Chemicals & Testing

how to test the pH of your swimming pool or hot tub

All About pH!

A balanced pH level in your hot tub / spa / swimming pool water is an essential starting point in maintaining water quality.  Check out our list of the most Frequently Asked Questions & our answers on:

“How To Manage Your Water pH.”

[/vc_column_text]

Read More

[/vc_column][/vc_row]
pH Scale

What does the pH level measure?

pH is a measure of how acidic/basic water is. The pH range goes from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. A pH of less than 7 indicates acidity, whereas a pH of greater than 7 indicates a base. The pH of water is a very important measurement concerning the water quality of your hot tub / spa or swimming pool.

What should the pH level of my hot tub / spa / swimming pool water be?

The sweet spot you are aiming for is a pH level of 7.4-7.6

 

How do I measure the pH level of my hot tub / spa / swimming pool water?

You can do this using one of three methods:

Pool Lab Photometer Bluetooth Water Testing Kit
Check hot tub water pH

How Often should I check the pH level of my water?

This depends on several factors – in a commercial environment, at least daily.  In a home setting it depends on how balanced and stable your water chemistry is.  At least 2-3 times a week is a good guideline.  If this sounds wasteful or expensive in time and test strips, consider the effects of unbalanced water.

Is testing & maintaining pH levels in my hot tub / spa / swimming pool water expensive?

Consider the costs of poorly balanced water:

  1. Reduced equipment life. Unbalanced water will cause serious damage to the fixtures and fittings of your hot tub, swim spa or pool. The cost of replacing this equipment, especially things like pumps, heaters and salt systems, greatly outweighs the cost of maintaining proper water balance.  Damage caused by poor water chemistry is often obvious and the parts worn out by these means are unlikely to be covered by a manufacturer’s warranty.
  2. Water quality problems. The cost of properly maintaining your water is a fraction of the cost of remedying problems like green or cloudy water when they have developed. Fixing these water quality issues generally costs more than the balancing chemicals required to prevent them from occurring in the first place.
  3. Increased sanitizer usage. The effectiveness of sanitizers (chlorine & bromine) changes significantly with the pH of the water.

My water looks really clear – doesn’t that mean my pH levels are fine?

Without a pH test, there is no way of knowing.  Water that looks clear can sometimes be hiding serious problems.  Acidic water is capable of holding a lot of minerals in solution without the water turning cloudy. This might look good but isn’t good for you or your spa equipment.

Crystal Clear Hot Tub Water
Milky, cloudy, foaming hot tub water

My hot tub / spa / swimming pool water looks cloudy – does this mean my pH levels are unbalanced?

Cloudy water is often a sign that your pH levels are too high.  This would be the first thing to check if your water is cloudy, milky or foamy.  However cloudy hot tub water can also be caused by a number of other factors and these should all be checked and addressed as necessary.

What effect does pH have on the effectiveness of my sanitiser?

The disinfectant power of Chlorine is relative to the temperature and pH of the water. As pH increases, chlorine becomes less effective.  This means you have to add more chlorine to achieve the same results.  As pH decreases, the chlorine becomes more effective – but acidic water brings other undesirable issues (see Why is low pH in my hot tub / spa / swimming pool water a problem?)  So what we are aiming for is a balance – ideally around pH 7.4

pH   Effectiveness of Free Chlorine
6.0   97%
7.0    75%
7.2    63%
7.5    49%
7.6    39%
7.8    28%
8.0    3%

Why is low pH in my hot tub / spa / swimming pool water a problem?

PH levels below 7.2 could spell trouble for you and your spa. Acidic water makes it more likely that your chemical sanitizer will “burn out” quickly, leaving you exposed to potentially dangerous contaminants and bacteria.  Acidic water will corrode spa components such as headrests or jets. These can be expensive to replace.

Acidic water will potentially:

  • Corrode metal components
  • Damage pump seals and other spa components
  • Damage the acrylic shell
  • Burn out chlorine/bromine sanitiser so that you need to use more
  • Give bathers dry, itchy skin and stinging / burning eyes – human tears are pH 7.4
An image of 1kg pH Plus

My water pH is low, how do I increase the pH level of my hot tub / spa / swimming pool water?


