Caldera (Watkins) doesn't recommend liquid bleach

ding0k

Member
Jun 1, 2010
11
I have a Caldera Elation (made by Watkins) 500 gallon spa. It has a silver ion cartridge in the filter. The manual specifically tells me not to use liquid bleach (unlike what I'm seeing in this forum). It gives no reason, though. It wants me to only use dichlor.

I'd like to try the BBB method I've read about here, but I'm a bit afraid to ignore the warnings of the manual. What do you guys think? Does the no-liquid-bleach rule come from the fact that I have the silver cartridge? Regardless, should I stop using it anyway? Does it help if I forget to keep the chlorine levels high enough for a short period of time?
 

chem geek

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Mar 28, 2007
12,082
San Rafael, CA USA
Welcome to TFP! :wave:

The no liquid bleach rule comes from the fact that if you were to use ONLY bleach with no Cyanuric Acid (CYA) in the water, then the active chlorine level would be far too strong. If you either add pure CYA initially or more conveniently just use Dichlor for a week or so to build up 30 ppm CYA in the water, then switching to bleach results in a far lower active chlorine level that is safe for the spa -- about 7 to 15 times lower than if you just used bleach alone with no CYA. About once a month you should use Dichlor for a day or two since the CYA slowly breaks down in spas at around the rate of 5 ppm per month.

If you were to use only Dichlor, then the CYA level would continue to build up making the chlorine less and less effective until the water gets more dull/cloudy from slower oxidation of bather waste and you then need to shock or change the water more frequently. With the Dichlor-then-bleach method, you should be able to have your water last at least twice as long as compared to Dichlor-only and it will be clearer when you do eventually change the water. With Dichlor-then-bleach, your water is more consistently sanitized at the same level throughout most of your spa usage (it's higher during that first week when using Dichlor until the CYA builds up).

The chlorine/CYA relationship is not understood by most in the industry so you end up with simplistic rules like "no bleach ever".
 

BC

LifeTime Supporter
Nov 20, 2008
79
I have been using the methods prescribed here for over a year. Chem Geek is exactly spot on. I also have been using a silver ion cartridge and have no issues with cloudy water - I only shock after extreme heavy use and the FC stays very consistent with minimal bleach additions during non-use. Water lasts 4 months for me but that depends on usage. It is clear during the changeout so I probably could get by longer. I also go back to Dichlor once a month to maintain CYA - no chlorine smells and I know it is maintaining safe and effective sanitizing levels.
Barry
 

ding0k

Member
Jun 1, 2010
11
I see. Thanks for that good explanation.

So far, I've only been using test strips. Last night I had several issues, including not being able to get the test strip to ever show that there was any FAC. I think by the end I dumped so much chlorine in that nothing on the test strip is accurate anymore. I ordered a T100 last night so hopefully I can get all this under control once it gets here.

I'm a little worried that what I did last night has hurt (or will hurt) the spa, though.

Should I be worried about how much chlorine I dumped in? How many PPM is dangerous to the spa, itself? Obviously I won't be getting in. :) Also, if it really is too much chlorine, where should I dump the water? Won't it kill my grass?

Also, does too much chlorine also affect the pH readout on the test strip? I keep adding ph UP but the pH won't change.

EDIT: I did all this after the spa hadn't been used for two weeks. After the most recent load, I added chlorine like is normal. I checked the next day and it was fine. I checked the day after that and it hadn't changed at all. Then life got in the way and I didn't check for two weeks. I checked last night and it was nothing. So I started adding with the plan on adding until I saw the test strip register, but it never did. I p
 

geekgranny

LifeTime Supporter
Aug 20, 2009
1,358
North Central Texas
I keep a container of chlorine/bromine neutralizer around and occasionally use it when my bromine in spa is too high and we want to use immediately (I was having heck of a time keeping bromine from going too high or low but I now know why) and like the other day when I let the spa sit empty for several days, after a drain, but couldn't refill because life and weather got in the way. :) So I did a hyper chlorination to kill anything that might have started growing in there. Then I used the neutralizer before draining the water to the woods and immediately refilled.

I got the neutralizer at Leslie's, not very expensive, and I'll probably still have a lot left in 20 years, so a little goes very far. In my 550 gal spa it is fractions of teaspoon (depending on how high the cl/br actually is) to bring the chlor/bromine level down to -0-.

Hope this helps, gg=alice
 

ding0k

Member
Jun 1, 2010
11
But will high chlorine levels (~50ppm) actually hurt the spa? I left the cover open today to let the sunlight help bring the levels down, and I ordered a T100 last night. I'm hoping it gets here in a few days so I can actually figure out what's going on.
 

PaulR

LifeTime Supporter
Jan 11, 2009
1,966
Cupertino, CA
I think people have very little real life experience with such extreme levels and any opinions would be speculation. Like this: Chlorine is an oxidizer and such high levels would be more likely to attack vulnerable parts that might normally sneer at normal chlorine levels. Also adding that much chlorine is likely to mess with your pH and possibly cause problems as well. Of course you can't know what your pH is at such high FC levels.

If you have some hydrogen peroxide around, that will reduce FC levels. This post by chem geek states that 4.3 tsp (0.716 fl oz) of 3% peroxide will lower FC by 1 in a 350 gallon tub. In a 500 gallon tub, I make it out to be about 1 oz of 3% peroxide to reduce FC by 1. So, a quart would reduce FC by 32 (give or take). If you have stronger peroxide, reduce the amount proportionally.
--paulr
 

BC

LifeTime Supporter
Nov 20, 2008
79
Definitely need a good test kit before doing anything especially with PH. The only issue I would suspect with high Chlorine level having effect on spa would be a fading or discoloration of the knobs or controllers to blowers. Does the water have a distinct smell of chlorine? Since 2 weeks went by without attending to it it would be starving for active sanitizer and when I use to use strips - it always turned a dark purple.
As far as killing the grass if you dumped - I super chlorinate before I drain but I don't get that much above 35 ppm and my grass wasn't affected.
Barry