 gallons
    Macro Pre Filters and Eco Pure Polishing Filters
    Corona Discharge Ozone Generator
    4 pumps

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