WHY IS A Used $3000 SPA BETTER THAN A Brand New $3000 SPA? Easy….

December 21st, 2012

1.High Quality 5/16″ Lucite Acrylic costs manufacturers $1150 EACH and as low as $850 if they are purchasing over 10,000 annually.

2. Exterior Skirting and Framework: Many spa manufacturers are using 3/4″ wood to support the nearly 2000 pounds of water. That works fine as long as you leave the spa where it is. What about when you move it in 3-5 years … after that thin wood has time to rot because it isn’t treated. I have seen too many spas falling apart. A quality structure is costly and most cost $500-$700 just in material alone. Add Labor and you easily have $1000 in the cabinet.

3. Jets: You can purchase cheap jets for $3 with shiny plastic that look chrome or you can spend $100 on just one high quality jet. If they are selling a new hot tub with 50 jets for $3000 – which jet do you think it has?

4. Components – A full setup with motor and blower connected to the controller can be purchased WHOLESALE as cheap as $250 for Chinese components or $1700 for high quality American made. Which is yours?

5. Insulation – is there any foam in it? I am not talking about silver colored bubble wrap. I am talking about high density foam. A full Multi Layer mixed density foam or thermal insulated foam spa can cost as much as $500 just in foam!

6. Fittings – Are the hoses clear and slid over slip barbs or are they glued, clamped and installed on ridged barb fittings? Obviously it takes more time to do it correctly and the longer it takes, the more labor involved.

7. Warranty – If they are selling too cheap, and offer a warranty from a company that only sells warranty services for their spas, then obviously you must consider the possibility they are hedging against going out of business. Poof, there goes any warranty.

If your budget is under $3000 and you do not want to finance, then you should consider a used spa. There are plenty of high quality spas out there – built to last 20 years. Consider Investing in a high quality well maintained older spa.

I am having problems with my spa – what should I do?

December 21st, 2012

Nothing on the spa operates
1. Check the control panel display for any messages. If there is a message, refer to the diagnostic section on that model spa. There you will find the meaning of the message and what action is to be taken.
2. If there is no message on your control panel, check and reset the GFCI* and house breaker. (*The GFCI should be located in a weatherproof box within sight of the spa, but no closer than 5 ft.)
3. If the spa does not respond, contact us.
Pump(s) do not operate
1. Press the “Jets” button on your control panel.
If you hear the pumps trying to operate:
A. Check that all the slice valves are open.
B. Pump may need to be primed.
C. Check that the air controls are open.
If you do not hear anything from the pump, contact us.
Poor jet performance
1. Make sure pump is operating.
2. Check that the water level is adequate (up to minimum safe water level side).
3. Make sure the jets are open and the air controls are open.
4. Check for dirty filters. Clean if necessary.
Spa not heating
* If the spas heater has failed, the majority of the time it will trip the GFCI breaker. If the spa is not heating and has not tripped the breaker, please follow these steps:
1. Check the control panel for diagnostic messages. (Refer to your spa models diagnostic message area in the owners manual.) Follow steps to alleviate message.
2. Check water set temperature at control panel.
3. Check for dirty filters. Clean if necessary.
4. Check “heat mode” the spa is set in. Spa should be in standard mode.
5. Check the control panel for heater light indicator and/or thermometer icon. If the light is on or the indicator icon is moving, the spa should be heating. Wait a reasonable amount of time (approximately 1 hour) to see if the water temperature is changing.
6. Check to make sure that the pump is primed and all slice valves are open.
7. Reset power to the spa at GFCI breaker.
8. If spa is still not heating, contact us for service.
GFCI is tripping
The Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) is required, by NEC code (National Electrician Code), for your protection. The tripping of the GFCI may be caused by a component on the spa or by an electrical problem. Such electrical problems include, but are not limited to, a faulty GFCI breaker, power fluctuations, or a miswire. It may be necessary to contact us to come out and correct this issue.
Link to Manual Downloads
of Spa Manufacturers

Artesian Spas
Aruba Spas
Baja Spas
Barefoot Spas
Beachcomber Hot Tubs
Bullfrog Spas
Cal Spas
Caldera Spas
Catalina Spas
Charisma Spas
Clearwater Spas
Coast Spas
Coleman Spas
Coyote Spas
Diamante Spas
Dimension One Spas

Dolphin Spas
Dreammaker Spas
Dynasty Spas
Emerald Spas
Freeflow Spas
Great Lakes Spas
Gulf Coast Spas
H20 Spas
Hawkeye Spas
Hind Head Hot Tubs
Hotsprings Spas
Hot Spot Spas
Hydro Spa
Hydropool Spas
HydroWorx Aquatic Therapy Swim Spas
LA Spas
Leisure Depot “Rec Warehouse / Leisure Bay”Spas
Maax Spas
Marquis Spas
Master Spas

Pacific Spas
PDC Spas
Premium Leisure Spas & Swim Spas
Solana Spas
Strong Spas
Sunbelt Spas
Sundance Spas
Sunrise Spas
Sweetwater Spas
Tiger River Spas
Viking Spas
Vita Spas

Heater Failures Explained

September 22nd, 2010

One of the most common warranty or return concerns is heater assemblies and elements. Manufacturers often have to give a tech and the end user (customer) the bad news that a warranty claim is denied because a heater is dryfired or a water chemistry issue, at which point an argument ensues because the heater appears to be fine. Below is information from Thermcore, an industry leader in replacement heater assemblies and elements.

“Some heaters are returned as “bad” or defective and claimed under Thermcore’s warranty guidelines. Dry fired heaters (defined as heaters operated with either insufficient or zero water flow) are sometimes returned with no external evidence of overheating. Most heaters that are switched on completely dry develop a blue tint on the outer tube. They may also display burnt and wrinkled labels, melted plastic boxes or wires, or split open elements.”

Heaters that are victim of insufficient flow sometimes have a perfectly new looking outer tube. I recently removed an element from the housing on a 30 day old heater at which point I discovered a discolored clip & slight surface chafe. There is no way to see this damage from looking down a heater tube, and removal for inspection is required. Many heater manufacturers will void a heater warranty if the element is removed prior to their receipt which causes a conundrum. Should the tech provide a free heater and hope to have it replaced by the manufacturer or require a security deposit from the customer until the factory approved or denies the claim? Many Manufacturers recommend you charge the customer for the full cost of the repair and refund the balance when they have had the opportunity to inspect and approve (or deny) the part. Discolored s/s clips and chafing is a tell-tale sign that the element has overheated. All heaters that are returned under warranty are completely disassembled and tested by factory techs, and units displaying evidence of dry fire are denied warranty replacement. If a tech does not obtain pre-payment they are typically stuck footing the cost of the replacement part when or if the part is denied.

