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Thread: Skip the SWG and go strictly BBB???

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    Skip the SWG and go strictly BBB???

    Hello Everyone! I'm new to the TF web site and forum.

    Last October, my wife and I purchased and Arctic Spa Summit LE with Onzen salt system. We have had one heck of a time trying to learn good hot tub chemistry partially because we thought the salt system took care of itself pretty much. Now we realize we actually have to supplement chlorine because the SWG can't keep up with the demand. And trying to keep all the other levels correct keeps it from creating much sanitizer at all.

    We are considering NOT doing the salt next time we do a dump and fill and just go with the BBB method as this has been keeping the tub cleaner and easier to maintain but I still have some trouble keeping everything balanced. Thinking it might be the salt (and all the other chems I've added), we thought we might skip the salt next time.

    Does anyone have any pros/cons on that train of thought?
    500 gal. Arctic Summit Legend Extreme Spa with Onzen SWG & Micropure Silver Sentinel micron disposable filter

  2. Back To Top    #2

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    Re: Skip the SWG and go strictly BBB???

    Welcome to TFP!

    Since changing the water in the spa is not a huge deal, I'd just do a fresh dump/refill and start over. That way, you don't have to worry about the salt (which shouldn't be a problem) or if you got too far behind in oxidation and have too many organic in the water, etc. See How do I use Chlorine in my Spa for info on how to start out with Dichlor and then switch to using bleach. Note also the lower TA level and the optional use of borates.
    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: Skip the SWG and go strictly BBB???

    I would be very interested in what your water test numbers are normally. (NOT the manufacuturers suggested numbers but the actual numbers in your spa). I suspect that part of your problem is improper water balance.

  4. Back To Top    #4

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    Re: Skip the SWG and go strictly BBB???

    Thanks! I will take some readings this weekend and post them. I only used test strips for the first couple of months (one brand showing everything hunky-dory; the other brand showed everything outta-whack). I purchased a liquid test kit from our local spa supplier but it onlt shows FC, TA, pH and acid demand. After reading on this web site, I purchased a TF-100 kit which says it'll be here Saturday. I should be able to post some good numbers then.

    BTW, my wife has complained since I started trying to keep TA and pH in line, I just keep adding chems not knowing what I'm doing (which she is at least partially right!). I told her I'm still learning and it is not easy to figure out. I didn't know you had to be a chemist to keep up a hot tub. Many of our friends don't seem to go through what we do with ours. I just feel the salt is keeping some of my chem numbers from coming in perfect. I add a little of this, oops! too much. Now add a little of that, oh cr*p! now it's too low! Seems like I can't get all the numbers lined up.
    500 gal. Arctic Summit Legend Extreme Spa with Onzen SWG & Micropure Silver Sentinel micron disposable filter

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    Re: Skip the SWG and go strictly BBB???

    Quote Originally Posted by larrys1
    I add a little of this, oops! too much. Now add a little of that, oh cr*p! now it's too low! Seems like I can't get all the numbers lined up.
    There are a couple of things that could be contributing to that. First, your opinion of the number of gallons in the tub might be wrong; you didn't post it, but if you think it's 400 and it's really 350, for example, you will keep overshooting on the chems. Second, you just might not be measuring carefully enough. The quantities of stuff you put into a hot tub are pretty small.
    --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

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    Re: Skip the SWG and go strictly BBB???

    Also, if you do not have good test numbers (and you will not get them from strips) then you are just guessing as to what you need, how much you need, and when to put it in to balance your water.

    Are you using sodium chloride or sodium bromide with this system? (it can use either) I would suggest the sodium bromide since it also has an ozone generator and ozone gets along a bit better with bromine than chlorine. Also, bromine is a bit more forgiving of water balance problems than chlorine.

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    Re: Skip the SWG and go strictly BBB???

    Quote Originally Posted by PaulR
    There are a couple of things that could be contributing to that. First, your opinion of the number of gallons in the tub might be wrong; you didn't post it, but if you think it's 400 and it's really 350, for example, you will keep overshooting on the chems. Second, you just might not be measuring carefully enough. The quantities of stuff you put into a hot tub are pretty small.
    --paulr
    The manual says my tub is 497 gallons, so I've been using 500 gallons to do my figures. But, that's ONLY since I found this web site and the Pool Calculator (Thanks Jason Lion!). I put in a recommended amount a time or two and it doesn't change it quick enough, so I throw in too much and go overboard. Gotta quit doin' that!
    500 gal. Arctic Summit Legend Extreme Spa with Onzen SWG & Micropure Silver Sentinel micron disposable filter

  8. Back To Top    #8

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    Re: Skip the SWG and go strictly BBB???

    Quote Originally Posted by waterbear
    Also, if you do not have good test numbers (and you will not get them from strips) then you are just guessing as to what you need, how much you need, and when to put it in to balance your water.

