Let’s face it – unless you’ve had a hot tub for a long time or are an industry professional, you probably have questions about hot tubs. Fortunately you have friends in the industry (that’s us) that are more than happy to get you the answers you need.
Here are the 5 most commonly asked hot tub related questions:
Can you have a saltwater hot tub?
The answer to this is a resounding yes, but it’s maybe not the kind of briny experience you’re thinking of. While you may be thinking of soaking in a tidepool, the actual truth is you won’t even notice there’s salt in the water at all.
Seawater is around 35,000 PPM salt, whereas saltwater spas run around 2,500 PPM. For perspective, most people can’t even taste salt unless the level is upwards of 5,000 PPM.
In addition to adding salt to the spa to achieve 2,500 PPM, you’ll also need a chlorine generator. Now, you may be saying “WHAT?! I want salt, not chlorine!” Here’s the thing though, salt isn’t a sanitizer. Hot tubs need sanitizer, and properly administered chlorine is a very good one.
The job of a chlorine generator is to convert salt to chlorine, which is then converted back to salt as the chlorine does its job. Think the circle of life (but really death to microbes).
The big difference between tossing in ounces of chlorine granules versus using a chlorine generator is the steady, efficient manufacturing of chlorine with the generator. So, rather than having a bunch of chlorine all at once, you’re spa is getting just enough over time.
Many people who experience irritation in chlorine spas can switch to a saltwater system and have no adverse reactions.
Care to dive deeper on saltwater spas? I wrote a neat article about it here.
How Do Hot Tubs Plug In?
There are 2 basic ways a hot tub plugs in, and the difference depends on the service voltage. You can have a hot tub that plugs into a wall socket (like your toaster) or a hard-wired spa that connects directly to the main service panel (like your hot water heater).
120V spas use a GFCI cord which safely plugs into your wall socket. The caveat is these cords are only around 15 feet long, so your spa had better be placed near an outlet if you don’t want to run extra electrical wiring through your house. Oh, and don’t even consider using an extension cord. Not only is it an extremely dangerous fire hazard, you will encounter nuisance tripping of the GFCI (breaker trips for no apparent reason).
240V spas should be connected to a 50amp sub-panel GFCI Disconnect. While some homeowners will be up to installing a setup like this, most will leave it to the professionals. Want to learn more? Here’s a great guide to hooking up spas.
Why do some hot tubs foam up?
Have you ever been to a public spa and seen what appears to be a layer of meringue on top of the water? Yeah, that’s a foamy hot tub.
Don’t confuse foam for bubbles from aeration. Hot tubs aerate the water when the jet pumps are running on high speed. This is normal, and those bubbles go away as soon as the pumps are turned off.
Hot tubs can make yucky foam for a few different reasons:
- High or Low pH – Imbalanced pH levels can cause foam and even green or stinky hot tub water.
- Low Calcium Hardness – Surface tension in the water is decreased, causing excessive suds.
- Beauty Products – Soap residue, fabric softeners, lotion, hair products, sweat, skin oil and makeup can cause foamy water. This is why it’s so critically important to shock the water after using the spa.
The long and short of the foam story is to balance, sanitize and shock your spa. Are you doing all those things and still getting foam? Why not try a product designed to get rid of foam, Foam Free.
Want to learn more about foam? Here’s an article we did a few years back going into more depth.
How Hot Do Hot Tubs Get?
Modern hot tubs are limited to 104°. Back in the 80’s the CPSC issued a warning that heat stroke could be caused by water temps of 106° or higher, and put into place the 104° rule.
This is fine though, since most hot tub users prefer a temperature of 100°-102°. Some prefer it to be hotter and run the max temperature. My answer to folks who would prefer 104°+ temperatures is to simply sit in the spa for a bit longer.
On the plus side, think of the energy you’re saving by not having to heat the spa all the way up to 115°.
How Do I Sanitize My Spa?
There are so many safe and proven ways to sanitize your spa that your head may be spinning. Besides the saltwater solution above, should you use bromine, chlorine, or a natural sanitizer?
Honestly it comes down to personal preference. Usually I recommend new users that have little experience maintaining water use bromine, at least until they get the hang of things.
Bromine is super simple. Put your tabs in the float, shock the water with Non-Chlorine Shock after you get out (or once a week if you’re not using the spa) and maintain your pH and TA.
Some people may experience irritation or other issues with bromine. Fortunately, there’s options. This is where natural sanitizers come in.
The most popular natural sanitizers use either copper or silver ions to keep the water fresh. Here’s my favorite’s of each type:
- Copper: Cleanwater Blue is a copper based sanitizer that’s odor free and low maintenance. Copper has been used since ancient times to help keep water fresh. Copper was a preferred metal for storage vessels. American settlers crossing the plains put copper pennies in water barrels to inhibit stagnation!
- Nature2 Spa Purifier works using a silver catalyst to kill microbes. Simply drop the Nature2 cartridge in your filter and forget about it for up to 4 months.
If you search the web enough regarding natural sanitizers, you’re going to encounter lots of dubious advice. I wrote this article to debunk the worst of it.
Do you have burning hot tub questions that you need answered? SpaDepot.com is only a phone call or email away. Additionally, I’m happy to answer any questions you leave in the comments below!
Our spa controller only registers a Max temp of 99 degrees. Is this normal for a 7 year old spa to drop 5 degrees from the max we used to experience?
If your spa had previously had no problem maintaining max temperature, and climatic conditions haven’t changed, there’s something wrong. Some things to check:
• Does a floating thermometer agree with what’s displayed on your topside?
• When the tub calls for heat, does the pump turn on and do you get full service voltage across the heater terminals?
• Are there any errors or codes displayed on your topside controller?
To troubleshoot, simply give us a call when you have a moment near the tub. It will be easy to pinpoint the issue and get you back into (fully) hot water!
How do you remove the pump from a Soft Tub model (ex panel) without cutting, ripping, tearing, jackhammering, torching, beating, chopping, chainsawing, the (vinyl cover material) that the pump is sitting inside .
You’re in a bit of a pickle, since the pod containing the pump and heater is not designed to be serviced. As far as I know, short of the methods you suggest, you really can’t get in there and replace any components. Even if you could access the internal parts, it’s going to be very difficult to find any replacements. Your best bet is to contact SofTub and ask about a new pod.