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Thread: Opening Spa, First Time

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    Mod Squad JVTrain's Avatar
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    Opening Spa, First Time

    So... acquired this spa with my house purchased last winter.

    Spa had been winterized and I didn't feel like opening it when it was 0 degrees around here, especially with no experience doing so. See signature for spa info.

    Got all the fittings together and pump plugs installed (had to scrounge up a few new o-rings). Spa does have ozonator but... power wiring from control unit to ozonator was severed, likely when previous owner reinstalled side panel cover. No big deal, I had thought about disconnecting it anyway. Also found that the LED light assembly wires had been severed. Some amateur wiring and now it works again.

    Previous owner had been using bromine tabs and Hach test strips. Cleaned spa with chlorine solution. Still some minor discoloration on foam head rest pillows. Will look into that later.

    Anyway after rinsing and draining, then filling partially full to flush out antifreeze, then draining then filling full for real. Checked chemistry, water at 55 degrees F:

    TA: 330
    CH: 350
    pH: 7.8
    FC: 0

    Really need to bring the TA down so added 4 oz liquid acid, 31.45%. pH quickly back up to 7.6 with all jets running. 2 more oz acid. pH raced back up to 7.6. 2 more oz... 7.6... 2 more oz...

    At this point needed to call it a night but didn't want to leave water unsanitized. Added 1 oz CYA, 1 cup 6% bleach.

    Checked chemistry after some jet run time, water now at 61 degrees F:

    TA: 280
    pH: 7.6
    FC: 11.5
    CC: 1.0
    CYA: Did not check but should eventually be about 25-30.

    Wanted to keep driving down TA so added 4 oz more of acid and will let circulate overnight while warming to 90 F.

    Was it a mistake to sanitize before dialing in TA?
    Joel - TFP Moderator - Minnesota - **Become a TFP Supporter!** Helpful Links: ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry - SLAM Procedure - Chlorine/CYA Chart
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    Isolated Spa - 345 Gallons

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    Re: Opening Spa, First Time

    Every ounce of full-strength Muriatic Acid (31.45% Hydrochloric Acid) would lower the TA by about 10 ppm in 385 gallons. So your 10 ounces should have had the TA drop by 100 ppm, but instead you saw 50 ppm so is your acid half-strength (15-16%) which it might be so that you have less fuming? Since your pH is recovering quickly, you can add more acid each time to go faster -- just make sure the circulation is good.

    As for the chlorine, it's fine that you added it already. My bigger concern is that you opened up an unused spa and didn't decontaminate it with Ahh-Some (or if you can't get that then SeaKlear Spa System Flush. At this point you can just see if you have a normal chlorine demand. If you have no ozonator, then you shouldn't lose more than 25% of your FC over 24 hours.
    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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    Mod Squad JVTrain's Avatar
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    Re: Opening Spa, First Time

    Doh. Didn't know I should use a decontamination product to flush system. I'll see what the chlorine consumption turns out to be and go from there.

    Thanks!
    Joel - TFP Moderator - Minnesota - **Become a TFP Supporter!** Helpful Links: ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry - SLAM Procedure - Chlorine/CYA Chart
    40x20 Pool: 32K Gallons * Vinyl * Bleach Chlorination * Hayward S270T Sand Filter * Pentair SuperFlo 1 HP * Teledyne/Laars Heater * AquaVac Tigershark * TF-100 w/ SpeedStir
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    Re: Opening Spa, First Time

    Quick tests this morning.

    Temp 90
    pH 8.2
    FC. 7.0

    Added enough HCl to bring to 7 (4 oz), enough bleach to get to 12 (4 oz).

    Retested pH @6.8, didn't have time to drop test FC, CC. May have time over lunch...

    Joel - TFP Moderator - Minnesota - **Become a TFP Supporter!** Helpful Links: ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry - SLAM Procedure - Chlorine/CYA Chart
    40x20 Pool: 32K Gallons * Vinyl * Bleach Chlorination * Hayward S270T Sand Filter * Pentair SuperFlo 1 HP * Teledyne/Laars Heater * AquaVac Tigershark * TF-100 w/ SpeedStir
    Isolated Spa - 345 Gallons

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    Re: Opening Spa, First Time

    Looked into the Ahh-Some product. Phew. Really makes me wish I had done that first. I didn't read anywhere on TFP about this or other treatment of an idle spa before use. I guess I didn't read enough...
    Joel - TFP Moderator - Minnesota - **Become a TFP Supporter!** Helpful Links: ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry - SLAM Procedure - Chlorine/CYA Chart
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    Re: Opening Spa, First Time

    Info on spas is in the Pool School in the Miscellaneous section under Further Reading in the Using Chlorine in a Spa article. However, the decontamination procedure mentioned is just a link to a procedure on super-chlorination. So having a hard time finding info on this was not your fault.

