How to solve
some of the less common spa, swim spa or hot tub
Spa Problems: that's where you might find
information that has not been categorized more
specifically. Some subjects just defy simple
categories, so always look under related or
overlapping topics. All of the archives pages
have a list of related or overlapping topics,
near the bottom of the page. You never know -
you might actually learn something! If
problems arise, refer to the
Page, as a source of problem-solving
information, broken down into various
categories. Scroll down the page and click on the linked
or images, in the archived answers below, to access additional information, on that topic or product.
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Problem-Solving Information, in a question and
► Using Epsom Salts?
I recently read an article talking
about the benefits of soaking in an Epsom salts bath and
wondered if my hot tub would be damaged if I added Epsom
salts to the water. What do you think?
Epsom salts are used, at high concentration, in floatation
chambers. Much will depend on how much you add. In a spa it could cause corrosion, wherever two
dissimilar metals are in immediate proximity. The same would
be true, in a spa equipped with a
salt chlorine generator.
While I suspect that it can be done, I suggest that you
contact the manufacturer of your spa, and ask if it could
adversely affect the spa or equipment. I hope that I have
been helpful. If so, please tell your friends and dealers
about the website.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster. 11/20/2016
I have read
through your pages and am
disappointed you are in US as I am
in Brisbane Australia. I need help
with the cracks in my spa. It is 9
years old and the place of original
purchase has closed down. The colour
of the fibreglass is marbled green
and I think white in the cracks
would look silly. I would prefer a
tradesman to come out to repair but
I can't find anyone that actually
does this sort of work. Surely we
aren't the only ones with this
Lynette D., Australia, 1/10/2015
I might give you the same advice,
even if you were in the US.
Repairing a crack with epoxy will
leave a white
line. You could paint the spa.
afterwards, with a product like
Ultra Poly One Coat and create a
uniform look. The problem is that
epoxy may not prevent the crack from
expanding. So reinforcing might be
necessary. While it might prove
difficult to find someone that
repairs spa cracks, the same should
not be true of people that make
repairs to fiberglass boats. So look
for a marine repair specialist, that
is willing to work on a spa. I
hope that this leads to a solution.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster,
► Hair And
Fingernails Are Turning Green?
Our spa is turning our hair and nails
green! I chlorinate and use water clarifier regularly. What
Robert B., 2/27/2015
Not a good thing! Your hair and nails are turning green, as
a direct result of copper being present, at unacceptably
high concentrations. You can confirm this by having an
copper analysis performed. However, this is a virtual
certainty! Unless you are using poor quality well water, it
is coming from the copper heater core. The reason that this
happening is because of low pH conditions. You stated that
you are using chlorine: the only type you should be using is
dichlor granular added directly to the water. Never add
chlorine through the skimmer or use trichlor tablets! I
suggest that you drain the spa and start with a clean page.
You need to pay attention to the pH and total alkalinity, as
this type of corrosion cannot occur, with chlorine use,
unless the pH is low. You will destroy the heater, if this
continues. You might consider having an
installed, as it will make for better water quality and
reduce the amount of chlorine required. Add a salt
chlorine generator should help
you avoid low pH conditions, while
providing an easier and better way
to use chlorine. Unless you make sure the pH
remains in the 7.2-7.8 range and not below 7.0, your heater
will be destroyed. Try using an acidic shampoo and
conditioner on your hair to help remove the color. You might
read through the archives on spa water chemistry, spa water
testing and other related topics. Good luck and I hope that
I have been helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 2/28/2015
► Spa Water
I have noticed approx. 3 inches of
water loss per week in my 400 gallon hot tub. It is outdoors
and it has been cold. I have a good cover. Is this normal
water loss or could it be a leak? Thanks.
I have never seen figures for water loss for a spa that
remains properly covered, except for periods of actual
usage. Depending upon the size and shape of the spa, an inch
of water loss could amount to 10-20 gallons. I suggest that
you start looking for evidence of a leak. If you conclude
that there is a leak, it should be possible to seal the
leak. Fix A Leak
is a leak sealer that can repair and seal small spa leaks.