The most common pH increaser, pH raiser, pH plus / pH + products available to treat low pH in hot tubs contain the active ingredient sodium bicarbonate.  Sodium bicarbonate is effective at increasing both pH and TA.

Why is high pH in my hot tub / spa / swimming pool water a problem?

When your pH level goes above 7.6, your spa water can be described as ‘basic’. This essentially means your spa water will be poorly sanitized.  Basic spa water can result in a flaky scale build up around your spa surfaces. The scale is due to a build-up of calcium caused by the high pH. Cloudy water is also another symptom of high pH levels.

Basic water will potentially cause:

  • Calcium build up
  • Damage pump seals and other spa components
  • Leave marks and staining on the acrylic shell
  • Give bathers dry, itchy skin and stinging / burning eyes – human tears are pH 7.4
  • Chlorine / bromine sanitiser becomes much less effective and the need to use more
  • Cloudy water and a gritty feel on hot tub surfaces
White Flakes in hot tub water
An Image of Relax pH Minus Granules 1.5kg

My water pH is high, how do I reduce the pH level of my hot tub / spa / swimming pool water?

pH decreaser, pH reducer or pH minus / pH– is a dry acid balancer, that you pre-dissolve in warm water then add to your hot tub / spa / swimming pool water.  The active ingredient in pH decreaser is usually sodium bisulfate.  Adding this will also lower Total Alkalinity, sometimes so significantly you’ll need to increase your TA back up a little afterward.

Can I Use Muriatic Acid to lower pH level?

You can, but keep in mind that although Muriatic acid provides an alternative way to decrease both pH and TA, it is an extremely caustic chemical.  You must store it safely and use protective glasses and chemical-resistant gloves and a great deal of caution when working with it – you really don’t want that burning your skin.

You won’t be able to just pour some in your spa, either. Muriatic acid will need to be diluted, added to your spa water, then aerated by running the spa jets. Finally, leave the spa to circulate overnight before retesting your water.

We don’t supply Muriatic Acid at Castle Hot Tubs.

Can I use Cyanuric Acid to lower pH level?

No.  Cyanuric acid technically is an ‘acid’ but it is not like muriatic acid.  It has little overall effect on pH, alkalinity or hardness and should not be used for the purpose of lowering pH levels.

Should I use Bromine or Chlorine sanitiser if my pH is unstable?

Bromine is slightly more effective in an unstable pH environment.  But this isn’t really a basis for choosing which sanitiser to use.  Achieving a balanced pH water is a necessity, whichever sanitiser you use.

How do I stabilise the pH level of my hot tub / spa / swimming pool water?

Adjusting the Total Alkalinity is likely to help.  The term technically refers to the ability of a solution to neutralize acids—or buffer them.  In your hot tub/spa or swimming pool water, the importance of measuring TA is only slightly different. TA acts as a buffer for the pH level in your water, helping to keep the pH level stable.

Total alkalinity is important to your water balance, the first step in your water care process should be measuring and adjusting TA before adding any other chemicals. The ideal range for TA is 125 parts per million (ppm) to 150 ppm.

When you adjust your alkalinity, add small doses, one at a time.  Allow the dose to circulate before testing again.  Only after your TA is in the optimal range should you move on to adjusting pH.  Achieving the right TA may get your pH in the target range.

An image of 1kg Relax Total Alkalinity Plus
Aquafinesse Spa Clean Tablet

I can’t get the pH level of my water balanced – should I “re-pHresh”?

If you find yourself chasing high and low pH in your hot tub / spa water, the easiest option might be to drain your spa and start over. This might not be such an attractive option if you’re operating a swimming pool.  If a drain and refresh is the way you want to go, the day before you drain, add some spa clean tablets and run your jets to clean out anything that could be affecting your water chemistry. After draining, clean the interior of your spa.  Before re-filling consider using an in-line pre-filter that can easily be attached to your hose, ensuring that your fill water is free from contaminants.

