Beginners Guide To Hot Tubs & Water Care

Hot Tub in Garden

The first steps in hot tub ownership can seem daunting. A hot tub is a big investment and here at Jacuzzi Direct, we understand you want to enjoy and take care of it as best you can. This beginners guide will help you through your first steps in hot tub ownership and ensure you know everything you need.

Some Hot Tub Basics

Hot tubs are often referred to as Jacuzzi's, however like calling all vacuum cleaners Hoovers, this is a misconception. Jacuzzi is a brand of hot tub, whose history dates back to the 1950’s when they actually invented the first hydrotherapy jet.

Unlike some hot tubs on the market, Jacuzzi hot tubs are very high quality and built to last the tests of time and designed to make maintenance as simple as possible.

All hot tubs require regular maintenance to keep the water healthy and safe for bathers. A choice you will need to make is the type of chemical to wish use, which all have some benefits and drawbacks. Our hot tubs chemical guide can help you choose the right sanitiser for you.

Setting Up A Hot Tub

After a hot tub has been refilled, or if you have left your hot tub empty and unused for a long period, it is important to give the water a high dose of sanitiser. This can be done by adding 60g of chlorine granules per 1,500 litres of water to start the sanitation process and allow the level to drop to 3-5mg/l before using the hot tub.

Alternatively, new hot tub or one which has been left empty for a period of time needs to be commissioned by a chemically trained person. They will follow BISHTA's guidance for hot tub commissioning.

BISHTA recommends chlorinating the water to achieve and maintain a level of 50mg/l for a period of one hour at a pH of 7.0 or as close as possible. Specialised chemicals are used to achieve this level and it is only recommended to be done by a chemically trained person. Stabilizer-free chlorine granules are recommended for this purpose.  

During the one hour period, it is important that the pillows are removed. The hot tub pumps need to be run and open the air control valves, operate all diverter valves to allow the chemicals to circulate through all the pipework, spa jets, and features. The levels should be regularly checked throughout the one hour period to ensure that to 50mg/l level is maintained for the full hour. Specialist testing equipment is needed to test to this level. The hot tub cover must be kept off during this time and the area is to be well ventilated and those who are dosing must wear appropriate PPE.

Once the hour is complete a suitable chlorine reducer must be used to bring the spa back to a safe chlorine level before use. - Note: a commissioning of a hot tub to this level should only be done by a chemically trained person.

To dose your hot tub ready for bather use, we advise using chlorine or bromine granules rather than tablets, which should be added only when your Hot Tubs pump is running. It is important to ensure your Spa water is at a normal level of  3-5 parts per million (ppm) for Free Chlorine and 4-6 PPM for Bromine before use.

Hot Tub Circulation & Filtration

Hot Tub Water Jets

Most acrylic hot tubs will have a cartridge filter system and hot tub pump. BISHTA advise setting your hot tubs filtration to run for a minimum of 8 hours a day (2x 4 hour period) and instructions on how to set this will be in your hot tub manual or in your owner’s booklet. Whilst this is BISHTA's recommendation, if your hot tub is used more or less regularly then you may want to increase/decrease this frequency. Additionally, power cuts can possibly 're-set' your hot tub and change the filtration settings, if a power cut occurs please check your hot tub settings.

You should regularly check that the filtration system is in good working order. It is important to note that when your hot tubs cartridge filter is dirty, the performance of your filter will deteriorate leading to dirty and potentially contaminated water. Usually, spa cartridges will need cleaning weekly (depending on use), however, we would advise more regular cleaning if your hot tub is being used a lot, or the risk of contamination is high (e.g. grass in your hot tub).

For more information on how to clean your hot tub filter, check out our guide.

How To Test Hot Tub Water

Testing your hot tub's water is a vital step to keeping the water clean, safe and healthy. The easiest way to test the water is to use test strips, which indicate the sanitiser, pH and total alkalinity levels of the water quickly & accurately. This allows you to make any appropriate chemical adjustments that may be required.

We advise any Hot Tub owner to test their water daily whether the spa is in use or not, due to warm water requiring sanitising regularly.

When using any test strips, it is important to follow the instructions on the bottle carefully in order to get the most accurate reading. After you have been testing your hot tub conditions for a while you will become aware of how refilling, topping up, adding chemicals and general usage will affect the readings and chemical levels.

Hot Tub Water Care

There are several main elements to maintaining your hot tub water. Some basic tips are shown below, and you can read our detailed guides on each section for more information.