Elements that dry fire will only split their sheaths open if they are weakened by chemistry and/or old age.

Titanium elements sheaths will never split open (with some exceptions!).

Elements with thin sheaths can split. (typical Chinese junk is the best example) Note: Demand American made parts for the best quality. They may cost a little more but you have to pay for quality.


September 22nd, 2010

Topics Covered -

• Calcium nodules

• Algae on walls

• Metal stains

• Excessive chlorine use

• Greensand filtration

• Nitrate removal

• Black algae

• Calcium buildup on salt systems

• Fungus under vinyl liner

• Yellow algae

• Chlorine demand

• Chemical toxicity

A paper clip fell into the pool and left some metal stains on the plaster. How can I get them off?

Jack Beane:
There are plenty of products on the market that will quickly remove a metal stain without damaging the finish of the pool.

And there’s a little trick to dealing with rust on plaster: Run the pool’s water through an oxidation reduction process first. That’ll make the stain pop right off when you treat it.

Bob Harper:
Since acids remove fresh metal stains fairly effectively, and the stain is isolated to one specific area, topical treatment should work just fine. One method is to pour dry acid (sodium bisulphate) into a white tube sock. Wearing a rubber glove, place the sock immediately on the stain and gently rub. Another trick is to purchase a length of 1 ½-inch white, PVC pipe. Place the section of pipe over the stain and pour an acid (preferably dry acid) through the pipe and directly onto the stained area. Allow contact for 5 minutes, then brush the area with a pool brush.

Joseph Laurino:
Stains from metals, such as iron, copper, cobalt and manganese, can usually be removed from plaster and fiberglass surfaces using a stain removal product containing ascorbic acid, oxalic acid or citric acid. These materials are known as reducing agents (or anti-oxidants) and they convert the metal stain into its soluble (ionic) form. While these agents often reduce metal staining, they do not remove the metals from the water. Thus, the results are temporary and the stains frequently return.

To prevent the stains from reforming, you must add another product. Currently, there are two options. One is to sequester the metal in the water and limit its reactivity. The second option is to remove the metal from the water chemically using a product designed to accomplish this.

What causes calcium nodules in plaster, and why does it seem to only happen on pools that are done in the winter?

Jack Beane:
Causes of nodules can include de-lamination and shrinkage cracks in the plaster. With some cracks, water can actually flow behind the plaster and back out through a fissure; as it flows back out, it brings salts to the surface with it. These problems can be caused by thin plaster, a wet mix, or other mistakes in surface preparation. It often takes a while to figure out exactly what errors may have been made, and to form a reasonable opinion based on the facts.

An undissolved piece of calcium chloride can also create a discoloration or growth on the surface of the pool, but that isn’t usually the cause. It’s more likely an underlying substrate issue.

Jerry Werner:
The calcium nodules are efflorescence, which is caused by soluble salts in the concrete mix, and activated by water moving through the concrete. These salts are deposited on the surface. As the water evaporates, the salts are left to dry.

During the winter months, calcium chloride is commonly added to heat up the mix, which provides additional soluble calcium salts. The slower evaporation rate in the winter allows more salts to appear on the surface.
This condition can be controlled by using a sealant solution during construction to waterproof the concrete shell; this stops the movement of water through the concrete.

All my chemicals are in balance according to my test strips, but I still have some algae on the walls. Why?

Jack Beane:
It could be an excessive level of cyanuric acid in the water; this makes chlorine less effective, as is demonstrated through an oxidation reduction potential (ORP) test. In addition, it is always prudent to add an algaecide when you have algae. Balanced water does not kill algae.

Bob Harper:
Housekeeping, such as brushing pool walls, is very important in algae prevention. Some algae are free floating and others are surface clinging. This type, on the walls, is of the surface-clinging variety. This is usually remedied by a vigorous brushing of the walls immediately following a chlorine shock treatment and/or algaecide addition.

Circulation also plays a key role in algae prevention. Algae tend to take footholds in “dead zones” which can be in corners, around stairs or, really, any area of the pool. As water moves throughout the pool, it will take the path of least resistance — from return to skimmer or main drain in the quickest, easiest fashion.

Recognizing the dead zones and either eliminating them by angling returns or changing the percentage of skimmer/main drain suction is important in promoting proper circulation.

Joe Sweazy:
There are a couple of reasons why you could have balanced water and still have algae. An excess level of nitrate nitrogen can cause algae growth even in water that seems properly balanced. Test the nitrate level and treat the nitrates accordingly. This may require partial drain and refill.

Additionally, algae growth can occur in areas of the pool with poor circulation where chlorinated water is not able to treat the particular area. This can occur from blockage or obstacles in the pool, or just because of the direction of the return jets.

George Belarski:
The chemical concentrations for water balance may have a lot to do with the overall condition of the water and long-term condition of the pool and equipment, but little to do with the formation of algae. Phosphates and nitrates are not part of the water balance (saturation index).

I seem to be using a lot of chlorine, more than usual. My readings are always low. What do you think my problem is?

Jack Beane:
The answer to this would vary a lot, depending on the situation. Is it a newly started pool? For pools that have just been started up, there’s often a huge chlorine demand.

When you check the water, make sure you’re testing for both free and combined chlorine. Chloramines are already present in city water supplies, and need to be factored into the equation; only when you know the free and combined chlorine counts can you make an accurate determination of how much chlorine is necessary to reach breakpoint.

Bob Harper:
Assuming the test methodology is accurate, it could be a few things. First, I would check for low pH. Chlorine is very pH dependent and in low pH it becomes hyperactive. It forms more of the active form (hypochlorus acid — HOCl) and less of the inactive form (hypochlorite ion — OCl) and will expend itself very quickly.
If pH is in the proper range (7.2-7.8), next check cyanuric acid (a.k.a. CYA, stabilizer or conditioner) levels.

The CYA level needs to be above 30 ppm to enjoy any real benefits from the chemistry. CYA’s sole purpose is to slow the rate at which UV converts chlorine back to its inert form — a chloride. If the amount is below 30 ppm, chlorine levels will dissipate rapidly in direct sunlight.

Joe Sweazy:
You may have nitrates present or high total dissolved solids. High nitrates can greatly increase the chlorine demand. Likewise, high TDS can lead to increased sanitizer demand.