Looking for wet insulation might help you locate the source
of the leak. Calling in a leak detection
specialist would be a sure-fire way to locate the leak and
make the necessary repairs, but it is not inexpensive. Try
the Fix A Leak and see what happens. Good luck.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 12/26/2008
Spa Cover Deterioration Or Mold?
I hope you can help us figure out
what this is. I have included a
couple of pictures. The outdoor hot
tub is at a mountain rental we have
and during this past winter it has
been keep at a warm 80 degrees when
not in use and then turned up to 100
degrees when the cabin is rented. So
it has stayed very warm with the
cover on. We have a weekly spa
service. This last weekend we
noticed this pasty white stuff on
the underside of our spa cover where
the cover folds in half. It looks
like something growing because it is
raised and is corral looking. We
called the spa service and they sent
their guy out. He told us it was
just our cover deteriorating and he
sees it all the time. That it is
nothing to worry about. This was not
there just 4 months ago. We are not
sure what to believe. It is firm to
touch but you can scrape at it to
remove it. Any ideas? Do we need to
buy a new spa cover? I am
wondering if we need to change spa
services. I am concerned that our
current company is not using the
proper chemicals. Any help would be
Cathy T., Big Bear Lake, CA,
images appear to be too uniform, for
me to conclude that it is a mold
issue. That being said,
deterioration of the plastic is not
something that I can rule out.
You can try cleaning it with a Tilex
spray and then hosing the cover off.
Nano-Technology Spray Cover
Protectant might help the cover
last longer and extending the cover
life would be a worthwhile goal. An
application of Nano-Spray can
protect for 6-12 weeks.
Sorry that I couldn't offer more
Sincerely. Alan Schuster,
► Spa Cover
The underside of my spa cover seems to
get moldy. I have to resort to laundry bleach to get rid of
the stuff and remove the odor. Got a better suggestion.
Debbie R., Edison, NJ 1/31/2010
Unfortunately, you sanitize the water, but the condensate on
the underside of the cover is not contacting the water. Mold
and mildew are often the result and your solution is one
that will work. At least for a while. A better, longer term
solution involves some new technology, as opposed to
chemical treatment. The Nano-Spray can provide protection,
for as long as 12 weeks, without having to resort to harsh
chemicals. The Nano-Spray Cover
Protectant contains Nano-Titanium, which
activates when exposed to light. Once activated, it oxidizes
and decomposes organic matter, that is in contact. It is a
safe product to use and can help prolong the life of your
cover. I hope that this helps solve the problem.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 2/1/2010
► Using Well
I would like to fill a 400 gallon spa
with well water. The spa will be sanitized with an ozonator
and a bromine floater. I plan on adding some metal treatment
before the chemicals. Anything that I should do?
Bill M., 2/4/2008
Have the water tested, to know what you're dealing with. You
could use a metals removing pre-filter, such as a
Filter, which will help remove the metals that lead to
staining and discoloration. It is far better than just
adding chemicals. After the spa is filled, you should
continue with the METALTRAP Filter, when adding new water, to help
maintain better water quality and reduce chemical
consumption. If the water contains less than 1 PPM of heavy
metals, you can use it to refill the spa, as many as twenty
times. If the water is of really poor quality, you should
use the METALTRAP Dual-Cartridge Filter, which removes
metals, plus contamination and sulfur. I hope that this
information proves helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 2/4//2008
► Hot Tub
I have noticed approx. 3 inches of
water loss per week in my 400 gallon hot tub. It is outdoors
and it has been cold. I have a good cover. Is this normal
water loss or could it be a leak? Thanks.
