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FAQ Spas/Hot Tubs

 

  1. Should I get 110v or 220v system?
  2. Should I get an Air Blower with my spa purchase?
  3. Which brand of spa/hot tub should I buy?
  4. People are enticed into buying huge jet packages and that's really just a way to crank more profits?
  5. My low speed pump timer runs 1 hour on, 2 off, 24 hours a day.
  6. Is it cheaper to keep it at temperature or to let it cool down
  7. You mention to introduce new water to a spa regularly.
  8. How can I calculate how often to drain my spa?
  9. How can I calculate how many gallon/liters my Spa holds?
  10. How do you find a good reliable spa and dealer?
  11. Does ozone deteriorate my spa cover?
  12. I have blown 4 heaters in two years.
  13. I have a wooden hot tub that leaks what can I do?
  14. I was curious if I could change the old jet for the new rotating ones.
  15. What is a good Operating Temperature for a spa?
  16. Should I Stain my wooden hot tub?
  17. Is there a way to convert a spa to Solar Power?
  18. Spa Cover are expensive for how long they last.
  19. Can a hot tub have a long term effect on sex drive.
  20. I disagree with your view on keeping equipment on.
  21. I disconnected my ozone because it was making me sick.
  22. What is a good way to repair blisters in acrylic spas
  23. What is this brown film in my spa.
  24. What is better small quiet circulation pumps or regular pumps.
  25. What is recommended in finishing a basement for a spa.
  26. I have high blood pressure, is it safe to use the spa?

 


Q. Should I get 110v or 220v system?

A. This paragraph has been changed. It was recently reminded that the cost of heating a spa using 110v and 220v is the same. You pay for kW hours not the amount of amps drawn. This Paragraph has been modified to account for that. Thank you, Umesh Vazirani for catching that miss-information. I would avoid 110V if at all possible for the same price, 220v heat recover is much better. Most 110v systems use a 1.5kw heater which draws 14 amps and takes an average spa 2 days to heat up from cold water. On 220v systems a 4 , 5.5 or 6Kw heater is used which draws between 20-24 amps (a little more) but heat the water in 8-12 hours. Also on 110v systems the heater turns off when you put the pump on high speed as to not overload a 15 or 20 amp service and you can often only put a maximum 1 hp pump on 110v which limits future upgrades. Get 220v if you can afford the additional wiring cost.

 


Q. Salesman tells me there is no cool down because they don't use an air blower in their models. He also maintains that I won't miss the effects of an air blower.

A. True an air blower is noisy and does very little for therapy other than cool water down and make for lots of surface action of the water making the spa look more inviting. (big deal). There is the exception, that the blower air is diverted to the air coming out the water jets, creating additional jet action.

 


Q. Which brand of spa/hot tub should I buy?

A. I am sorry I can't help. Every product has it pros and cons and I can't play favorites even if I did know the answer you were looking for. You generally get what you pay for. Find the best value for your money and make sure you purchase a spa that is designed for what you are going to use it for, Therapy, Soaking, Partying or Romancing. Sorry again. Quick note on warranty's, they don't mean a whole lot in this industry with a select few reputable company's being the exception. In other words I wouldn't purchase an extended warranty myself but only you can decide if it is right for yourself.

 


Q. I've heard that many people are enticed into buying huge jet packages and that's really just a way to crank more profit out of the spas. In other words, most don't really use that many jets.

A. You mean "For just a little more you can have all this added to your spa" Yes, It is a major sales gimmick and it works too! Most people rarely use the jets after the novelty wears off because they are to noisy and aren't relaxing when there on. After having a tub for a while most people like to just soak in the hot water. But in a show rooms it sells, especially if the surface of the water really moves from the blower...(sucker) But at the same time if you are spending $4000 on a basic spa and you can get twice the spa for only several hundred more, you get more for your money!
Decide if the spa is for therapy, entertaining, romancing /soaking and relaxing spending time talking to the wife or husband about the days events? That should help determine the type of spa is best for you.

Therapy- Get the spa that provided the jets where you need them specifically.

Entertaining- Get everything, you must impress your friends and family.

Soaking- Get a light and a good "basic' variety of jets in different locations and heights.

 


Q. My main concern is -40 temps. The spa has some blown in insulation on the tub. The inner skirt space is empty. My low speed pump timer runs 1 hour on, 2 off, 24 hours a day. The thermostat is set at 100, and runs independent of timer I'd like the energy savings, but don't want any problems.