George Belarski:
This is a more common occurrence than most may believe it to be. Most likely there are high chlorine levels rather than low. Typically, the DPD is being bleached out by the chlorine itself, giving a false low reading or analysis.

Most DPD will bleach out to a degree at about 7 ppm, but there may also be some degree of DPD bleaching at even lower levels, resulting in lower readings for chlorine than the actual concentration, unless a form of DPD that does not bleach out is used.

Another method that can be used to determine the correct level of chlorine concentration when bleaching of the DPD is suspected is to do a sample dilution prior to performing the test, and then multiply the result by the dilution factor.

I have a customer that wants to know about a “greensand” filtration system. It’s a type of filtration used on houses to filter manganese or iron out of water. It gets rid of certain funny smells. So the customer wants to know if it’s OK to use on her swimming pool. Are there any industry pros that can confirm or deny the use of this stuff? She wants to use what’s called the Greensand Plus.

Jack Beane:
You wouldn’t want to use greensand as a medium in swimming pool filtration. There are a lot of people who have filled their pools with makeup water that has been run through a greensand filter, but it creates a really tough stain on the finish, especially on fresh plaster. You’ll have to drain the pool to remove it.

It’s better to deal with existing iron in the source water, or just truck in your own water. Not every water source is compatible with a swimming pool. If possible, test the source water, measure the level of contaminants in it, and make a determination about what regular chemical adjustments will be necessary. And on new pools, test the source water before you first put the hose in.

Is there any way to remove nitrates from pool water?

Jack Beane:
First off, if a pool contains 10 ppm of nitrate nitrogen, which is equal to 44 ppm of nitrates, that’s actually a real health issue with pregnant or nursing moms, and with newborns. There’s a syndrome called “blue baby,” where nitrogen ties up the oxygen in the child’s body, leading to circulation problems and other medical issues.

The only solution to a nitrate problem is draining the pool, then refilling it from a fresh water source that’s low in nitrates and nitrites.

Joe Sweazy:
Partial drain and refill is the best approach if nitrates are significantly high (approximately 20 ppm or higher).

However, low levels of nitrate nitrogen can be treated with significant shock dosage. Be aware that nitrates do lead to increased chlorine demand and more than normal will be needed to establish breakpoint chlorination when nitrates are present.

Black algae is the toughest algae to remove. Is it specific to one area of the pool and not another? Does it need sunlight? How low can the chlorine level be before it sprouts? What works and why does it work? Are there downsides to any of the treatments, or is it best to just drain the pool and blast?

Jack Beane:
You’ll rarely see black algae in a well-maintained pool. The higher your pH is, the less hypochlorous acid (the strongest form of chlorine) will be present. A high cyanuric acid level can also inhibit chlorine’s ability to oxidize.

If black algae is a really persistent problem, the best solution is to hire a specialist to get rid of it.

Bob Harper:
While there are numerous treatments based on various chemistries for black algae, the one common thread is the need for vigorous brushing prior to any treatment. Black algae’s primary defense mechanism is a dense, gelatinous membrane that shields it from treatments. This membrane must be breached for any treatment to be effective. However, even when killed, black algae may discolor plaster and aggregate finishes, and require a cleaning to restore the finish.

The real key is to expose the “roots” of the algae. This is accomplished by vigorous brushing. A steel wire algae brush is the best tool for the job (obviously though, not on vinyl liners). Black algae will often grow in areas where it can easily “root.” Rough or etched surfaces are ideal. While it does need sunlight (all plants do), it prefers areas that are not in direct sunlight. It also favors “dead zones” in the pool where circulation (water movement) is poorer.

Richard DeLeo/Dan Miller:
With a white plaster pool surface, a straight trichlor granular poured directly on the algae spot helps eliminate the problem, along with brushing. Follow the manufacturer’s directions carefully.
Other pool surfaces can use a high dose of chlorine shock, and an algaecide especially made for black algae (borate/sodium bromide mix).

Joe Sweazy:
Typically a copper-based algaecide is used, as it has been shown to be most effective on black algae. Of course, using copper can lead to copper staining if too much is present in the water for too long. Therefore, a metal removal agent must be used to remove any remaining copper after the copper algaecide treatment is completed and the algae has been destroyed.

By installing a saltwater system, the calcium on the tile tends to build up much faster than usual. We were told that the answer was to install an acid feeder so as to maintain a constant pH. We have done that on my son’s pool as an experiment. The acid feeder has caused low total alkalinity issues and we constantly have to add a lot of bicarb to counter it. The acid feeder was installed in January just after we had the tile cleaned, and calcium is already appearing again on the tile. Any suggestions?

Jack Beane:
When the acid feeder appears to not be doing its job, it’s time to recalibrate the pH probe. Probes are great, but they’re only as good as their calibration.

Try diluting the acid in the feeder in the reservoir, and using a lower strength in the future. That’ll probably give you a better ability to maintain pH without suppressing alkalinity as much. There’s no way around it, though: You’re still going to suppress some alkalinity.

Also, try adding a product to the pool’s water that inhibits calcium carbonate formation. That may be difficult, though; most stain and scale products on the market are excellent in chlorine systems, but not in salt systems, because salt interferes with their normal sequestering activity. So you’ll have to choose a product that’s proven to work with salt chemistry.

Bob Harper:
In pools on saltwater systems, pH tends to gradually rise. This is because for every one chlorine (an acid) molecule, the electrolytic reaction produces two sodium hydroxide (a base) molecules. As pH rises, the water’s ability to solublize calcium lessens, hence the calcium (scale) build-up.

In areas of lower alkalinity source water, a CO2 injection system would be a better solution than a muriatic acid feed system for controlling this pH rise. CO2 forms carbonic acid, a relatively benign acid. Since it introduces carbonate into the water, it also raises total alkalinity (TA) while controlling pH.

Keep in mind TA is comprised of carbonates, bicarbonates and hydroxides. In areas of higher TA source water, muriatic acid is still the best solution. I don’t recommend the use of dry acids under any circumstances in saltwater pools due to the contribution of sulfate, which can cause forms of scale that will dramatically shorten the chlorine generator’s life.

Jerry Werner:
Other than the mechanical information offered in the question, another possible reason could be a combination of two issues occurring at the same time; that is, as the pool water evaporates, a salt residue may form on the tile, along with efflorescence bleed out from the grout lines.

Calcium in the grout lines that may not be adequately waterproofed is trying to unite chemically with the pool water. This can also be exaggerated by the type of tile that has been used. The more textured the tile, the greater the amount of residue that may cling to the surface.

