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Thread: New Spa owner here...

  1. Back To Top    #1

    New Spa owner here...

    All, first off THANK YOU - what a fantastic resource you have going here.

    We received our new 290 Gallon spa on April 30th. We were (and are) totally new to spa/water maintenance and had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. Diligently took notes from the spa guy as he told us how to care for the spa. They recommended the following:

    Startup
    N2 stick in skimmer
    1 container MetalGon
    Capful of dichlor
    Bromine floater set to 4 with Trichlor

    Ongoing
    About 1 tablespoon after each soak and once per day
    using Spa UP/Down as needed
    On alternating weeks putting in some enzime/Spa Defender/Sea Klear (3 week cycle)
    Test with a 3 test strip (FC/Alk/pH) daily

    And that was it he said.

    Being the curious type at about day 11 I started poking around on the forums and found your site. After reading and reading I started to wonder about what I was doing. The weird part to me was that from day one the pH had never changed. Went to Leslie's and bought a more robust test kit (FC/TC/Alk/pH/Acid Demand). MY pH WAS OFF THE CHART.

    I quickly got my pH into range with Spa Down and started reading Nitro's Approach over on the other forum. As the numbers I could measure were in range I stopped the di/trichlor and started using 6%. Everything seemed to be going fine and kept reading. That is when I took a sample down to the pool store - mostly curious about my CH and CYA levels.

    I was glad to find that my CYA was not TOO high sitting at 45ppm. My CH was low at 50 so I added some calcium using quantities based on The Pool Calculator - shooting for about 115 as I didn't want to go to high when i can't yet test it myself. (more robust test kit is in the mail).

    Anyway, everything else seemed to be going so well when I stumbled on waterbear's Borates article. Hm, this sounds like good stuff. Today I added 10 Mule and Acid - again per the calculator and it worked perfectly. pH and Alk are exactly where they where before I added the stuff - SWEET! Although I was disappointed that couldn't find less than 2Gal of acid so I now have a lifetime supply!

    So, thanks to all the great information on this forum my numbers are now:

    FC - 2
    TC - 2
    pH 7.2
    TA - 80
    CYA - 45 (estimated)
    CH - 115 (estiamted)

    I think I'm in pretty good shape!

    Thanks again guys and gals - I'm off to try out the "silky" water
    290 Gallon fiberglass reinforced acrylic spa
    Cartridge filter
    Above Ground
    2 x 5HP pumps - unknown flow rate.
    Ozonator
    --------------------------------------------
    6800 Gallon 17' x 48" Vinyl above ground pool (Summer Escapes)
    Intex 2650 Sand Filter

  2. Back To Top    #2

    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cupertino, CA
    Posts
    1,966

    Re: New Spa owner here...

    Excellent! You have enviable numbers.

    I also had persistent trouble with my pH until I did the borates; it took a bit more acid than I'd thought to get it back down to 7.5 but it hasn't moved in the 3 weeks since then.
    --paulr
    BBB "Intermediate Swimmer"
    IG plaster pool 18.5K gal, Hayward Pro-Grid DE filter, 3/4 HP Hydramax II; Polaris 380, 3/4 HP booster
    AG spa 325 gal, probably Sundance of some kind
    Water testing instructions on one page

  3. Back To Top    #3

    Re: New Spa owner here...

    So in 24 hours things apparently stabilized - Alk up to 85 and pH to 7.3/7.4 (not sure). Anyway - still good I think/hope

    Oh yeah, also, do Borates add surface tension? It seems higher now...just curious..

    -Chak
    290 Gallon fiberglass reinforced acrylic spa
    Cartridge filter
    Above Ground
    2 x 5HP pumps - unknown flow rate.
    Ozonator
    --------------------------------------------
    6800 Gallon 17' x 48" Vinyl above ground pool (Summer Escapes)
    Intex 2650 Sand Filter

  4. Back To Top    #4

    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    San Rafael, CA USA
    Posts
    12,085

    Re: New Spa owner here...

    Quote Originally Posted by Chakara
    Oh yeah, also, do Borates add surface tension? It seems higher now...just curious..
    They actually lower surface tension so the water looks more shimmery or sparkly.
    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"

  5. Back To Top    #5

    Re: New Spa owner here...

    Ok guys and gals - here is my first issue.

    Wife and went away for 7 days and came back to find out the kids had a hot tub party. Dunno - 6-8 kids over many many hours using the tub. Apparently at least one of them went in fully clothed.

