Blue, Green, Yellow, Brown–All The Pretty Spa Water Colors

August 17, 2009 at 3:52 pm | Posted in Hot Tub Chemistry, Spa Chemistry | 2 Comments
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All the pretty colors.  Great when in a rainbow.  Bad when in your spa.  Spa water should be crystal clear. So when your spa water is yellow, what does that mean?

 Here’s a quick synopsis of what these colors mean:

Cloudy Green

Dude, you got  algae in the water. 

Treatment: Shock your water with chlorine.

See-Through Green or Emerald Green

Acidic Water.  The metals in your heating elements are being stripped. The average cost for a replacement heating element–$200-$250 big green dollars (includes labor).

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Treatment: Try a product like Metal Gon by Leisure Time–then balance your chemistry. 

Total Alalinity  80-120, pH 7.2-7.6, .  If this fails, drain and start all over.

Yellowish

 Indicates low total alkalinity and low pH.  It’s also  the precursor to damaging the spa’s heating element. 

Treatment: Balance your  total alkalinity and pH.  Also check your calcium hardness — should be over 250 ppm.  

Treat with calcium increaser.

Blue

Blue rarely happens in above ground spas.  But in-ground gunite spas– with gas-fired heaters–can experience bluish/turquoise water, as well as the same color stains on the plaster. 

Treatment:  Get the total alkalinity pH,   and calcium hardness balanced.  Also check  total dissolved solids (TDS) –not over 1500 ppm–  because that can also begin striping your heater.

 

Brown

Rare, but happens.  Usually indicates iron in the water. 

Treatment:  Metal Gon should cure it.  If it continues, drain, refill and add a bottle of Metal Gon when you refill.

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Leaky Spa Warranty. Is A Smile the Fix?

April 29, 2009 at 3:28 pm | Posted in Spa Chemistry, Spa Warranty | Leave a comment
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Dear Pool and Spa Master, Maybe you can advise me what to do with a warranty issue.  I purchased a very nice and expensive hot tub last year.  It has a 5-year warranty.  I say “warranty” with much consternation.  Neither the dealer nor the manufacturer will HONOR MY WARRANTY and I’m pissed.  There was a leak where the pump and electric motor meet. A technician repaired the leak and said they sent the “bad” ring to the manufacturer.  I got a bill for a $12 part and a $75 labor.   When I protested the charge, the dealer presented a copy of a letter from the manufacturer that said the leak was my fault because of improper chemistry.  How could this be?  Ellen F. in New York.

 

Ellen, I’ve represented the same spa manufacturer that you referred to here, and I have sold truckload after truckload of their spas, as well as other brands.  This leak at your pump and motor is common and it is nine-times out of ten  because of incorrect water chemistry balance.  To clarify, the warranty comes from the individual manufactures of the spa’s parts.  For instance, your spa’s motor was built by “Acme Motors,” and the pump was built by “XYZ Pump Works,” then purchased by your spa’s manufacturer and assembled at their factory.  That said, when a leak occurs at the mechanical pump seal (“bad ring”), it is usually caused by either too high or too low total alkalinity and/or pH–that means your water is either too alkaline or too acidicWhen your water is too alkaline, the minerals in the water grind the pump seal down.  Conversely, when your water is too acidic, the acidic water destroys the pump seal.   Now, if that pump seal leaked from day one of your spa’s installation, that is a warranty issue.  But when it occurs 18 months later, it reeks of consumer water mismanagement.    (Regarding the labor charge, review your warranty because after a year, labor is not usually included as part of your warranty.)

j0323766 Oft times the dealer will work with you because this kind of repair is easy with an inexpensive part replacement.  But I’d bet that your dealer is strapped right now, and if you came in fuming and finger pointing, he/she might have decided not to cut you any slack.  All of us are a tad more stressed than before:  You with the unexpected charge and your dealer counting dimes to keep the business afloat.  A smile and pleasant approach will get most consumers much further along with these kind of issues.  What would Pool And Spa Master do as the consumer?  I’d ask the dealer for a full explanation of how I could better manage my water, and maybe note that you do have friends and family that love your spa, and just maybe, that dealer will toss in something to take away the sting of an unexpected charge.

Spa’s Sludgy Green Water and Halitosis Is Bad for Spa Tech’s Job.