We hope you have found our guide to achieving balanced pH levels in your hot tub / spa or swimming pool useful.

Check back regularly as we add to our Water Quality FAQs!

The Shocking Truth About Hot Tubs!

Let’s face it, neither the term “shock” or “dose” are words that we associate with particularly pleasant events.  You might have heard that it is sometimes necessary to combine these two words into “Shock Dose” as part of your water treatment routine for your hot tub / spa or swimming pool.

Is this a bad thing?

Does it mean you’ve failed as a responsible hot tub owner?

We investigate and explain the shocking truth!

[/vc_column_text]

[/vc_column][/vc_row]

What is chlorine shock dosing?

A chlorine shock dose is when you add a larger quantity of chlorine to your hot tub water in order to break down waste products and contamination in order to re-establish clean water.

What is non-chlorine shock dosing?

Non-chlorine shock doesn’t contain chlorine itself, and does not disinfect the water.  Non-chlorine shock helps the chlorine already in your hot tub work better by oxidising the water and creating “free chlorine” – which is what is needed to kill bacteria.  For those using bromine as a sanitiser, Non-chlorine shock will also activate bromine, helping it work more effectively.

An image of 1kg Relax Non-Chlorine Shock
Legionella Bacteria

Why do I need to shock dose my hot tub water?

Shock dosing your hot tub water will help to prevent the build-up of bacteria, viruses and algae and it will prolong the life of your spa.

What are the benefits of shock dosing my hot tub?

Shock dosing your hot tub water will keep it clear, clean safe and comfortable to use for longer.  It helps reduce the need for excessive draining and re-filling of your hot tub.

When should I shock dose my hot tub water?

  • Before use, on the first fill of your hot tub
  • Any subsequent drain and re-fill
  • At the first sign of any algae or slime
  • After a period of heavy usage
  • After any loss of water clarity
  • If the hot tub hasn’t been used for a while
Green hot Tub Water

Should I use a chlorine shock or a non-chlorine shock?

Chlorine shock is suitable for commissioning a new hot tub, after a fresh water change or after very heavy use.  Because it will raise chlorine levels you may have to wait for the chlorine level to reduce before you can allow bathers to safely use the hot tub.  If you use Bromine as a sanitiser, you cannot use chlorine shock.

Non-chlorine shock does not disinfect the water, it helps the existing sanitiser (chlorine or bromine) to work better and more effectively.  You can generally use the hot tub sooner after adding non-chlorine shock.

Is it safe to chlorine shock dose my hot tub water?

Shocking your spa water is an important part of your maintenance routine.  But high chlorine levels can be dangerous, so it is very important that no bathers are in the water when adding chemicals.  To ensure that the water is safe, ensure that chlorine levels have dropped below 5ppm before allowing bathers back into the water.  Chlorine levels should be checked with test strips.

3 Way Chlorine Test Strips

How do I Chlorine Shock Dose my hot tub?

Dissolve the chlorine shock granules.  Add the chlorine shock mixture directly to the water with the filtration / circulation pumps running.  Never shock dose the water with the circulation turned off.  Leave the hot tub cover off for at least 20 minutes.  This will prevent chemical damage to the cover and pillows of your hot tub.

My hot tub water smells strongly of chlorine what should I do?

When chlorine combines with organic waste (body fluids, dead skin etc) it produces a compound called chloramine.  This gives off a strong chlorine odour.  This is often mistaken for too much chlorine but is in fact an indication that the chlorine has been “used” up.  A shock treatment will breakdown chloramine so it can be easily removed from the water, “freeing up” your chlorine to work more effectively.

My hot tub water is cloudy what should I do?

Us humans carry organic compounds on our skin, such as oils, cosmetics, lotions and dead skin itself.  This quickly accumulates in hot tub water and can cause it to become cloudy.  Shock dosing the water will help to remove these compounds and assist in clarifying and cleaning the water.