    So here are the issues.

    - Foam. I fired it up and lots of foam. Not enough to completely hide the water but much more than ever before.

    - Tests: (note that new test kit is probably in my office waiting for me, but this is all I have for now)

    FC >5 (I supershocked to what should be 14 or so ppm)
    pH 8.2+ At least at the top of the scale, perhaps a bit over.
    TA 340+ - I have no idea. The test I have uses 20ml water - 2 drops of first reagent/swirl - 5 drops of 2nd regent/swirl - drop by drop counting until it turns red. It won't turn red. I started green as normal - about drop 10 turned blue and with a LOT more drops will turn clear.

    I will run to the office tomorrow to get the new test kit and get some more numbers - but wondered if you guys had any ideas? We did a lot of hiking on vacation and I'd love to go for a soak - just a bit concerned.

    Thanks in advance!

    -Chak
    290 Gallon fiberglass reinforced acrylic spa
    Cartridge filter
    Above Ground
    2 x 5HP pumps - unknown flow rate.
    Ozonator
    --------------------------------------------
    6800 Gallon 17' x 48" Vinyl above ground pool (Summer Escapes)
    Intex 2650 Sand Filter

  6. Back To Top    #6

    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    San Rafael, CA USA
    Posts
    12,085

    Re: New Spa owner here...

    Chak,

    At high FC levels, the TA test will go from blue to yellow instead of it's normal green to red. Not sure why it started out green and went to blue, but the TA could be high though I'm not sure why. The pH test won't be valid at the very high chlorine levels and can read artificially high in those condition.

    I suspect you will have a high chlorine demand. Every person-hour of soaking at hot 100-104F temp will require roughly 3-1/2 teaspoons of Dichlor (don't use this unless your CYA is low) or 5 fluid ounces of 6% bleach or 7 teaspoons of non-chlorine shock (MPS) to oxidize the bather waste (ammonia and urea from sweat and urine). Going in with the clothes and who knows what else may require even more. Just realize that the chlorine you add may drop faster than usual for a while until you catch up, so keep at it until the FC holds more normally.

    As for the other water parameters, retest when the FC is lower. I'm surprised that the TA is that high as it shouldn't be unless baking soda was intentionally added. I suspect you'll need to add some acid to lower the pH since a lot of soaking with jets on is a lot of aeration.

    Next time something like this happens, check the water chemistry parameters (especially pH) first before you shock with chlorine.

    Richard
    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"

  7. Back To Top    #7

    Re: New Spa owner here...

    Wow, thanks for the fast reply Chem Geek. I was being silly and saw the bubbles and heard the story and thought "chlorine fixes all!". Oh well, we'll see where it is really at tomorrow. The girl who was watching our house kept adding up to 10oz 6%. I had left her with the use 5oz/day + 5oz/bather hour. I didn't have her do more testing than a basic test strip.

    Anyway, thanks to TFP, I'm sure all will be well....

    -Chak
    290 Gallon fiberglass reinforced acrylic spa
    Cartridge filter
    Above Ground
    2 x 5HP pumps - unknown flow rate.
    Ozonator
    --------------------------------------------
    6800 Gallon 17' x 48" Vinyl above ground pool (Summer Escapes)
    Intex 2650 Sand Filter

  8. Back To Top    #8

    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cupertino, CA
    Posts
    1,966

    Re: New Spa owner here...

    5oz/day?? I'm using the equivalent of 1 oz every other day when nobody's in the tub, to maintain my level. Unless you don't have a cover... ??
    --paulr
    BBB "Intermediate Swimmer"
    IG plaster pool 18.5K gal, Hayward Pro-Grid DE filter, 3/4 HP Hydramax II; Polaris 380, 3/4 HP booster
    AG spa 325 gal, probably Sundance of some kind
    Water testing instructions on one page

  9. Back To Top    #9

    Re: New Spa owner here...

    Yeah Paul - With daily + usage it has been hard for me to figure out my CD in any meaningful way. But I know it has been high and with her testing with a strip, thought it was better to use more than less.

    I hope to get a good CD number this weekend...but with our high usage makes it hard to test with the published methods. My default is to use more chlorine and test the chlorine level to keep it up.
    290 Gallon fiberglass reinforced acrylic spa
    Cartridge filter
    Above Ground
    2 x 5HP pumps - unknown flow rate.
    Ozonator
    --------------------------------------------
    6800 Gallon 17' x 48" Vinyl above ground pool (Summer Escapes)
    Intex 2650 Sand Filter

  10. Back To Top    #10

    Re: New Spa owner here...

