Summer is starting to wind down and the nights are starting to get colder and longer. If you have a pool heat pump or a pool heater then you still have a couple of months of swimming ahead of you, but if you rely on your spa for relaxation during the after-summer months then you’re in the right place! Here are some things to do to make sure that your spa is in perfect condition for the coming colder months!
Clean your spa cover
If you’re using a spa cover then it’s time to give your spa cover a good once-over. Give it a thorough wipe down. With a spritzer filled with water and mild detergent, spray the surface of your spa cover and give it a thorough cleaning. The reason we do this is we do not want any accumulated dirt and debris on your spa cover falling into your spa over the coming months, contaminating your spa water and giving extra load to your chlorine and sanitisers. Remember to clean both sides of your cover, cleaning only one side defeats the purpose!
Note: If you’re using a vinyl cover, avoid using cleaners that contain bleach, ammonia, wax or silicone as these would damage your cover.
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Clean and Rinse your spa cartridge filter
This task can be done while you’re draining the spa (more on that later) since it’ll take about an hour for your spa to fully drain. If you have a fairly new spa, then a good hose down should take care of all the accumulated dirt and debris on your spa filter. If you’re dealing with particularly stubborn dirt on your filter then you may need to give your spa cartridge filter a good soak in some Zodiac Filter Cleaning Solution.
Now if your spa filter cartridge is already damaged, then it may be a good idea to grab a replacement spa filter cartridge to ensure that you’ll get clean and clear filtered water over the autumn and winter months! Click the button below to browse the collection of spa filter cartridges on our online pool shop.
Drain and refill your spa
Now, this may be controversial for some, but if your spa has been sitting idle during the summer then draining it is the way to go since you’ll want your spa water to be as fresh as possible for the coming months.
- Before you drain your spa, check your spa intake lines first. If you feel something slimy then you may have some biofilm growth on your pipes. You’ll need to use something that’s developed specifically for spas like the Zodiac Spa Pipe Cleaner. Simply add the required dosage and allow it to circulate for at least 20-30 minutes so that the solution can reach all corners of your spa and melt away the biofilm.
- Turn off / unplug your spa - you don’t want your spa to accidentally turn on while it’s empty as this can damage its built-in heating elements and pump.
- Attach the drainage hoses - depending on your spa model and how you have it installed, you may want to attach hoses to your drainage spigot to avoid making a mess.
Optional: Depending on the condition of your spa before draining, you may or may not want to partially fill your spa with clean water and give it a second drain to completely flush out all of the chemicals left on the surfaces. Once your spa is already nice and drained, it’s time to clean!
DIY Spa Cleaning Solutions
You don’t really need to splurge on specialized spa cleaning solutions to give your drained spa a thorough cleaning!
- White Vinegar + Water = Depending on the brand of vinegar, it usually has a pH level of 2.5 to 4 so it’s basically as strong as your commercial spa cleaning solutions at a fraction of the cost, and you’ll probably have a bottle of white vinegar lying around your kitchen cabinet somewhere. To make the solution, simply mix equal parts of vinegar and water in a spray bottle and give it a shake. Spray all over the inner surfaces of your spa and have it stand for at least 15 minutes then give it a wipe down with some non-abrasive fabric or a Life Spa Glove Hot Tub Cleaning Sponge.
- Bleach + Water = If you don’t have any white vinegar at home or if you’re dealing with heavier stains or dirt in your hot tub then a bleach solution would be perfect! Just vinegar, mix together equal parts of bleach and water in a spray bottle and spray all over your spa surfaces and let it stand there for at least 15 minutes before wiping off. Since bleach is a lot stronger than vinegar, we recommend wearing protective equipment like gloves and maybe some protective eyewear, you don’t want the bleach mist from your sprayer hitting your eyes.
- Baking Soda + Water = Now if you spend a lot of time in the kitchen then you’ll probably be familiar with using baking soda to get stubborn stains from your cooking utensils. You can do the same with your spa surfaces. It’s as effective as the previous two choices, but you’ll need to expend a bit more elbow grease as it requires a bit of scrubbing to remove any stubborn stains.
Once your spa is thoroughly clean, don’t forget to give it a good rinse down to remove any and all traces of bleach, Baking Soda or vinegar. We wouldn’t want these to mix with our spa chemicals when we start balancing the water to avoid any unwanted chemical reactions.
Refill and Restart your spa
Before plugging in the spa, we’ll need to refill it with water first. This step is pretty straightforward, take your garden hose and place it into your spa’s filter compartment, this way you won’t have any air bubbles trapped in your system.
Note: Do not leave your spa unattended while filling it up with water! You don’t want your spa to overflow and get water into places where they shouldn’t be going.
Once the water level is where it is supposed to be (about halfway above your spa’s skimmer box) you can now turn the spa back on or turn on the breaker it is attached to.
