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Thread: Had our spa just a week and already hate Baqua

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    Had our spa just a week and already hate Baqua

    Bitter taste, weird smell, cloudy water, weird brown foam goo ring with the consistency of rubber cement, etc.--and this is a brand-new spa!

    Shouldn't have listened to the sales guy (he's an okay guy, been in business for decades, which is hard to do if you're evil), but he really loves Baqua himself. Can't imagine why.

    It looks like we haven't killed the spa, but I need to convert it to chlorine, and the instructions here are all for pools.

    What's the best way to recover from having contaminated a perfectly good brand-new spa with this junk?

    To convert a spa, obviously I should drain it, but then what? Refill it and nuke it with chlorine, or refill it, circulate it, then drain it and replace the filter, and then nuke it? Some other sequence?

    Also, the instructions are all in terms of fancy test kits, but spas are typically measured with simple test strips. Do I really need a test kit for a spa? If so, what would be the best thing to get for a spa conversion?

  2. Back To Top    #2

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    Re: Had our spa just a week and already hate Baqua

    Welcome to TFP!

    Just drain the water and then fill it, decontaminate it with either Spa System Flush or superchlorating or both, then drain and refill again. You might be able to get away with just adding the Spa System Flush to your existing water and that might work, thereby requiring only a single drain and refill, but I can't guarantee that (as no one has tried that here). I know that you couldn't do this approach with superchlorination since there is too much junk in the Baquacil-to-chlorine conversion that could interfere with the decontamination process and it's easier to drain/refill a spa.

    As for a test kit, yes you still need a good one. Otherwise you won't know your true levels and with the Dichlor-then-bleach method you'll go nuts trying to adjust pH if you don't actually realize that your TA is too high, for example. You also want to add enough calcium to prevent foaming but not so much as to cause scaling and again the only way to do that is to know your starting Calcium Hardness (CH) which is something that no test strip measures (they all measure Total Hardness only and that includes magnesium in addition to calcium).

    See the bottom of Using Chlorine in a Spa for a summary of the procedure.
    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"

  3. Back To Top    #3

    Re: Had our spa just a week and already hate Baqua

    Thank you! I'll do some more reading, buy a test kit, and slog through the conversion.

  4. Back To Top    #4

    Re: Had our spa just a week and already hate Baqua

    (This post has been edited to correct chemistry errors :0)
    There are Baqua-Spa lovers and haters the world round. Baqua-Spa is a Biguanide based alternative sanitizer (Baqua-Shock/Oxidizer is Hydrogen Peroxide based) - (to bromine or chlorine)... it's good stuff, it works for many. But the unfortunate thing is the corporate recommended regimen that goes along with it, (as well any particular manufacturers regimen). I'm not against Baqua-Spa, and many spa owners I've met actually use their program religiously, and I'm not in a position to disagree with them. My thing - I look at the leakage traces from the pump seals, oxidation at the heater element connections etc, consider the age of the equipment, length of time of ownership etc.. to see if what they've been doing, has been successful or a failure.

    By far, the majority of people that use the Baqua-Spa program religiously, are experts in their hot tub environment, their bather load, and other things and they pay attention to details, and know what they're talking about when it comes to managing the water quality in their tub. But it does take some self education to get right - http://www.baquaspa.com/Docs/BAQUASpa_Guide.pdf This is not easy reading, but if you're looking for a very high quality result, and you're a discriminating individual or family, then it might help if you spent some time to learn the process. Your spa dealer is not to blame really (he's got his own personal tried and true formula that works for him and his family) - everybody wants a hot tub like yesterday, and everybody wants it to be trouble free tomorrow, but water quality management is a learned process and eventually becomes a personal skillset that will stay with you for life if you stick with it.

    There is no one single formula for a hot tub. Water quality management for a spa in Florida, used by 1 person, will be entirely different from someone in California - and water quality for a family of four that uses the tub weekly will be vastly different from anyone from a 2 person household located in anywhere usa.

    Now let's address a couple of things:
    1. Weird brown goo ring. That's usually because of a plasticizer (clarifier) that's been added to the spa, to eliminate cloudy water. This is quite normal. I was in one of my (customers) house today and demonstrated how quickly adding a 'clarifier' to the water would start producing crud on the water line. Just wipe it off. Then again, if he's sticking around for a bit afterwards (after adding the clarifier), squirt a bit of de-foamer on the brown accumulating bubble areas and they'll disappear - for now, and help to eliminate the goo ring. (Instead of collecting on the side walls, they'll end up coating the filter cartridge, which must be cleaned eventually). No matter what - **** is in the water, and you want to get it out so it looks nice. Clarifiers are great - use them VERY sparingly. The more you put in, the more goo you get on the walls. Baqua Spa can also add to this goo.