I don't recall ever seeing figures for water loss for a spa
that remains properly covered, except for periods of actual
usage. From my own experience, it seems to be well beyond
what should result from evaporation. Depending upon the size
and shape of the spa, an inch of water loss could amount to
10-20 gallons. I suggest that you double check that the
cover is sealing reasonably well and then start looking for
evidence of a leak. In the final analysis, if you conclude
that there is a probability of a leak, it should be possible
to seal the leak. FIX A LEAK is a leak sealer that can be
used to create a permanent repair, when added to the spa
water and/or equipment. However if the leak is a cracked
pipe or loose connection, it may not seal. If that is the
case, you might benefit from a leak detection service. It
should be used according to the product instructions. Good
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 12/26/2005
I am pregnant and still would like to
use our spa. I know our chemicals actually say to have the
temperature set at a minimum of 98 degrees. Is it possible
to have it cooler and use pool chemicals instead. The temp.
I had in mind is the mid to high 80's. Thanks.
Elaine, Orlando, FL, 4/1/2013
Did you check with your doctor? There is no problem using
the spa at a lower temperature, provided that adequate
amounts of sanitizers are maintained. It is a common
practice, especially during hot times of the year. Depending
upon the sanitizer being used, you may not have to change
anything. I would not suggest using pool chemicals, as you
are dealing with a very small amount of water. Pool chlorine
tablets, for example, would still dissolve far too rapidly.
To be safe, stick with spa chemicals. Good luck with the
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 4/1/2013
► Main Drain
We bought a house with a custom
inground spa. After refinishing the interior and upgrading
the pump and filter, I find that the suction, from the
bottom drain, is too strong. How should this be fixed, so as
not to risk an accident? Thank you for your help.
Debra S., Bonita Springs, FL, 3/12/2009
You need to install an anti-entrapment safety drain cover.
There are VGB compliant safety drain covers, that will help
avoid the grave consequences of hair or body entrapment.
Check to make sure that all safety features meet the
requirements of your current local regulations. I hope that this
information will be help solve the problem and provide some
piece of mind.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 3/12/2009
► Spa Cover
Is Too Heavy?
I use my spa for my arthritic
condition. I find the cover quite heavy to remove and
handle. Are there lighter weight covers? The one I have is
about 3 inches thick with a plastic cover. Thank you.
I.S., Delray Beach, FL, 3/23/2010
It is possible that the cover has become water logged. I had
a similar problem and had to replace the cover. There are
spa cover removers and lifters, that can easily remove the
cover without effort. There are lighter weight covers, as
well. I suggest that you discuss the matter with a local spa
professional. Good luck.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 3/2//2010
► Asking The
We are going to be looking for a spa
within the next few months. We will probably want something
that can accommodate 4 people. We realize that there are
lots of features to choose from and ways to sanitize. But,
what should be ask of the dealer?
Steve & Jill N., 8/25/2009
Some questions are always best asked before you sign on the
dotted line. Here are some things to ask. All may not apply
to every situation. Ask how long the dealer has been in
business! Has he done business under other names? Is he
licensed, bonded and insured? Will he provide complete start
up instructions? Make sure the warranties are spelled out
completely! Does he provide service after installation? Will
he be responsible for any damage to property during
installation? If a permit is required, who applies and
obtains it? Good luck with the spa and enjoy the hot water
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 8/25/2009
Looking for an "in-ground" spa near
Atlanta and don't know where to start. I live near Atlanta,
Georgia, and I want to buy a spa - not a hot tub - which is
designed to be permanently installed in the ground but all I
have found on the web so far are "portable spas" which
include all the costs associated with making the damn things
"portable." I would rather spend my money on a bigger spa
that is NOT portable and have it professionally installed in
our back yard (in a hole in our deck where the air
conditioners used to be). We even have a water supply right
next to the spot where we want the spa. Where should I look
for such a thing in the Atlanta area? Who are the
"reputable" dealers? How does one avoid the "problem"
dealers? How much should I expect to pay for a big in-ground
spa that has TWO LOUNGES? Thanks for your time.