Cloudy hot tub water

We hope you have found our guide to shock dosing your hot tub, swimming pool or spa useful.  So don’t let the name put you off, it’s an important part of your water care routine.  Check back regularly as we add to our Water Quality FAQs!

Chlorine tablets on the side of a hot tub.

All About Chlorine!

Used properly chlorine can be your best friend in maintaining hot tub water quality.  We have compiled a list of the most Frequently Asked Questions about chlorine to help that friendship progress a little more smoothly.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Read More

Chlorine tablets and granules for hot tubs.

Should I use chlorine granules or chlorine tablets in my hot tub?

Chlorine is an essential part of your tool kit for maintaining a healthy and enjoyable spa.  As a hot tub owner, you’re probably already aware that chlorine can be added to your hot tub water in two different forms:

But you may have wondered, does it make a difference whether I use chlorine tablets or chlorine granules in my hot tub?  Does one form of chlorine work better than the other?  Let’s find out!

Should I use Chlorine Granules in My Hot Tub?

The benefit of using chlorine granules is that they are quick to dissolve and relatively pH neutral.  This makes chlorine granules ideal for shock-dosing on initial set-up with fresh water, or if the spa hasn’t been used for a period of time.  Chlorine Granules will raise chlorine levels more rapidly than chlorine tablets.

An image of 1kg Relax Stabilised Chlorine Granules
An Image of Relax 1kg Chlorine Tablets Small

Should I use Chlorine Tablets in my hot tub?

Chlorine tablets offer a more “hands-off” approach to maintaining your spa water.  Chlorine tablets release chlorine slowly, making it easy to maintain a consistent level of chlorine in the water over a longer period of time.  If you are going away for a few days or have limited time to sort out the water chemical levels, chlorine tablets are a good choice for you.

Is it easier to use chlorine tablets or chlorine granules in my hot tub?

It really depends on how you use the tub!  If you don’t use your hot tub very regularly and need to shock dose often, chlorine granules may be more convenient for you.  If you want to maintain a consistent chlorine level you will need to schedule adding granules to your spa – this may become a hassle for you.  Regular spa users may find tablets more convenient.  Getting the correct chlorine levels set initially may take some experimentation, but after that, as long as you make sure that you have replaced the tablets once they have dissolved away they are fairly hassle free.

Adding Chlorine granules to a hot tub

How do I add Chlorine Granules to my hot tub?

You can add chlorine granules to your spa water simply by sprinkling them directly into the water (as long as the water temperature is greater than 20° C).    However, this method does carry a risk!  If the granules settle on the acrylic surface of your spa and do not dissolve this may cause damage which is very unlikely to be covered by the manufacturers warranty.

OR

If the water temperature is less than 20° C, if you are unsure of the water temperature, or if you want to avoid potential damage to acrylic surfaces, then the best method is to pre-dissolve the chlorine granules in a clean plastic bucket.  Never add water to the chlorine, fill the bucket with water first then add the chlorine.

Add the dissolved Chlorine Granules when the pumps are on, and near to the water inlets as this will aid the distribution of chlorine around your spa.

Don’t get carried away!  You don’t want to over-chlorinate your water.  So just add one dose at a time.

How much Chlorine Granules should I add to my hot tub?

A little maths is required!

2g of Chlorine Granules will increase the chlorine level of 1,000 litres of water by 1mg/l (ppm).

If you are pre- dissolving your granules in a bucket of water you can follow this formula up to a maximum rate of 10g Chlorine to 1 litre of water.  To be accurate you will need to know the volume of water in your hot tub.  Alternatively, you can add a little chlorine at a time, allow it to circulate and then test and re-test until you achieve the chlorine level you are aiming for.

Chlorine  Dispenser for 20g Tablets

How do I add Chlorine Tablets to my hot tub?

The amount of chlorine released is controlled by adjusting the dial of a floating chemical dispenser.  A little bit of trial and error might be needed at first to find the sweet spot on your chemical floater that maintains the desired levels of chlorine. However, once you have found the level that works for you it should be relatively easy to keep chlorine levels consistent.