    2. Bitter taste - For one thing, I would NEVER taste hot tub water as easily as I would one from a well maintained swimming pool with adequate sanitizers. Pools are generally cooler in temperature, and regulate slowly because of the water volume. Hot Tubs on the other hand, can be contaminated (like max 400 gallons) in minutes - and can propogate some really bad stuff pretty quick - think diarreah leaking :-[ in the tub or alternatives, because of the lower volume of water, higher temperature which helps bacterial things grow FAST. I'd rather swallow a gallon of public swimming pool water to an ounce of any hot tub water.

    3. Wierd Smell - If you've never owned a spa or pool before, then you'll eventually get used to the normal scents of chemical oxidation byproducts of bromine, chlorine, or in your case Baqua-Spa. You may also have residual smells of the tub's manufacture from the cements used in the plumbing - this is normal.

    I wouldn't deep six the seller, or the method of sanitization just yet (based on your initial impression), but I would give this recommended regimen a little more time to and work to make it work for you before changing your entire methodology of hot tub ownership.

    At any rate, if you wanted to convert to a simple bromine plan, (If you put too much Bromine it'll stink just like the previous sanitizer), simply drain the tub, refill, and start over. There's not enough of the previous sanitizer left in the typical tub to make a difference in a refill anyway.

    If it were my tub, I'd just go slowly, take test measurements regularly, and pay attention to the results, then react accordingly. Just don't freak out - this is a learning process, it's like you're trying to keep a bathtub full of water for 3-5 months at a time, and make it look and feel good while doing it. Every situation, locale, homeowner, household size and usage will require different solutions, and every single one of them is OJT.

    Hope this helps!
    Cheers.
    (Thanks for the correction chem-geek).

  5. Back To Top    #5

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    Re: Had our spa just a week and already hate Baqua

    Quote Originally Posted by opie1canopie
    Baqua-Spa is a Hydrogen Peroxide based alternative sanitizer (to bromine or chlorine)... it's good stuff, it works, and is pretty much harmless (ya think?).
    Baquacil aka biguanide aka PHMB is the chemical Polyhexamethylene Biguanide. It is the sanitizer/disinfectant in the system. Hydrogen peroxide is the oxidizer. It is incorrect to say that Baqua-Spa is a hydrogen peroxide based alternative. If only hydrogen peroxide were used, there wouldn't be the problems associated with Baquacil, but then it wouldn't be an EPA-approved sanitizer whereas PHMB is. Baqua-Spa is an appropriate to system to use for those that do not want a halogen-based system (i.e. no chlorine, no bromine) but want an EPA-approved disinfectant. The other alternative is Nature2 (silver ions) with MPS which is also an EPA-approved system though usually chlorine is still needed for shocking every week or two to keep the water clear.

    The disinfecting procedure using Spa System Flush is needed regardless of the system that is used. The reason is that this is a new tub and such tubs are very often wet-tested but not properly dried so one often ends up with biofilms in the piping. In addition there are often factory chemicals left in the spa. In short, the first fill of spa water usually goes south very quickly so having the spa flushed with chemicals that break up biofilms is a good thing to do regardless of the sanitation system that will be used.

    Spa owners doing Dichlor-then-bleach have very little smell in their spas because they usually start out their soak with around 1-2 ppm FC and then add the appropriate amount of chlorine after their soak so most of the smell from oxidizing bather waste occurs when they are not in the tub. It is a good idea to remove the cover and let the spa air out for a few minutes before getting in the next time, but that's usually all it takes. There is no need for shocking because the appropriate amount of chlorine is used after each soak.
    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"

  6. Back To Top    #6

    Re: Had our spa just a week and already hate Baqua

    Fixed the peroxide error in the post - thanks.

    Quote Originally Posted by chem geek
    The disinfecting procedure using Spa System Flush is needed regardless of the system that is used. The reason is that this is a new tub and such tubs are very often wet-tested but not properly dried so one often ends up with biofilms in the piping. In addition there are often factory chemicals left in the spa. In short, the first fill of spa water usually goes south very quickly so having the spa flushed with chemicals that break up biofilms is a good thing to do regardless of the sanitation system that will be used.
    Excellent advice.

    Quote Originally Posted by chem geek
    Spa owners doing Dichlor-then-bleach have very little smell in their spas because they usually start out their soak with around 1-2 ppm FC and then add the appropriate amount of chlorine after their soak so most of the smell from oxidizing bather waste occurs when they are not in the tub. It is a good idea to remove the cover and let the spa air out for a few minutes before getting in the next time, but that's usually all it takes. There is no need for shocking because the appropriate amount of chlorine is used after each soak.
    By far this is the simplest method, it's what I use, and always works for me.

