How to Balance Your Water

How to Balance your Water

It is important to regularly balance your hot tub water to protect both you and your hot tub. A hot tub is easier to maintain and always ready to use when the water chemistry is regularly tested and corrected. When hot tub water is unbalanced, it can become dangerous or uncomfortable for you and, over time, can damage your hot tub too. 

Where to start: Test your water

It is important to test your water before adding chemicals. The easiest way is to use chlorine test strips (or bromine test strips).

Turn your pump on to circulate the water, then submerge a single test strip 6" into the hot tub water for one second before removing it. After removing the test strip from the water, and without shaking any excess water off, wait 15 seconds before comparing the test strip colours to the colour chart on the back of the test strip bottle. Hint: it is best to write down your results (or take a picture on your phone) as the test strip readings will continue to change.

Adjust the chemicals in the following order (read: How to add chemicals to your hot tub).

Alkalinity (80-120 ppm)

Alkalinity acts as a pH buffer and prevents rapid changes in pH. If the alkalinity is too high or too low, you will have difficulty keeping the pH balanced, so it is important to start adjusting your water's alkalinity first.

Alkalinity reading is above 120 ppm

  • If your alkalinity reading is above 120 ppm, you must decrease your alkalinity (watch video) using a pH decreaser ("alkalinity down" is the same as pH Down).

  • Add 30 grams of pH Down (1 oz) to your tub and retest in 30-60 minutes.

Alkalinity reading is below 80

pH (7.2-7.8)

pH is a measure of how acidic or basic your hot tub water is. Unintuitively, the lower the pH, the more acidic the water is. When the pH is too high or too low, your sanitizer will be less effective, hot tub parts can become degraded, and the water may cause you irritation.

Before adjusting your pH, ensure that your alkalinity has been corrected and retested. Otherwise, you may end up wasting chemicals because if the alkalinity is not balanced, any changes you make to pH will not hold.

pH reading is above 7.8

pH reading is below 7.2

 

Sanitizer (3-5 ppm)

Sanitizer keeps your hot tub free of bacteria and algae, but make sure that your alkalinity and pH are correct so that you do not use more sanitizer than you need. If your pH is too high or too low, then your sanitizer will be less effective.

There are only two safe sanitizers: chlorine and bromine (despite what you may read online). There are no safe-to-use alternatives, though there are products like enzymes that may help you use less sanitizer.

When adjusting your sanitizer levels, ensure that you are using the correct product (chlorine or bromine).

Free Chlorine/Bromine is below 3 ppm

  • When your free chlorine levels are below 3 ppm, you can bring it up by adding Chlorinating Granules.

  • When your free bromine levels are below 3 ppm, you can bring it up by adding Brominating Granules.

  • Add 1 teaspoon per 750 litres (or 1 tsp per 200 gallons) (watch video) to your hot tub and retest in 20 minutes.

Free Chlorine/Bromine is above 5 ppm

If your free chlorine or bromine is above 5 ppm, you can help the levels drop by leaving the cover off of your hot tub (the sanitizer and the water will evaporate). If it is really high, you may want to add water to the hot tub to dilute it.

Calcium Hardness (150-250 ppm)

 There are no chemicals that can lower hardness in water. The only method to decrease harness is to dilute the water (empty some water and refill with freshwater). While not recommended, if you must have high calcium hardness in your hot tub, using a stain and scale controller can help reduce problems.

Now you are ready to enjoy your hot tub! Recheck it next week to ensure your water remains balanced.


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