Spa Starter Tips
“Well begun is half done!” This stays true in case of starting up your spa as well. Of course, you have the manual to guide you step-by-step laced with all the technical jargons and the Dos and Don’ts checklist in place. For a revision or rather, a quick briefing; here’s a beginner’s crash course on how to start up your spa with some advices and suggestions thrown in for good measure.
The scene is set. The placement site with the new hot tub beckoning you for a relaxing soak but wait, start it right for a prolonged, hygienic and refreshing use time and again. A friendly foreword would be to coax you to breeze through your user’s manual in the first place. It is a must-do and you’ll surely benefit knowing your spa through the manufacturer’s words; no doubts.
This information is provided to make you a more informed consumer. Either rope in a professional to do this for you or get down to the nitty-gritty and save some money by taking on the job in your own hands; either fully or partially.
- Depending on the location of your spa (indoors or outdoors), ensure the electrical installation is done as per the National Electrical Code (NEC) requirements.
- The outdoor spa will require hard wiring the spa into a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI)-protected 220-240V 50- or 60-amp dedicated circuit and a manual disconnect device called as a Spa Panel (also called a weatherproof disconnect GFCI box) that lies between your home’s electrical breaker panel and the spa. This actually solves the problem of false tripping that occurs if the spa is wired directly to a two-pole GFCI breaker.
- As with all electrical projects, follow local codes and consult an electrician before beginning. In addition, you must have the wiring inspected before using your spa.
- Plan and sketch the electrical path between the breaker panel, spa panel and spa using as direct a route as possible. Keep the spa panel more than 5-feet away from and within the line of sight of the spa; as per NEC rules.
- Procure the wire and conduit and determine the type of conduit fittings as per the diagram.
- For your safety, turn off the electricity at the main breaker of the breaker panel before kick-starting this project.
In 9 steps, you can setup your Spa and proceed to the water-filling phase before you take the dip.
- Turn off the Power to your home at the main breaker of your breaker panel.
- Mount the Spa Panel as per the instructions; keep the 5-feet-rule in mind.
- Dig the conduit trench for your conduit to run from the electrical breaker panel to the spa panel and from the spa panel to the spa; in consultation with your local building code.
- Run the conduit from the breaker panel, down the wall, across the trench to the spa panel and from the spa panel, down to the trench and across to the spa. Measure, cut, insert and cement the required conduit fittings to connect the indoor and outdoor conduits. Wait for the wiring to be inspected before burying the conduit.
- Pull the wires from the fitting to the spa panel. Use fish tape to pull the wire through the conduit from the spa panel to the control panel on the spa itself. Leave at least 6-inches of extra wire on either end.
- Wire the Spa Panel following the Spa Panel instructions. First attach the wires that lead to the spa and then attach the wires from the breaker panel.
- Wire the control panel on your Spa as per manufacturer’s instruction.
- Wire the spa panel to the breaker panel carefully and label the new spa circuit breaker.
- Have it inspected by an electrical inspector. Bury the conduits once the wiring has passed inspection and now, you’re ready to energize your spa by filling the tub.
Prepare the Spa for Fill-up:
Since you would need to access the spa equipment inside the cabinet, do turn off all electrical power to the equipment at the circuit breaker.
- Open gate valves inside the spa cabinet to allow water to flow through the pump, heater and into the spa.
- Ensure that the drain valve is closed to avoid mess outside the tub.
- Do a little cleaning up of the tub’s interiors with a suitable mild, non-foaming, non-abrasive cleanser like the 303 Vinyl Protectant (Product Code: EAC1962) or opt for the aromatic Leisure Time CitraBright to experience the natural cleansing power of Citrus. Please avoid using common household cleaners as they can cause damage to the spa shell, foaming problems and alter pH balance.
Time to Fill-up the Spa:
- Before filling, be sure that your filter cartridge like the 25 sq. ft. Top Load Spa Cartridge is installed. This will ensure that your new spa water is being properly filtered from start-up.
- Close all drains and fill the hot tub with water by putting the hose down the center of the gray standpipe in the filter compartment. This will minimize airlocks in the equipment by filling through the heater, pumps and jets, pushing most of the air out of the lines.
- In order to eliminate dirt, sediment, rust, calcium, iron and copper; it is best to attach the Great Start Filter to the end of any garden hose and begin the fill…it’s that simple! The water level of your hot tub should be maintained at a level of 1½ inches above the highest jet.
