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Thread: @ Maximum frustration with mainting hot tub water

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    @ Maximum frustration with mainting hot tub water

    Hello All -

    Brand new to the forum here after searching about maintaining water in a hot tub with Spa Frog in line system. I've talked to my local store and done everything they have advised, and it still seems like my water goes afoul way too fast. I am having a great deal of difficulty maintaining proper PH, Alkalinity, etc. The real frustrating thing is we purchased the hot tub with the Spa Frog system because it was supposed to be soooooo much easier to maintain! I feel like I am always chasing my tail with this thing! Anyway, sorry about the rant. This is going into the 3rd season with the tub and I am already experiencing issues with the water I just filled it with back in late August. My start up routine is as follows:

    1. clean the drained tub with fresh water and a sponge, wipe down and towel out

    2. fill the tub with water and then shock, allow to sit for at least 24 hours

    3. once I've checked for baseline readings, put Spa Frog in-line cartridges in the system and fire it up

    (now, at this point, and up until the beginning of last week, everything was fine with the water - so about 4 weeks of good readings)

    4. Once we begin using the tub (2 of us, maybe 2-3 times a week), I shock it on Sunday nights, and I use Spa perfect additive on thursday at the advice of my local store - it's supposed to help maintain the water and pro-long filter life

    That's about it - what's really frustrating me is I am doing everything I have been told, I am not dumb and generally very good with "technical things", but this hot tub that was supposed to be utilized for relaxation seems to start creating anything but that!

    Does anyone have any suggestions? Similar experiences?

    The one thing the guy at the local store told me is that maybe we are not lifting the cover off enough and allowing the water to breathe? Their are periods where I travel for work and she doesn't use it that the cover may sit on the tub for a week or more at a time without being opened. Is this a problem?

    Again, any help/suggestions would be greatly appreciated as I am about at my wits end!

    Thanks!

  2. Back To Top    #2

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    Re: @ Maximum frustration with mainting hot tub water

    Welcome to TFP!

    Are you using both Spa Frog cartridges -- the blue mineral cartridge and the yellow bromine cartridge? How long do the two of you soak in the water? How hot is the water temperature most of the time?

    I'm guessing that the problem is that you are not using enough sanitizer/oxidizer to handle your bather load. The minerals aren't doing any good since properly maintaining sanitizer levels is all that is required. You probably just need to 1) make sure you have an initial bromide bank by adding sodium bromide initially and 2) add some oxidizer, such as chlorine bleach or Dichlor or MPS, right after your soak. The bromine cartridge is designed to output a background level of bromine to maintain disinfection in between your soaks, but it's not able to handle larger bather loads. You are already shocking the spa, but instead should just be adding such oxidizer after each soak and then you won't need to add anything else (i.e. won't need to do any additional shocking weekly or need to use Spa Perfect additive).

    You can save money by just using standard bromine tabs in a floating feeder, assuming you still want to stick with bromine. Since you use the spa at least twice a week and sometimes 3 times a week, you could use the Dichlor-then-bleach method, but it's less forgiving if you don't use the spa frequently since you'd have to add chlorine in between your soaks if you used it, say, only once a week or less. Read Using Bromine in a Spa and Using Chlorine in a Spa.
    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: @ Maximum frustration with mainting hot tub water

    Hi Chem Geek - thank you for the response! Yes, I am using both the bromine and the mineral cartridge. Generally, we soak for about an hour, hour and half. As it's earlier in the year, we have not been soaking at max temp of 104 - I've been keeping it at about 102 when we soak. As it gets colder and the snow flies, we will soak at the 104 max.

    I have read other posts here and kept hearing about "bromine banking", but had never heard or been instructed about it before. So basically, the bromine cartridge in the Spa Frog inline system is really just enough to keep things disinfected between soaks? Interesting. Again, the dealer we purchased from mentioned none of this and assured us that this system was virtually maintenance free!

