Spring is Here, Plan At-Home Pool and Hot Tub Fun

After a long winter, spring is finally here! Whether your hot tub is already open or you’re starting to plan your pool opening, here are some ways to get ahead on fun and relaxation this season from the pHin team:

Choose your Opening Date

Pick a date to open your pool or hot tub and start a fun countdown. Memorial Day weekend is popular for those in the North, but pool owners who already have warm weather may be enjoying their water already.

Make sure you have all the necessary tools to make for a smooth opening. Have a spot to store your pool cover and let it dry completely before folding it to avoid mold from forming. The water level may be low, so use a garden hose to fill it back up to a normal level. Once your water level is adjusted, you need to make sure that the water is safe and ready for swimming. If you need help adjusting the chemicals, see how pHin can help in our three-step guide.

Add Fun with Floaties

Stock up on some new pool floats! You can play games like pool noodle races or use floats that have built-in cupholders for extra relaxation to take lounging to the next level. It’s also time to resurrect and clean any pool toys you have like dive sticks and beach balls – and don’t forget to brush off your outdoor chairs, umbrellas, and lounges.

Plan Water Games

Marco Polo is a classic but it may be time to find some new favorites this year.  Why not Bet on candy or household chores using an inflatable poker table with your family, or challenge them to aqua golf? Good Housekeeping shares a list of summer pool games for inspiration!

Let the Music Play

No poolside or hot tub lounge is complete without a great playlist. Come up with some options for whatever mood you may be in that day! Relaxing in the hot tub after a long day? Throwing a poolside party? The pHin team also has a few go-to playlists you can check out now.

To get the maximum fun, relaxation, and de-stressing that you need from your pool or hot tub, make sure the water’s safe. Chemistry can be confusing, but pHin is here to remove the guesswork. pHin floats in the water and constantly measures the water’s balance. If it goes out of balance pHin sends an alert straight to your smartphone for easy maintenance.

3 Steps to Stress-free Pool Care with pHin

 There are many perks to having a pool– relaxation and pool parties, or a nice après-ski soak. New pool owners might not realize the challenges of ongoing maintenance required to keep the water clean, healthy, and ready for a good time, so we’ve rounded up some essential pieces of pool maintenance advice to help you manage your water.

Pool-care professionals recommend measuring your water chemistry at least once a week. If neglected, getting your pool or hot tub water balanced again can be a frustrating task that costs both time and money.

 A smart water care system like pHin helps take care of this task while taking the stress out of managing your pool or hot tub, with three easy steps:

1. Constant Water Monitoring

Most people check their water levels once a week or just before they hop in the pool but water chemistry is easily affected by how much you use your pool or hot tub, how many people are using it, the weather (especially rain and heat), water temperature, sunlight, and several other factors. The lag between water checkups can create an unhealthy water situation. Since weather and water temperature are always changing, it’s best to test your pool water as often as possible to make sure you have an accurate picture of its overall water quality. Between raising a family, working, and other tasks, it’s difficult for most people to consistently test their pool water more than once per week, which is why a smart water monitor like pHin is the best alternative.

Once you drop pHin in the water, it automatically starts measuring pH, sanitizer, and temperature levels — over 1,000 times every week! The daily measurements are collected and analyzed with the monitor’s built-in intelligence to show you the status of your water health at any time, along with an easy-to-understand guide that will notify you whether your water is safe for swimming, needs chemicals to be balanced, or is unsafe.

2. Automatic Alerts

With smart technology in the pool, you’ll always know the status of your pool water. The pHin app gives you information about the water balance and temperature while sending you app alerts letting you know when you need to adjust your chemicals. Knowing the status of your water at any time can help you ensure that your pool or hot tub is always jump-in ready. It also helps you with easy steps to set unbalanced water right – continue to step three to read how!

3. Chemical Instructions

pHin is your personal pool and hot tub water expert. Instead of having to learn the charts, tables, and measurements for proper water chemistry yourself, pHin analyzes your water quality and provides easy instructions to get balanced water. It works with most major retail chemicals and uses its built-in analytics to give you precise dosing instructions for balanced water based on the chemical brand you use, your pool system, and your pool size.  All you have to do is follow the instructions and check in to see your water status on the app. Whether you’re a new pool owner or you’re looking to manage your existing hot tub or pool water, you can get the full benefits with smart monitoring from pHin.

The 9 Common Hot Tub Questions

Hot tubs are a great way to unwind in the privacy of your own home or backyard. Whether it be with family, friends, or even just by yourself after a long day, your hot tub helps melt away stress and lets you relax. Since you never know when opportunity will strike, you want your tub to be ready whenever the mood strikes. This can be difficult if you don’t know how to maintain your spa, but caring for your tub should be just as easy as relaxing in it. Here are the top hot tub questions to consider.

1) How Often Should I Clean My Filters?

You want to thoroughly rinse your filter with fresh water every other week. A garden hose works great for this, since it easily dislodges hair and most other materials from the filter. You should also soak your filter cartridge in a filter-cleaning compound every three to four months, as well as whenever you change your water. Keep two filters on hand – one in the spa and a clean, dry spare. This allows you to pop in the spare while soaking the main filter. Then, after you rinse the cleaning compound off after the original is done soaking, you can replace it and clean the spare. Your filters last longer and you get to keep enjoying your hot tub.

