Cloudy, Milky & Foamy Hot Tub Water.

Are you having problems like this?

It pretty much goes without saying that hot tub owners will experience cloudy, milky or foamy hot tub water at some point during the period that they own a hot tub. This is not something to worry about as such, as these problems can be easily overcome by using certain methods. This article will firstly describe the type of water problem, how it could have been caused and finally, ways to rectify the problem and make your spa water sparkling again!

Cloudy Spa Water

Caused by:

Cloudy hot tub water can be described as the point where the water seems to have small particles floating around in it, however these particles are not large enough to touch and seem like they could just be air particles. There is no one cause of this issue and you will see this to be recurring in the other types of water issues. The problem could be caused by suspended insoluble particles, dead algae, organic debris, poor filtration (dirty filters), heavy usage or poor water chemistry, but it is difficult to diagnose the reason exactly
Check your filter(s). This is your first point of call with any water quality problem, especially when clarity is an issue. If small particles are not able to be picked up by the filters, it is extremely difficult to solve the problem. Get your filters and rinse them thoroughly or soak them overnight in a filter cleaner. 
Check the water balance levels. Your second point of call is the water balance. Check the PH is correct and alter if need be. Check the sanitiser is at the correct level, not too high or too low (a common clarity problem can be caused by high sanitiser levels).
Shock the spa. Using a Non-Clorine Shock, you can usually clear the water fast! Working with your clean filter, the shock will clear the particles and in most cases will solve the issue.
Try a clarifier. A product such as Spa Sparkle is similar to a flocculent in that it clumps all the small particles together so that they can be filtered, this may allow for the water to clear.
Last resort, empty the spa. If you eventually decide that you have lost the battle, drain the hot tub and start again with fresh water. Sometimes this is the best way, especially after a period of heavy usage (e.g. a hot tub party!).

Milky Spa Water

Caused by:

Milky hot tub water can be described as the point where the water essentially looks like milk, adding a white tint to the water and making it difficult to see the bottom of the hot tub. Similar to cloudy hot tub water, there is no one cause of this issue. The problem could be caused by suspended insoluble particles, dead algae, organic debris, poor filtration (dirty filters), heavy usage or poor water chemistry, but again, it is difficult to diagnose the reason exactly.

Rectifying the issue:

· Check your filter(s). This is your first point of call with any water quality problem, especially when clarity is an issue. If small particles are not able to be picked up by the filters, it is extremely difficult to solve the problem. Get your filters and rinse them thoroughly or soak them overnight in a filter cleaner. You may find that rinsing the filters more frequently to recover milky water helps massively.

· Check the water balance levels. Your second point of call is the water balance. Check the PH is correct and alter if need be. Check the sanitiser is at the correct level, not too high or too low (a common clarity problem can be caused by high sanitiser levels, making the water look milky).

· Shock the spa. Using a Non-Clorine Shock you can usually clear the water fast! Working with your clean filter, the shock will clear the particles and in most cases will solve the issue.

· Last resort, empty the spa. Once again if you eventually decide that you have lost the battle, drain the hot tub and start again with fresh water. This is the best way, especially after a period of heavy usage (e.g. a hot tub party!) it might take some time and effort but its the only way.

 

Foamy Spa Water

Caused by:

Foamy hot tub water is where a build up of foam is visible on the surface of the water and can sometimes lead to a film being left on the top of the water and around the waterline. For this problem, it is slightly easier to pin down the cause in comparison to cloudy or milky hot tub water. Foam build up is caused by a reaction between body and cosmetic oils and the alkalinity of the hot tub water. Body oils and cosmetics such as deodorant, makeup, hairspray, hair gel, shampoo, and detergents in our bathing costumes cause foaming and very often will manifest in a case of green tinted water and an unpleasant odour may well also be present from the water.