    Anyway, if I still want to use the cartridges for now (we have about 6 months worth), do I just need to create the bromide bank and then add oxidizer after we soak from here on out? What's the best way to create the initial bromide bank? Should I drain the water that is in the tub now and start fresh prior to Winter? (The water is about 6 weeks old and is pretty out of whack at this point) Or, do you think I can get this water back? I've shocked it twice in the past 2 days and was going to check it again today.

    At this point, I would love to have a step by step list from initial filling to ongoing maintenance, including what settings to use on the spa frog cartridges given our situation (2 of us soaking average of twice weekly), what to use for creating initial bromide bank and what type of oxidizer I should be adding after each soak (At this point, I am happy to start from scratch and just get this thing right/consistent!)

    Thank you again for all the assistance. I have a good feeling that this site is going to prove extremely helpful!

  4. Back To Top    #4

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    Re: @ Maximum frustration with mainting hot tub water

    Assuming you can't adjust your bromine tab cartridge to output any higher, then you create a bromide bank by adding sodium bromide as directed at 1/2 ounce per 100 gallons using one of the following nearly pure sodium bromide products Rendezvous Broma Start ($1.94 per ounce), Spa Specialties Robarb Bromine Energizer ($1.50 per ounce), Leisure Time Sodium Bromide ($1.57 per ounce), SeaKlear Spa Sodium Bromide ($0.98 per ounce), Natural Chemistry Spa Bromine Start ($0.77 per ounce), hth Brom-Start ($1.19 per ounce).

    Technically, your use of bromine tabs has already put some sodium bromide into the water since the bromine turns into bromide when it gets used up (some of it outgasses as bromine), but since we have no idea how much bromine the Spa Frog cartridge has put out, it's safest just to add a full bromide bank per the directions.

    So yes, you can continue to use the cartridges, though the mineral one won't do any good (but probably won't cause any problems in a spa) and you would add oxidizer after each soak. As for whether or not your current water is salvageable, I'd say you are best off replacing it and you might consider using Spa System Flush to decontaminate your spa and remove any biofilms (remove the cartridges during this procedure). Or you can just see if your shocking made your water OK and start from this point by adding the sodium bromide and can do the decontamination at the end of this current water change cycle.

    With two people soaking for one hour, that would normally require 7 teaspoons of Dichlor or 10 fluid ounces of 6% bleach or 14 teaspoons (about 5 tablespoons) of non-chlorine shock (43% MPS) to oxidize the bather waste, but because of your existing bromine from the cartridge, the actual amount needed will be somewhat less.

    1. Buy a sodium bromide product and add 1/2 ounce per 100 gallons per the directions.[/*:m:320tw54q]
    2. Turn up the output level of your bromine cartridge if it's currently set low.[/*:m:320tw54q]
    3. Add half the amount of oxidizer after your next soak, so 5 fluid ounces of 6% bleach (the bleach will oxidize bromide in the bromide bank into bromine and chlorine also helps to clear the water of things that bromine doesn't handle well). Measure your bromine level the next day and if it's low (< 2 ppm bromine; should be around 2 ppm bromine minimum), then add more oxidizer after the soak or if it's high then add less after the soak. After you get that amount set, then also measure the bromine at the start of your next soak where it should be 2-4 ppm bromine. If that's too low, then turn up the bromine cartridge; if it's too high, then turn down the bromine cartridge.[/*:m:320tw54q]
    4. At your next water change (or now, if that's what you decide to do), remove the cartridges and add Spa System Flush to clear any biofilms from your spa and then change the water.[/*:m:320tw54q]


    Note that you should not need to shock your water at all, ever, with the above method. You are essentially shocking it after every soak, handling the bather waste right after it has been introduced into the spa. You should keep the cover off the spa after you add the oxidizer -- ideally for an hour, but a half-hour is OK. This allows for outgassing of by-products and will also have the cover last longer by not exposing it to the peak of oxidizing chemicals (chlorine or bromine).
    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
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    Re: @ Maximum frustration with mainting hot tub water