A. Yes, It would be OK to add insulation. The cheapest method used is a pink fiberglass insulation. This is also nice because if you develop a leak and need access you can remove the insulation, repair and replace. Surprisingly pink insulation repels water and resist absorption. Tip #1 DON'T USE A TIMER UNLESS YOU HAVE NOISE PROBLEMS AT NIGHT the additional money you spend in electrical, you will save in chemicals and repairs on the pump and controls from turning on and off all the time. Plus the heat generated from the motor is transferred to help heat the air space under the hot tub reducing your heating costs. I hate timers personally unless your spa is noisy at night or it is on a deck otherwise if it was mine I wouldn't use it!

 


Q. Is it cheaper to keep it at temperature or to let it cool down after 11PM and start it heating sufficiently soon in the afternoon to be "at temperature" for the evening hours?

A. Not really what you spend maintaining the temperature you spend recovering the temperature after it has cooled some. I like the analogy it is like driving in the city and on the freeway the more you stop and start the more it could cost. (with the exception that you can't develop momentum with heat like you do in a car) If you keep it at temperature and you decided to go in at a time not on your schedule you can.

 


Q. You mention to introduce new water to a spa regularly. How often is regularly? I have a 2000 liter hot tub.

A. On average about every 2-3 months drain and refill or 1 per month partial drain and top up, to dilute the total dissolved solids in the spa water if you use you spa a lot then more frequently.

Formula is;

# of days = 1/3 volume in U.S. gallons / max # of daily bathers.

 


Q. How can I measure how many gallons of water my hot tub / spa holds, I can't contact the manufacturer?

A. Not all manufacturers have exact measurements any way, quite often they upgrade the design or layout and don't take into account the new water level. Here is what you do next time you are about to refill your spa, get as large of a bucket you can find that you know the exact volume of e.g.. 5 gallon bucket or 20 gallon garbage bucket ( the larger it is the more accurate your measurement will be).
Now with a timer in hand fill the bucket of water from the same source you would use to fill the spa and note how much time it took. Now fill the spa and time that as well. Note: don't use any other water sources, like washing machine or toilets, etc... that may affect the pressure of the source your using to fill the tub.
Once the water reaches the normal operating level of you tub you can then calculate how much water is in you tub.

Formula; convert time of both fills to common units of measure (second or minutes), then divide the time it took to fill the spa with the time it took to fill the bucket, then multiply that number with the volume of the bucket.
E.g.. 5 gallon bucket took 27 seconds, the spa took 36 minutes (or 2160 seconds)[ 2160 / 27=80 80 X 5gal= 400 gallons of water in the spa. There you are.

 


Q. Although I've searched and searched, I can't seem to track down information on the reliability, etc. of different spa manufacturers.
How should one evaluate what spas are "best"?

A. The Reliability of a company is near impossible to judge, go with your instinct. Companies come and go, some in business for more that 20 years other only a few months. If you really want to know if a company is reputable and you have nerve, stand outside the business for a few hours asking the customers that come out if they own one of this dealers products and how they rate the products and service now, after the fact. Remember you are only getting one side of the story.
There is no "Best Spa" just spas that are a good value for their money.
From a service persons perspective this is what I would look for- Good performance. Access to plumbing (removable skirting, foam filled spas are expensive to find and repair leaks on and don't save you all that much money). Good skimmer (drop a few small pieces of paper in front of the skimmer make sure they get sucked in for filtration.). Good pressure side filtration ( I haven't yet found a suction side filter that can work as well, they require cleaning the filters more often). Jets that are easy to individually turn on and off. Try and stay with 220V. I would also avoid low amp (small) circulation pumps, the are quiet by they just don't filter the water fast enough, requiring more chemicals and cleaner filters. Only recommended for on deck applications where noise is a major factor. Some things mentioned above are not applicable on SOME higher end spa like Dimension 1 Spas or Sundance Spas, due to the fact that they have taken into account some of these potential problems. All the best luck -don't over shop, it gets to confusing. And watch out for sales men/women that don't answer your questions un-biasly or know what there talking about and tell you everything you want to hear.

