Pool and spa maintenance methods do have some similarities, though a distinction between the two must be made. Equally important is to recognise each pool and spa has it’s own individual characteristics, functionality and user requirements. All factors which dictate appropriate testing for treatment, cleaning and maintenance regimes.
A Spa is not a small pool! Spas generally have water temperature heated from 36°C to 40°C, are small in volume, have jetted water and receive high bather loads, thus demanding a suitable treatment regime for safe water chemistry and regular cleaning and servicing of spa and equipment.
The higher temperature of spas creates factors to consider including:
- Speeding up of chemical reactions ( ie: 10°C temp. increase results in chemical reaction increase by two)
- Greater tendency for scale formation
- evaporation causes rapid TDS accumulation
- Higher rate of body organics formation (promotes sweating)
- tendency for bacteria contamination
The smaller volume of water in spas creates factors to consider, including:
- High filtration rates
- extremely heavy bather loads
- chemical dosage sensitivity
- tendency towards low total sanitiser reserves
- pH fluctuations
The jetted water in spas releases increased bather grime, lotions and skin cells causing a high oxidant demand ( amount of oxidiser necessary to cleanse water allowing any sanitiser residual to be available to protect against harmful organisms ). Hot jetted water evaporates faster than calm pool water, leaving behind dissolved solids. Repeated evaporation and replenishment cause the TDS level to build up and left unchecked this will contribute to corrosion and cloudy water.
Spa sanitising and balancing methods also differ from a pool, with chlorine, bromine and other non-chlorine based sanitisers, spa shock and balancing products designed specifically for spa water balancing and treatment. Quality spa products only, should be introduced along with appropriate choice of sanitising and shocking methods.
Chlorine sanitisers used for spas include lithium hypochlorite which has a high pH of 10.8, though does not contribute to hardness and the more popular choice, sodium dichlor, which has a close to neutral pH of 6.7 though it quickly increases stabiliser levels. When an Ozonators are used in conjunction with chlorine, this reduces the amount of product required while reducing the build up of combined chlorine.
Bromine products for spas have three main advantages over chlorine in spas:
a) Bromine is effective over a much wider pH range
b) Bromanine formation is not a negative consequence. Bromines have no objectionable odour or irritation.
c) The Bromide Ion “bank” can be regenerated with an oxidiser
The drawback with bromine treatments is they lower pH.
Non-Chlorine based spa shock (Potassium Monopersulphate) is an oxidising shock used to reduce the level of organic contaminants has the following advantages:
- contains no chlorine
- will not bleach surfaces
- dissolves quickly
- can be used day or night
- allows same day shock and swim
- by-products are harmless sulphate salts
- will not sanitise or kill algae, or remove much combined chlorine
- can cause false combined chlorine readings
- Low pH (2.3 in a 1% solution) may cause stability issues
- is Acidic, thus lowering total alkalinity
- may contribute to TDS
Other sanitisers include ozone, biguanide (PHMB), copper/silver ionisation and UV radiation. Following manufacturer specifications, in particular recommended balancing and maintenance guidelines for such sanitising systems is critical for suitable spa maintenance.
Properly sanitised and balanced spa water is rarely achieved for long however the ultimate solution is on hand – Fresh Water! The key to success in spa maintenance is to completely drain and refill your spa periodically with fresh water. This is also the best time to clean all spa surfacing and filters. Here is a useful dumping formula determining the recommended days between complete drainage. Note: ‘bather’ equivalent to one 20-minute soak.
# OF DAYS = VOLUME (LITRES) ÷ 10 x MAX # DAILY BATHERS
Spa maintenance should be understood, and in most cases, completed by spa owners. Due to the nature of spa chemistry and its rapid fluctuations, sufficient testing, treatment and sanitising regimes are a must. With such frequency of treatment and cleaning regimes it becomes too expensive for most to have a professional complete such tasks on such a regular basis. A quality spa ‘Start-up Kit’ offers the best solution for spa owners, providing instruction manuals, all sanitisers, balancers, adjusters and cleaning products required, along with testing kits.
As with a pool, a spa water test kit is a your most important tool to accurately achieve balanced water. Testing and more exact water treatment is required for a spa. Common spa problems arise from false readings or treatment overdose of spa water. Introducing too much chemical treatment can be a disaster, so always ensure testing re-agents are in date and stored away from heat along with correctly calculated treatment amounts for addition.
When a spa is built in to a pool the functionality and design will dictate if the pool and spa maintenance can then be combined. Where spa sanitising, circulation, filtration or heating equipment is separate to that of the pool’s than it must undergo separate testing, treatment and servicing.
Pool Maintenance regimes are as vital as discussed in spa maintenance, though due to the larger volumes of water and often lower water temperatures, water chemistry fluctuates less allowing for less frequent testing, along with cleaning of filtration systems and other relevant equipment servicing. The frequency of pool maintenance and methods implemented both depend on many factors surrounding a pool including all operating equipment, pool characteristics, functionality, environment and user requirements.
All pools require regular water testing, balancing, surface cleaning and manual removal of contaminants. Servicing and cleaning of all Sanitising ( Chlorinators, Ionisers, Auto-dosing Systems), Filtration and Circulation equipment ensures suitable chemistry and water clarity can be maintained. Unbalanced water and equipment failure can cause major damage, illness and injury.
As pool maintenance is such a common subject of queries at Pool Clear, we have lots of related information including in the Pool Maintenance section under Services on our website. Also in our FAQ’S section this is a common theme among the answers along with other News articles such as Green Pool Clean Ups.