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Thread: Dad's Spa - refilled last week - and just refilled again

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    frogabog's Avatar
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    Dad's Spa - refilled last week - and just refilled again

    Dad has an older octagonal spa. Apparently he burned up his heater by using trichlor tabs before the coil or something. So, the spa store sold him a Natural Mineral Sanitizer http://www.nature2.com/ that apparently uses silver to sanitize.

    Fast forward to a couple weeks ago, he tells me he's using powder to supplement chlorine. I figure his CYA is through the roof so I sent him home with a test. He reported the dot disappeared immediately. So, he drained and refilled last week, went to camp with the kids and this morning I had him run a full test minus CYA (he's out of reagent).

    Since the fill, he's added about 8ppm worth of dichlor. I'm having him keep track of ppm's added with instructions to switch to bleach when he gets to about 30ppm of dichlor.

    He also has an ozone system.

    This morning's numbers
    TC 0
    FC 0
    PH 7.6
    TA 50
    CH 50
    CYA (assumed 5-8)

    He added dichlor to raise TC and FC to 1.75. No CC.

    We then raised TA to 80 and CH to 150 (although he didn't retest CH, will check that later).

    The spa is under a porch roof, enclosed and protected on the sides with latice and fake stained glass film plexiglass windows. It is not fully enclosed although most weather elements other than wind do not enter the area.

    My question revolves around the silver thingie he's got going on. What is it? How does it work? Does it REALLY disinfect? He also has spent years with a systemic MRSA infection in his spine as a result of an infected cadaver bone from spine surgery. 3 years, 15 surgeries, mostly dead the whole time, with vancomyacin in his veins every day. It was gone for about 3 years, came back last fall. Hospital stay, and 25+ more weeks of daily IV vancomyacin. Essentially, MRSA will always be an issue for him and although his infection is systemic my kids and H have battled MRSA skin sores in the past two years as well. We don't know for sure if there was actual transmission, but it's very suspicious to say the least.

    The reason his CYA was so high is that he was regularly adding dichlor every day. He would "throw a couple teaspons in" (he likes to use the cap... sigh...). While i'm all for chlorine on top of the silver thing that he says doesn't need ANY chlorine supplementation, I do not know if he should be following the minimum/target/shock recommendations like we do for pools or using lower doses of chlorine. Switching to bleach will stop the rising CYA, he's on board with that plan but I'll need to calculate his daily dosing cuz he's still wanting to just "throw something in" every day to simplify his crazy busy spa soaking time...

    We assume his CYA will be around 20 when he stops the dichlor. Should he be dosing to 5 (target) every day, never going below 2, or can he run at his preferred level of maximum 2? Of course he prefers low levels because he has (had) no clue what CYA was and how it affected CL levels. He read once his spa should only be 2ppm max and apparently that stuck. He's working with me on this, although still just a tad set in his ways. i.e. complaining about using up his reagents to test for CH and TA and it's just wasteful... blah blah...

    OK dad, and WHY did you buy a total dissolved solids tester on ebay then if you just can't be bothered to check TA and CH? Apparently the Taylor book told him he needed to test it to make sure it wasn't too high. Sorry, just a bit lost on that one. Anyone know much about total dissolved solids? Is this iron? Who cares?

    Thoughts are welcome. Am I doing it right for a spa? Temp is 102. My kids get in there with him all the time, I need it to be disinfected properly. MRSA is awful stuff.
    Where kids swim in 54 degree water, turn blue, and giggle happily cuz they got a POOL!
    Year 3 BBB -15' x 48" Intex Metal Frame - Was using (2) 1000gph Intex cartridge filters (see Full time pumping Intex). 2012, converted to 1600gph and sand filter+SWG = Sand filter love affair!
    Don't waste time and energy looking for a better value on test kits, the TF100 is the best deal around. I did the looking and spent the extra money, but you don't have to make the same mistake. Just go here: TFTestkits. I use Pool Calculator for min/max, and shocking chlorine levels.

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    Re: Dad's Spa - refilled last week

    Nature2 are cartridges that have solid minerals that dissolve into silver ions and zinc ions. They absolutely, positively cannot be used alone by themselves. There is a low/no chlorine recipe that is approved by the EPA using Nature2 with MPS (non-chlorine shock) at hot spa temperatures, but you have to follow it religiously making sure the MPS level is high enough at all times. Even with that procedure, the water can sometimes get cloudy and need to be shocked with chlorine, usually not more than once a week. You can look at the Nature2 Owner's Manual for more info.

    A less expensive approach is to use the Dichlor-then-bleach method described in Using Chlorine in a Spa. Note that you did NOT want to raise your TA for this system -- you want it low (around 50 ppm) to keep the pH more stable otherwise it will tend to rise too much when you switch to using bleach and you'll want to use 50 ppm Borates (such as from ProTeam Gentle Spa if you don't get boric acid directly) which will help as well.