    Ok - here's my update. Finally got a chance to drain the tub, wipe it down and clean it out. I returned to my local Spa and Pool store and related much of what I learned here on the site to the resident hot tub and spa guy there. Anyway, long story short, he agreed with most of the info, but had not heard of Bromine Banking. He did say that different people and different tubs have varying degrees of success with the in-line Spa Frog cartridge system. For those that have had consistency issues with their water like me, he recommends using just the mineral cartridge, removing the bromine cartridge, adding a Spa Frog Filter Frog to the filter compartment. Once that is done, he recommended manually adding about 2-3 table spoons of chlorine shock each week, and one tablespoon per bather of non-chlorine shock after each bathing session. Does this sound like I'm headed down the right path guys? Thanks again for all the input/help!

  6. Back To Top    #6

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    Re: @ Maximum frustration with mainting hot tub water

    What he is suggesting is that you abandon the bromine approach and use chlorine instead, but his suggestion to keep the mineral cartridge just makes money for him selling that and doesn't do a lot of good. Also, by chlorine shock I'm sure he is talking about Dichlor and continued use of it will build up Cyanuric Acid making the chlorine less effective and requiring you to change your water about twice as often as compared to Dichlor-then-bleach.

    You can't mix advice from the spa store and our advice. Pool/spa stores have mixed results in helping people and are mostly motivated to sell products. If he did not know about putting in sodium bromide in the water so that you can add an oxidizer to create more bromine, then he doesn't understand how bromine sanitation works. And the fact that he is suggesting essentially Dichlor-only shows that he does not understand the chlorine/CYA relationship.

    I think you need to decide whose information you are going to listen to first. If you decide to listen to us, we'll be here to help. Otherwise, good luck.
    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
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    Re: @ Maximum frustration with mainting hot tub water

    @Chem geek - all the info I have received at the site here so far seems far more in-depth than anything I have gotten from the store. I'm just trying to sort the "wheat from the chaf" such as it were. I appreciate all the advice and info!

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    Re: @ Maximum frustration with mainting hot tub water

    OK, so since you have so many of these bromine cartridges and can't take them back, then why don't you try out bromine, but do it properly. Add sodium bromide to the water to create a bromide bank. Then after your soak (each time), add an oxidizer such as bleach to activate the bromide to bromine to handle your bather waste. If you turn up the bromine cartridge higher, then you should be able to add less oxidizer after your soak. You'll know you're doing everything right when you measure at least a small bromine residual (2-4 ppm bromine) before your soak. It might take you a little while tweaking the bromine cartridge setting and your after-soak dosing, but so long as your hot tub usage pattern remains the same you'll find the right settings/amount for both.

    After you get through your bromine cartridges, then you can decide whether you want to use Dichlor-then-bleach in the future or can at least try that during one of your drain/refill cycles.
    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: @ Maximum frustration with mainting hot tub water

    Cool - That's the direction I will head. Thank you for all your help! As far as the bleach, and please excuse my ignorance here as this is my first experience with hot tubs, spas, pools, etc - is this just over the counter laundry bleach? Or, is this something specific to spas/pools that I will need to go back to the pool store for? Thanks again for all your patience!

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    UnderWaterVanya's Avatar
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    Re: @ Maximum frustration with mainting hot tub water

    Quote Originally Posted by mewalsh100
    Cool - That's the direction I will head. Thank you for all your help! As far as the bleach, and please excuse my ignorance here as this is my first experience with hot tubs, spas, pools, etc - is this just over the counter laundry bleach? Or, is this something specific to spas/pools that I will need to go back to the pool store for? Thanks again for all your patience!
    Basic - dull, boring, unscented, not outdoor, not splashless, run of the mill - bleach. Try to find a brand that lists the percentage of sodium hypochlorite - if it doesn't chances are it's very weak. Try to get some that is not sitting around - that is consumed quickly so it's fresh.
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