First go at the TFP spa start-up method. First impressions


Well-known member
Oct 4, 2018
After going through all the trials I endured getting a used spa's temperature control system to work properly, I finally got around to starting up the chemical system. I got a Taylor K-2006 test kit so had what I needed to assess my initial water conditions which were TA ~125 ppm, CH ~150 ppm and pH ~8.0.

I basically followed the procedure outlined in this fantastic article The first task was to get the water balanced by getting the TA down to 50 ppm. I found that at first I needed more muriatic acid than what the pool calculator was telling me I needed to get the pH down to 7.0. After a few cycles of dropping the pH and aerating, I was able to finally get the TA down to 50 and the pH settled in the 7.5-7.6 range. Perfect.

The next step was adding about 4 cups of Borax and a bunch of muriatic acid as per the Pool Calculator's instructions in order to get borate levels to about 40 ppm. At the end of that process the pH was still right in the 7.5-7.6 range. It seems the pool calculator was right-on on that calculation. :p

I have now started into getting the sanitizer levels all set up. As per TFP instructions, I calculated the amount of dichlor needed to shock the 500 gallon tub to 10 ppm FC for the initial introduction. To my surprise, the pool calculator said I only needed to add 34 g of dichlor (that's about 1.2 oz by weight for you Americans). That didn't seem like enough to me but I went aloing with it and added the 34 grams, circulated it and then checked my pH and FC levels after letting the tub site for about half an hour. pH still rock solid at 7.5-7.6 and FC at 4.0 ppm. I'll use the tub tonight and add more dichlor over the next few days to get my CYA level up to ~300 ppm and then just start using bleach after that.

My first impressions are that so far, the method seems pretty simple and is extremely cost effective as I only used a few bucks worth of muriatic acid and borax and way less than a dollar's worth of dichlor to get me to the point where I'm at so far. It looks like it's going to be pretty cheap on the chemical side to maintain the system from this point forward so we'll just have to see how much work it takes to keep all of the measured parameters within their ideal ranges as we go along. As for where I'm at right now, so far, so good. It seems like a really good method for maintaining a spa. The hot tub dealers and companies will hate it, however, as they would much prefer you to use their pricey name-brand chemical systems instead of cheap ordinary bleach, muriatic, baking soda, borax and cheap department store dichlor.

Big shout out and thanks to the creators of this site for enlightening me on how spa chemical systems work and how to install and maintain one cheaply and easily. :goodjob:


Mod Squad
May 3, 2014
Laughlin, NV
Great to hear. I think you made a typo on the CYA - use ~30 ppm. Not 300!

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Bronze Supporter
Jul 10, 2018
coming from a fairly new spa owner. This procedure works (even if your SWG may not haha). It took me about 3-4 weeks to dial in things, but now that I have its been nearly a month with no chemical adds except chlorine.


Well-known member
Oct 4, 2018
For the last few days I've been adding dichlor to get an acceptable level of FC and build up the CYA level into the target range (30-40 ppm). I've been using the spa once or twice per evening for about 20 minutes and testing pH and FC during the day and adding a bit of dichlor each day. So far pH is staying rock solid on 7.5 and not budging. I've never had such steady pH before but it's just early days. If it keeps staying this steady I'll be really happy. :)

I just did my CYA test and got unexpected results but I'll post about that in another thread. Considering the amount of dichlor I've added so far, I thought I would get a higher CYA number from the test.