    Are you using sodium chloride or sodium bromide with this system? (it can use either) I would suggest the sodium bromide since it also has an ozone generator and ozone gets along a bit better with bromine than chlorine. Also, bromine is a bit more forgiving of water balance problems than chlorine.
    When we bought the tub, I could've swore they said it was Dead Sea Salt sodium bromide. But, I called a couple of weeks ago and was SHOCKED to find out I was using good ol' sodium chloride.

    Does the Pool School have BBB startup instructions (Like "first add dichlor, next balance pH, next TA, next...)? That's where I get confused when I balance one thing and it makes another one go outta whack. Then I fix that one and the other one goes whacko.
    500 gal. Arctic Summit Legend Extreme Spa with Onzen SWG & Micropure Silver Sentinel micron disposable filter

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    Re: Skip the SWG and go strictly BBB???

    Quote Originally Posted by larrys1
    When we bought the tub, I could've swore they said it was Dead Sea Salt sodium bromide. But, I called a couple of weeks ago and was SHOCKED to find out I was using good ol' sodium chloride.

    Does the Pool School have BBB startup instructions (Like "first add dichlor, next balance pH, next TA, next...)? That's where I get confused when I balance one thing and it makes another one go outta whack. Then I fix that one and the other one goes whacko.
    how-do-i-use-bromine-in-my-spa-or-pool-t102.html
    With your generator and sodium chloride all you need to do to convert to bromine is add the sodium bromide as in the thread i posted above.
    If you want to drain and refill then I would suggest getting the sodium bromide salt.
    I really think that with your ozonator you will be better off using bromine than chlorine.
    ozone destroys chlorine (and vice vera)
    Ozone creates bromine sanitizer from the bromide bank in the water.

    There is a startup link for using chlorine but I do not have it handy. However, The main thing would be to add CYA to about 20-30 ppm in the tub. This will help with both the pH stability and the chorine lasting in the presence of ozone. I would still use the salt system to generate the chlorine. Chlorine is less forgiving than bromine on such things as pH and bromine tends to stick around better at the higher water temps in a spa but either one is workable. I think that once you get your water balanced and the SWG working properly then you will be very happy with the system. Good test results will play a big part in that (as you will see once the test kit arrives).

  10. Back To Top    #10

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    Re: Skip the SWG and go strictly BBB???

    OK, got the new test kit today. Numbers are as follows:

    FC=4
    CC=1
    TC=5
    TA=30
    CA=450
    CYA=0
    pH=7.5
    500 gal. Arctic Summit Legend Extreme Spa with Onzen SWG & Micropure Silver Sentinel micron disposable filter

  11. Back To Top    #11

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    Re: Skip the SWG and go strictly BBB???

    Quote Originally Posted by waterbear
    I would suggest the sodium bromide since it also has an ozone generator and ozone gets along a bit better with bromine than chlorine. Also, bromine is a bit more forgiving of water balance problems than chlorine.
    waterbear, where do you purchase your bromine products? Our spa dealer doesn't carry it (special order only) and it's quite a bit more expensive than sodium chloride salt.
    500 gal. Arctic Summit Legend Extreme Spa with Onzen SWG & Micropure Silver Sentinel micron disposable filter

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    Re: Skip the SWG and go strictly BBB???

    Bromine tablets are available in a large number of places. Obviously it is more expensive that salt, but you don't use all that much.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
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    Re: Skip the SWG and go strictly BBB???

    so it looks to me like 450 is way too high for calcium hardness. the strips i had showed 250, test kit 450. that shows the innaccuracy of test strips. also, how can i raise TA without pH going super high? last time i raised it with baking soda, pH went high so i lowered with acid, then TA dropped back down. seems like a never-ending struggle. could the calcium levels be making things more difficult for me?

    also, when CC is like mine at 1, what should your course of action be?
    500 gal. Arctic Summit Legend Extreme Spa with Onzen SWG & Micropure Silver Sentinel micron disposable filter

  14. Back To Top    #14

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    Re: Skip the SWG and go strictly BBB???

    Looks like everybody must be on summer vacation since I'm getting no responses.
    500 gal. Arctic Summit Legend Extreme Spa with Onzen SWG & Micropure Silver Sentinel micron disposable filter

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    Re: Skip the SWG and go strictly BBB???

    Try adding your baking soda very slowly with the circulation pump running, but the jets turned off. The pH rises too much when you add baking soda because it makes the TA too high near the surface and some carbon dioxide outgasses right away. If you add it more slowly and let it mix more, then that should help make the pH not rise so much. Even so, adding baking soda and then adding acid to lower the pH should still result in a net TA gain. If you add the baking soda more slowly, then hopefully you'll get more of a net gain (and add less acid if the pH doesn't rise as much).

    Since your CH is already high, you won't need to raise your TA by very much. Use The Pool Calculator to calculate the saturation index to determine a decent TA level, but to prevent the pH from rising if you will be using chlorine (I'm not sure if you decided on chlorine or bromine yet), you'll want the TA to be relatively low -- even 50-60 ppm should be OK.