March 7, 2009 at 9:07 pm | Posted in Hot Tub Chemistry, Spa Chemistry | Leave a comment
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In the spirit of keeping our economy going, we’re going to blog a near-live time problem.  Here’s today’s email from a Midwestern spa tech.  Her job is on the line.  Can the Pool and Spa Master help her keep her job?  We’ll see. 

“I stumbled on your website trying to find a solution to an icky mess of a problem I’m having with a spa at my current job.  I say current because I am afraid if I don’t figure this out it may not continue to be my place of employment!  I work at a shop that sells spas and what not, chemicals, blah, blah…  SO I believe I may have caused the pH to go wacky or something on a couple of different occasions.  I used to think there was no way I could have caused these problems.  I had been listening carefully to what I had been taught about chemicals, following directions on the bottles and so forth.  But there have been a couple of occasions where it seems that by my trying to adjust the balance, the chemistry has gone nuts.  The water stinks like halitosis, has a green sludgy look and gets a bit foamy as well.

This Hot Tub Water Is An Ewwwww

This Hot Tub Water Is An Ewwwww

  This has occurred after adjusting the pH, waiting a bit and adding sanitizer.  It seems at first like it will be okay and then it just…turns.  Like it’s rotting or something.  After about a day, I added some shock.  Didn’t help.  In fact, it just caused the sanitizer level to read off the charts, the water to get greener and stink worse!  Man, I don’t want to lose my job.  No one else seems to know what exactly I could have done to cause this problem and how to fix it.  Can we fix it without having to dump it out?  This would be the 4th time we’ve had to empty and refill a tub! (in 4 months)  Awful, I know.  Please help me!  I need a paycheck!”

 

Clearly, the Pool and Spa Master needs more information, so here’s my reply to our frazzled spa tech:

“A few questions first,

1) What is the TDS (Total Dissolved Solids)?
2) What is the Total Alkalinity reading?
3) What is the Calcium Hardness reading?
4) What is the chemistry of the fill water and the makeup water (from the spigot)?
5) What is the source of that water?
6) What kind of disinfectant are you using in the spa?

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

 

Our spa tech got back to me, and noted that the tub was drained when she got back to work. 

However, let’s discuss the reasons why I asked some of the questions.

 

TOTAL DISSOLVED SOLIDS AND YOUR UNRULY TEENAGE MOMENTS: TOTAL ALKALINITY & pH

 If you’re a pool or spa dude, there’s nothing sexier than asking, “What’s your spa’s TDS?”  It’ll rope ‘em in every time. I mean, talk about an ice-breaker!  (How do you think I met my wife?)

BTW, TDS is leftover minerals from your spa’s evaporation process.  Remember distilling water in high school chemistry?  Your local water will have a natural TDS to begin with.  As your use your spa, not only are hard bits and pieces left behind, but the tub is distilling as well—AKA TDS.

Now take an 8-ounce water sample to your local pool and spa shop, and ask them to test it for you.

High Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)—which is any reading over 1500 ppm–will interfere with your sanitizer’s ability to perform as designed.  If your spa’s water reads over 1500 ppm, dump the chump.  Trust me; it’s your only alternative.

 “But the guy at the spa shop said my water was only 800 ppm, and my spa’s water still looks and smells like a rank pond.”

So, cross off TDS as a contributor, and move on to my next question “What is your total alkalinity reading?” 

Why?  If your total alkalinity is unbalanced (not within 80-120 ppm) it’s likely that your pH is off the scale and not under control.  This scenario, again, affects your sanitizer’s ability to perform.  Sanitizers work best in a perfect world.

A pH fluctuation by 2/10 of a ppm can make your disinfectant 70-80% less effective. 

Remember those unruly teenager moments?  Just think of your spa’s unruly total alkalinity and pH as a teenager that needs measured control.  Always, always, always balance your total alkalinity FIRST (between 80-120 ppm).  Once your total alkalinity is perfect you will then balance the pH (between 7.2 to 7.6 ppm). 

 Yes, like teenage moments, you may have to use a LITTLE bit of sodium bicarbonate, sodium carbonate and sodium bisulfate to get your total alkalinity and pH balanced, but it is the first step to preventing all the calamities that our friend with her job-at-risk experienced.

…To be continued.

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