How often do I need to replace chlorine tablets?

Chlorine tablets will typically erode over a period of 3-5 days, depending on the amount of water flowing over them.

How do I know if I have added enough chlorine to my hot tub?

Before bathing, you should check the chlorine level is within the range of 3-5mg / l (ppm).  You can check your free chlorine levels with test strips.  If you want increased accuracy with your water testing, digital test readers are available.

 

Help!  I’m allergic to chlorine!

A lot of people think they are allergic or intolerant to chlorine.  For most people this isn’t the case.  Water pH levels play a huge role in how comfortable we are in water.  Water that is either too acidic or too alkaline will irritate our skin, eyes and sinuses.  The water pH must be balanced and neutral for water that is comfortable and also for the sanitiser to work effectively.

3 Way Chlorine Test Strips
Aquafinesse Hot Tub & Spa Water Care System Switch Kit

How Can I Use less chlorine in my hot tub?

High levels of chlorine can be undesirable.  The keys to maintaining safe and healthy hot tub water while using lower levels of chlorine as a sanitiser are:

    • Keeping pH levels balanced – ideally close to pH 7.2
    • Use AquaFinesse to eliminate bio-film

At a pH of 8, over half of chlorine added to your hot tub water is ineffective.  At a pH of 7.2 this rises to 90% – chlorine which is actively available to kill algae and bacteria.

Biofilm, a type of slim can form which provides a safe shelter for bacteria allowing them to breed virtually unmolested by chlorine or any other sanitiser.  AquaFinesse breaks this shelter down allowing smaller amounts of chlorine to be more effective.

My hot tub water smells strongly of chlorine what should I do?

When chlorine combines with organic waste (body fluids, dead skin etc) it produces a compound called chloramine.  This gives off a strong chlorine odour.  This is often mistaken for too much chlorine but is in fact an indication that the chlorine has been “used” up.  A shock treatment will breakdown chloramine so it can be easily removed from the water, “freeing up” your chlorine to work more effectively.

Do I have to use chlorine in my hot tub?

No.  You don’t have to use chlorine.  But you do have to use a water sanitiser.  For most people chlorine is the safest and most effective sanitiser to use in their spa.  An alternative sanitiser is bromine.

We hope you have found our guide to using chlorine in your hot tub or spa useful.  Check back regular as we add to our Water Quality FAQs!

An image of a 1kg bottle of Relax Bromine Granules Hot Tub / Spa Sanitizer
HOT TUB CARE

Hot Tub Super Tips!

Hot Tub Super Tips!

 

hot tub gazebo

Do you own a hot tub or spa? Then this is for you, quick and easy tips to help you maintain your hot tub and keep it in tip top running condition:

 

HOT TUB FILTERS

 

Keep hot tub filters clean

It is important to keep your filters nice and clean as they are an important part of the hot tub water system and the water is constantly ‘recycled’ through them.

Hot tub filters deal with body oils/fats that’s are lost through bathing and also scoop any organic debris out of the water, so using a good filter cleaning product is important

 

Get back up filters

Rotating your filters is always a great idea as you always have a spare set plus you will find it can help the filters to last a lot longer.

We have heard of many people using various methods of filter cleaning including washing machines(this is not recommended)! We recommend maintaining the integrity of the filter by using

AquaFinesse Filter Cleaner, Aquasparkle filter cleaning spray or Immerse Filter cleaning cartridges

If you would like advice on how to clean your spa filters please contact a member of our knowledgeable staff

pH IS VERY IMPORTANT

ph minus 

The balance of pH in water is imperative to the comfort of your bathers and also the efficiency of your sanitiser.

Testing strips will soon become your best friends in the pH balancing game. Keeping the hot tub water pH balanced will have a knock on effect on the rest of your water balancing and you should find it all becomes much easier to manage!