2) How Often Should I Drain My Hot Tub?

The answer mainly depends on how often you use the tub and your sanitizing system. However, draining and refilling your spa every three to four months is a good schedule to follow to ensure that contaminants and solids that dissolve in the water do not become excessive, which makes it difficult to maintain proper sanitation.

3) Why is My Water Cloudy?

Cloudy water in your spa usually means one of two things: either the filtration system is failing to clean smaller particles out of the water or bacteria are growing in your spa. If it is a problem with the filtration system, products that act like a coagulant to trap the dust and dirt should help. Just make sure to pull out and clean your filters once the hot tub is clean, otherwise the coagulants can break down and reintroduce all the dust and dirt they just collected. If it is bacteria you need to act fast and use a double dose of both chlorine and non-chlorine shock.

4) Can I Use Pool Chemicals in My Hot Tub?

It might seem like a good idea to just use pool chemicals for your hot tub, but that is a big mistake. Pool chemicals are much stronger than those meant for a spa and can cause serious damage to your tub. When it comes to buying the chemicals for your spa, remember that you get what you pay for. Cut-rate products are more likely to include fillers and additional chemicals that can cause issues with your water and the filtration systems. A quality product keeps your hot tub running well for years to come. In addition, product labeling differs between pool and hot tub chemicals, particularly as regards acceptable EPA guidelines. Chemical overdosing is very common when you use products specifically intended for a swimming pool in your hot tub.

5) Should I Use Bromine or Chlorine as a Sanitizer?

The chemicals that you use to sanitize your hot tub really come down to personal preference. Chlorine has a stronger odor, but is a very effective sanitizer. However, chlorine can also cause colors to fade, whereas bromine does not. Bromine also causes less eye, skin, and nose irritation and can be an effective sanitizer in its own right when administered properly in a two-part form.

6) Can I Get a Rash From My Hot Tub?

Yes, but it typically means that something is wrong with your chemical routine, not the tub. Skin rashes can be caused by both a surplus of chemicals and a lack of chemicals. For example, pseudomonas folliculitis is a skin rash commonly known as “hot tub rash.” It occurs when hot tub water is not properly sanitized. It is important to make sure the chemical balance of your water is exactly where it needs to be. This is where your pHin device comes in handy. But, when in doubt, drain, clean, and refill your spa.

7) How Should I Care for My Hot Tub Cover?

Twice a month you should remove the cover and wipe the entire surface with a cover cleaning agent. You only need a few squirts, and make sure to use a clean, damp cloth when you wipe it down. To guard against odors and bacteria growth, clean the underside of your cover with a mixture that is one part bleach to nine parts hot water. You may also use a cover cleaner such as 303 Aerospace vinyl cleaner and preserver. These products are available at most local pool and spa retailers.

8) Why is My Hot Tub Green?

Your hot tub should never be green; this means that there is bacteria growth in your spa. Drain the water and scrub every surface with a chlorine solution, then rinse the tub out with water. Refill your spa and shock the water with a dose of chlorine and non-chlorine shock. Remember, you should use your hot tub if the water is not crystal clear.

If the problem persists even after you sanitize the tub, your water may contain excess copper, which attacks the plumbing and equipment. Similarly, chromium may turn the water a lime green Jello  color. Proper water chemistry, especially pH, balances chromium and copper levels in your hot tub water.

9) Why Doesn’t My Hot Tub Get Hot?

The most common culprit when your hot tub goes cold is the filter. When the filter gets clogged, the heater shuts off because it needs water flow to be able to operate properly. Pop out your filter and give it a thorough rinse and soak in a cleaning solution. If your filters are over two years old, it is probably time to replace them. If cleaning the filter does not bring back the heat, turn the heater off for about 15 minutes. If it is still not working when you turn it back on, it is most likely time for a service call. Another common cause of heater failure is scale buildup on the heater core or element, typically caused by not using a stain and scale control. Scale buildup on the heater element of only 1/20” can reduce the heater’s efficiency by 40 percent!

To ensure the water in your pool or hot tub stays balanced, consider pHin. It constantly monitors your water and tells your smartphone what you need to do to keep the water in your pool and hot tub healthy. Use it with your own chemicals for flexibility or get our single-dose, pre-measured chemicals delivered to your door. If you need someone to service your equipment, Pool Service on Demand connects you to local, qualified pool techs.

How to Approach Electricity and Pool Safety

When it comes to pool safety, swimming pool electrocution may be rare, but that comes as small comfort to anyone that has had their lives forever changed by it. Although it is not very common, as long as pool electrocution is still a possibility it is important that you understand the warning signs and know what to do to keep it from happening to you or someone you love.

Do Pools Pose an Electrocution Risk?

