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10 Ways to Ruin your Hot Tub Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by [deleted]

10 Ways to Ruin your Hot Tub

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.


Taking care of a hot tub nowadays is not too difficult, but if you’re not careful, small slips can cause big problems. Most of these won’t DESTROY your hot tub, that’s just my attention grabbing headline, but any of these will cause minor to major problems, which are best avoided.

We take phone calls (and emails) all day from customers who have found themselves in a bit of hot water (or cold water), due to some small oversight on their part. Learn from their mistakes, and from mine too!

1. Drain the spa and leave it empty

If you want to destroy the hot tub, this can be the number one way. One or two days won’t cause much problem, but beyond that, the water and moisture remaining in the pipes and equipment will begin to ‘funkify’, and grow into a bacteria biofilm, which can be hard to eradicate comple­tely, once large colonies are establ­ished. Secondly, without water in the tub, seals and gaskets can more easily become dry and begin to leak, and dried out cartridges require new spa filters.

Use your hot tub as a bath tub

This won’t destroy your hot tub, but jumping in the hot tub after a workout, or a day of digging in the garden causes poor water condit­ions, overwh­elmed filter cartri­dges, and could be unhealthy, as it pummels the pH and sanitizer. Not like you have to shower every time before using the spa, but if you are in a practice of bathing in your spa, or inviting the team over for a soak after your winning game, your spa water and spa filters can be compro­mised.

3. Add bubble bath

Well, this is an obvious one, and really just to put a funny image in your mind. Imagine adding just a few ounces of soap to your spa and turning on the jets. It would be like that Brady Bunch episode when Bobby added a whole box of detergent to the washing machine. In fact, wearing bathing suits that have been washed with soap, is a no-no in your spa. Even with a dual rinse cycle, enough soap remains to give you a hot tub foam problem.

4. Use pool chemicals

Spa chemicals are specially formulated to work in hot water, and with hot tub surfaces. More import­antly, spa chemicals are labeled for use in a spa or hot tub, with dosage and applic­ation inform­ation for very small bodies of water. For spa shock treatm­ents, do not use pool shock, as the granules do not dissolve quickly enough, and more import­antly, a 1 lb. bag of shock cannot be resealed safely, being designed for one-time use.

5. Use a pressure washer

Even a small pressure washer is too much pressure for cleaning cartri­dges, forcing dirt, oil and scale deeper into the fabric, and will separate the fibers at the same time, bunching up fibers and essent­ially ruining or severely damaging your spa filter. What about cleaning your spa filter in the dishwa­sher? Also not a good idea, which could ruin not only the cartridge, but the dishwasher too!
Use a regular garden hose with spray nozzle, and be sure to use a spa filter cleaner 1-2x per year, to gently loosen dirt, oil and scale.

6. Shut off power to the spa

Keep the spa running, and check on it often, to be sure it is still running. If you leave town for a few weeks, or otherwise unable to use the spa for extended periods, you must keep it running, with at least a few hours of high speed circul­ation daily, and low-speed circul­ation for most other times. Spa pumps don’t need to run 24/7 to keep a covered spa clean, but you do need Daily circul­ation, filtering and sanita­tion, or larger spa water problems are sure to arise.

7. Overfill

It’s happened to most spa owners, you’re adding water to fill the spa or top off the hot tub, when the phone or doorbell rings. Overfl­owing spas usually don’t cause problems, but depending on your spa make and model, some components can become water damaged if a spa overflows. After overfl­owing my own spa twice, I bought a plastic timer that screws onto my hose spigot. It can be set for up to 2 hours, before it shuts off the water flow.
Don’t under-fill the spa, or air can be sucked into the pump – keep it full.

7. Overtreat with chemicals

Spas and hot tubs are small bodies of water, and most chemical adjust­ments require just a few ounces of liquid or powder. Overdosing your spa with hot tub shock, or over-a­dju­sting the pH or Alkalinity can create a see-saw effect that costs money and time. Make small adjust­ments, read the label and add doses approp­riate for your spa size, in gallons.
Use Spacal­cul­ato­ to compute exact amounts of spa chemicals to add, for a desired result.

9. Run the spa without the filter

There are situations when you want to briefly test the system without the spa filter cartridge in place, to see if the heater will come on with the filter removed, for example. But running the pump for long periods of time without the filter could lead to clogged pump impellers, and rapid water quality problems.
However, if your spa filter is cracked or broken, it’s better to leave the pump running on low speed, than to shut down the spa comple­tely.

10. Leave your spa uncovered

Besides getting dirty, wasting water and chemicals, and causing your spa heater to work overtime, leaving a spa uncovered and unattended is unsafe for children, animals and some adults. On the other hand, covering it too tightly, with plastic wrap or tarps tightly sealed can also cause a problem for electr­onics and cabinet trim, when moisture is under pressure.
Be sure to keep your spa cover on the spa when un-used, clipped snugly in place.