The winter months have a slower evaporation rate, and more efflorescence is usually noticed during this time period. Since this is an existing pool structure, it is unknown which waterproofing techniques may have been used to prevent efflorescence. Regrouting the tile to waterproof the new mix may be able to help the situation.

I am having a problem with the fungus that grows under vinyl liners. How can I eliminate it without removing the liner, and what’s the proper way of correcting it when we do replace a liner that has this problem?

Jack Beane:
There are currently no EPA-approved methods for directly eliminating fungus under liners.

Vinyl is porous, so the fungus is actually penetrating the liner; this is why shocking removes it temporarily, but never completely kills it off. The only way to eliminate fungus without replacing the liner is to make sure you’re using clean soil that’s been sterilized with an EPA-approved product or method. Many builders use river sand, which is not clean, and is actually introducing fungus into the soil under the liner.

Bob Harper:
The easiest way is to inject a strong hypochlorite (bleach) solution through the liner into the media (usually sand) behind the liner. After injecting, patch the liner. If replacing the liner, apply a very liberal amount of hypochlorite to the entire affected area. Chlorine effectively kills fungus.

We have been battling sporadic yellow algae in some of our maintenance pools over the years. We have tried polyquats (symptomatic and preventative treatment) and major chlorine shocking (up to 50 ppm, sometimes twice in 2 weeks). We have had it return in a pool with greater than 25 ppm (The chlorine generator was accidentally turned up.) We have cleaned under ladders, treated phosphates, changed circulation patterns, etc. The odd thing is it may be in a pool one year but not the same pools next year.

Jack Beane:
When a pool has recurrent mustard algae, it’s generally accompanied by high cyanuric acid and/or high TDS.
Sodium bromide, which is an EPA-approved method for dealing with mustard algae, is very effective; even more than polyquats. It doesn’t solve the problem, but does a great job of covering it up.

Bob Harper:
Copper-based algaecides are effective in killing yellow algae. Certain specific chemistries that use ‘chloramination’ tend to work well, too.

It is also critical to treat everything that has come in contact with the pool by tossing it into the water during the treatment. This includes vac hoses, vac heads, auto cleaners and pool toys. Even poolside furniture such as lounge chairs. And don’t forget to wash the swimsuits, too. Yellow algae have the ability to go into a dormant state when dry and return to a normal state once wet again. It’s very easy to carry the algae from one pool to the next in cleaning tools.

The common denominator in yellow algae treatments is that you have introduced something into the pool (copper or chloramines) that you typically don’t want in the pool because of the side effects (copper-staining/chloramines-irritants). So, after the treatment, it is important to follow steps for effectively removing these substances to return the pool back to normal operation and eliminate the possibility of side effects.

How can we help consumers understand chlorine demand? Typically, a customer will come into a pool store when they have a problem, get their water tested, then wait for the pool to clear. Other than a lengthy demand test, all chemistry tests treat the pool as a normal situation and do not know there is a possible demand in the water. Once the pool does not clear, the consumer is upset. When replying to their questions regarding how this can happen, any blanket answer you give (lawn fertilizer, etc.) causes them to snap that their lawn is not fertilized, making you feel as if you are trying to cover up a misdiagnosis of the problem.

Jack Beane:
One analogy is that of a porous container: Until the holes are plugged up, you’re going to have to keep adding water, or it’s going to keep draining. Chlorine demand works much the same way: As long as contaminants are getting into the water (which happens constantly), you’re going to have to keep satisfying chlorine demand.

Many factors can affect chlorine demand: Nitrates in the water, high combined chlorine and other chemical balance issues can cause chlorine to work much less effectively.

Bob Harper:
Chlorine demand can come from many sources. Usually, it is an abundance of nitrogen (ammonia) compounds in the water. Some common sources are fertilizer (which can be wind-borne — meaning they might not use fertilizers, but the neighbor does), pesticides (also potentially wind-borne), decaying organic matter (i.e. leaves) and even source water (many municipalities use chloramination to treat water supplies; mine does).

Another source, especially in the eastern half of the U.S., is the practice of coal-burning power plants and factories treating smokestack affluent with ammonium hydroxide.

One of the best proof statements is to print/copy articles such as this one (to demonstrate it is a wide-spread problem) and share it with customers.

It should be noted that there are usually two types of chlorine demand: one, where the pool is still clear, and the other, where the pool is extremely cloudy (turbid). In either pool, a chlorine residual can’t be maintained.
In the clear type, one possibility is to operate the pool normally when it comes to pump run times, housekeeping, water balance, etc., and keep introducing chlorine daily. I would also recommend a twice weekly shock treatment. And, at some time in the future, a chlorine residual will take hold indicating the demand has been met. The pool potentially can be used during the entire treatment time (except during shock treatments). But keep in mind both APSP and CDC standards do call for a minimum of 1.0 ppm of FAC to be present to prevent RWI’s.

With regards to the other type, a partial drain and fresh refill should be considered. Otherwise, ‘nuking’ the pool with up to 50 ppm of chlorine may be the only short-term solution.

I’m getting a lot of questions from customers about toxicity in chemicals. What should I tell them?

Scott Newton
Pool and spa products are evaluated to ensure that they do not present a health risk to swimmers and bathers when used in accordance with label directions. Sanitizers and algaecides are evaluated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Other pool or spa products are evaluated by the seller.

Courtesy of pool and spa news

Minerals and Your Water – How they Help

August 27th, 2010

Silver is used as a bactericide while copper is often utilized as an algaecide. As water comes into contact with these minerals, positively charged ions are released; these ions destroy negatively charged ions (contaminants). These particular minerals are therefore well-suited for use as sanitizers in water environments.

Silver and copper are more effective in their ionic forms, meaning the molecules are independent and carry a positive charge. These ions are attracted to negatively charged organics (contaminants) such as bacteria and algae. Once attached, these ionic elements destroy the contaminants by penetrating their cell walls.

Because ions are not affected by sunlight or heat, they can remain active in water for extended periods. They are only removed by reacting with contaminants or water replacements. There must be a constant flow of these charged ions continually introduced to the water in order for this process to be effective.

There are many types of devices manufactured that can accomplish this process using active or passive methods.

“Active” devices create ionic silver and copper by applying a low-level direct current to electrodes which are plumbed into the filtration system. The electrodes, which are made from of silver, copper and zinc combinations, quickly release their ions into the water as they erode from electrolysis. The electrodes must be replaced periodically, and the water must be tested regularly to ensure the silver and copper levels do not rise to a point where staining occurs.