Typically, electrical accidents involving a pool fit into one of two categories: risky behavior (such as using radios, TVs, or extension cords near the water) or hazardous equipment (malfunctioning or improperly installed equipment, most often pool lights). The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is most concerned about the following electrical hazards in pools and hot tubs:

  • Faulty underwater lighting
  • Electrical wiring that has not been inspected in years
  • Sump pumps, power washers, or vacuums that are not grounded
  • Electrical appliances (such as radios and TVs) and extension cords falling into or being pulled into the water

According to the CPSC, these hazards present an even greater risk if the lighting, circuits, and nearby receptacles are not protected by Ground-Fault Circuit-Interrupters (GFCIs).

It is common knowledge that water and electricity do not mix, but you should know that you don’t have to be in the water or touching the water to be electrocuted; holding a metal brush or net handle or touching a metal pool ladder that is in electrified water can also cause serious injury or even death. You can even be shocked simply by touching another person that is being electrocuted. Electrical shocks in swimming pools are very rare, but you should still know what to do in case of electrified water and what to look out for.

Signs That Your Pool is Electrified

Knowing the warning signs of an electrified pool is incredibly important and may save your life. Feeling a tingling sensation, the inability to move, muscle cramps, or feeling like something is holding you in place are all signs of impending electrocution. In addition, if you notice passive or motionless swimmers, panicked behavior, or swimmers actively avoiding an area or bather, these are all signs of possible electricity in the water. Also keep an eye out for any underwater lights that do not function properly. If a light is flickering or only working intermittently, get it fixed as soon as possible.

How to Keep from Being Electrocuted

The best and easiest way to keep your pool or spa safe from electrical hazards is through regular, timely maintenance. Upgrade your pool lighting as necessary. The newer the lighting, the less likely it is to malfunction and cause an issue. Have the electrical components of your pool inspected periodically to make sure you don’t run into faulty wiring. If you are building a pool, have all of the electrical components inspected before it is finished being built; if you are buying a house with a pool already installed, include a pool inspection before buying the house. It is important to watch for signs of faulty equipment (flickering lights, erratic movements, etc), but never attempt to do any of the electrical work yourself.

Keep any electrical equipment at least five feet from the edge of the pool. This is one of the most common ways for electrical incidents to happen in a pool. Monitor any children or intoxicated bathers. A watchful eye not only keeps them safe from slipping or drowning, but it may also notice the signs of an impending electrocution. Most importantly, make sure you have a plan if someone is electrocuted. You need to turn off the power, calmly and quickly get everyone out of the pool (making sure they do not touch any metal fixtures), and call an ambulance.

Preventive Measures

The first step in most pool safety as well as spa safety measures is preventive planning. Following any codes that might apply to your city or state, maintaining your pool, and having it checked out by a qualified professional are key to keeping you and your loved ones safe. Remember that electrocution can also be dangerous to those who are not in the pool. Make sure that you yourself don’t become a conductor to increase the chance for survival for both the victim and the rescuer. Print out or write an emergency plan on what to do in the event of electrocution.

Proper pool maintenance includes healthy water chemistry. Ensure the water in your pool or hot tub stays balanced with pHin. It constantly monitors your water and tells your smartphone what you need to do to keep the water in your pool and hot tub healthy. Use it with your own chemicals for flexibility or get our single-dose, pre-measured chemicals delivered to your door. If you need someone to service your equipment, Pool Service on Demand connects you to local, qualified pool techs.

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Solar Heater

Eco-friendly and energy efficient, solar swimming pool heaters can be a great alternative to gas and electric models. A solar heater turns the light and heat from the sun into energy to heat up your pool. These heaters are very popular in different parts of the world, particularly areas with higher temperatures and a lot of sunshine.

How Do Solar Heaters Work?

If you already have a pump and filter set up for your pool, then all you need to set up solar heating is a kit with solar panels and a few other installation necessities. However, even if you are a pretty handy person, it is usually best to let a professional install your solar heating kit. Typically, the solar panels are mounted in an area that will get the most southwestern sunshine in a day, usually on a roof or a rack of some sort. Five to six hours of sun per day is ideal. If you do not have access to that type of sun exposure, you can still use solar heating by increasing the square footage of the solar heating panels for greater temperature rise in the water. Solar pool heaters work well in most parts of the United States and are incredibly low maintenance.

Once installed, solar heaters heat your pool by pulling the water from the pump to the black panels. The water travels through the panels, absorbing any heat picked up by the sun before flowing back through the pump and filter and into the pool.

Advantages of a Solar Heater

Heating your pool by using a solar heater provides one advantage that no other heater does: no direct operational costs. You can enjoy a heated pool all year round without having to worry about huge increases in your energy bills. People tend to use their pool heaters during peak times, which also happens to be when energy costs are the highest, but this is not a worry if you are using a solar heater.

Solar pool heaters are also more eco-friendly than most other options, since you are using natural resources to heat your pool, as opposed to using gas (which can emit carbon dioxide and other harmful elements during heating) or electricity (which requires the burning of fossil fuels to harness). If nothing else, solar heating is far more convenient and can usually be set up with whatever existing pump and filter you have, so you don’t have to worry about having to buy or set up new equipment.