    Originally we recommended using SeaKlearŽ Spa System Flush™ after we found that it did a consistently better job than Spa Purge and other products, but then some people tried and compared Ahh-SomeŽ and found it did even better so that's what I recommend these days. That isn't in the Pool School article nor the decontamination link so is something we should add. It's really only needed if you've got significant biofilms. The superchlorination can help but for older thicker biofilms using a specific removal product is more effective -- these products are powerful surfactants that break up and dislodge the biofilms that are otherwise highly chlorine resistant. A full procedure would use the Ahh-SomeŽ and then superchlorinate before changing the water.

    We usually try and minimize the amount of chemicals added and by maintaining a chlorine level bacteria are killed before they can form biofilms. So using a product for biofilm removal is a special case for new spas or spas that haven't been maintained with a disinfectant for some time. New spas can be an issue because they are generally wet tested but the water is not completely blown out of the pipes so biofilms can form there and there are often greases leftover from manufacturing as well. So we should update our Using Chlorine in a Spa article to reflect this info. This forum tends to focus more on pools than spas, but more spa users have been coming here so we should beef up that info and perhaps make it more easily accessible.
    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: Opening Spa, First Time

    Noon testing

    91 degrees
    FC 9.0
    CC 1.0
    pH 7.8

    Added 4 oz acid to bring back to 7, still dropping TA. 3 oz bleach to get above 12 FC.

    Should I be concerned about FC loss amount and continuing CC?

    Joel - TFP Moderator - Minnesota - **Become a TFP Supporter!** Helpful Links: ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry - SLAM Procedure - Chlorine/CYA Chart
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    Isolated Spa - 345 Gallons

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    Re: Opening Spa, First Time

    And about an hour ago

    FC 12.5
    CC 0.5
    TA 100
    CYA < 20 (maybe not dissolved yet)
    pH 7.8

    Added 3 ml Acid to continue TA reduction.

    Joel - TFP Moderator - Minnesota - **Become a TFP Supporter!** Helpful Links: ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry - SLAM Procedure - Chlorine/CYA Chart
    40x20 Pool: 32K Gallons * Vinyl * Bleach Chlorination * Hayward S270T Sand Filter * Pentair SuperFlo 1 HP * Teledyne/Laars Heater * AquaVac Tigershark * TF-100 w/ SpeedStir
    Isolated Spa - 345 Gallons

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    Re: Opening Spa, First Time

    Tested again about an hour ago

    90 degrees
    pH 7.7 (a little lighter than 7.8)
    FC 13 (not sure how it went up, drop difference perhaps)
    CC 1.0 (could almost call it 0.7, VERY light pink after 1 drop)
    TA 80 (almost there!)
    CYA <20 (dot almost disappeared when tube full)

    Looks like my FC consumption has mostly disappeared. We'll see how it goes overnight tonight. Added 3 oz acid to get TA down to near 50. If it goes below, I'll add some borax. Going to add some borates anyway. I'll likely use the spa for a while as long as things look good, then do a mid summer drain, ahh-some treatment and refill.

    Tested again this morning 4/11 7:30 am

    pH 7.2 (looks like I've stabilized, maybe gone a bit low on TA, we'll see...)
    FC 10.5 (a little less than 20% FC loss over night)
    CC 0.5
    TA 50

    May add a few borates, acid today to bring up pH
    Joel - TFP Moderator - Minnesota - **Become a TFP Supporter!** Helpful Links: ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry - SLAM Procedure - Chlorine/CYA Chart
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    Isolated Spa - 345 Gallons

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    Re: Opening Spa, First Time

    Used the spa over the weekend a fair amount. Still not picking anything up for CYA even though I added 1.5 oz of dry last Thursday to get up to 30 in my 375 gallon spa. I dumped it directly into the built in tablet holder. That was a mistake. It dropped through the filter housing area and shot out the nearby jets a few moments later, then settled on the bottom...

    Saturday evening, the fitting just after the in-line heater somehow developed a leak. I saw water dripping out of the bottom of the spa and panicked but it was just the 2" pipe fitting had somehow loosened. Vibration perhaps? Water level dropped maybe 4 inches overnight, to just below top jets of the higher seating area.

    The only real issue I'm having now is the spa constantly says "Ec" on the display, sometimes flashing back and forth between that and the set temperature. This did not occur before the leak developed. I've seen that Ec often means economy mode but my controller only has buttons for Pump1 Pump2 Lights and Temperature, no economy button. I also got an "F4" on the display when pushing the button for Pump2. I have turned the breaker for the spa off once briefly, then turned it back on. Same results. Seems to be heating normally at 95 degrees but it concerns me. Perhaps one of the pumps is having trouble after the water drop? Maybe damaged? I may have to call the pool store.
    Joel - TFP Moderator - Minnesota - **Become a TFP Supporter!** Helpful Links: ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry - SLAM Procedure - Chlorine/CYA Chart
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    Isolated Spa - 345 Gallons

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    Re: Opening Spa, First Time

    Well. Tested chemistry this morning.

    FC 4
    pH 7.8
    TA likely still high due to partial refill so added enough MA to bring to 7 and enough bleach bring FC to 14

    When I got home and tested 12 hours later, no usage:
    FC 7
    CC 1.0
    pH 8.2
    TA 110
    Temp 92

    So 50% of my FC gone in 12 hours with no bather/usage. At this point should I be kicking myself for not doing an ahh-some or other full decon process? Should I dump and decon?