Sequestering agents are recommended with this method to prevent any possibility of staining. These devices were common in the 1980s and ‘90s, but they never reached mainstream status as sanitizers. Most pool professionals feel they were oversold as a total replacement to chlorine, or were installed and used improperly. Recent technology seems to take into account the lessons learned from the past, but ionizers are not what most people think of when mineral sanitizers are discussed.

Passive-method devices are usually what come to mind when discussing mineral sanitizers. They do not use any electricity, instead utilizing a flow-through cartridge containing a substrate that is coated with silver or impregnated with a combination of silver and copper. The substrate is made of small pebble-sized pieces that are retained in a plastic cartridge. The cartridge is then installed in a vessel that is plumbed into the spa’s filtration system. As the water passes around the substrate, silver and copper ions are slowly released.

Sequestering agents are not necessary, since the ions are released so slowly. The cartridge contents will remain active for up to 4 months in portable spas. This method was introduced by King Technologys and is termed the “frog” mineral system. Passive devices are a perfect complement to salt-water chlorinators. They do not interfere with chlorine generation, and users can turn the chlorine production rate down, making the electrolytic cell last longer. Passive devices are a preferred method of using copper and silver vs. adding them via a powder or liquid form, because those products are usually mixed with chemicals.

The EPA plays an important role in the regulation of mineral sanitizers. While the copper and silver elements are considered safe, when an efficacy claim is made regarding algae or bacteria control, the EPA regulates its use. Therefore, make sure the product you use has an EPA registration number, lists the active ingredients, and shows all the cautions that the EPA requires. Though the EPA regulates and verifies the claims of mineral sanitizers, they do not regulate the product’s potential to stain or cause other problems. Look for products that are guaranteed to work and guaranteed not to stain the pool.

Benefits of mineral sanitizers
Neither the active nor passive methods eliminate the need for chlorine in a swimming pool, because minerals lack the ability to oxidize dead contaminants. Fortunately, the two biggest benefits of using minerals are a reduction in the amount of chlorine needed to maintain a residual, and the ability to maintain a lower chlorine residual. With a mineral sanitizer, you will notice at least some of the following:
• Reduction or even an elimination of algae
• Fewer skin and eye irritations
• Reduction in shock treatments required
• More stable pH levels
• Total Dissolved Solids do not increase as quickly

Keep your Spa and pools sparkling clear with less work through the use of mineral systems!

Salt Generators and How they Work

July 21st, 2010

The Chlorine Generation Process:

Most of the packaged chlorine available today is manufactured by the salt process. There are three types of electrolytic
cells: diaphragm, mercury and membrane. There are other methods of production, which are designed to fit the raw material containing the chlorine ion. These methods include the electrolysis of hydrochloric acid, the salt process, and the HCl oxidation process.

Electrochemical Cell

The electrochemical cell is composed of an anode, a cathode, and a separator which isolates the liquids contained in the
anode chamber and the cathode chamber. The function of the separator is to isolate the two chambers while allowing the
migration of selected ions from the anode chamber to the cathode chamber. Brine composed of sodium chloride and water
is introduced into the anode chamber where oxidation of the sodium chloride takes place. Chlorine gas is released at the
anode. The sodium ions are attracted to the negatively charged cathode and transported through the separator. Ideally, all of the chloride would be contained on the anode side of the cell.

Water is reduced at the cathode and hydrogen gas is evolved. The remaining hydroxide ion combines with the sodium ion
to form sodium hydroxide solution (caustic), which exits the cathode chamber. Ideally, all of the hydroxide ions would be
contained on the cathode side of the cell.

Membrane Cell

In the membrane process, the anolyte (the solution in the anode chamber) and the catholyte (the solution in the cathode
chamber) are separated by a cation exchange membrane that selectively transmits sodium ions but suppresses the migration of hydroxyl ions from the catholyte to the anolyte. This produces a catholyte effluent with a strong caustic soda solution with a very low sodium chloride content. The advantage of the membrane process are its energy efficiency and its ability to produce, without any harmful effect on the environment, a strong, high-quality solution of caustic soda (NaOH).

The overall chemical reaction is:
NaCl + H2O + electric current –> NaOH + 1/2 Cl2 + 1/2 H2

The two reactions that make up this overall reaction are:

The principal anode reaction:
2Cl- –> Cl2 + 2e-

Chlorine formed at the anode saturates the anolyte and an equilibrium is established as follows:
Cl2 + (OH)- –> Cl- + HOCl
HOCl < --> H+ + OCl7

This shows that the chlorine is formed and then makes the chloride ion (Cl-), and the hypochlorous acid (HOCl), which
further dissociates in equilibrium to hypochlorite ion (OCl-) and hydrogen ion (H+).

The principal cathode reaction is: 2H+ + 2OH- + 2e- –> H2 + 2OH

The hydrogen ion (H+) present in the H2O in the catholyte evolves at the cathode as hydrogen gas (H2), leaving behind the hydroxyl or hydroxide ion (OH-) in the catholyte. Because chlorine has evolved at the anode, the sodium ion (Na+) is free to join the hydroxide ion (OH-) as it migrates from the anolyte chamber to the catholyte chamber. The porous diaphragm is used to inhibit the migration of the OH- ions from the cathode to the anode.

Ideally, we produce pure hydrogen gas, pure chlorine gas and pure sodium hydroxide in this process.

Mercury Cell

The mercury cell has two essential parts: (1) the elctrolyzer and (2) the amalgam decomposer. In the elctrolyzer, a salt
solution is electrolyzed, making use of a special anode and a flowing mercury cathode. Chlorine gas is liberated at the
anode, and sodium is deposited at the surface of the flowing mercury cathode, in which it dissolves to form a liquid
amalgam. The amalgam flows to the decomposer where it is decomposed with water to form sodium hydroxide and
hydrogen gas. The mercury is then recovered and reused.

In the 1970s, mercury cell operations in the U.S. were found to be discharging effluents containing mercury in excess of the safe limits established by EPA. Some installations were shut down. Those that were not shut down improved the process to the point where the effluent mercury level was below the maximum allowed. There are 91 mercury cell chlorine plants in the world producing more than 11,000 tons of chlorine per day.

The swimming pool industry had a few companies that used a brine solution with a membrane. I am not sure that any of
them are in business today. The one I remember was from Unichlor which grew out of Pinch A Penney in Florida. These
units, very effective, and I have still seen them around. Some operational, some not.