Disadvantages of a Solar Heater

While there are several advantages to choosing a solar heater, there are a few disadvantages as well. Solar heaters do cost less in the long run when it comes to their operational costs, but the initial installment can be expensive. Depending on the size of your pool, they can also take up a considerable amount of room, so it is important to consider whether you are okay with solar panels taking up room on your roof, lawn, or anywhere else you may need to set them up.

The other thing to consider when it comes to choosing a solar heater is the wait time; a common complaint is that solar heaters do not heat as well (or at least as quickly) as gas or electric heaters. Solar heaters can take longer to heat the pool water, since they use energy and heat pulled from the sun rather than a separate heating element. Also, since a solar pool heater does pull its power from the sun, it is subject to weather conditions. On windy or cloudy days, you will not get the same results as you would on a bright and sunny day. A pool cover will allow the heating system to retain heat during those cooler, overcast days.

There are several options when it comes to deciding how you would like to heat your pool. Solar heating tends to be popular for its environmentally friendly process, low-cost use, and convenience, but there are disadvantages. It is important and recommended that you research different options to see what will work best for you before making a choice. Always consult a professional before attempting to install or set up any heating system.

To ensure the water in your pool or hot tub stays chemically balanced, consider pHin. It constantly monitors your water and tells your smartphone what you need to do to keep the water in your pool and hot tub healthy. Use it with your own chemicals for flexibility or get our single-dose, pre-measured chemicals delivered to your door. If you need someone to service your equipment, Pool Service on Demand connects you to local, qualified pool techs.

Pros and Cons of Natural Gas Heaters

A natural gas heater is an efficient way to heat your pool or hot tub all year round. Even during the summer, outdoor temperatures might not stay high enough for long enough to keep your pool’s water warm without the help of a heater. Ideal for cooler climates and those that want their pool or hot tub heated quickly, natural gas heaters also work well when paired with solar heating or pools that don’t need to be heated often. While a natural gas heater is always a viable option, there are some disadvantages, so you should consult a pool professional before making any final decisions. A professional can help you determine what size and type of heater will work best for you.

How Natural Gas Heaters Work

As the pump circulates water from the pool, the water it draws from the pool. Next, it passes through the filter and makes its way to the heater. Gas burns in the heater’s combustion chamber. The water heats as it passes over this chamber and the hot water returns to the pool.

Natural gas heaters are ideal for heating pools for a short period of time and work great when you want to heat a pool quickly. These heaters are ideal for pools that are not used regularly, as gas pool heaters can help to maintain any desired temperature regardless of weather or climate conditions.

Pros of a Natural Gas Heater

  • Convenience: If you have access to a natural gas service, then getting the fuel to your heater is far easier than if you chose propane. Natural gas enters through a permanently fixed line and there is always more available.
  • Speed: If quick heating is what you need, then look no further than a natural gas heater. Unlike electric, solar, or heat pumps, natural gas burns quickly, making it a faster way to heat up your water. Gas heaters are especially effective if you don’t use your pool on a regular basis (since it heats the water quickly there is less need for prep time) or if you are trying to heat a smaller body of water, like a spa or hot tub.
  • Maintenance: Natural gas heaters generate enough heat to warm your pool in a short amount of time, so they don’t have to run as often or as long as some other heating methods, resulting in fewer problems due to wear and tear or consistent use. If you want a heater that requires little maintenance, then a natural gas heater is perfect for you.
  • Cost: While an electric heater or a heat pump may need to be turned on aseveral hours in advance, a natural gas heater only needs about 30 minutes for a typical hot tub or to simply raise the temperature a few degrees in a typical backyard swimming pool. This saves a considerable amount of money through reduced energy usage.

Cons of a Natural Gas Heater

  • Energy Efficiency: While natural gas heaters are more efficient than electric heaters, this does not mean that they are the most efficient way to heat your pool or spa. Solar heaters and heat pumps use the sun and recirculated warm air respectively to heat your pool or spa, making them the more energy efficient options when it comes to heaters. That does not mean you cannot get an energy efficient natural gas heater. Look for one with an efficiency rating of 89 to 95 percent according to energy.gov.
  • Purchase and Install Price: Gas heaters are incredibly efficient when it comes to heating your pool or spa and so might seem like the perfect choice for you, but there are some expenses to running a natural gas heater. In addition to installation and any initial purchase costs, you need to run pipe underground to provide a natural gas source for the heater’s furnace. If a natural gas source or pipe is not close to the pool equipment pad area itself, the cost can be prohibitive.
  • Rising Fuel Prices: Oil and gas prices fluctuate, meaning that operating your natural gas heater will not always cost the same. In the colder months, when oil and gas prices are usually at their highest, the cost of heating your pool can increase as much as 30 to 40 percent.
  • Repair and Replacement: Natural gas heaters are more susceptible to corrosion if your pool water is unbalanced. The amount of use your natural gas heater gets, in addition to outdoor temperatures and desired water temperature, determines how long the heater will last. Most natural gas heaters last about five years before requiring service or maintenance.

To ensure the water in your pool or hot tub stays balanced year round, consider pHin. It constantly monitors your water and tells your smartphone what you need to do to keep the water in your pool and hot tub healthy. Use it with your own chemicals for flexibility or get our single-dose, pre-measured chemicals delivered to your door. If you need someone to service your equipment, Pool Service on Demand connects you to local, qualified pool techs.