Power-up the Spa:
- After your tub has been filled with water, it is a good idea to re-open the equipment door on your spa cabinet and check for any leaks around the fittings. If you do detect any small leaks around any of the union fittings, you will want to make sure to hand-tighten them right away. You might want to drop the idea of tightening the nuts with a wrench for possibility of it getting cracked easily. Hand tightening is ample.
- Now, that the spa has been filled with water and the equipment compartment door is secured, power must be applied to the spa. Review your owner’s manual on how to operate your new spas controls.
- Hot tubs can take approximately 7-24 hours to heat, depending on its size and other factors such as outside temperature.
- Check the functionality of all the components such as buttons on the topside control panel and jets to make sure water is flowing.
- The jet pump(s), heating system and all internal plumbing will achieve a partial prime as the spa is filled. Once the jet system is fully operational (as indicated by strong, non-surging jets), priming of the spa is complete. Weak or surging jets are an indication of a low water level condition or clogged filter cartridges.
Balance & Chemical Stock-Up:
- If you want your hot tub water to stay clean and hygienic, you’re going to need appropriate startup chemicals.
- You might wonder what would happen if you totally ignored this part or tried to save up on this context. You’d use the tub for the first week in ignorant bliss, heating the water up to over 100 degrees every night. By week’s end, the water would have a distinctive odor, kind of like hard, dirty water. By the middle of the second week, traces of algae would be showing. Leave it for a full two weeks, and you’d have a nasty green mess on your hands, and dumping the water would be the only way to fix it. You bought a hot tub; not a lotus pond.
- If you need a science peek into what happens inside of a hot tub, here it goes…
- As you raise the temperature and heat the water, the hot water opens up the pores of the bathers, causing them to strip off oils, perfumes, and skin lotions right into the water. Yes, kind of like bathing. 104 degree water is not in and of itself a good medium to support algae growth – it’s much too hot for the algae to live at that temperature. A funny thing happens however: as soon as the bathers leave the water and the heat is turned off, the water begins to cool until the next time the spa is used. This lukewarm water is the perfect temperature for algae to take a foothold in and thrive.
- First off, invest in a set of test strips so that you can get a baseline reading for the way the city water is. City water will already have some degree of chemicals added to it, but not enough to keep the water clean in a pool or spa setting. Try the AquaChek Bromine TruTest Reader with AquaChek Bromine TruTest Strips. For Chlorine Spas, you may use AquaChek Chlorine TruTest Readerwith AquaChek Chlorine TruTest Strips.
- Look at the test strips to determine the pH of the water, the first and foremost thing you need to check. If the pH is lower than 7.4 or higher than 7.6, you will need to fix this by adding acids or bases as required.
- You need your sanitizer to work extremely well in a hot tub or spa, so the pH has to be just perfect for this to be accomplished
- Balancing your water before you introduce your sanitizer is important in order to avoid unwanted problems such as cloudiness, discolored or bad smelling water. Keeping your water balanced is crucial to promote long equipment life, and healthy, clean, clear spa water. While taking the time to balance your hot tub water may seem like a tedious task at first, you will soon get the hang of it, and it will become a simple routine.
Set your Sanitizer System:
- Next; you will need the sanitizers. Whether you select bromine or chlorine, you will want put in a much higher start-up dosage than normal – this is called a shock treatment. Shock treatments are used when starting up a pool or spa, and then periodically once in a while afterward. What a shock treatment does is kill bacteria and stabilize the water initially so that a baseline of clean water can be achieved.
- If you wish to opt for a non-chlorine shock, then try the O2 Safe Shock or the Amerse Shock Oxidizer.
- Especially when dealing with a hot tub or spa, pay attention to the alkalinity, which is a measure of the hardness of the water. You want relatively soft water (water with a small concentration of minerals) in your hot tub or spa because minerals attack pump seals, seize up jets, and prematurely corrode the motors used to power spas.
- Hot tub start-up chemicals wouldn’t be complete without the addition of a dab of algaecide to keep the water plant free. Regular, small applications of algaecide, even if you don’t have an algae problem will go a long way to keeping your water clear.
- If the hot tub is used daily Bromine Concentrate must be added after use, or at the end of the day. Otherwise, once in three days is fine.
Invest in a Spa Start-Up Essentials Hamper:
All this will equip you with all of the essential products to get your spa up and running. One thing that you must know for sure is that the water in your hot tub won’t be changed with each use. A noteworthy tip would be to drain and refill your tub two to four times a year only. Also, do not drain your hot tub in temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once your spa has heated and you’ve allowed your chemicals to circulate for at least 30 minutes, it’s time to soak in! Enjoy!!