Most chlorine generators in the swimming pool industry today use what is called an in-line system. This is a device that
contains many cells with pool water passing through it. Salt (sodium chloride) is added to the pool water to a level of 2000
to 6000 ppm depending on the manufacturer. Low voltage DC electricity is applied to the cells and the unit produces
chlorine gas, hydrogen gas, sodium ions, hydroxide ions. However, there is no membrane or separator and the direct mixing
of these products result in the formation of sodium hypochlorite instead of the evolution of elemental chlorine gas. The
sodium hypochlorite quickly makes hypochlorous acid (HOCl – the killing form of chlorine) and hypochlorite ion (OCl-).
The hydrogen gas releases into the atmosphere as it bubbles up into the pool water. Very little of the hydrogen is in the
ionic form in the water. The hydroxide stays in the pool water and will slightly raise pH.

Many industry people and some chemists are of the opinion that in-line chlorine generators will not change the pH of the
water. In theory this is true. The logic is that you start with a neutral salt (NaCl) split it into sodium and chlorine and put it all back into the water. However, the hydrogen gasses off which would have offset the hydroxide production if it stayed in the water. But since the hydrogen gas left the water the hydroxide will raise pH – once the TA is balanced the pH will also level off around 7.8.

The other questions seemed to be regarding caustic soda and why it is in sodium hypochlorite.

First, let me say that if you make sodium hypochlorite and do not use any caustic, your solution will have a shelf life of a
couple of days. Second, let me explain how sodium hypochlorite is made. Start with a solution of caustic soda (sodium hydroxide) and bubble chlorine gas through it. This makes sodium hypochlorite , sodium chloride, water and heat.

Here is the reaction:
2 NaOH + Cl2 –> NaOCl + NaCl + H2O + Heat

One the basis of molecular weight, 1 lb chlorine reacts with 1.128 lb caustic soda to produce 1.05 lb of sodium hypochlorite and 0.83 lb of sodium chloride. In practice, an excess of caustic soda is used as a stabilizer. A 10% sodium hypochlorite solution has about 10 grams per liter excess caustic soda. A 12% sodium hypochlorite solution has about 12 grams per liter excess caustic soda. A 15% sodium hypochlorite solution has about 15 grams per liter excess caustic soda.
My primary purposes for this lengthy explanation is to show you that the chlorine generator (salt generator, hypochlorite
generator) is not exactly the same as the industrial versions and that they make pure, elemental chlorine gas that is then
captured and stored under pressure in large steel cylinders. Pool chlorine generators make elemental chlorine gas too but,
because it is made in the water, it instantly makes hypochlorous acid and hypochlorite ion. They do not make sodium

Methods of Operation

There are normally two ways a salt generator works. One is by varying the amperage to the cell. Since cell life is generally
based on how long the cell is in operation and not how much chlorine is produced, this is not always the best method.
The second way is to keep the amperage on its highest setting and vary the length of time it is on via a timer. The timer can be internal or external or both. For example, in a pool of 30,000 gallons; the filter may be running 24/7. The salt-water
chlorine generator could be on a separate external timer to only operate from 9:00 pm to 9:00 am. The internal timer on the unit could be adjusted to fine tune the production of chlorine. NOTE: A salt-water chlorine generator should NEVER be on when there is no flow / pump is off.

Based upon calculations of one pound of chlorine per 10,000 gallons = 12 ppm; the unit being on 12 hours per day, the
setting on the unit would need only be dialed in at about 25% production to achieve 1 ppm. In reality, I would start at 25% production the and adjust by observing the swim load, sun, heat, rain, animals etc.

Corona Discharge Ozone Generators and how they Work

July 21st, 2010

For over 100 years ozone has acted as a sanitizer and germ killer in the Commercial market; during that time it has grown in popularity to help sanitize hot tubs. It reduces the amount of chemicals used and allows customers to save time and money maintaining their hot tub water.

Beth Hamil, vice president of corporate compliance at DEL Ozone, notes, “If the ozone generator is sized properly, the halogen chemical reduction is 60 to 90 percent.” This means consumers can save a substantial amount of money on chemicals.

Ozone is created when oxygen molecules are split by a high-energy electrical discharge resulting in two individual oxygen atoms. Those individual oxygen atoms unite with remaining oxygen molecules to produce a three-atom molecule of ozone gas. The weak bond holding ozone’s third oxygen atom causes the molecule to be extremely unstable and thus, a very effective oxidizer.

An oxidation reaction occurs upon any collision between an ozone molecule and an inorganic or organic molecule or substance such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and algae, where the oxygen atom held by the weak bond splits off and only oxygen is left behind. So, ozone is actually a gas manufactured by the method described above, created inside a chamber, housed in various styles of containers.

But of course, it’s not quite that simple. According to Angelo Mazzei, chairman of Mazzei Injector Company that manufactures injectors that help the ozone mix with the water, the most difficult part of the ozone sanitation process is getting the ozone into the water. “Everybody talks about the ozonator, but they don’t talk about how to get the ozone gas into the water. An ozone generator is absolutely worthless unless the gas gets into the solution,” he says.

“The real dilemma is [getting] that O3 [ozone] molecule into the water, because as long as it’s in the bubble it comes through the jets and it pops up and that’s when you smell the ozone. [ed note: This is called off-gassing.] It hasn’t done anything yet because it has to be in the water to do something. Once it’s in the water, you’re not going to smell the ozone gas because it is dissolved in the water,” he adds.

There are two ways for the gas to enter the water according to Hamil. “One, ozone gas is pulled in through the venturi air suction in the spas jet system (one or more of the spas jets may be utilized), or two, it is pulled in through a dedicated ozone injector that is installed in the spa’s main return line,” she says. “Any manufacturer who offers an ozone system on their spa lines (either factory installed or made ‘ozone-ready’ for after-market installation) must pass a strict ozone off-gas test (under UL Standard 1563 5th Edition, 35.8.2, maximum 0.1 PPM). Therefore, ozone off-gas should never be present at the water surface level of any spa.”

Once the ozone is in the water, it is ready to work. “When it’s in the water, it is looking for something to grab on to. The O3 actually attaches on to another molecule, it strips one of the O’s off and it becomes O2 and it oxidizes organics,” Mazzei says.

According to Jennifer Engelmeier, manager of aftermaket spa sales, and Charles Sterling, director of marketing, both at DEL Ozone, “In order to be effective at sanitizing water, ozone must come into direct contact with organic and inorganic contaminants. The higher the ozone concentration, the more likely it is to be dissolved in the water. When ozone is properly injected and dissolved into water, it is environmentally safe and is the most powerful antimicrobial agent available today. Ozone is 200 times more effective than chlorine, acting 900 times faster than its chemical counterparts at destroying unwanted organic and inorganic contaminants.”


