Why Is "Balancing" My Water Important?
Ok, let me just be honest with you, I was a pretty good student but I got a D in high school chemistry. So if I can wrap my head around the basics of water chemistry, you can too! You don't have to be chemist to balance your hot tub water but there are some basics to understand. pH is a measure of relative acidity or alkalinity of water and is measured on a scale of 0-14ppm. The midpoint is said to be neutral at 7ppm. Above neutral and the water is alkaline. Below and the water is acidic. In your spa's water, you want to maintain a slightly alkaline condition, ideally between 7.4-7.6ppm. The further out of range, the more problematic your water issues will become.
Here's a quick run-down on the essential products you may need to balance your hot tub water and an explanation of when/how to use them. (All of these products are included in the Essential Starter Kit).
4-Way Test Strips: Testing your water before making any adjustments is critical to adding the right amount of product. Too much of something may throw your balance completely out of range. Dip your test strip in the water and immediately pull out and align the strip to the color meter on the back of the test strip bottle. If it's helpful, you can write down your results, test strip readings are only accurate for about 30 seconds. Taking good notes about what adjustments you make will help you understand the ebb and flow of your water.
Alkalinity Up: (also known as Alkaline Increaser) We always want to start with Alkalinity because it acts a as a buffer for the pH levels in your spa, which is to say it is the stabilizing factor to balancing your water. Before you make any adjustments to pH, be sure your alkalinity is in range first. If your Alkaline levels read too low, you'll need to get them within the ideal rage, 80-120ppm by adding Alkalinity Up. *Note, there is no such thing as Alkalinity Down. You can reduce Alkalinity by using pH/Alkalinity Down or by using Acid Magic (or Muriatic Acid). You can also use ProTect™ Plus and an In-Line Pre-Filter attachment to help remove the minerals that cause high Alkaline.
pH Up: (also known as pH Increaser) Proper pH levels will create the right environment for us to correctly sanitize the spa. If your pH levels are too low, below 7.4ppm, then we would advise you to use pH Up. When water is too acidic our sanitizer won't function the way we need it to and you may find unsafe, cloudy, unpleasant smelling water is a result. A low pH condition will also be corrosive to metals in the spa equipment.
pH/Alkalinity Down: (also known as pH/ Alkaline Decreaser) When pH levels become too high, over 7.8ppm, unwanted minerals can deposit on the interior surface (scaling) and sanitizers are less effective. If you find your pH is too high add pH/Alkalinity Down or ProTect™ Plus as needed to remove the minerals that cause pH to become so high.
ProTect™ Plus: (also known as Stain & Scale) Making sure your water source is not polluted with unwanted minerals is essential to getting your water balanced and prevent corrosion. ProTect™ Plus should be used anytime that new water is added to the spa, at new start-up or with topping off the water occasionally. We also suggest using and In-Line Pre-Filter attachment to assist in removing undesirable contaminants form entering the spa. Critical for anyone with well water or with an in-home filtration system.
Calcium Hardness Increaser: If your water tests "soft" on your test strips, add a little Calcium Hardness Increaser. But beware that excess calcium, creates flaky white deposits, so adjust sparingly. Try aiming for 100-175ppm. Too little calcium and you can see equipment damage and unwanted foaming in the spa. Too much calcium and you need to use ProTect™ Plus and an In-Line Pre-Filter to remove the excess.
*Not included in Essential Starter Kit, but also very helpful:
*In-Line Water Pre-Filter Attachment: Attach this re-useable filter to the end of your water hose or at the spigot and you will drastically reduce the amount of unwanted contaminants from entering your spa water. It's also very helpful for any spa owners with well water or for anyone that has an in-home filtration system.