Steve, Atlanta, GA, 7/9/2010
What you want is doable. And I can understand your
justification. So far as a dealer and pricing, I can offer
little direct assistance. You could start with a local spa
dealer and see if the product can be ordered without the
external cabinetry. There is one more important thing that
you must check into. In most areas, what you are
contemplating is akin to an inground pool and might require
all of the permits associated with inground pools. In
addition, it could impact your property taxes. Portable spas
do not usually have these problems. How would you access the
equipment or the plumbing? Where would the heater and filter
pump go? You need to do some homework. That's one of the
reasons the portable spa is so popular. Good luck with your
decision. If you ever have a spa water problem, please come
back and visit the website.
Sincerely, Alan Schuster, 7/9/2010
► Buying A
We are looking to buy a 350 gallon
Spa. We have a small child and I have several allergies,
including nickel allergy sensitivity to chlorine and eczema.
So, what would be the best and most cost-efficient
sanitation system to purchase with the Spa? Thanks.
Cost efficiency shouldn't be your prime interest.
Effectiveness should! An ozonator and a mineral sanitizer,
to act as a backup sanitizer, would be both effective and
cost efficient. Spas are available with built-in
and mineral sanitizers are simply add-ons. This combination
contains no nickel compounds, chlorine or bromine, should be
easy on the skin and keeps chemical treatment at a minimum.
I hope that this information proves to be helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 4/1/2004
For An Indoor Spa?
We plan on using an addition to our
house for a spa. What should we do to the room to prepare
for the spa? How big a spa would you suggest for a family of
four? What's the best and easiest way to sanitize the water?
Thanks for the help.
Gordon H., 3/1/2006
The spa will create a lot of moisture. It would be best to
keep the spa room isolated from the rest of the house. Make
sure that the proper materials are used in the construction.
Choose a contractor that is familiar with the special
requirements of a spa enclosure. An exhaust fan would be a
good idea. A spa of 250-300 gallons will usually be set up
for 4-5 bathers. The choice of jets is an individual matter
and be tailored to suit your preferences. Make sure that the
height of the spa will go through the entrance to the room.
It is easier than ever to sanitize a spa. Spas can be
equipped with ozonators,
generators, ionizers or mineral sanitizers for convenient
and effective sanitizing. Plan on keeping the spa covered,
while not in use. This will help keep the moisture level
down and will save on electrical usage.
Thermal cover removers are available. I hope that this
information will prove helpful. Please come back and visit
the website, if you ever need help with spa water chemistry,
spa water quality or maintenance issues. Enjoy the spa.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 3/1/2006
► Spa Cover
Is Too Heavy to Handle?
I find the spa cover a bit too heavy
to handle. I am not as young as I used to be and my wife
certainly can't remove the cover by herself. I bought the
spa because of arthritis and I would like to minimize the
effort. I think that I recall seeing some type of cover
appliance in a magazine picture. Appreciate the help.
Neal H., Boynton Beach, FL, 12/1/2008
You remember correctly. There are spa cover removers that
tilt the cover out of the way with the a minimum of effort.
You can even add a scenic backdrop, so you don't have to
look at an ugly uplifted spa cover. Your local spa
professional should be able to decide on a product suited
for your needs. Enjoy the spa.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 12/3/2008
Considerations Before Spa Purchase?
I want to buy a home spa, but am now
confused about a couple of things. Under the topic of salt
water spas in 2006 you said: "Saltwater chlorinators are
available for use in spas and offer similar advantages:
complete elimination of chlorine chemical products, easy
maintenance and improved water quality - just to name a
few". Does your positive opinion of salt water chlorinators
still stand today in 2008? I have not purchased my spa yet,
and am really trying to investigate this beforehand, as I
want to make the right decision. Recently a spa salesperson
advised against the salt water chlorinator, saying it wasn't
less maintenance or chemicals. Was he mistaken? Is a salt
water chlorinator the same as a salt chlorine generator? Is
there a brand of salt water chlorinators for spas that you
recommend? If you get one for your spa, would it make sense
to add an ozonator or uv sanitizers or a micron high
efficiency filter? Or do they become redundant or overkill
if you have the salt water chlorinator? I am looking for a
spa with minimal maintenance, low chemical usage, and one
that we can leave for a month when we go on holidays. I
don't want to add chemicals and check levels all the time,
especially before and after each use. Does such a spa exist?