 


Q. Do ozone generators eat spa covers. True or false? Thanks for your help.

A. True, they do deteriorate spa cover quicker than not having an ozonator although the benefits must be weighed in. A floating cover helps reduce these effects. Also how it is installed make a big difference. If installed correctly a Uv ozone gen. should be more than sufficient for most spas. Be careful with CD ozone it may produce more ozone than you need or want causing excessive cover deterioration and "gas off". You will use much less bromine or chlorine to maintain your hot tub and maintenance will be significantly improved, as I said earlier, the way ozone should be installed means everything. Ask around as to the best way to install on your spa. A specialized gas off chamber design like Dimension 1's 'Crystal Pure System' is best. Mazzi Injection is 2nd best, but difficult to setup on a two speed pump and reduces jet performance. Isolated jet in the foot well 3rd best and the most common method used. Mounted in air control system least desirable as the ozone has the least amount of time to mix with the spa water before it reaches the surface.

 


Q. I have been working on a Spa for about two years and it has blown four heater elements.
I thought there
should be some sort of safety to prevent this problem, but I guess not.....I would appreciate any suggestions...

A. A properly set pressure switch is the prevention for a heater if it does not detect a psi (usually 2.5 psi on most portable spas) reading it prevents the heater from coming on...Has the heater tripped the G.F.C.I in any of the four cases or did it just stop heating? If it actually stopped heating then it was burnt out. It is not uncommon that a manufacturer of heaters has a bad run on them and produces inferior elements. Perhaps try another brand if available. If the heater is tripping the G.F.C.I then chances are the water chemistry is out...This is not your problem and will continue until you make your customer aware of this...And explain the importance of pH and water balance.
Best of luck...

 


Q. I have a wooden hot tub that leaks what can I do?
Last year I purchased a house and to my delight it had a redwood hot tub
built into the deck which runs the length of the house (the deck...not the hot tub). For a couple of months all was well, and then it started to leak. I contacted the previous owner, who told me that they had never had a problem with leaking (hmmm!). I contacted the company who had serviced the tub for the previous owners and he has been out on three occasions to caulk the bottom perimeter of the inside of the tub. On the last visit he left me with a bottle of goop with enzymes in it to put into the tub (apparently somewhat like a car radiator sealer) which you leave in for 48 hours, drain and refill to use. That was good for about 14 days. I sort of gave up on it, and then discovered one day when curiosity got the better of me and I lifted the cover that the water was still half way up the tub. This leads me to believe that the water is NOT leaking from the bottom!!. However, in case you are wondering, the water was well below the level of the jets, so that leads me to believe that the leak is not around the jets (there has never been any apparent leaking from those areas), it has always been around the bottom. Of course I realize that water will only drip from the bottom unless there is one hell of a leak and it spews out:) Unfortunately, I have no idea of the name of the manufacturer or installer, so I have to seek out help elsewhere. Local companies seem to deal only in the new fiberglass tubs, and I am most hesitant to call the guy that has serviced it over the past year because #1 he has let me down frequently and #2 I think he is clutching at straws in trying to find a solution to the problem. I would be eternally grateful if you could come up with any suggestion as to how I might fix my problem. I would hate to either fill in the tub with dirt and plant flowers in it or have to tear up the deck and install a new one. Incidentally the house is 13 years old, so I have to believe that is the age of the tub. Looking forward to some positive direction, but any comments or leads will be appreciated.

A. This one can be tricky. First, I assume you have been told that wooden hot tubs should never be drained for prolonged periods of time because the wood shrinks and causes leaks. Second, it is most likely leaking from the bottom between the boards with random rates of water loss. Have you tried tightening the banding that goes around the tub (if accessible)? These boards deteriorate with age and the space in between them gets larger. It is tough to repair, silicone caulking won't stick, vinyl liner is expensive and a lot of work, wood filler won't work, paint won't work, epoxy will not stay in place for long...???
In other words you don't have a lot of options, Sorry.

 


Q. I was curious if I could change the old jet for the new rotating ones. Thanks for the help......

A. Depend on the type you have in there already some are interchangeable easily but most older jets you need to replace both the front nozzle as well as the back body that the plumbing connects to accommodate the swirl jet. Your best bet is to see if there is a dealer that will come out and take a look, Take notes and if you have question about what he says that doesn't seem right drop me a line.

 


Q. What is an average temperature for a hot tub in the winter weather??

A. 102-104F or 39-40C should be perfect.

 


Q. I have recently purchased a used but never assembled Mahogany Hot Tub. I have no instructions with it. I would like to know if the wood needs to be sealed and if so, with what?