    Since we've got another lovely cold snap here with lows at night back in the 20s... ... I'll likely have to maintain sanitizer through the week and hold off on the decon until mother nature decides this never ending winter is over.
    Joel - TFP Moderator - Minnesota - **Become a TFP Supporter!** Helpful Links: ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry - SLAM Procedure - Chlorine/CYA Chart
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    Isolated Spa - 345 Gallons

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    Re: Opening Spa, First Time

    I'd give you a tip but you are probably a Vikings fan.

    Did you say you changed out the filters on this spa? They could be the culprit if you didn't.

    How about this dandy weather? I had an inch of snow this morning, and she's supposed to get down to 20° tonight here also. Enough already.
    Jacuzzi J375 Spa, 415 gallons, Bromine Sanitizer

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    Re: Opening Spa, First Time

    You said you had an ozonator that wasn't working but then you fixed it so now it's working. Usually an ozonator will increase chlorine demand to 50% or more over 24 hours. Your 50% drop in 12 hours isn't a good sign, but is your ozonator running all the time? You could temporarily disconnect the ozonator and see if it changes the chlorine demand.
    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: Opening Spa, First Time

    Mike: Yes. I'm a Vikings fan. It's kind of like being into S&M. You have to love the pain of disappointment every year... I did clean/sanitize the filter but replacement is a good idea anyway. At least it didn't snow here last night... but there's a chance tomorrow and Friday. UGH! I guess at least I don't have to mow the grass for a while...

    chem: The power cable running to the ozonator was severed by the previous owner. That I did not repair as I didn't want to have the increased chlorine demand it could cause. I did repair the LED light wires they had severed.

    Also... was in a huge rush this morning but managed to test FC:

    FC: 7.5

    So again over about 10 hours or so nearly 50% chlorine loss. I'll try a new filter. May as well as I have to keep it full til at least this weekend.
    Last edited by JVTrain; 04-15-2014 at 08:35 AM. Reason: FC test
    Joel - TFP Moderator - Minnesota - **Become a TFP Supporter!** Helpful Links: ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry - SLAM Procedure - Chlorine/CYA Chart
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    Isolated Spa - 345 Gallons

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    Re: Opening Spa, First Time

    Removed the filter from the spa today. I thought I had cleaned it and it looked good back when I initially installed, but good lord I must have been drunk. Looked through all the fins/folds and at least half were caked with "sugar-honey-iced-tea." **** Yuck.

    Went to the pool store a few miles away because I wanted to replace ASAP. Payed $12 more than I would have on Amazon but was worth it. Also put a few questions by the local pool store guy. They just got bought out by a larger regional pool builder, Performance Pool and Spas. http://www.performancepools.com/index.html (Any folks in MN/WI have experience with them?) Not overly pushy which was a surprise. I had heard before the buy out the old company was suspect. I'm debating about having them out to help familiarize me with my equipment but that could be asking for trouble...

    Anyway, long story short. Do a better job of checking out your filter. My guess is that my FC levels are much more stable in the future.
    Joel - TFP Moderator - Minnesota - **Become a TFP Supporter!** Helpful Links: ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry - SLAM Procedure - Chlorine/CYA Chart
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    Re: Opening Spa, First Time

    "sugar honey iced tea". You're a funny man, JV. Speaking of JV, have the Vikings moved to Varsity since Allen is with the Bears now!

    I hope the filter was your problem, as you don't need any more excuses to Ponder.
    Jacuzzi J375 Spa, 415 gallons, Bromine Sanitizer

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    Re: Opening Spa, First Time

    Haha. I hope they can beat some Varsity teams this year. Love the puns!

    After shoveling g d snow tonight, hopped in the spa for a few. After testing:

    FC 6.5
    CC 0.5
    TA 60
    pH 7.4ish

    Left it there. Will check overnight loss tomorrow.

    Joel - TFP Moderator - Minnesota - **Become a TFP Supporter!** Helpful Links: ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry - SLAM Procedure - Chlorine/CYA Chart
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    Isolated Spa - 345 Gallons

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    Re: Opening Spa, First Time

    This morning:
    FC 5.5
    pH 7.5

    Looks like we're pretty much normal and I should be using a lot less chlorine going forward.

    Thanks for the help, thanks for listening!

    I guess now all I have to worry about is how the Vikings will manage to screw up their draft...
    Joel - TFP Moderator - Minnesota - **Become a TFP Supporter!** Helpful Links: ABCs of Pool Water Chemistry - SLAM Procedure - Chlorine/CYA Chart
    40x20 Pool: 32K Gallons * Vinyl * Bleach Chlorination * Hayward S270T Sand Filter * Pentair SuperFlo 1 HP * Teledyne/Laars Heater * AquaVac Tigershark * TF-100 w/ SpeedStir
    Isolated Spa - 345 Gallons

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