Hot Tub Foam, Cloudiness, and Algae: Solutions and Prevention

Hot Tub Foam, Cloudiness, and Algae: Solutions and Prevention

A well-maintained hot tub offers a retreat for owners and guests alike. Regular maintenance and prevention are the best ways to ensure your hot tub is inviting and not a chore.

Yet, there will always be a time when hot tub neglect sneaks up. Here is a guide to the common problems of foam, cloudiness, and even algae. 

Hot Tub Foam

Foam is fun in the bath, but it is a big annoyance in the hot tub. The common causes of foam are:

·      External contaminants such as drinks or body lotions

·       Hair products like hairspray and gels

·      Laundry detergents from poorly rinsed bathing suits

·      Residual filter cleaning products or hot tub cleaners

·      Air blower connections

·      Poor quality hot tub chemicals

 ·     High solids count as a byproduct of the sanitizing system

The best way to get rid of hot tub foam depends on the time you have available. If time is not an issue, the best method is to drain and refill the hot tub. You will hear this repeated throughout this blog. A hot tub has quite a smaller volume than a pool and this is an effective and cheap solution. Regardless, you will want to drain and refill your hot tub about every 3 or 4 months.

If you are short of time and the party is about to start another option is an anti-foaming chemical. These are commonly available and effective but only for a short period of time. Sometimes they will knock down the foam for 15-30 minutes but since we are not attacking the root of the problem the foam will persist.

pHin Tip: ensure you rinse the filters thoroughly as cleaner residue is a common cause of foam in your hot tub.

Hot Tub Cloudiness

A cloudy hot tub is one of the most common problems we encounter. The common causes of cloudiness are:

 ·     Clogged filter systems

 ·     Poorly balanced hot tub water (pH, alkalinity)

 ·     High solids count as a byproduct of the sanitizing system

 ·     External contaminants such as dust and dirt

Your best tools to combat cloudiness are circulation and filtration. Running your hot tub on the pre-programmed time setting accomplishes both for you. Ensure your filters are in good shape. If not, a quick rinse to get the grime off or a 24-hour soak in a chemical cleaner will do the trick.

Hot tub clarifiers improve the effectiveness of the filtration process. Clarifiers gather particles that are then more easily filtered with your hot tub system. Each clarifier product is unique so be sure to follow the directions on the bottle.   

pHin Tip: adding chemicals too quickly often results in cloudy water. This should clear up on its own, but be sure to add chemicals slowly. And remember to add a small amount of clarifier weekly to keep your hot tub clear. See our blog on water clarifiers.

Hot Tub Algae

Algae is everywhere in our environment and spores will end up in your hot tub. The common causes of algae built up in hot tubs are:

 ·     External contaminants such as bathing suits, dust, and dirt

 ·     Low sanitzer levels

 ·     Not using a hot tub cover

 ·     Clogged fliter systems

Algae control is focused on prevention. Hot tub water that is sanitized and balanced will not grow algae. Also, realize that if algae spores are given warm water, sunlight and nutrients they will multiply. So an easy control method is to limit sunlight by covering the hot tub when not in use.

Regardless algae build up can happen. If you are short of time and need to get rid of algae:

 ·     Brush or wipe the inside of the hot tub and cover

 ·     Ensure your filters are in good shape

 ·     Circulate the hot tub continuously until the algae are gone

pHin Tip: algae is tougher to control with high hot tub use. Weekly use of a good algaecide inhibitor will keep your hot tub clean. See our blog on algae.

What If The Problem Persists?

If cloudiness or algae continues to give you a headache, it is time to shock your hot tub water:

 ·     Ensure the water is balanced (pH is between 7.2 - 7.6 and an alkalinity between 80-120 ppm)

 ·     Shock the water according to the instructions of the sanitizer system you use. This is typically a chlorine or bromine system.

 ·     Let the hot tub run for 15 minutes without the cover.

Since hot tub volume is small compared to a pool, a great solution to cloudiness is to drain and refill, especially if the water is a couple months old.

Any hot tub owner is going to encounter one of these problems at some point. The frustration of solving these problems drive home the point that regular maintenance is key. Hot tub maintenance is easy with pHin. It monitors water quality, notifies you by smartphone when you need to add chemicals and ships you just the right amounts.


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