Many people believe that if their hot tub water is clear then there is no need to test and balance the pH and alkalinity. Unfortunately this misconception costs spa owners tens of thousands of dollars each year in repairs.
The fact is that water can be crystal clear and odorless, and imbalanced water chemistry can still be wreaking havoc on your hot tub equipment. I will explain what imbalanced water chemistry can do to your spa, and how to prevent the costly damage.
Low pH causes water to become acidic. This will lead to corrosion in your plumbing and on the spa equipment.
Low pH is very common because your oxidizing shock acts as a natural pH Decreaser, gradually lowering the pH level with each use.
The purpose of oxidizing shock is to break-up dead organic matter (killed by your sanitizer), and prevent cloudy water. Without this shock, the dead organic matter will remain in the water causing it become cloudy and serve as a buffet for new bacteria.
So while you can’t stop using the oxidizing shock to alleviate your low pH problem, you can keep your pH in check by using Easy pH (the only product available that raises pH but not Alkalinity).
Ideal pH range is between 7.2 and 7.6.
High pH and/or High Alkalinity
pH above 7.6 and Alkalinity above 120 ppm (90 ppm if using CleanWater Blue) can result in scale formation on the hot tub equipment. Scale buildup is the leading cause of premature heater element failure.
Low alkalinity causes your pH balance to fluctuate from one extreme to the other. This is why adjusting your Alkalinity first (during spa start up) will make balancing your water much easier.
The ideal range for alkalinity is between 80-120ppm (30-90 ppm if using CleanWater Blue).
Here are some tips to make water balancing trouble free:
- IMPORTANT: After adding chemicals, allow your water to equilibrate before retesting, especially if you have been having problems with balance. This means letting the water circulate for a few hours, or retesting the next day for accurate readings.
- Total Alkalinity should be kept between 80-120 ppm (30-90 ppm if using Cleanwater Blue system).
- pH range is ideal between 7.2 and 7.6. Too low is acidic and will cause corrosion. Too high can result in scale formation.
- Remove a sample of the spa water into a clean plastic cup and test it after it has cooled a few minutes, for best results.
- Never mix different chemicals together prior to addition to the spa water. Add them one at a time. Pre-dissolving granules in a plastic bucket of water is best.
- Make sure your water hardness is not too low. Adjust it prior to making final pH and TA adjustments. A good range for calcium hardness is 150-300 ppm. (Hardness adjustment is not normally needed or recommended if using Cleanwater Blue system).
- Check Total Alkalinity (TA) first, then adjust for proper pH range. Proper TA will buffer pH, that is, it will help to prevent pH fluctuations.
- Use fresh, high quality test strips.
- Excessively high bromine or chlorine levels can result in false pH and TA readings.
- Change your spa water at least every 3 to 4 months, depending on bather load.
While most hot tub owners have no trouble getting their water into balance, there is great diversity in water types from region to region. Even within communities someone could be on municipal water while their neighbor is on a well. Minerals and other elements in water can sometimes lead to difficulty getting pH and total alkalinity (TA) into balance. Luckily, no matter what trouble you’re having, we are here to help!
Have questions about your water chemistry? Comment below for expert assistance!