The second issue is that one manufacturer does not use any
foam insulation and argues that his hot tub is designed for
energy efficiency in a cold climate, while another
manufacturer says that you have to have spray foam
insulation in order to achieve this. Can you speak to that?
Thanks so much for your time, your website is great!
Lori M., Canada, 2/13/2008
Yes, I still like salt chlorine generators and so do
millions of other pool and spa owners. A salt chlorine
generator does not mean "no work or no chemical," but it
does make for easier maintenance and no chlorine handling or
storage. A completely, chlorine-free system is hard
by. The correct terminology is salt chlorine generator,
saltwater chlorine generator or salt chlorinator. Salt water
incorrect, but it is referring the
same piece of equipment. It is far
more popular is the swimming pool
application. Adding an ozonator or
uv sanitizer has advantages: it will
allow you to maintain a lower
chlorine level. An ozonator is not a
stand alone sanitizing system. It
needs back up. However, it provides
oxidation without the addition of
chemicals that lead to chemistry
changes or buildup. UV sanitizers
add no chemicals, but helps assure
that the return flow is almost
devoid of microorganisms, allowing
for lower chlorine levels. A spa
without insulation would not be
overly energy efficient, as it would
be subject to unwanted and
unnecessary heat loss. Electricity
is expensive enough, without wasting
it due to poor insulation. I would
look for an energy efficient brand.
Having an ozonator or UV sanitizer
will help provide the sanitation,
during periods of absence, as they
can be operated, with the timer
controlling the pump and filter. Good luck and enjoy the hot water
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 2/13/2008
► A Spa Or A
My wife and I are considering buying a
spa. We can't even agree on the name. She says that a hot
tub is not a spa and I say that the terms are used loosely.
What are the advantages or disadvantages? And who's right?
S & A, Pt. Pleasant, NJ, 5/13/2007
Who's right? Both! The terms hot tub and spa are used
interchangeably, but they are different. Hot tubs are
constructed like a barrel split in two. There can be vinyl
liner inside to prevent leaks and keep the water away from
the wood. Jets, blowers, heaters, filters can be present, in
both types of units. Spas are usually made from a resin
material surrounded by a cabinet. They come in all types of
sizes and shapes. Interiors are shaped with seating and
loungers. Jets and blowers can be used to great effect. The
hot tub tends to be higher than the spa and that can make
entering the water require a step or steps. Spas have a much
more modern appearance - hot tubs a more rustic look. Hot
tubs are built for soaking. Spas are made for sitting or
lounging, while experiencing the relaxing agitation and
aeration of the water. Call it whatever you want. The choice
is yours to make! Pick out a spa or hot tub that will make
you both happy, because you'll be in hot water together!
Good luck with your choice.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 5/13/2007
Freeze Alarm Monitoring?
Is there such a thing as a freeze
alarm for hot tubs that can be connected to a home alarm
system to notify the owner of loss of the hot tub heater
system at a weekend only location. The house is monitored
for low temperature (i.e.: furnace malfunction etc.)
intrusion and fire. Thank you.
Waiting until freezing actually occurs would be too late. If
the heater is left on during the periods of absence, a
sensor could be added to send a signal if the temperature
falls to 80°F. This would alert you that something is wrong
and still allow plenty of time to avoid freeze-thaw damage.
While I don't have specific details on the equipment
required, I have no doubt that it could be easily
accomplished with a home automation product. Good luck and I
hope that I have been helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 12/20/2004
► Draining A
I have a spa on my screened in patio.
