Know Your Pool
Know Your Pool
Your Comprehensive Guide to Using and Enjoying your Swimming Pool
(This professional pool care advice and information is provided courtesy of Splash's Pools)
Caring for your spa makes sure it's healthy, and then you're relaxed, and healthy too! One key care point is your drain and refill program. Click the button to read on ...
Do I really have to drain my spa? Really?
The short answer is "Yes, you do!"
There's a common misconception that because you don't empty your pool and refill it, the same thing applies to spas too. Why drain and change your spa water?
Actually, it's imperative that you drain and refill your spa. It's the only way you can ensure your own health and safety, and look after your visitors too.
Why is it important for spas, but not for pools?
NSW Health recommends that spas and hot tubs are drained and refilled every three or four months. There are good health reasons for this recommendation, and in addition to those health reasons, having fresh water will help keep your spa equipment safe too.
Now we can look at why this is...
Water Quality Matters
To keep spa water clean and safe, it must be regularly sanitised, balanced, and filtered, just as you would expect if you have a pool. For a spa, though, there are some major differences.
Spas have less water
The water volume in a spa is much less than in a pool, of course, so that any chemicals you add are added to a much smaller amount of water. When you add any chemicals to your water in a pool or spa, it becomes a 'dissolved solid'.
Of course, your chemical additions are deliberate to keep the water healthy, but some other chemical additions are incidental. Any body lotion on someone in the spa will begin to dissolve into the water. Similarly, cosmetics worn will also dissolve into the water. This means that the materials deliberately added to the water, make up only a part of all the materials dissolved in the spa.
The total of materials dissolved in your spa water is measured as 'Total Dissolved Solids', known generally as 'TDS', and is recorded in 'Parts Per Million', or 'PPM'.
Any one person will leave as much residue in a spa (from natural body oils, applied body lotions, and cosmetics) as they would in a swimming pool. Yet there is less water in a spa, so as a proportion of the smaller volume of water, the 'TDS' ratio (as 'Parts Per Million') can get quite high. If that TDS ratio gets too high, your water will become unmanageable.
Spa Water Is Heated
The water temperature in a spa is around 28°. In some spas, the user will have the heater set higher than 28°, and sometimes it's even much higher.
This higher temperature increases the rate of growth of the contained organisms. These are the very organisms your sanitation is provided to control. Higher temperatures and more organisms mean extra chemical dosage. In any case, just maintaining correct sanitation and water balance by themselves at higher temperatures, will require more chemicals. Remember the 'TDS' ratio we've just mentioned? You've guessed it - it's getting higher!
Spas Spend A Long Time Covered
Your spa is likely to spend a long time with the cover on. While you fold back the cover, or take it off when you use the spa, it remains covered for most of its life.
With the cover on, not much air gets in to your spa, and not much of anything can get out. Some of the chemistry in your spa will release gases which would be carried away by the atmosphere in the case of a pool. While your spa is covered, the air can't clear these gases, so they dissolve back into the water. This adds an even greater burden for your spa water to carry, while it's holding chemicals in solution.
You can demonstrate this effect to yourself with a little experiment. Take a glass of water, and add a teaspoon of sugar. Stir the water until all the sugar has dissolved. Now do the same thing again - add another teaspoon of sugar, and stir until it is all dissolved. Keep repeating the process until no more sugar can be dissolved. You'll know this because the last spoonful of sugar you have added just sits at the bottom of the glass.
The water in the glass has reached saturation point - it cannot absorb any more sugar. Similarly for your spa - when the water reaches saturation, nothing more can be dissolved.
Pool owners don't generally see this phenomenon, because there is so much more water in a pool. With the smaller amount of water, spas can experience saturation much more easily, and that means you'll need new water!
Before You Change Your Spa Water
Use a Recommended Cleaner
Because there is a higher level of Total Dissolved Solids in spas than in pools, you'll need new water in around three or four months. By that time, however, your spa water will not be 'fully saturated', so you can dissolve one more thing - a spa cleaner!
See your professional pool shop people and buy a recommended spa cleaner. Adding a spa cleaner before you drain your spa will make one final use of the water before you dispose of it. This will clean and sanitise the internal pipes and fittings of the spa, and as you drain away your old water, the high level chemicals and accumulated waste will drain away too.
Draining & Your Empty Spa
If this is the first time you will have drained your spa, or you're uncertain about some aspect of it, visit your preferred pool professional and discuss it with them. You will be amazed at how they can help you feel at ease with this process.
After draining, wipe down the inside of the spa with that recommended spa cleaner, or spa wipes. Then you can clean the spa cartridges, or replace them if they're too old to clean. Don't forget to clean down the spa cover.
Now it's time to get that spa back into service. Refill the spa, and then have the water tested and balanced by your preferred local pool professional.
That's it. Job done!
Now you can return to enjoying that spa of yours, secure in the knowledge that all the equipment has been cleaned and sanitised, and your water is now clean and balanced.
We hope this information has helped. Please visit your local pool professional for your water analysis, or Splash's Pools for the most up-to-date analysis using the world's latest equipment.