“Retrofitting an ozone generator on a spa is quite simple. If the spa has been manufactured ‘ozone-ready,’ there is already an ozone-supply tubing and an electrical receptacle installed,” says Hamil. “If it is not ‘ozone-ready,’ then the consumer or tech can tap into the spa’s air line or add an injector in the spa’s return line for the ozone gas supply. Ozone generators can be purchased in any number of voltages and any number of specialty plug configurations.”

There are two types of ozonators used in hot tubs. One style produces ozone using an ultraviolet light, which oxygen passes through, immediately separating the atoms. The second style produces ozone by a process called Corona Discharge, or CD. This is actually a chamber inside the container that creates little electrical charges to split the atoms. The CD method has an operating life of about five years while the ultraviolet style lasts about one year.

One common thing that service techs, retailers and consumers should be aware of is that all ozone systems need to be refreshed when output levels begin to decrease. Service techs can test these numbers with a gaseous ozone test kit. Hamil indicates that “All ozone systems need to be ‘refreshed’ every couple of years. For the UV ozone system this means changing the lamp; for a CD system this means changing the electrode.”


When customers are looking for a hot tub or an ozonator, it is important to let them know what is available and how it can benefit them in the long run. Mike Cook, owner of Ace Spas located in the DC metro area, has run a successful hot tub repair business for over ten years and recommends ozonators to all of his customers.

“With the use of an ozone system, the spa takes care of itself when [customers are] away on vacation so [they] don’t need someone to check in on [their] spa,” Cook says.

“Many systems work 24 hours a day, so water always stays clear. [Recommend that consumers] look for spas that have an automatic default on them, so that when [users] turn the jets on the ozonator automatically goes off. This is programmed so that people who are sensitive to ozone gas will not have a problem if the spa is experiencing off-gassing.”

Paul Derence, sales and service manager at Hot Water Productions in Colorado, adds, “I feel that consumers are looking for the simplest, most environmentally friendly way to take care of their spa and I think that ozone does just that. For years, people interested in owning a spa are turned away because [they] somehow were brainwashed to believe that spas are difficult to maintain.”

With ozone systems, as mentioned previously, there is a reduction in chemical usage since ozone gas is an oxidizer. David Priano, owner of Priano’s Billiards & Backyards in Dalton Garden, Idaho, also adds, “Many [consumers] are under the impression that ozone will do everything that is needed chemically in the spa. I let them know that they still need to do the standard mineral balancing on the spa. Ozone does not take the place of that part of the chemistry.” Ozonators can be paired with all hot water chemical types too, such as mineral and bromine systems. However, since not every hot tub is alike, it may be best to look at the type of spa the customer has or is wanting and see if an ozone system is the best fit.

“With some spas that have advanced filtration systems, 24-hour circulation, ozone … is more effective. I’ve seen some spas that have the ozone return located 10 inches from the water level, so the ozone has a high gas off at the surface. Ozone is …. [more] effective when covering a larger surface area, which happens when it comes from near the bottom,” says Derence. “So I think it really depends on the brand of the spa, the engineering aspects behind the spa plumbing along with the filtration, as well as the amount of time that the spa circulates to really maximize the total benefit of ozone.”

Should we go with a Used Hot Tub or should we go NEW?

March 17th, 2010

I have been asked if I would buy NEW OR USED? Each and every time I am asked that, It gets me thinking. Should I buy a CHEAPER new spa with a majority of the parts derived from China or Mexico? Or should I Invest Heavily in a high quality hand crafted AMERICAN made spa? Well, I guess that depends on the end user. If you can sleep at night, knowing that a majority of your investment is going to another Country. Or wondering if they followed all the quality control steps there as are mandatory in the USA.

You can buy a new spa from China for $3000 but you better believe, you get what you pay for.


1.High Quality 5/16″ Lucite Acrylic costs manufacturers $1150 per sheet. There are over 200 manufacturers and less than 100,000 hot tubs being sold annually right now. Don’t believe their pitch they are selling in bulk.

2. Exterior Skirting and Framework: Many spa manufacturers are using untreated 3/4″ (1×4′s) wood to support the nearly 4000 pound spa (When filled with water). That works fine as long as you leave the spa where it is. What about when you move it in 3-5 years …. after that thin wood has time to rot because it isn’t treated .. or even painted? I have seen too many cheaply made spas come apart when we came out to relocate them.

3. Jets: You can purchase cheap jets for $3 …. shiny plastic jets that look chrome for a year or two before the chrome plastic chips away in the hot water or you can spend $60 on just one high quality massage jet. If someone is selling a new hot tub with 50+ jets for $3000 – what quality parts do you think it has inside?

4. Components – A full operating system with motor and blower connected to a cheap relay designed circuit board can be purchased as cheap as $250 (originating from china) or if you go direct to a Real American Made Product you are easily into the $1700-$2000 range for a high quality microprocessor controller with solid state circuitry. Which is in a $3000 spa?

Most people stay away from a used spa because they want the peace of mind a warranty provides. Most spa stores do not make their trade in spas look like new and back them with warranties because NO ONE would buy new.

http://www.myspaguy.us/used_hot_tubs.html has taken that factor out of the equation. Look at their website. They pickup trade ins and other nice USED spas and Refurbish them. MySpaGuy is a Pro USA company and only purchases parts made in the USA to refurbish their used American made hot tubs.

They also stand behind their refurbishment with a sold Warranty that is unparalleled in the Used Spa Industry. I have personally talked with several people that have purchased used hot tubs from Myspaguy and they have been overjoyed with the after the sale service they receive. That is saying something. In my experience, most businesses provide superior service up until they get paid. After the check clears, good luck getting them on the phone. Try calling myspaguy and see what you think.

5. Have you forgotten the most important part? Buy American because you are American.

Spa Water Maintenance – Prevent Nasty Smelly Water

January 13th, 2010

OOO that smell. Cant you smell that smell? No I am not talking about that… Does the water in your hot tub smell? Does it have an everlasting odor, regardless the amount of shock or chlorine you toss in? Many people blame a bad odor, skin irritation or stinging eyes on Chlorine or Bromine. Realisticly, that is rarely the case. Many times odors are chemical reactions caused by improperly balanced PH levels. Most odors can be prevented with proper maintenance and cleaning.