How to Get New Pool Water in Safe Swimming Condition

Congratulations! You have a new pool! Whether it’s a fiberglass pool, vinyl liner pool or concrete pool, you will want to get the water perfectly balanced before you do your first cannonball. This process will take two to three weeks.

(This post How to Get New Pool Water in Safe Swimming Condition first appeared on SFGate.)

Things You Will Need

  • Nylon pool brush
  • Water test kit
  • Baking soda
  • Muriatic acid
  • Sequestering agent
  • Chlorine

Steps:

  1. Turn on the pool pump and filtration system. Allow it to run continuously until the pool is clean and the chemicals are balanced.
  2. Test the pool water for pH, chlorine and total alkalinity. A variety of test kits are available at any pool store.
  3. Adjust the pH until it is between 6.8 and 7.2. Bring up a low pH rating by adding baking soda or lower a high pH with muriatic acid diluted in water. These chemicals also affect the total alkalinity, which should be between 70 and 80. Ensure that both pH and total alkalinity are within the desired parameters.
  4. Add a sequestering agent according to package directions. Sequestering agents suspend metal particles in solution and help to prevent staining or scaling.
  5. Allow two days for the pool balance to settle. Keep the pump running and test the pool water daily.
  6. Add chlorine until the chlorine level is between 1.0 and 2.0. Although some sources allow chlorine levels as high as 3.5, this may be irritating to skin and eyes. Allow 24 hours for the pool chemicals to stabilize.
  7. Raise the pH to between 7.2 and 7.8. The ideal pH is 7.4 to 7.6, but slight leeway is acceptable. Raising the pH will raise the total alkalinity, which should read between 80 and 120 in concrete pools and 125 to 170 in vinyl, fiberglass or painted pools.

Tips

  • As you’re conditioning the new water, brush all parts of the pool twice per day with a nylon brush. Pay particular attention to corners and crevices where dust and debris hide. Continue brushing twice per day until the pool chemicals are balanced and the pool is ready for swimming.
  • Use a manual pool skimmer daily to remove floating debris.
  • Wait 30 days to turn on a salt-based cleaning system, turn on a pool heater or begin using a pool vacuum. Wait 21 days before installing an automatic pool cleaner. The waiting period gives the pool’s finish time to cure, avoiding possible damage.
  • Consider adding an algaecide after all other pool chemicals are balanced. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the proper amount to add and how long to wait before swimming.

Warnings

  • Pool chemicals are extremely caustic. Use gloves and goggles when handling chemicals. Wear old clothes and avoid adding chemicals during windy conditions. Tightly seal chemical containers and store them away from pets and children.
  • Do not “shock” or overchlorinate the pool except under the guidance of a professional.

(This post How to Get New Pool Water in Safe Swimming Condition first appeared on SFGate.)

 

Here’s two final things to keep in mind, from pHin’s resident water chemist, Christian Ballard elaborates:

  • Monitoring the water chemistry at least once per day for the first two to three weeks is crucial to preserving the surface and related plumbing and equipment. (Emphasis for cementitious (plaster/pebble, etc.) on the importance of brushing at least twice daily.)
  • The surface is curing for up to 21 – days and lots of dusting and various minerals rise to the surface of the finish. Very important to disrupt the dust by brushing to prevent buildup and blemishes.

When Should you Drain and Refill your Hot Tub?

Preventative maintenance goes a long way with hot tubs. Here is a simple plan to make draining, cleaning and refilling yours easy.

(Please check with your manufacturer’s instructions if those are available. The points below are fairly universal, still, checking with your manufacturer is highly suggested.)

Clean Filter

Open the filter well and have a look at your filter. If it’s been a year or so, you’ll want to replace the filter. If the filter is still in good shape, give it a quick rinse to get the grime off and use an approved spa filter cleaner, and either soak the filter element in a diluted solution or simply spray the concentrate and follow the directions on the label. Ensure you rinse the filters thoroughly as the residue can cause foam.

Click here to purchase Leisure Time® Spa Instant Cartridge Clean.

Shock (Optional)

If you have time for a deeper cleaning, then it is a good practice to super-shock the hot tub water. This will kill bacteria that are present in the water and allow the purge product to work effectively. With the hot tub running and jets off, add shock to the hot tub water. Circulate the hot tub for at least 30 minutes. Do not put the hot tub cover on, as shock needs to oxidize or time to release gases. Do not turn on the jets while shocking, as the product will oxidize too fast.

Purge Plumbing

Your hot tub plumbing can harbor a lot of nasty biofilms. A biofilm is a buildup of dirt and grime in the form of bacteria and other organic contaminants. Your hot tub plumbing is a great place for bacteria to hide and grow. Biofilm is effectively controlled with a plumbing purge, using a product containing enzymes that loosen up biofilms.

Pour in a hot tub specific plumbing purge product. Follow the directions on the bottle for the amount as each manufacturer differs slightly. To avoid under treatment, make sure to know the water volume of your hot tub. Turn on the jets and allow the system to circulate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours to thoroughly remove biofilm.