A. Absolutely not! The wood needs to absorb the water and swell slowly to seal all the cracks and potential slow leaks the tub may have after it is filled with water. You may treat the outside of the tub but few people do.

 


Q. Can I convert this spa to a solar powered type? The spa is located on the south side of the house which is mainly exposed to the sun. We are located in Morgan Hill Calif.

A. Solar would not be practical and would take a long time to pay for itself on a spa. The other factor involved with solar is most solar systems won't get the water much above 80 or 90 and at night when you use the tub it will cool down allot while using it. Also note: Gas boilers also take about 20 years to pay for them selves in savings when everything is factored together on a reasonable insulated hot tub/spa, however the heat recovery can't be beat. Heating and operations shouldn't cost much more than $30 / month on most insulated hot tubs.

 


Q. $150 SPA COVERS are expensive when you consider they last only about a year.

A. You get what you pay for! If the cover only lasts a year then I would recommend you don't purchase it. A good poly wrapped insert shouldn't become water logged for about 3-6 years then the inserts should be replaced before they get so heavy that they starts to rip the vinyl. If the foam inserts are not wrapped in poly plastic then they will water log in 1 year. (What a waste of money). Also Take note that a cover will save you about $500 per year on heating costs alone, compared to not having a cover on an average spa, varies based on local weather conditions and size of spa. (also depends on method of heat, like gas is less). In BC here we have mild winters and BC Hydro says to heat an average electric hot tub for 1 year is approx. $900 with a spa cover it drops to Approx $250. for the whole year that works out to a little over $20/month compared to $75/month without a cover... You be the judge if a good cover is worth the money....

 


Q. Is there any chance that regular use of a hot tub could have a detrimental effect on sex drive?

A. That I know of, not long term, No. However, the heat has been known to affect the ability of a man to get an erection for a short period of time after use of the tub. While in the tub the senses of nerves are heighten by the heat but after a period of time become de-sensitized so to speak for up to a few hours depending on the person after getting out of the tub. Hot water has this effect period of time. Please note I am not a physician and for an accurate response to your question you should consult a physician.

 


Q I don't know if I agree with you beliefs in keeping the pumps going and the spa at operating temperature continuously or not though. Seems like a lot of unnecessary wear on the pumps. How is a spa any different than heating your home, The utility companies strongly recommend set back thermostats for your home as an energy saving device. Why not do the same for you spa?

A. That is allowed. You can do what you are comfortable with. These are my personal opinions. Every time the motor runs the bearing warm up, when it is off they cool. the constant heating then cooling of the pump, is what is hard of them. Also there are switching devises that are turned on and off each time as well that is also wear that normally may not occur if the equipment is left on. The amount of saving is very marginal, most of the savings is in the operation of the pump itself not the heating. The heat lost when you turn the heater off must be recovered rather than maintained. Have you ever noticed that the warmer the water is the faster the heat recovery (e.g.. if it takes 1 hour to raise the temp 10 degrees from 60 degrees you will probably find it 1/2 hour to raise it another 10 degrees from 95. or 2 hour to raise 10 degrees from 40 degrees. (those were approximations) If you allow the water to cool the heater has to work that much harder to recover the lost heat but to maintain a temperature the heater may come on for 5 min every hour or so. If you don't have very good insulation or don't use the spa for several days then it may be worth allowing it to cool down. But on a day to day use the saving are so small that what you save is equal to less than the cost of 5 min of use with the jets on. Also Heating water electrically is 95% efficient all the power used is used to heat the water. Whereas in a house 50% of the heat used to heat the forced air, goes up the exhaust stack which is very wasteful. Also note that the heat off the motor help heat the air space under many spas which in turn reduces the heat lost from the spa water if the air spas is large enough. This help offset the cost of operating the motor. Finally chemicals like chlorine or bromine require the normal circulation of the water to help it combine chemically with contaminants to destroy them. When the spa is off the water mixing doesn't occur, the efficiency of the chemicals drop. Also the filter is not working helping to remove a lot of stuff that also tie up the chemicals.