Spa & Hot Tub Odors can be caused by many different things but are commonly associated with Improper PH balancing; Improper Sanitizer application (Bromine/Chlorine); Lack of regular application of Oxidizers (Shock); Infrequent water changes; Hidden plumbing line factors from long term build up Don’t waste your money on spa fragrances & water softening products. You’ll only make the situation worse or delay the inevitable for a short time. Deal with the cause to cure the effect. Chlorine and bromine (or BaquaSpa Sanitizer) are all excellent sanitizers hot tub water. When used properly, they breakdown and combine with waste product (forming nitrogen molecules). Very similar to the body and how white blood cells attack and overcome blood contaminants. In spas, the combined molecules are captured by the filtration system and released when you clean your filter (every 3-5 uses). When the filter is overused or dirty, these molecules may re-circulate in the water for extended periods. During this entire process, a side effect occurs called off gassing. This off gassing is the release of Chloramines when using Chlorine as a Sanitizer and Bromamines when using Bromine. Chloramines and Bromamines can affect people differently but are typically considered a bad smell by just about everybody.

Chemical research studies have proven people actually like the smell of chlorine; at least when the ph is well balanced! When asked what was the first single descriptor word to come to mind – the following three were the most common: clean, safe & sanitary. When Chloramines were combined with carbon dioxide and a pH of 8.0 or higher, those same people agreed the smell was less than desirable. Here the descriptors used are laughable – with “Fishy and Dirty Socks” winning. These chemical combinations are what create that acidic “chlorine” odor that everyone correlates with Chlorine.

In order to increase free chlorines & bromines and decrease the “bad” Chloramines and Bromamines, it is necessary to shock the water. Shocking with a 45% di-chlor ingredient is the safest method for reducing Chloramines. If you are utilizing the bromine sanitizer program, you will want to apply a non-chlorine oxidizer such as potassium mono-persulfate. An important aspect with either chemical administration is to leave the spa cover open or completely off for up to 2 hours after administration. You should also attempt to keep all pumps on high and all blowers, turbos, or air valves “OFF”. If you do not keep the cover off and allow these gasses to exhaust, you might just notice the situation might worsen. If allowed to worsen, the problem will get so severe, you might just get the tear gas effect and come out with red welts (where the jets were shooting water on your body) and red eye. If you do not use your spa for a month or more, you should either clean and allow for off gassing bi-weekly or drain the spa so the situation doesn’t worsen. Remember, Shock your spa for safety. Bacteria can easily be inhaled upon long term exposure can create a rare condition called hot tub lung.

Earlier I noted BaquaSpa Sanitizers, there have been complaints of “choking” odors when using “biguanides” e.g. BaquaSpa, Soft Soak, or Leisure Time Free. The cause is very similar. Free biguanide molecules are attaching to bacteria and the resulting wastes are being vapor. The resulting vapor is then emitted from the spa into your face! Proper shocking with the shock (hydrogen peroxide) is necessary on a weekly basis to break up the resulting waste.

NOTE ON BIGUANIDES: Never use swimming pool shock – the odor will be worse. Only use biguanide products formulated for specifically for spas.

Improper PH balance – When pH is below 7.0 the chloramines and bromamines give off very acidic gases leading to coughing, wheezing or other health problems. When pH is over 8.0 the off gassing leads to stale & funky smells plus equipment scaling and will severely reduce the life of your spa components. i.e. pumps, filters, heater, etc.

Regular maintenance of your spa is vital to not only your spa enjoyment but also to the equipment life. Periodic cleaning or wiping down of the spa surfaces above the waterline to include the rim, under and around pillows, filtration area and all the little nooks, Crannies, etc. By cleaning the acrylic with a non-caustic cleaner formulated for spa acrylic, you not only get a good looking spa but it also aids in removing the build-up that leads to foaming and grunge. Bi-weekly cleaning should include cleaning the filter (clean by soaking with filter cleaner, not just rinsing) and cleaning the underneath and topside of the spa cover. In Fact monthly cleaning of the cover with a good quality vinyl cleaner and administration of a protectant such as Armorall will keep the cover looking like new for many years to come.

Drain & refill should be done directly after running a commonly available plumbing line cleanser to get the gunk hidden in the plumbing lines out. This done quarterly will make your spa maintenance seem like a breeze. Then drain completely, use a common non caustic acrylic cleaner and clean the entire spa with a good quality towel. When you refill, you should always use a hose end pre-filter such as you can purchase from Pacific Sands or your local spa store. These simple steps will make your ongoing maintenance a breeze.
Spa Enzyme is an additive available at most spa stores and can help keep your spa plumbing lines and equipment clean. It will increase your filters ability to clean the water and can further help prevent and eliminate odors or dirty water by breaking down grease, body oils and waste that affect your sanitizing system.

In less than one hour a week, you can keep your spa looking new and working perfectly for decades to come.

Free Spa Buyers Guide

January 9th, 2010

For many consumers buying a spa is a life changing event. It is an event often accompanied by stress, when the intention is to alleviate it. There are so many producers of spas, so many sizes and models, prices and quality levels. Making it more complicated is that many spas look and feel virtually identical, even though they are not. Adding further to the confusion some manufacturers use different names to describe similar features in an attempt to make their products appear distinctive.

When confronted with so many choices, consumers often become overwhelmed. This guide will help you make a more informed decision about purchasing a spa by providing you with some basic facts. After reading this guide you will be well on your way to selecting the spa that is right for you, both practically and aesthetically.

How do I keep the water clean? Proper water maintenance is vital to the enjoyment of your spa. While some sales people will try to convince you they can sell you a chemical free spa; that is not a practical option for truly clean water.

Professional retailers and manufacturers most often recommend:
Choosing a spa with an advanced filtration system, purchasing an optional ozone purifier with your spa and using mineral purifiers in conjunction with chemical-based sanitizers. These minerals can significantly reduce the amount of chemicals such as chlorine. Maintenance procedures are not difficult, and knowledgeable retailers will provide the start-up kit and instructions. Manufacturers recommend draining and cleaning your spa 3 or 4 times per year, depending on how frequently you use it and how well you maintain your water. In most cases this simple process will only take about an hour to accomplish. The most common and proven technique is to broadcast spread one ounce of Di-Chlor Shock with no less than 45% available chlorine in the spa while all pumps are running. This should be done after each use but no more than once daily. This method will keep your spa water sparkling clear and smelling great. The negative of utilizing shock is that your ph will increase so you will also need to use half an ounce of ph decreaser after each dose of Shock.