The patio is surrounded with planted beds. Can I hurt the
plants by allowing the water to drain into these beds? Thank
Molly P. Vero Beach, FL, 12/9/2011
Spa Chemicals are not herbicidal and should not cause damage
to the plants. If you have no other choice and the area is
well drained, I don't see a problem. I hope that I have been
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 12/9/2011
► Not In
When I set my spa to come on at
certain times, it will work for maybe 2 or 3 days. Then it
will turn off it will not trip the breaker. I tested all the
fuses. I can reset the time, but it goes for another 2 or 3
days. Then off again. Sometimes it goes off when it turns on
after 20 or 30 minutes. Any answers? Thanks.
Obviously, it is possible that you can have a controller
problem and I can offer little assistance. It is also
possible that your controller is set incorrectly. For
example. Some controllers can be set so that operation is
based solely under the control of the timer. Other units can
be controlled based on temperature control. Check to see if
your controller has a selector for choosing either timer
control or temperature control. It may be set to temperature
control and that could explain the situation. Other than
this, there's not much that I can add. Over the years,
there's been a lot of different equipment in use and not
everything applies to all. Check to see if the spa
manufacturer has an online trouble-shooting guide. Good
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 4/1/2006
We found recently many orange spots on
our 5 spa filters that are not disposable. We have used a
degreaser/cleaner but there still there. Scrubbing doesn't
work either. Could these orange spots contribute to our
constantly cloudy water? What are the orange spots and how
do we get rid of them? Could they also be in our pipes?
Please help. Thanks.
This is not something that I can recall ever having come up
before. The most likely cause of the orange spots is rust.
There could have been iron flecks in the water used to fill
the spa. Trying using a vitamin C tablet on a spot. Rub it
in a form a wet paste. Give it 30 minutes, If this works, it
is definitely a metal problem. Acid alone might remove the
spots. You could soak the filter in a acidic solution that
contains some ascorbic acid. I would add some metal
treatment to the spa to prevent more stains. DO NOT ADD
METAL TREATMENT, IF YOU ARE USING A MINERAL SANITIZER, AS IT
MAY INTERFERE WITH ITS ACTION. If this doesn't work, it may
be a bacterial problem. Try soaking the cartridges in a
solution to which 8 ounces of liquid chlorine has been
added. Give it an hour or two. If this works, this is proof
that the problem is a microorganism and is related to
inadequate sanitation. This would also explain the cloudy
water problems, as well. You need to review the sanitizing
practices. This sounds like a commercial unit and you should
have an ozonator and or a UV sanitizer in operation, in
addition to some other backup sanitizer. I hope that this
information will prove helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 3/5/2005
► Indoor Spa?
We are planning to finish off part of
an extension, in order to enclose our spa. The room will
have an exhaust system and is separated, by sliding patio
doors, from the rest of the house. Do we have to keep the
cover on the spa?
H. P., Rutland, VT, 9/12/2010
The exhaust is a good thing. However, unless you are going
to run the exhaust all of the time, eventually the humidity
will lead to problems. Having the spa covered when not in
use will not only save on electricity, it might save the
room from the effects of humidity. My advice would be to
find a contractor that understands what a spa enclosure will
require. If left uncovered, the dissolved salts and mineral
will continue to rise in level, as evaporation leaves the
salt and minerals behind. Good luck.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 9/12/2010
► Frogs In
I have a spa and I often see small
frogs inside the spa. How do I get rid of them? Are there
Kirit P., 7/9/2004
My wife collects frogs, but they don't belong in your spa.
You'll have to scoop them out of the spa, but perhaps you
can keep more from joining them. Here's something that
worked for me. Try it so long as it will not present a
problem with small children or pets. I did it once and no
more frogs or snails. Drop some moth balls around the
outside perimeter of the spa (not in the water) and in
nearby beds. This was suggested to me by my exterminator. I
did it once and I don't see them anymore.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 7/9/2004
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