Balancing a re-filled spa
Your spa’s owner’s manual should all of the dosages required for you to balance a freshly filled hot tub, and this is called your hot tub start-up chemicals. It’s a good idea to raise your hot tub’s temperature to at least 27 degrees Celcius first to aid in dissolving your spa chemicals. The first thing you should do is test your spa water to determine the current levels so that you’ll know exactly how much to add.
Note: Due to the size / volume of water in your hot tub, it is imperative that you measure your chemicals accurately because a few grams less or more will greatly affect the chemistry of your spa water.
First Chemical to add to your spa
The first, and most important, chemical to add to your spa is your sanitiser. There are many options for spa sanitisers, but the most commonly used ones are chlorine and bromine. Bromine is a little bit more expensive than chlorine, but due to the small size of your spa, the actual costs will be negligible and many people prefer to use bromine on their spas because it is milder and it has a less noticeable smell than that of chlorine. Whichever you use, be sure to refer to your owner’s manual on how much you actually need to add to your spa to reach the required levels for a clean spa.
Adjust your spa's Total Alkalinity
Target TA level: 80-120ppm
Before we adjust our pH levels and other chemical levels, we must first ensure that our Total Alkalinity levels are right on point so once we adjust our spa’s pH levels, they will stay where they’re supposed to be and prevent wild swings.
Adjust your spa's pH levels
Target pH level for your spa: 7.4 to 7.6
It’s very important to keep your pH levels in check especially with a hot tub because of its size and sensitivity to chemicals. Low pH can cause corrosion to your spa components because of the acidity and high pH can cause scale, which is not only an eyesore (I mean, who would want to relax in a scaly spa right?) but scale in your hot tub can also cause damage to its internal components.
Check and Adjust your spa's Calcium Hardness
Target Calcium Hardness Level: 175ppm to 250ppm
If you’re a long-time reader, you might notice that the recommended levels are a bit higher than what we recommend for pools, and the reason for this is that we’d rather err on the high side when it comes to calcium hardness levels in our spas than on the low side. Low calcium hardness levels in our spa can cause the water to eat away at our spa internals and we wouldn’t want that. The worse thing that could happen with too high calcium levels in our spa is a bit of scaling and that can easily be scrubbed away with some vinegar (or the other DIY solutions we presented before) since the surfaces are pretty easy to clean, and not to mention more manageable in size than a full swimming pool!
Note: If you've overshot your calcium levels then don't worry! Partially drain your spa and refill and retest and you should be good to go. No need to spend on calcium reducing chemicals.
How to add chemicals to your spa
Because of your spa jets, adding chemicals to your spa or hot tub is much easier than with your pool. Instead of waiting hours (or overnight), the wait in between adding different chemicals to the spa can be as short as 20 minutes in-between applications. But, just like swimming pools, never add all of your chemicals in one go! Make sure to wait at least 20 minutes for everything to get properly circulated (make sure that the jets and pump are on) before adding the next one!
Once all of the chemicals have been added, don’t go into the water just yet! Re-test your spa water to ensure that all levels are where they’re supposed to be. If not, then readjust to be sure!
Optional: Use a Nature 2 Spa Stick
While this isn’t a hard requirement for spas and hot tubs, using a Nature 2 spa stick will naturally sanitise your pool, reducing the need to keep on adding chlorine to your pool and greatly increasing algae and bacteria control without the harsh chlorine smell!
Optional: Use a Life Spa Disc
One of the biggest problems spa owners face is the addition of oils (natural body oils) and other contaminants from lotions, makeup, and other sources of scum lines. It’s quite simple to use, simply place a spa disc inside your skimmer box and say goodbye to your spa scum problems for the (off) season!
Tips to keep your Spa in Perfect Condition
Getting your spa to perfect condition for colder months is one thing, but keeping it in perfect condition is another thing altogether. Here are some tips and tricks to keep your spa in perfect condition for the coming months:
- Cover your spa when not in use - If you’ve invested in a spa cover, then put it to use! Covering your spa when not in use not only prevents dirt and debris from entering your pool but also saves you water and chemicals from evaporation.
- Rinse before getting into the spa - As we mentioned earlier, scum is a large problem in spas and hot tubs so washing off as much contaminants before getting into the spa or hot tub!
- Test and balance often - Because of the small volume of water in spas, it’s easy for the chemical balance to go out of whack.
- Use chemicals designed for spas - Using things like chlorine pucks that are designed for pool use can cause a lot of balance problems. So if you’re really serious about sanitising your spa, use chlorine or bromine sanitisers that are designed specifically for spas.
- Use the optional tips mentioned above - using a Nature 2 spa stick and a Life Spa Disc will greatly reduce the effort need in maintaining your spa so those are absolutely excellent additions to your spa maintenance arsenal.
That’s it! You and your spa are ready for relaxing dips ahead of the colder months! getting you spa in perfect condition take about half a day and you'll be reaping the benefits for the months ahead. It's worth every second spent!
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Happy swimming :)