It’s happened to many of us before – we head out to the hot tub for a relaxing experience, open the cover and WHAM! We are slammed in the face by a pungent odor and a slightly worrisome water color. Do you dare get in? I’d suggest waiting until a pool/spa technician can drain/refill the water and/or adjust the chemicals.
Why does spa water go “bad”? Let’s take a quick field trip back to science class. Water is H2O – which is not only vital for hot tub enjoyment, but also necessary for bacteria to grow by taking in food. Kick up the heat creating a warm and moist environment, and you’ve unlocked the doors to the perfect habitat for bacteria.
But shouldn’t the chemicals keep the bacteria away? Yes, that is their purpose; however, there are factors that can interfere with the chemicals causing the pH in your spa to neutralize which allows bacteria to grow. Each spa has a filter system that allows the chemicals and water to filtrate through the equipment. Let’s say that you get back from the beach and you’re still covered in suntan lotion, sweat, and sand. Instead of taking a quick shower to remove the oils and debris, you jump in the hot tub. The bacteria, oil, and debris from the lotion, sweat, and sand on your body get sucked into the hot tub’s filtration system causing the filter to become clogged. A clogged filter cannot effectively push water/chemicals through the system, creating a stagnate environment. Other factors like swimsuits washed in laundry detergent, food/beverage, and make-up/hair products also create layers of oil and debris in the water.
Do I really need to keep that annoying floating thingy in the water? Yes! That “annoying floating thingy” is either a chlorine or bromine dispenser, housing the chemicals that keep bacteria at bay. When you remove the floating dispensers from the water, you take away the water’s best defense at protecting itself. It’s like removing the soccer goalie and leaving the goal exposed. Combine this pool no-no with forgetting to shower before entry and you’ve created a very warm science experiment. If the floating thingy is bothersome, push it up under the filter – there is often enough space to house the equipment while it still does the job.
A pool technician should clean spa filters weekly by rinsing them with clean water. Spa water is checked and either dumped/replenished and/or chemically balanced to ensure the water is safe for use. A spa that has discolored water, visible foam or oil, or a pungent smell (other than chlorine) is not safe for use and should be reported for service.
The best way to keep the spa clean:
- Shower before you get in (yes, every time)
- Have a swimsuit dedicated for the spa, that is not washed heavily in laundry detergent (and rinse this swimsuit in clean water after each use)
- Avoid lotions, oily products, heavy make-up, etc. before entering the spa
- Keep the “floaty thingy” in the spa at all times
- Avoid spilling food/beverage into the water (and please don’t relieve yourself in the water!)
- Keep the water level slightly above the skimmer to ensure everything is flowing and filtrating properly
- Close the lid after each use