  7. Back To Top    #7

    Re: Had our spa just a week and already hate Baqua

    We only have two bathers. We always shower before entry. We did not add a clarifier--the only chemicals in the water are a bit of pH decreaser, and the three Baqua chemicals. Amounts were measured properly and were introduced per the instructions (and in the correct order, with the correct wait times). This is a brand-new spa, with no previous water or chemicals in it. We've used chlorine in other spas and much prefer the smell to the chemical oddness of Baqua. The taste isn't from drinking the spa water--I think it's from the water droplets that bounce up when bubbles pop; just that residual bit of chemical is nasty.

  8. Back To Top    #8

    Re: Had our spa just a week and already hate Baqua

    Was waffling, then happened to open the skimmer top a bit ago and recoiled at the sight of large deposits of brown crud.

    This stuff is an expensive joke.

  9. Back To Top    #9

    Re: Had our spa just a week and already hate Baqua

    Okay, I have a test kit on the way, along with SpaFlush and a replacement filter. I will drain, clean, refill, flush, drain, fill, DiChlor, and start the BBB process.

    What should I use to remove the hideous brown goo from the spa? There is a special Baqua product to clean spa shells, but I'd kind of like not to give them any more money. Does something else work for removing Baqua gunk?

    Finally, what is a recommended filter cleaner, and a recommended cover cleaner, when using BBB in a spa? I was originally going to get those chemicals from Baqua, but now I won't.

  10. Back To Top    #10

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    Re: Had our spa just a week and already hate Baqua

    Physically remove as much junk as you can wiping it or scooping it away. The Spa System Flush will likely dissolve a lot of the rest (it will float more on the top of the water where you can scoop more out and the rest will drain). Superchlorination should take care of the rest and any remnants that don't get oxidized will get caught in the filter.

    I don't know what filter or cover cleaners to use. Others can chime in with that, though with a cartridge filter you can follow the advice on Cleaning a Cartridge Filter. Note that they say that you MUST use BaquaClean® if you intend to use the same filter. Apparently, the Baquacil by-products will solidify into a mass you cannot remove if you try to clean using normal products. If you remove that junk first with BaquaClean®, then you should be OK after that using regular products. Converting away from Baqua takes some effort, but once converted things will become very easy assuming you soak regularly (if you use your spa infrequently, the Dichlor-then-bleach can seem to take more effort since you need to add chlorine in between your spa uses at least every other day or perhaps twice a week -- you can't usually go a week without adding chlorine).
    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"

  11. Back To Top    #11

    Re: Had our spa just a week and already hate Baqua

    Thanks! I had already ordered a replacement filter with plans to toss the one I have. My plan is:

    1) Drain.
    2) Remove filter.
    3) Try to scrape as much gunk off the waterline as possible (without scratching). Not sure what I'll use here to assist. May have to cough up some more money for Baqua-specific gunk remover.
    4) Fill.
    5) Pour in Spa System Flush.
    6) Run it.
    7) Continue scrubbing to see if the rest of the gunk can be forced into solution.
    8) Drain.
    9) Fill.
    10) Install new filter.
    11) Start the Dichlor-then-bleach BBB process.

    My concern is that I won't be able to get all of the gunk out of the spa before the second fill, and will wind up killing another filter.

  12. Back To Top    #12

    Re: Had our spa just a week and already hate Baqua

    So I too HATE Baqua spa....can't seem to get it out of the spa. However I have learned from several uses that Dawn dishwashing liquid gets rid of the Brown ring very easily, Just make sure you rinse and drain really well so you don't have any residual bubbles....
    Bobbi
    Shelby, NC
    18' AG round
    7600 gal
    Sand filter

  13. Back To Top    #13

    Re: Had our spa just a week and already hate Baqua

    Finally got the spa converted. I'd forgotten what water looked like. It's clear, and doesn't feel funny.

    However, I am having trouble reducing TA, despite following the procedures described on this site. CH is ~300, TA is at 110 despite adding a lot of acid, and pH won't hold still (last night it was 6.4 and today it is 8.2). I'm using the aeration/acid approach, and TA started at 220, so it's making progress, but is it normal to use 2/3rds of a bottle of acid in a 290-gallon spa?

  14. Back To Top    #14

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    Re: Had our spa just a week and already hate Baqua

    In 290 gallons, it takes 3/4 fluid ounces of full-strength Muriatic Acid (31.45% Hydrochloric Acid) or 1 ounce weight (about 2/3rds fluid ounces volume) of dry acid to lower the TA by 10 ppm. So 100 ppm would be 7.5 fluid ounces of full-strength Muriatic Acid or 10 ounces weight (6.7 fluid ounces volume) of dry acid. I don't know the size of your bottle of acid.

    HOWEVER, I see from this thread that you neglected to mention the borates you added using borax which of course needs a lot of acid. James answered your question in the other thread.
    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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