    I discovered the ozonater increases my CL demand but to have your TA jump that high is puzzling to me.
    Barry
    Sundance Hot Tub 365 gal, acrylic
    (2) 2.5 hp pumps
    ozonator
    Northwest Ohio resident

  11. Back To Top    #11

    Finally some real numbers....

    Ok, with the new test kit a few mysteries resolved. Here are the latest:

    FC 7.5
    CC 3
    pH 7.6
    TA 100
    CH 100
    CYA 130

    I guess from what i read here I shouldn't be so surprised that the CYA levels are MUCH higher than the store told me. I would guess that the high CYA is why I have to use such high quantities of 6% to keep my FC up and the only solution is a dump/fill and start over.

    The Pool Calc says I need to keep my FC in the 10-16 range. WOW - that is going to be a bear. 3 weeks in so perhaps the "new spa owner 1 month rule" will get exercised tomorrow.....

    -Chak
    290 Gallon fiberglass reinforced acrylic spa
    Cartridge filter
    Above Ground
    2 x 5HP pumps - unknown flow rate.
    Ozonator
    --------------------------------------------
    6800 Gallon 17' x 48" Vinyl above ground pool (Summer Escapes)
    Intex 2650 Sand Filter

  12. Back To Top    #12
    frustratedpoolmom's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    SWSuburban Chicago, IL
    Posts
    11,963

    Re: New Spa owner here...

    Sorry. Dump and refill.
    Helpful links: Pool School; CYA/Chlorine Chart
    24' round AG pool, 52" high, Raypak heater; Waterway 2 spd Pump;
    150 Sq ft. Clearwater Cartridge Filter; Former and DISSATISFIED "Pool Frog" owner
    http://www.PerfectlyClearPoolService.com

  13. Back To Top    #13

    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    San Rafael, CA USA
    Posts
    12,085

    Re: New Spa owner here...

    Chak,

    A new spa has a lot of organic contaminants in it -- miscellaneous chemical coatings on spa surfaces that end up using a lot of chlorine and also making the water murky. So as a general rule, a new spa needs a water change within the first month no matter what you do.

    As for the Cyanuric Acid (CYA) level, that's most likely because you used Dichlor only. For every 10 ppm Free Chlorine (FC) added by Dichlor, it also increases CYA by 9 ppm. So it doesn't take long to build up. Read Nitro's writeup on Using Chlorine in a Spa to see how you can use Dichlor initially for about a week and then switch to using bleach. You should be able to then have your water last quite a while.

    Richard
    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"

  14. Back To Top    #14

    Re: New Spa owner here...

    Thanks Chem Geek and all!

    You guys may not care but I thought I'd use this thread to keep a running tab of how I'm proceeding in this refill/balance procedure. I REALLY hope I can get things balanced today as I will be out of town the next 5 days and my wife who has little interest in anything beyond having cozy water to soak in will have to keep an eye on things.

    So we dumped last night and she is nearing full now. I tested the water:

    FC .5
    CC 0
    pH 7.8
    TA 120
    CH 70

    Am I safe to assume the tap water (city) has no CYA and to save those regents for later?

    Based on the above my plan is:

    - Raise my CH to about 150 with the 3.4 oz calcium chloride from the pool store. I'll let that sit and circulate for 20 minutes or so.

    - Re-test TA and if same lower it to 80. Starting with 1.4oz Muratic acid which should take pH to 7.0 - then aerate and repeat until desired value is reached.

    - Aerate and make minor adjustments to TA with Muratic and/or Spa Up

    I'm going to start that process. One thing I wondered is the Spa Guy recommended MetalGon (1 bottle) for our water. Should I do this?

    Thanks all!

    -Chak
    290 Gallon fiberglass reinforced acrylic spa
    Cartridge filter
    Above Ground
    2 x 5HP pumps - unknown flow rate.
    Ozonator
    --------------------------------------------
    6800 Gallon 17' x 48" Vinyl above ground pool (Summer Escapes)
    Intex 2650 Sand Filter

  15. Back To Top    #15

    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Rocklin, Ca
    Posts
    467

    Re: New Spa owner here...