Drain and Scrub

Drain the water completely from your hot tub. Don’t use a soap based cleaner as it leaves residues and causes foam. An equal part of white vinegar and water does a great job or you can use a spa surface cleaner. Don’t forget to clean the hot tub cover, top and bottom with products designed specifically for hot tub covers.

Refill, Balance & Sanitize

Now that your hot tub is clean, it’s time to replace the water. This will take time and it’s a good time to walk around and check for leaks. Fill the tub by sticking the hose in the filter well. This directs water through the filter and pipes first to avoid trapping air in the system. Trapped air in the pipes can cause airlock and damage the pump. Once full, follow the instructions in your pHin Mobile App to balance and sanitize the water in this order: Adjust Total Alkalinity (TA), then pH, then sanitizers.

 

Your Guide to Chlorine and Bromine Hot Tubs

Your Guide to Chlorine and Bromine Hot Tubs. When you type “bromine or chlorine for a hot tub” into Google, you get about 205,000 search results in just half a second. The age-old debate between chlorine and bromine for hot tubs continues. Is one better than the other? Should you consider using bromine tablets? And if so, what do you have to gain?

Both chlorine and bromine are popular hot tub sanitizers but they get the job done differently. Let’s look at the pro’s and con’s of each.

1. Maintenance

Chlorine hot tubs require much more active maintenance and attention than bromine hot tubs. Without constant attention, chlorine hot tubs are much more likely to turn cloudy or green.

In addition, pH levels can often rise quickly in hot tubs and bromine is less exposed to these pH fluctuations. Chlorine, on the other hand, can’t handle large swings as efficiently as bromine, requiring frequent attention.

2. Efficiency And Effectiveness

Chlorine acts faster than bromine but dissipates quicker because it breaks down faster in high water temperatures. Once all the chlorine is used up, however, it requires frequent additions. On the other hand, bromine tablets take longer to dissolve, and once the active bromine has killed off unwanted organisms, dormant bromine salt remains behind, which can be reactivated into active bromine over and over. This makes bromine an active sanitizer for a longer period of time.

3. Water Temperature

The sweet spot for chlorine is between about 65 and 99 degrees. It quickly turns into vapor at around 100 degrees. While bromine is less effective at temperatures below 75 degrees, it thrives in hot water environments, especially over 100 degrees.

Hot tubs are, well, hot, small and typically have more people in them at the same time relative to their size. It is said that “4 people soaking in a typical hot tub equates to approximately 160 people in a backyard swimming pool due to chemical demands”. These factors make bathers perspire more, resulting in an increased amount of sweat and oils, and higher demand for sanitization. Bromine is better suited than chlorine to handle the buildup of these waste materials in hot water.

4. Cost

Many people choose chlorine because it’s less expensive at first. Although bromine can cost 20% or more than chlorine, it can stay longer in your water due to its ability to be reactivated after it has killed all the bacteria. This means that in the long run, you’ll use less bromine and hence, will pay less.

If you live in an area that gets a lot of sunshine all year round, costs related to sun protection may also play a role in your decision. Chlorine can be protected from the sun if you add the right amount of stabilizer to it. Bromine is broken down by the sun faster, requiring you to add bromine to compensate for the UV breakdown. However, when bromine is broken down by the sun’s UV, it leaves behind dormant bromine salt (sodium bromide), which can be reactivated by additional bromine or non-chlorine shock to perform additional sanitization.

5. Personal Considerations

Chlorine has been the subject of many jokes and urban legends. Some people with sensitive skin may find chlorine to be more irritating than bromine. Experts say that bromine protects the eyes and skin better, and emits less odor than chlorine.

 

For Chemistry Lovers

We’ve asked our chemistry expert to give his pick between bromine and chlorine for hot tubs.

This is what he had to say:

Bromine! It remains effective in a wider range of pH levels (7.0 – 8.4) than chlorine (7.4 – 7.8), and therefore, it can better protect your water from bacteria and viruses. Also, bromine in itself is a strong sanitizer. At a high pH level of 7.8, only about 25% of chlorine is active, but bromine remains efficient. And its byproducts, bromamines (a combined substance), produce their own sanitizing action, making bromine an even more powerful bacteria and virus killer. Add to that, that bromine already in your water can be reactivated using potassium monopersulfate after it has killed the bacteria. Reactivated bromine means less chemical use and bigger cost savings for you in the long run.”

Using Bromine Is Easy

Using bromine tablets in your hot tub is simple:

No need to drain your hot tub: you can get started with bromine right away. There’s no need to interrupt your hot tub usage for several days to drain and refill your hot tub. This also means that if you change your mind later and want to switch back to chlorine, you can easily do so.

Get the chemicals you need: To help provide the healthiest water care option and further simplify hot tub care, we will send you the chemicals you need at the time of shipping so you can start using bromine in your hot tub.

Our 5 Favorite Hot Tubs Seen Online

Our 5 Favorite Hot Tubs Seen Online. A relaxing soak in your hot tub after a hard day in the office can be the perfect way to wind down. We took an Internet tour of hundreds of hot tubs to find 5 we would love to try.   