Hot Tub Sanitiser

As mentioned previously the 2 most popular hot tub sanitisers are chlorine & bromine. Here at Jacuzzi Direct, we recommend using granules to maintain a healthy level of sanitiser and ideally this should have a reading of 3-5ppm for Free Chlorine and 4-6ppm for Bromine

It is important to note that the rate of chlorine / bromine consumption will vary depending on the conditions. The consumption of chlorine / bromine will also continue even when your Spa is not in use. Therefore, it is advised to test your Hot Tub water daily.

Read our chlorine of bromine maintenance guides for more information and recommended schedules.

Hot Tub Water Balancing

The pH scale of 0-14 measures acidic and alkali conditions respectively. The middle measurement of 7 pH is natural meaning anything below 7 is acidic whilst a pH rating of above 7 is alkaline.

For Spa users, the ideal pH level for those using bromine is 7.0-7.4. For those using chlorine the ideal pH level is between 7.2 and 7.6. This is to ensure the protection of the Spa equipment and the bathers' comfort is maintained. If your pH is incorrect you will find you need to use more chlorine or bromine as if the pHis incorrect it will not be as effective.

pH Scale

Maintaining balanced water Total Alkalinity (TA) and Total Hardness (TH) of the water is essential. Low levels of alkalinity lead to aggressive water while high levels can cause scale within a hot tub. You can raise the levels of alkalinity with Total Alkalinity Plus and lower the alkalinity by pre-dissolving pH minus in a water bucket and pour directly into the centre/deepest part of the hot tub with no jets running.

However high levels of water (Total Hardness) associated with hard water can be prevented with regular doses of Jacuzzi No Scale. Please note this product does not reduce the level of hardness in the water, it prevents the build-up of scaling so hot tub elements are not damaged by the hardness.

For more information, you can read our guide – Balancing a hot tub pH level & total alkalinity.

Hot Tub Foam

If foam is appearing on the top of your Hot Tubs water is usually caused by remnants of detergents left in bathing costumes after they have been washed. If possible it is always a good idea to encourage hot tub bathers to shower with their costumes on before using the hot tub. This will not only help to remove detergents but will also remove cosmetics and lotions from the body.

If foam does occur then there is a simple solution… No Foam. You can read more about how to stop foam in our guide – Why do I have foam in my hot tub.

General Cleaning

Periodic cleaning of waterline grease using Jacuzzi Surface Cleaner will not only keep your Spa looking good, but it will also help to optimise the use of any spa chemicals dosed into your Hot Tubs water.

Note: It is vital to use specific Spa cleaning chemicals as many household products contain chemicals that cause foaming in a Hot Tub or alter the pH.

Draining A Hot Tub

Over time your Spa water will absorb minerals, chemicals, and other soluble materials which will lead to an increase of Total Dissolved Solids (TDS). This is the same concept of adding sugar to a cup of tea until it no longer dissolves. TDS reduces the efficiency of spa chemicals which can lead to dull hot tub water, making the water harder to maintain.

With the above in mind, BISHTA advises that the change of water should ideally be done once every month, but it may be extended up to once every 3/4 months if bath usage is low. When doing so, it is a good idea to purge your hot tub pipework using Jacuzzi Pipe Cleaner to maintain clear, working pipes.

General Hot Tub safety tips

For any Hot Tub owner / user it is important to keep our safety tips in mind at all times:

  1. Do not allow Hot Tub temperatures to exceed 40℃ (lower if children will be using the Hot Tub)
  2. Never leave non-swimmers / children unattended in a Hot Tub
  3. Do not overload your Spa with more people than its recommended size
  4. Do not use electrical appliances near your Hot Tub
  5. Do not use glass around or in a Spa
  6. Do not drink alcoholic beverages before or while using a Hot Tub
  7. If you’re pregnant, have high blood pressure or any cardiovascular conditions please contact your doctor before using a Hot Tub
  8. Always wear gloves when cleaning / changing Hot Tub filter cartridges

Hot Tub chemical handling

When handling any Hot Tub chemicals please stick to the following guidelines:

  1. Read instructions on any product before use
  2. When pre-dissolving any Hot Tub chemicals always add the chemicals to the Hot Tub water and not vice versa
  3. Never mix any chemicals in concentrated (or dry) forms
  4. Always pre-dissolve our chemicals in a clean, plastic container in a well-ventilated area
  5. Avoid spillages wherever possible. In the event of a spillage clean up using cleaning receptacles and empty into your Hot Tub or Spa. Swill any spillage afterward with clean water
  6. Never use any unlabelled chemicals
  7. Always wash your hands after contact with Spa or Jacuzzi chemicals