 


Q. Several months ago per having a problem with getting sick after using my spa. I have disconnected the ozonator (it is set up to run 24 hours a day). Since then I have been able to use the spa with little or not ill effects. I was just wondering if you had heard of any others having problems (respiratory) that had spas equipped with ozonators. I have noticed locally (Pennsylvania, USA) that the dealers are no longer advertising ozonators for chemical treatment. Have you heard anything along these lines? Either way, you asked that I get back to you after disconnecting the ozonator and all seems OK without it. Thanks for the help.

A. Yes I have, Ozone is a known health hazard and was decertified by CSA up here in Canada for a while because of lack of control on the industry in regards to safe installation and operation. It is a known fact that ozone can become unsafe for inhalation at higher levels or concentrations.

 


Q. Blisters on the seats of the hot tub, as well as the bottom. Is there anything they can do to fix this? If so, please let me know.

A. Blisters are common in older fiberglass/acrylic hot tubs there are a lot of options but nothing long lasting that I know of unfortunately. There is also no way of stopping additional blisters from developing.
1) grind the cracked blisters down and sand smooth, add filler to the hole if required and paint for cosmetic reasons.
2) syringe into the blister a fiberglass epoxy to help prevent it from getting larger or cracking.
3) Ignore them as they are strictly cosmetic at least until they crack. Then the become unsafe as they will leave sharp edges you can cut yourself on or pinch the skin.
Automotive bondo works extremely well or you can use an epoxy resin. Both can provide pigments to get the finished color close to the spa color. As for the paint, there is no good paint that I know of that will last. A marine grade paint is a good bet or you can get acrylic paints that can be air brushed on but good ones are hard to find and expensive. If aesthetics aren't a problem I would bondo and try to adjust pigmentation to closely match the tub color and leave it at that.

 


Q. Every few days, my hot tub gets a brown film or sludge around the sides. What is this?

A. It sounds like body oils that float to the surface and cling to the walls at the water level. This is normal and safe. (like the scum you get in the bath tub). Clean it off periodically with a damp cotton cloth.

 


Q. My wife and I have been looking at local showrooms for our first home spa and keep getting conflicting opinions on the "grundfos" or 24 hour circulation pump. We live in a relatively cold climate 4-5 months out of the year and of course want to purchase an energy efficient tub. Some dealers praise and some warn against the 24 hour circulation pump. What's the skinny on this piece of equipment? What's your opinion?

A. Personally I don't like them at all, they don't pump enough water to "turn over" the spa water frequently enough to keep maintenance simple. This is also the reason most small circ pump systems are sold with ozonators...The dealers know that the chemistry is almost impossible to maintain without an ozone generator to help in maintenance. Use a two speed pump it is only going to cost you 2 amps more or $5 a month in additional electrical. Heating cost do not factor in at all in regard to efficiency of the pump. Good analogy- Do you want the performance of a muscle car with passing power if you need it? Or a generic efficient compact car that get you from A to B but that's it?.

 


Q. My husband and I recently purchased a new home. The deep basement is not currently finished and we had hoped to do so within the next year. It is our desire to make the room into a recreation/spa room. The room is not very big, however, a small hot tub would fit nicely. What recommendations would you make concerning the construction of the room?

A. You will want to put in a ventilation /exhaust fan that is controlled by a humidistat set to come on as soon as the humidity goes above a pre set percentage. You will also want to put floor drains in for excess water or from accidental over filling of the spa. While you are putting that in provide yourself with a sewage drain just for the hot tub near the pump and equipment location. When you have to drain the tub, you don't want to have to run a hose through the house or to the outside. You should also provide yourself with a cold water supply near the tub for ease of filling. Electrical is dependent on the spa equipment you put in. Vapor barrier the basement walls and electrical receptacles to code on external walls and also use moisture proof drywall near the spa (same drywall they use in bathrooms- it green colored up here in Canada). If you are tiling, use skid proof tiles or water resistant/mildew resistant carpet.

 


Q. The doctor just told me I have high blood pressure, (I'm just a young guy of 39), and I forgot to ask him if my tubbin' might be a bad thing. What is your experience with this (if any). I tub not only because I like it, but also because its therapy for my bad (injured ) foot.

A. Keep the water temperature as close to body temperature as possible that is still comfortable for you e.g... 98-101 this will also allow you to stay in longer being more therapeutic and less stress on the heart and blood pressure. It may even benefit blood pressure at the lower end of the scale. Avoid temps that cause you to sweet or make your heart pound. Also I am not a physician, you are best to consult your physician in regards to your specific condition.

 


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