  1. Wooden Hot Tubs

If you want a touch of charm with your hot tub, a wooden model makes a great choice. Cedar wood is the most popular choice, as it resists decay and rot. Sizes vary dramatically, from small, two-person tubs to models that comfortably seat six.

Water heating options include electricity, gas, and wood. Wood-heated tubs are more portable and easier to set up, but electric and gas models are popular choices for their simplicity.

  1. The Soup Bowl Hot Tub

Soup bowl hot tubs got their names after what else, soup bowls. These wood-heated tubs originated in the Netherlands and are becoming popular in the United States. Since this portable tub uses no electricity, installation is simple and inexpensive. Despite its name, we do not recommend it for cooking!  

  1. Vinylester Floating Hot Tub

If you dream of floating in water on water, you’ll love this hot tub. It’s actually a boat with a built-in hot tub resting in the center of the boat for stability. The tub is 8′ long, 4′ wide, and 24″ deep to comfortably hold six adults.

This hot tub design is perfect for entertaining. The deck includes two 50-watt speakers, four ice chests, and a joystick for steering the boat while relaxing in the tub.

  1. Two-tier, Entertainment Center Hot Tub

This enormous hot tub holds over 2,600 gallons of water and includes 130 jets and nine water pumps. The entire tub covers two decks and includes its own bar, a flat screen TV, and a built-in stereo system.

The two decks effectively create two hot tubs. The larger portion includes powerful jets that create a current for bathers to swim against.

  1. Inflatable Hot Tubs

Inflatable hot tubs are relatively new but growing quickly in popularity. You can set one up just about anywhere and, obviously, easily transport them. Such tubs comfortably seat four adults, although many claim to seat six (technically true, but the operative word is “comfortable”). Note: Not recommended in temperatures under 40 degrees.

If you want to keep the water in your hot tub balanced year round, consider a pHin smart monitor. This little device constantly monitors your water and alerts your smartphone when you need to balance your water. It even tells you what chemicals to add and how much. And if you ever need help with your equipment or hot tub vessel, try Pool Service on Demand to get local, qualified help.

 

Mid-winter Pool Check: Is Your Pool Balanced?

You packed away the pool toys and haven’t washed a swimsuit in months. Your pool is the last thing on your mind. Before you let this no-maintenance approach drag all the way through to spring, remember this: You will want to swim in your pool again, and sooner than you think!

Sure, when the water feels like something only a polar bear would love, it’s hard to envision fun in the sun and lounging poolside. However, summer is just around the corner. A little TLC now makes opening your pool a breeze, and may save you some money to boot.

Check the Pool Cover First

Clear the debris from your pool cover, using either brush or air blower to get rid of twigs, leaves, branches, and anything else that is littering the cover. Your goal is keeping these items from slipping into the water (the whole reason you have the cover to begin with).

You may clear away standing water and snow, but leave ice alone. The ice does less damage to the cover than your attempts to clear it away do.

Look at the cover for damage. Patch anything you can. If repairs are beyond your abilities, look at repositioning the cover (if possible) to arrange damaged areas closer to the pool’s edge.

Check the water level once the cover is clear. It needs to be below the skimmer box, and it definitely should not reach the top of the edge of your pool. The cover should protect the pool water from evaporation, but a slightly lower level is normal. However, if the level drops significantly, you may have a leak.

Finally, perform a water chemistry test, looking at alkalinity, calcium, and pH, and make any necessary adjustments.

Balancing the Pool Water

Even during winter months, your pool’s water chemistry fluctuates. Temperatures rise and fall; even with a cover in place, foreign items find their way into your pool.

Balanced chemistry does more than make the water safe for swimmers; it also protects your pool, as well as its components and equipment. You run the risk of staining the surface and calcium buildup when you fail to maintain proper chemical balance. This means ensuring proper alkalinity, calcium hardness, and pH levels.

Total Alkalinity

Alkalinity relates to your pH level, and measures all alkaline substances, including bicarbonates and hydroxides. Ideal alkalinity helps your pool water fight pH variations.

For a concrete or gunite pool, shoot for an alkalinity level between 80 and 120 ppm. Vinyl, fiberglass, and painted pools require 125 to 170 ppm. If alkalinity is low, add a base such as sodium bicarbonate. With high alkalinity, lower it with acid.

Water Calcium

Water contains calcium carbonate, and high levels result in “hard” water. When water contains excess calcium and magnesium, it attempts to get rid of these excess minerals.

If you have hard water, you see evidence of this throughout your home: the white deposits at the end of faucets, the buildup in showers and bathtubs. This same buildup occurs in your pool, on tiles, ladders, and pool lights. When water is extremely hard, it forms little clumps of these calcium magnesium crystals.

Too little calcium is hardly better, as your pool water attempts to find what it’s missing from your pool, such as the plaster. Shoot for a range between 200 and 400 ppm. Reduce calcium by adding more water to the pool. Increase it with calcium chloride.