    As for the chlorine level needed, many people add enough chlorine after their soak so that they get to around 1-2 ppm FC before their next soak. That minimizes noticable chlorine and chloramines during the soak itself. Though this approach is fine for preventing uncontrolled bacterial growth because the spa will only be at zero FC for an hour or less, it does not prevent person-to-person transmission of disease. To do that, you would have to maintain an FC residual during the soak so that means starting off with enough FC at the start of the soak to still have some by the end of the soak. Usually 4 ppm FC will be enough, but that really depends on bather load and the size of the spa. One person-hour of soaking needs around 7 ppm FC in 350 gallons, but only some of this gets consumed during the soak with the rest getting consumed over the next 15-20 hours. The more general rule independent of spa size is that every person-hour of soaking requires around 5 fluid ounces of 6% bleach or 3-1/2 teaspoons of Dichlor or 7 teaspoons of non-chlorine shock (43% MPS) to oxidize the bather waste.

    Note that with an ozone system the amounts just quoted above will be lower since ozone will oxidize some of the bather waste. A typical ozonator will cut that chlorine demand roughly in half. However, if the spa is not used, the daily chlorine demand will be doubled from around 25% FC loss per day to around 50% FC loss per day. So an ozonator can work well if a spa is used frequently, but is not so good for a spa used infrequently (once a week or less).

    Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) are mostly salt -- sodium chloride. They are not a problem unless they get very, very high -- you'll be changing the water long before they get too high.

    As for what silver ions do, see this post where you can see that silver ions alone do not kill bacteria quickly and have virtually no effect on viruses. MRSA is a strain of Staphylococcus aureus which you can see silver ions kill 99.9% over 225 minutes (nearly 4 hours) compared to chlorine killing at the same level in less than 1 minute. Nature2 with MPS, however, is able to kill at roughly the same speed as chlorine, at least for enough bacteria to pass the EPA DIS/TSS-12 criteria.
    16,000 gallon outdoor in-ground 16'x32' plaster pool; Pentair Intelliflo VF pump; Pentair IntelliTouch i9+3s control system; Jandy CL-340 square foot cartridge filter
    12 Fafco solar panels; Purex Triton PowerMax 250 natural gas heater (200,000 BTU/hr output); automatic electric pool safety cover; 4-wheel pressure-side "The Pool Cleaner"

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    Re: Dad's Spa - refilled last week

    MRSA will jump from one person to the next just by shaking hands. If you are healthy, it's no problem. It will "die" and you won't get sick. If you aren't healthy it can make you ill in very many ways. As long as you are reasonably healthy, it's not really a problem.

    I worked in hospitals and nursing home's for years. Came in contact with several MRSA patients without ever getting ill myself, luckily. But since it is a Multi Resistant Stafylococ Aureus, there is NO cure when you get really ill...

    I would like to get some more info from his doctor, before I would jump in the same pool / spa as he is in.
    Sunspa Monaco in the garden since March 2011.

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    frogabog's Avatar
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    Re: Dad's Spa - refilled last week

    Thanks so much for all the information. I had read the post Dave referenced before but it made more sense this time knowing what MPS is. He isn't using MPS, but had mentioned it was supposed to work w/the silver just fine. I forwarded all this to him, I assume he took the time to read it.

    Dad actually soaks every morning, it's part of his wake up routine.

    I'm heading to dad's in a few, I think I'll take my DPD powder over and show him how it works, also get a good reading on his spa.

    The MRSA is a real bear to deal with. 11yo came home from camp w/a "spider bite" which I immediately recognized as MRSA. Luckily another parent who is an ND was picking her child up at the same time so I was able to get him a script right away w/o a trip to a MD ($$$). That day he had to use the compress and drain treatment we've come to know so well, and when nothing was left draining the next evening, I had him get into the pool. I pumped up the chlorine to about 10 ppm and had him soak in it for an hour.

    Dad's infectious disease Dr. had told him to tell us to take bleach baths weekly and boil w/bleach all the linens and clothes. While I haven't figured out how to boil clothing/linens w/o a witches cauldron over the fire pit, I figured with twice the CL for CYA level required for the <1 minute kill rate (20%) the pool was a good place to stick the kid into. This was a week ago, and all is well w/the infection healing nicely. The way I figure it, there's less of a chance of transmission in the chlorinated pool than there is just living in the same house with an active infection or treating/draining it. So yes, the other kids got to swim after he was done soaking, and the day after that I let them all swim together.

    I am washing clothes and towels on HOT/sanitary plus bleach, regardless of color as well. Closest I can come to boiling w/o the cauldron...

