Avoiding Cloudy Portable Spa Water

Cloudy hot tub water is not safe. American Spa want to ensure that your spa water is always crystal clear for your health and safety. When the water in your hot tub is cloudy, it points to the presence of a problem. That problem could be as a result of bacterial growth (nasty!), chemical imbalance with the pH level of the water or a problem with your spa’s circulation system. Let’s break down what causes this problem and then we will talk about how you can solve it…

Soaps, lotions, cosmetics & hair products

This problem is common to just about every spa, unless you shower well before using your spa. Everything we put on our body and in our hair can end up in the spa, and can bring oils, phosphates and detergents into the water, and a hundred other undesirable chemicals. Even though we don’t like to think about it, we use many products on our skin and in our hair that ultimately get into hot tub water when we are using the hot tub. Over time, there can be a build up of dead skin cells, lotions, oils, hair sprays, etc. that get into the water and lead to it becoming cloudy.

Microbial growth

Bacteria and many other microorganisms love moisture. Especially when it is nice and warm. There are even a handful of bacteria that thrive at hotter temperatures. Bacteria form a slimy substance called biofilm. As the biofilm builds up, parts of it break off into the water. This contributes to cloudiness in your hot tub.

Some people are sensitive to bromine or chlorine, and try to operate the spa with as little as possible. That may be OK, if you have other sanitizers working, such as an ozonator, or a mineral cartridge, and your water chemistry is balanced, especially your pH level. Otherwise, spas should always have a level of 2-3 ppm of bromine, or slightly less if using chlorine. When sanitizer level drops below 1.0ppm, particles and contaminants in the water begin to run rampant or grow at a rate faster than they are being destroyed. A proper sanitizer level should destroy the particles that induce cloudy water. To help it out, shock the spa water regularly, especially after a several people have used the spa, or if sanitizer levels have mistakenly dropped to very low levels. If a chlorinated spa shock is clouding your water, try using MPS shock instead.

High Calcium Hardness or Total Alkalinity

Poor water chemistry can also lead to the water in your hot tub becoming cloudy. How does this happen? The water in your hot tub is supposed to be around 7.8 pH. The pH measures how acidic or alkaline your water is. When the water becomes more alkaline (pH over 7.8), cloudiness can occur because of the accumulation of scale. Scale contains calcium and other minerals that all contribute to cloudy water.

Your spa water chemical balance may be to blame. Take an accurate reading of your calcium hardness, alkalinity and pH levels. In areas where hard water is common, calcium can easily come out of solution and cloud the spa water. If your calcium hardness levels are greater than 300 ppm, use a chemical balancer to lower your pH, calcium and alkalinity levels in your spa.  This will help to keep your spa water clear and help to prevent the scaling that causes cloudy hot tub water. If your test for Total Alkalinity shows high levels, in excess of 150 ppm, excess carbonates can come out of solution, and make the spa cloudy. High TA levels will also make it hard to control your pH, or keep it in range. Use pH decreaser to lower TA to around 100 ppm. If your spa pH level is outside of the range of 7.2-7.6, adjust accordingly for easier control of cloudy water.

A Dirty Filter

A dirty filter or one that was not installed properly can also contribute to cloudy water. The filter in your hot tub is supposed to “sift” your water and remove any particles that your sanitizing chemicals don’t remove. It makes sense therefore that if it is dirty, it will not do a good job of filtering your water and keeping it nice and clear.

A spa filter cartridge won’t last forever, and each cleaning reduces it’s efficacy a little bit more. After about 15 cleanings, replace the spa filter and you’ll notice an immediate improvement in water clarity. Depending on how much the spa is used, and how much is asked of the filter, you should replace the spa filter every 12-24 months. Spa filter cartridges can also become gummed up with oils or minerals, drastically reducing their filtration ability. These substances can be very difficult to remove with a garden hose alone. Spraying a cartridge in spa filter cleaner before cleaning will break down greasy or crystallized deposits, and restore full flow to your filter.

Poor water care

Last but not least, if you’re not taking care of your hot tub water as you should – using test strips to check alkalinity, draining and refilling every 60-90 days and not using the right water sanitizers- you are likely to face hot tub water that is cloudy. For more information on proper maintenance for your spa check out our Basic Maintenance schedule .

How to beat cloudy hot tub water

None of the scenarios above sound great. So how do you beat all these causes of nasty, cloudy water in your hot tub?

  • Test your water first If your hot tub water is cloudy, the first step is to test it with accurate test strips. This helps you to make sure the pH and alkalinity balances are within appropriate levels. If the pH near normal, you might only need to “shock” the water in your hot tub. A daily shock is an excellent choice in this case. Choose a daily shock system that is compatible with your sanitizer system. A few of our highly recommended testing and spa shock accessories are:

Drain your Spa

Sometimes your water is “out-shocked” and simply needs to be drained and refilled it. Besides, having too many chemicals in your water is not good for you and your loved ones. Our recommendation is that you drain and refill your hot tub every 60-90 days.

Make sure to test your water and perform sanitizing as is needed. Before you drain your hot tub, make sure to give remove any debris at the surface of your water so it does not clog your filters.

Additionally, it is best that once you drain your hot tub, you give the insides a good, good cleaning before you refill it with water. You and your loved ones deserve to enjoy hot tub water that is free of any form of cloudiness.

Follow the steps outlined above and you won’t have to worry about it.

Need professional help troubleshooting a Registered American Spa hot tub? Call out friendly technician available MONDAY-FRIDAY 9AM TO 3PM PST FOR ASSISTANCE. (909) 623-8781 EXT. 312

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