Rectifying the issue:

Nip it in the bud! Solve the problem by tackling it at the start. It may be hassle to make people shower before using the hot tub but this is the key thing to prevent foam build-up. Washing your bathing costumes in detergent seems like a good idea but it is not wholly necessary, it is better for your hot tub if you rinse them under the tap then hang them up to dry, meaning that no detergent can sneak its way into your hot tub and cause the issue in the first place.

Use anti-foam products. Foamaway is a product that should be used sparingly, as it is more of a quick-fix product that does not prevent the problem from reoccurring. Using it in small amounts can quickly clear the foam from the waterline in the short-term and therefore helps the appearance of the spa but it is best not to rely on it. Drain down the hot tub and flush the system. A system flush using a product like Hot Tub Flush will help flush the system through before draining. By draining the hot tub, you can remove any grease from the spa surface and tackle the foaming issue in this way but prevention is by far the best cure and the most effective. We all want to enjoy our hot tubs and spas but the simple fact of the matter is if you fill your spa with clean water one day and days later you are having issues look no further than the users and you have found the cause of your problem.

pH & Alkalinity Issues – Dealing with the ups and downs:

This section is for those with unusual pH and/or Total Alkalinity relationships, and have trouble getting them into balance.

99% of spa owners will have no difficulty getting their water into proper balance. But like hot tub users themselves, there’s great diversity in water types from region to region, even within communities. Municipal water supplies differ from well water. This sometimes leads to difficulty in getting pH and Total Alkalinity (TA) into balance.

We have good products available to us to correct most spa water chemistry problems. Remember, we can’t always get the water chemistry perfect. That said, it’s better to have pH & TA readings on the high side than readings which are too low. Do the best you can, but don’t lose any sleep if you can’t get your readings perfect.

Problem: pH is low, but TA is normal

Add pH Plus

Problem: pH is low, but TA is high

Add pH Minus to lower TA. Then add pH Plus to raise pH.

Problem: pH and TA are both very low

Add pH Plus to raise both pH and TA. Make final adjustments with TA Plus if necessary.

Problem: pH and TA are both high

Add pH Minus to lower high TA or pH.

Problem: pH or TA are stubbornly high

Water change is needed

Problem: pH is normal, but TA is high

Add pH Minus to lower TA. If pH also drops below normal range, then add pH Plus to bring it back up into range.

Problem: pH is normal, but TA is low

Add TA Plus to raise TA. Normal pH will not be affected.

Problem: pH is high, but TA is normal

Add pH Minus to lower pH. If TA drops below normal range, add TA Plus to bring it back up.

Problem: pH is high, but TA is low

Add pH Minus to lower pH. Then add TA Plus to bring TA back into range. It will not raise pH above normal range.

Problem: pH fluctuates wildly

This is usually caused by low TA. Bring TA into line with TA Plus as needed, making final adjustments to pH if necessary per this guide.

Problem: pH drops after adding non-chlorine shock

Prevent this by adding about 3/4 teaspoon TA Plus per tablespoon of non-chlorine shock used is about right.

Problem: Bad source water or well water makes balancing difficult

Reduce contaminants by using a hose-end water filling Pre Filter.

 

Tips:

  • IMPORTANT: After adding chemicals, allow your water to circulate before retesting, especially if you have problems balancing. Wait for a few hours or retest the next day for accurate readings.
  • Total Alkalinity should be kept between 80-120 ppm.
  • pH range is ideal between 7.2 and 7.6. Too low is acidic and will cause corrosion. Too high can result in scale formation.
  • For best results, place water sample into a clean cup and test it after it has cooled a few minutes.
  • Never mix different chemicals together prior to addition to the spa water. Add them one at a time. Pre-dissolving granules in a plastic bucket of water is best.
  • Make sure your water hardness is not too low. Adjust it prior to making final pH and TA adjustments. A good range for calcium hardness is 150-300 ppm.
  • Check Total Alkalinity (TA) first, then adjust for proper pH range. Proper TA will buffer pH, that is, it will help to prevent pH fluctuations.
  • Use fresh, high quality test strips.
  • Excessively high bromine or chlorine levels can result in false pH and TA readings.
  • Change your spa water at least every 3 to 4 months, depending on bather load.