 

 

 

HOT TUB CLEANERS & SANITISER (CHLORINE/BROMINE)

 

hot tub chemicals testingAlways avoid household chemicals when cleaning your hot tubs, we again often hear of people using bleach or cleaning sprays on their hot tubs

*Please only use hot tub safe chemicals and cleaners! Our website has a comprehensive range here:

HOT TUB CHEMICALS

Here you will find hot tub shell cleaners, chlorine tablets and granules, bromine tablets and granules, flocculant, *Use caution when adding spa chemicals*

REGULAR MAINTENANCE AND SERVICING

 

hot tub repairIt is important to regularly deep clean your hot tub with a biofilm eliminator; this will flush your pipework properly and ensure safe bathing water. A Grit gitter or spa vacuum are handy tools for in between deep cleans.We have written a very informative blog on how to deep clean your hot tub here!

 

We always advise spa servicing by hot tub engineers who will do a 5 point hot tub check and ensure all of your heating elements pumps and seals etc are working properly, your car is MOT’d regularly and your hot tub needs the same treatment.

Our Spa & hot tub parts section has everything you need if you need hot tub spare parts i.e. pumps

Schedule of hot tub maintenance:

Weekly;

Test and balance water with spa testing strips

Remove hot tub filters thoroughly clean & rinse then leave to dry

Shock spa water

Wipe down the underside of your cover to prevent stale smells or mould forming!

Monthly;

Clean spa cabinet and wipe spa cover down we recommend using 303 Aerospace Protectant for longevity

Deep clean your spa using a biofilm eliminator

Annually;

Annual service by a spa engineer

QUICK TIPS

Take advantage of ‘off peak’ heating costs- set your spa to heat in the evening when electricity costs are lower

Watch water temp in winter do not let it freeze – as it can cause damage!

deep clean

Which Hot Tub Deep Clean Product Is Best?

Which Hot Tub Deep Clean Product Is Best?

 

I want to deep clean my hot tub but can’t decide which of your hot tub cleaning products to choose…..

 

There are two giants in the deep cleaning department for hot tubs & swim spas the first one is the AQUAFINESSE SPA CLEAN TABLET

 

Aquafinesse Spa Clean Tablet

 

This is an environmentally friendly gentle deep cleaner, it will thoroughly clean out the pipe work in your spa before you empty it and refresh the whole hot tub ready for a refill. As this is a gentle cleaner you can expect it to take up to 24 hours to complete.

 

The second one is the AHH-SOME HOT TUB CLEANER this more potent hot tub cleaner will do the exact same job as the AquaFinesse one.

 

 

The pipe work and hot tub will be thoroughly cleaned and refreshed within 1 -2 hours

The best advice is to give us a call on

T: 01348 840509 to discuss any deep cleaning questions you may have with a member of our knowledgeable staff who will be happy to help you.

 

Waterline Cleaning Paste - Castle Hot Tubs

Scum On Your Hot Tub Waterline? We Have The Solution!

Scum On Your Hot Tub Waterline?  We Have The Solution!

Wondering how to clean your hot tub scum line properly?

Facing the job of cleaning that stubborn scummy line of body fats, oils and general dirt off your spa can be a daunting task!

Many of our customers call us to ask how to clean the scum build up off their hot tub/spa waterline as it is notoriously hard to remove and traditional cleaners don’t work well with your hot tub water.

Don’t make the mistake of using cleaners not suitable for use with hot tubs/spas as they can cause foams and your hot tub water chemicals to imbalance.

Keeping the balance of your hot tub water chemicals right is very important, if the chemicals don’t balance right in your spa then you are looking at anything from an uncomfortable to a dangerous bathing environment in your hot tub for bathers.

 

 

Waterline Cleaning Paste - Castle Hot Tubs

The BLUE HORIZONS WATERLINE CLEANING PASTE is a highly effective and simple way to remove the grime caused by body oils, fats and greases at the spa waterline.

Easy to use, it works in under 5 minutes and takes the stress out of cleaning the scum and grime off your hot tub.

Simply lower the water in your spa and use the waterline cleaning paste as per instructions.

You can purchase waterline cleaning paste here, with free UK Mainland delivery

Alternatively call our team on

T: 01348 840509

E: [email protected]