Water pH

Your pool water’s pH tells you how acidic it is, with 7.0 being neutral. Numbers below 7.0 indicate acidic, while above 7.0 represents alkaline (also known as basic) water. Any item entering your pool affects its pH level.

To change the pH of your pool, you need to add either an increaser (base) or decreaser (acid) to reach the ideal pH level of 7.4, although the range of 7.2 to 7.6 is acceptable.

If your pH test reveals a number below 7.0, prevent corrosion by adding base. If the level tops 7.8, adding acid helps prevent calcium buildup on the filter and tile. It also helps keep the water clear and improves the effectiveness of your chlorine.

Although you may not use your pool in the winter, it is important to keep the water healthy. Once a pool gets out of balance, it’s a lot harder and more expensive to get it balanced again. Keep it healthy, make your pool happy.

Maintaining Your Pool and Hot Tub Year-Round

The easiest way to maintain proper balance year-round is with a pHin smart monitor. This little device constantly monitors your water and automatically sends you exactly what you need to keep the water in your pool and hot tub healthy. If you’re looking for someone to service your equipment, Pool Service on Demand instantly connects you to local, qualified pool techs.

6 Awesome Winter Pool Hacks

6 Awesome Winter Pool Hacks. It seems that everyone loves finding a great life hack. And, why not? They make you feel like you won something, earned the extra credit points, almost like the vending machine returning two treats for the price of one.

Hacks for pool care are especially great. It seems as though, every time you turn around, there’s another contraption to buy, another chemical to take care of problem you’ve never heard of. Over your pool’s lifetime, you accumulate many of these items. The following swimming pool hacks specifically geared toward winter weather not only help you save money, they also use items you probably have in the house already.

  1. Use an Aquarium Net for Your Skimmer

If you live in an area that remains relatively warm most of the winter, chances are you remove leaves and other debris from your pool’s surface skimmer year-round. The problem? Even though you aren’t wading through snow to get to your pool, that water is still plenty cold. Fishing around with your bare hands in 50-degree water makes even the most die-hard pool owner avoid winter maintenance.

Enter the aquarium net. The same little gadget you use to gather fish when it’s time to clean the tank (or for more tragic reasons) comes in handy when the pool water feels icy cold. Just dip the net into your skimmer to fish out leaves, sticks, bugs, and any other debris. Of course, you can use this throughout the year, but it is especially handy during the winter months. Additionally, there is a device found at your local pool store called the “Skimmer Angel”, which attaches to most baskets, enabling the pool owner to have an extended handle above water level.

  1. Balance Alkalinity with Baking Soda

When people aren’t swimming, they tend to pay less attention to the chemistry of their pool water. Of course, if your pool has water in it, you need to check it regularly, just as you do during summer months. If it’s been awhile since you tested your water, you may discover your alkalinity levels need adjusting. Instead of buying sodium bicarbonate from the pool store, head to your freezer for that box of baking soda. If you have one of the only 10 freezers in North America without a box of baking soda, you can find it at the grocery store.

Not sure how much to use? The sodium bicarbonate concentration is baking soda is the same as you find in your pool solution, meaning you add exactly the same amount to balance your pool water.

  1. Use a Leaf Blower to Clear Your Winter Pool Cover

Throughout winter, your pool cover becomes the home of leaves and other debris. You know you need to keep it clean, but reaching the center of the cover presents a challenge. If you own a leaf blower, however, clearing that debris is a breeze (pun fully intended). Just wait for a dry day, fire up the leaf blower, and point it at the pool cover. Use care to keep from damaging the cover.

  1. Use an Air Pillow with Your Pool Cover

Don’t have a leaf blower? No problem. Keep your cover free of debris with an air pillow. This turns your flat cover into a dome, ensuring leaves, snow, ice, and debris slide right off. Just make sure to secure the cover first. You don’t want all that stuff sliding into the pool water.

Wondering how to get that pillow to stay in place? A bit of heavy-duty Velcro does the trick. Two hacks in one!

  1. Prevent Damage to Your Above Ground Pool with Milk Jugs

Winter weather can wreak havoc on an above ground pool. You know to leave water in the pool, to keep those walls upright. If a leak occurs after closing the pool, and a snowstorm hits, it can be disastrous, even if you hold your pool cover in place with wire cables. Those cables may actually help pull down the walls of your pool.

Instead, stockpile empty milk jugs in the weeks leading up to winter. When it’s time to close the pool, place filled milk jugs all around, spaced a few feet apart. Then, secure the jugs to the pool cover, looping rope or string through the cover’s eyelets and through the handles of the milk jugs.

  1. Use Stockings in Your Skimmer

This hack works all year as well: Pantyhose in the skimmer, although, knee-high stockings work better, because they’re smaller. Simply place the stocking in the skimmer to help filter out fine debris, such as pet hair and dirt. This extends the life of your filter and results in less cleaning for you.

If you’re looking for an easy way to ensure the water in your pool or hot tub stays balanced no matter what time of year it is, consider a pHin smart monitor. This little device constantly monitors your water and automatically sends you exactly what you need to keep the water in your pool and hot tub healthy. If you’re looking for someone to service your equipment, Pool Service on Demand instantly connects you to local, qualified pool techs.