 

Troubleshooting Hot Tub Problems & Water Issues:

From time to time all hot tub owners may run into a spa upkeep problem. No need to despair! Use this handy guide to understand, solve, and prevent many common issues.

Cloudy and/or smelly water

Cause:

  • Excessive contaminates
  • Water out-of-balance
  • Clogged or worn-out filter
  • Low sanitizer level
  • Activities of children

Solution:

  • Shock with Granular Dichlor
  • Add clarifying agent
  • Test and adjust pH Levels
  • Clean or replace filters
  • Check and/or adjust sanitizer level
  • Change water.  Use Spa Flush prior to draining
  • Encourage children to use restroom and shower prior to entering hot tubs

Excessive foaming:

Cause:

  • High contaminates and/or soap residues
  • Build ups in spa plumbing system
  • Low calcium water hardness
  • Water out of balance

Solution:

  • Add Foamaway and scum digester  
  • Use Spa Flush prior to each draining
  • Add Hardness Plus
  • Test and adjust pH level
  • Clean or replace filter cartridge

Skin irritation, rashes, strong fumes, burning eye sensation, these are chemical reactions not filtration or equipment issues.

Cause:

  • Incorrect sanitizer level
  • Excessive chloramines
  • Water out-of-balance
  • Build up of gasses under spa cover
  • Overdose of non-chlorine shock
  • Biofilm contamination
  • Pseudomonas bacteria

Solution:

  • Test and adjust sanitizer levels
  • Shock with Granular Dichlor
  • Test and adjust pH Levels
  • Open spa cover, run jets on full & allow spa to aerate for 5-10 minutes prior to use.

Scum & oil film, tub ring

Cause:

  • Body oils, make-up, lotion residues
  • Clogged or worn-out filter

Solution:

  • Add scum digester
  • Use oil scum absorber
  • Clean or replace filters
  • Clean water line with non-foaming all-surface cleaner 

Discolored water

Cause:

  • Excessive mineral content
  • Metal parts in equipment eroding
  • Copper, iron or manganese in water being oxidized by chlorine, non-chlorine shock or ozone
  • Low pH
  • Low hardness level

Solution:

  • Add Scaleaway
  • Test and adjust pH Levels
  • Prefilter water 
  • Use clarifier or oxidiser

Foul, sour or musty odor

Cause:

  • Low sanitizer level
  • Excessive contaminates
  • Mold or mildew on underside of spa cover (may not be visible in early stages)

Solution:

  • Test and adjust sanitizer levels
  • Shock-treat water
  • Change water & use Spa Flush prior to draining
  • Clean inside of spa cover & apply 303 Protectant
  • Use an Ozonator

Excessive pH fluctuation

Cause:

  • Improper total alkalinity level
  • High bather load

Solution:

  • Test and adjust TA
  • Control the pH

 

Control your water balance:

When the mineral components of spa water are correct proportion to one another, the result is Balanced water. Balanced means that it is neither too alkaline (high pH) nor too acidic (low pH). Balanced water has a more pleasant feel to the skin, and allows your sanitizer to work more effectively. We take periodic measurements of spa water with test strips to achieve balance.

Total Alkalinity (TA) & pH

TA is important. It is the measure of all the alkaline material in the water.  Really, it’s an indicator of the ability of the water to resist changes in pH – the water’s buffering capacity. TA that’s too high is much less of a problem than too low. Always adjust TA first, then check your pH. Maintaining the proper TA will often bring the pH into line on its own. Balance Water Chemistry by adjusting its TA and pH with compounds such as Alkalinity Increaser, pH Decrease and pH Increase.

Hardness

The hardness level of spa water– measured as the amount of dissolved calcium, is also important. Insufficient calcium hardness can sometimes promote equipment corrosion and also result in water foaming problems. Although there’s no practical way to reduce high hardness levels, it’s easy to increase low levels by adding Hardness Plus.

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