    With a CC of 1 ppm, you can see if shocking the water with higher chlorine levels gets rid of it. You should make measurements before your soak when it comes to CC. There will usually be CC after your soak and that's OK as chlorine should get rid of it by the next time you soak if you add more chlorine right after soaking.
    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: Skip the SWG and go strictly BBB???

    Quote Originally Posted by larrys1
    Quote Originally Posted by waterbear
    I would suggest the sodium bromide since it also has an ozone generator and ozone gets along a bit better with bromine than chlorine. Also, bromine is a bit more forgiving of water balance problems than chlorine.
    waterbear, where do you purchase your bromine products? Our spa dealer doesn't carry it (special order only) and it's quite a bit more expensive than sodium chloride salt.
    You can buy sodium bromide for starting up a bromine spa from several places. HTH sells it as Brom-Start
    http://www.poolgeek.com/HTH-Spa-Brom-Start-P3887.aspx
    and robarb sell it as Bromine Energizer.
    http://www.robarb.com/Products.asp?auth ... 80&cat=288
    There are other brands as well and the stuff is really cheap (usually a few bucks for a 2 oz bag.)

    You add 1/2 oz per 100 gal. of water in the spa to create a bromine reserve in the water and then the SWG creates chlorine which converts the sodium bromide into bromine sanitizer.
    Simple. (and I am sure that many on here can learn from this)

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    Re: Skip the SWG and go strictly BBB???

    Quote Originally Posted by JasonLion
    Bromine tablets are available in a large number of places. Obviously it is more expensive that salt, but you don't use all that much.
    Bromine tablets are not suitable for use with a SWG. Sodium bromide is.

  18. Back To Top    #18

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    Re: Skip the SWG and go strictly BBB???

    Quote Originally Posted by waterbear
    Quote Originally Posted by larrys1
    Quote Originally Posted by waterbear
    I would suggest the sodium bromide since it also has an ozone generator and ozone gets along a bit better with bromine than chlorine. Also, bromine is a bit more forgiving of water balance problems than chlorine.
    waterbear, where do you purchase your bromine products? Our spa dealer doesn't carry it (special order only) and it's quite a bit more expensive than sodium chloride salt.
    You can buy sodium bromide for starting up a bromine spa from several places. HTH sells it as Brom-Start
    http://www.poolgeek.com/HTH-Spa-Brom-Start-P3887.aspx
    and robarb sell it as Bromine Energizer.
    http://www.robarb.com/Products.asp?auth ... 80&cat=288
    There are other brands as well and the stuff is really cheap (usually a few bucks for a 2 oz bag.)

    You add 1/2 oz per 100 gal. of water in the spa to create a bromine reserve in the water and then the SWG creates chlorine which converts the sodium bromide into bromine sanitizer.
    Simple. (and I am sure that many on here can learn from this)
    Thanks! I may give it a try.
    500 gal. Arctic Summit Legend Extreme Spa with Onzen SWG & Micropure Silver Sentinel micron disposable filter

  19. Back To Top    #19

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    Re: Skip the SWG and go strictly BBB???

    Quote Originally Posted by waterbear
    how-do-i-use-bromine-in-my-spa-or-pool-t102.html
    I've decided to give bromine a try. What are the differences using a SWG? Do I still do a 2 or 3 part system? The idea I'm getting is that the SWG will mostly keep regenerating bromine for me (takes place of a floater) and that I would just need to test daily and shock weekly??? Thanks for all your help.
    With your generator and sodium chloride all you need to do to convert to bromine is add the sodium bromide as in the thread i posted above.
    If you want to drain and refill then I would suggest getting the sodium bromide salt.
    I really think that with your ozonator you will be better off using bromine than chlorine.
    ozone destroys chlorine (and vice vera)
    Ozone creates bromine sanitizer from the bromide bank in the water.
    500 gal. Arctic Summit Legend Extreme Spa with Onzen SWG & Micropure Silver Sentinel micron disposable filter

  20. Back To Top    #20
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    Re: Skip the SWG and go strictly BBB???

    Quote Originally Posted by larrys1
    I've decided to give bromine a try. What are the differences using a SWG? Do I still do a 2 or 3 part system? The idea I'm getting is that the SWG will mostly keep regenerating bromine for me (takes place of a floater) and that I would just need to test daily and shock weekly??? Thanks for all your help.
    Pretty much. Also your ozonator will help regenerate bromine sanitizer from your bromide bank. Just adjust the generator to maintain about a 4-6 ppm bromine level.
    remember to drain and fill about every 3 months because ozone creates some undesirable oxidation byproducts in the water.

    You are bascially doing a 2 part bromine system but the addition of your oxidizer is automated by the SWG (adding chloine) and the ozone generator (adding ozone).
    I would not worry that much about weekly shocking if the bromine levels are staying constant and the water is clear and does not smell but if they are not or you start having difficulty maintaining the level then your bromine bank is probaby exhausted and it's time for a fill and drain.
    If you notice a strong chemical or fishy smell then shock the spa with liquid bleach and leave the cover off to allow the combined bromines to be destroyed.

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