    Thanks again for all the help. I feel much better now that I understand what to do and watch out for. If dad wants kids to spa w/him in the mornings... he will have to commit to making sure it's safe.
    Where kids swim in 54 degree water, turn blue, and giggle happily cuz they got a POOL!
    Year 3 BBB -15' x 48" Intex Metal Frame - Was using (2) 1000gph Intex cartridge filters (see Full time pumping Intex). 2012, converted to 1600gph and sand filter+SWG = Sand filter love affair!
    Don't waste time and energy looking for a better value on test kits, the TF100 is the best deal around. I did the looking and spent the extra money, but you don't have to make the same mistake. Just go here: TFTestkits. I use Pool Calculator for min/max, and shocking chlorine levels.

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    frogabog's Avatar
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    Re: Dad's Spa - refilled last week

    Well...

    It's been two weeks with the refilled spa. Dad already had CYA up to at least 110.

    Drain and refill again.

    Get this... I know our tap water PH is 8.0'ish. Spa was filled, and I assumed it would be the same but no. It's 6.9-7.0 at best. Dad went and tested in the kitchen, verified 8.0.

    So what the heck?? What could make it drop THAT much? He's got a 1" supply line going to the spa and while he has always sung the "I hate plumbing" song while performing plumbing... he's not a bad plumber. A little sloppy, but I've seen union plumbers work just as sloppy before. What the heck could do this? Or could it be the surface of the pool itself? The spa took about 8 minutes to fill up and I tested it immediately.

    The filter was also covered in turquoise slime. I assume this is copper from the heater. I have pics, I don't know if they will show it but it wiped off green/on my finger. I think this filter is for a million gallon pool. It's Sta-Rite (sp?) and nearly as tall as I am! Is this green a problem or is it normal?

    I was short on time so I added 6ppm worth of dichlor and ran. haha... I figure that will be down to 2ppm tonight some time because I'm still convinced Portland pre-algae's the water and it needs a baby-shock upon filling. He is going to test later. I left the alkalinity alone, assuming it's about the same as mine from the tap at around 40ppm. Last time he filled, he tested it at 50ppm so that should be either right on, or close. Will test and adjust tomorrow.

    I had him turn the jets on and let them run this evening to see if that alone would raise ph some. I didn't have time to adjust it, and I kinda wanted to see what would happen. If aeration doesn't move it by tonight, he can adjust it manually. He told me his ph is ALWAYS low. Something's not quite right there if you ask me. The spa is right up against the house, there is little distance between the supply lines and the line to the spa. Supply is copper btw.

    I am going to take him some calcium tomorrow and set that at 130ppm. Right?

    I'm toying w/giving him a little CYA and doing it manually instead of raising CYA slowly w/dichlor. I'm playing it hesitantly because:
    1) he can't seem to get past the idea that FC over 2ppm is ok if CYA relates, and
    2) no sun reaches the spa, ever, and
    3) he doesn't understand the ppm:cya ratio with dichlor... and does not really want bother to calculate it.

    I think 30 is a good number for outdoor pools here, 20 should do him just fine plus it makes 2ppm good enough to kill staph in <1 minute... AND that keeps him from freaking out (like today when I added 6ppm) because he can't seem to wrap his head around 3ppm in a spa being ok. Right???

    If I manually dose to 20ppm CYA and take his dichlor he won't be able to increase CYA. He is ok with switching to bleach. He just needs to get some. He thinks mom will flip if he uses hers from the laundry room, lol. Oh boy... Maybe I'll bring bleach tomorrow too.

    I'll get him borated once I get this spa balanced. I think we'll get some of that Gentle Spa stuff since the PH is already an issue.

    In closing... as he is complaining that he doesn't want to "mess" w/his spa this much... that I'm over thinking it and all this testing/dosing is such a HASSLE... He also complains in the same breath that the spa has ALWAYS been a HASSLE and he just wants to use it.

    I asked him if he would repair a vehicle with a bandaid, or would he use the right parts so he could "just drive it". I then claimed this was the same thing w/the spa and once we get it fixed it won't be a hassle.

    Then I ran cuz I was late and the bank was going to close. Did I miss anything?
    Where kids swim in 54 degree water, turn blue, and giggle happily cuz they got a POOL!
    Year 3 BBB -15' x 48" Intex Metal Frame - Was using (2) 1000gph Intex cartridge filters (see Full time pumping Intex). 2012, converted to 1600gph and sand filter+SWG = Sand filter love affair!
    Don't waste time and energy looking for a better value on test kits, the TF100 is the best deal around. I did the looking and spent the extra money, but you don't have to make the same mistake. Just go here: TFTestkits. I use Pool Calculator for min/max, and shocking chlorine levels.

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