    I'm going to start that process. One thing I wondered is the Spa Guy recommended MetalGon (1 bottle) for our water. Should I do this?
    I would only do this if you have reason to believe there is metal in the water.
    11000 Gals, Intelliflo, Sta-Rite Cartridge, Polaris 360

    Pool I built in my old house: my-new-pool-build-t4534.html

  16. Back To Top    #16

    Re: New Spa owner here...

    No Cobra, I don't have any reason to think we have high concentrations of metal in our water. So I'll leave it out...YIPPIE - less stuff in there!

    So I BELIEVE that the TA/pH balancing will take the longest. Once that is stable I will add borates using 16oz Mule Team Borax and 8.1oz of muratic. That worked well last time as far as balance and I assume put me at 50 borates.

    At that point it is easy right? I'll measure out 2.1oz of dichlor as that should put my CYA in the 20-30 range. I'll add a little less than 1oz of that now - shocking to 10ppm FC.

    Wow, just writing this out is helping me keep it all straight.

    Thanks again all...

    -Chak
    290 Gallon fiberglass reinforced acrylic spa
    Cartridge filter
    Above Ground
    2 x 5HP pumps - unknown flow rate.
    Ozonator
    --------------------------------------------
    6800 Gallon 17' x 48" Vinyl above ground pool (Summer Escapes)
    Intex 2650 Sand Filter

  17. Back To Top    #17

    Re: New Spa owner here...

    I love how this is working exactly as predicted.

    TA 120
    pH 7.8 - added 1.25oz 34% muratic - aerate 10 mins.

    TA 120
    pH 7.4 - continue aerating 20 minutes

    pH - 8+ - added 3 oz muratic
    pH - 7.0 - start 20 minute aerate cycle

    I have to assume that the aerate cycles will have to get longer and longer as I work though this.....

    I'll keep posting, but still wonder if it is OK to assume the CYA is at 0 from the city?
    290 Gallon fiberglass reinforced acrylic spa
    Cartridge filter
    Above Ground
    2 x 5HP pumps - unknown flow rate.
    Ozonator
    --------------------------------------------
    6800 Gallon 17' x 48" Vinyl above ground pool (Summer Escapes)
    Intex 2650 Sand Filter

  18. Back To Top    #18

    Re: New Spa owner here...

    Still working through it - Just dropped pH from 8 to 7 and still aerating. TA is at 60 which seems that perhaps I overshot it. Will know soon I guess

    Thanks all!

    -Chak
    290 Gallon fiberglass reinforced acrylic spa
    Cartridge filter
    Above Ground
    2 x 5HP pumps - unknown flow rate.
    Ozonator
    --------------------------------------------
    6800 Gallon 17' x 48" Vinyl above ground pool (Summer Escapes)
    Intex 2650 Sand Filter

  19. Back To Top    #19

    Re: New Spa owner here...

    I have been continuing to add Acid to get pH to 7 and aerating 20min when it is then back to 8ish. This last time my pH was up to 7.8 after aerating and TA is 40. With that low of TA I'm thinking I will stop and see how things hold. I'm concerned as I have to leave for 5 days and was hoping to have a balanced tub for the wife to take care of.

    With time this short I think I will leave the borates out for now - to do after i return and we see how things hold up.

    Am I right in suspecting that with TA so low, pH will tend to fall, possibly to unacceptably low levels?
    290 Gallon fiberglass reinforced acrylic spa
    Cartridge filter
    Above Ground
    2 x 5HP pumps - unknown flow rate.
    Ozonator
    --------------------------------------------
    6800 Gallon 17' x 48" Vinyl above ground pool (Summer Escapes)
    Intex 2650 Sand Filter

  20. Back To Top    #20

    Re: New Spa owner here...

    Confirmed - letting it sit without aeration and pH dropped to below 7. Added 1.5oz Spa Up (sodium bicarbonate) and thus TA up to 70 and pH to 7.2.

    Trained my wife on using the test kit - she will be testing FC, CC and pH - letting me know if anything is out of ranges (FC 3-5 / CC <1 / pH 7.2-7.8)

    I think it will be ok!

    Thanks again all, been a fun learning curve!

    -Chak
    290 Gallon fiberglass reinforced acrylic spa
    Cartridge filter
    Above Ground
    2 x 5HP pumps - unknown flow rate.
    Ozonator
    --------------------------------------------
    6800 Gallon 17' x 48" Vinyl above ground pool (Summer Escapes)
    Intex 2650 Sand Filter

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