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Chemistry with a bromine salt system


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Hello! I could use some advice for a situation that I've had for awhile and have experimented quite a bit with, with no luck.

I have a 550 gallon spa that uses gecko's in.clear bromine salt generator system and a 24h circulation pump. I *love* the bromide salt generator system and its ability to automatically generate a clean spa. And at this point I know all of the spa settings for my usage/season to get my spa to an ideal bromine ppm.

However, I have a constant struggle with the pH. My normal routine is to purge the spa, put in the sodium bromide, get it up to temperature, and adjust the spa, starting with TA. At some point I put in ProTeam's Gentle Spa, or SpaPure's comparable product, to help create more gentle water. 

So the problem I'm facing is that the pH constantly rises - quickly. In the past I've used an assortment of products to try and adjust things to perfection, from baking soda to your typical ph down products to muriatic acid. Nothing maintains the level.

I reached a point where I'd just get the TA within range and just accepted a very high pH. 

As I prepare my spa for winter, I'll be doing a proper cleaning/purge and drain, and as I look to do this maintenance for the season I'm curious if anyone has any suggestions around this. IN PARTICULAR, I'm looking for folks who own or have significant experience with a system that uses a sodium bromide salt generator system (if you do and share this experience, please tell me!). I've started to wonder if this type of system just naturally has a higher pH.

Thanks to everyone in advance!

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7 hours ago, RDspaguy said:

you know a little

Very Little. 

14 hours ago, darkmyst said:

rises - quickly

A day, A week, A Month? What is quickly

What testing method are you using...Test strips, drops?

When was the last time you cleaned the cell?

Do you use a stain and scale remover

What is your water source? Well or tap. 

Do you fill with softened water?

14 hours ago, darkmyst said:

where I'd just get the TA within range

What range are you in? are you between 100 and 120 PPM? 

 

http://www.inclear.ca/incleartroubleshooting not much info here on ph troubleshooting but there is a link to the manual and might be good to browse through.

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@CanadianSpaTech

I can get the pH to stay lower until until I turn on the jets, although it does creep up even when they're off. The moment the jets turn on, the pH rises dramatically and stays there. I use a Taylor test kit to measure the results and I have test strips as well.

The cell gets cleaned about once a year. It looks good. The bromine generation is on point.

I used to use a stain and scale remover but was advised by my spa manufacturer that I should not be with the bromine salt generator. I believe they mentioned something about it having an opposite effect on the bromine generation. That said, they've had turnover lately and I've received some bad advice from them in the past, hence why I'm looking for answers elsewhere. Whenever I purge my tub (3 times a year usually) I use Ahh-Some and I believe that helps combat scaling. I am not sure how effective a scale and stain remover would be considering my persistently high pH level.

My water source is city/tap water. I do not fill it with softened water.

I generally balance my TA between 90-120 ppm.

Thanks again for your help! 

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So, an update. I just read an article here: https://www.askalanaquestion.com/bromine_for_pools.htm that suggests that the red phenol used to measure pH can have an interaction with bromine, so my Taylor test kit may be off. This whole thing was new to me. However, even strips show a deep red. So I took my water to a pool shop down the street that has a fancy water testing machine. TA and calcium hardness were great (130 and 124, respectively) but pH was measured at 8.6. However, he also told me his machine can only read as high as 8.6-8.7. So, we're putting in 4 tablespoons of pH down and we'll see what it reads tomorrow. I suspect it will still be pretty sky high. 

I am still open to input from folks who might be able to share experiences or thoughts around this, though! I have a feeling I'll just wind up going in more circles with this.

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Your TA is WAY TOO HIGH. pH rise is caused by outgassing of CO2. Period. TA is carbonation. Your jets aerate the water and cause a faster outgassing of CO2 which is why you pH rises fast when you turn on the jets. Lower your TA and problem solved! Period!

Drop your TA to between 50-70 ppm and only run air injectors  in the jet when using the spa if possible and run at low speed if you have a multi speed pump when not using the spa. This will lower the amount of aeration which is causing your pH rise.

Second, when you do lower pH do not lower it below about 7.6 and don't lower it until it climbs to 8 ppm (bromine is active over a wide pH range) You might also want to consider adding 30 - 50 ppm borate as a secondary buffer system.

Read this link. It will explain what is happening and why your pH keeps rising.

https://www.poolspaforum.com/forum/index.php?/topic/28846-lowering-total-alkalinity-howto/

As far as the phenol red test in the Taylor kit goes. if it's turning purple that is an indication that your bromine levels are sky high. You cannot get an accurate pH reading if either chlorine or bromine is high (above 10 ppm for chlorine, 20 ppm for bromine). You have not posted any bromine readings.

Here is a video from Taylor Technologies on interferences to the pH test and how to correct it.

https://youtu.be/5uBrpapIcMI

 

 

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7 hours ago, waterbear said:

Your TA is WAY TOO HIGH. pH rise is caused by outgassing of CO2. Period. TA is carbonation. Your jets aerate the water and cause a faster outgassing of CO2 which is why you pH rises fast when you turn on the jets. Lower your TA and problem solved! Period!

Drop your TA to between 50-70 ppm and only run air injectors  in the jet when using the spa if possible and run at low speed if you have a multi speed pump when not using the spa. This will lower the amount of aeration which is causing your pH rise.

Second, when you do lower pH do not lower it below about 7.6 and don't lower it until it climbs to 8 ppm (bromine is active over a wide pH range) You might also want to consider adding 30 - 50 ppm borate as a secondary buffer system.

Read this link. It will explain what is happening and why your pH keeps rising.

https://www.poolspaforum.com/forum/index.php?/topic/28846-lowering-total-alkalinity-howto/

As far as the phenol red test in the Taylor kit goes. if it's turning purple that is an indication that your bromine levels are sky high. You cannot get an accurate pH reading if either chlorine or bromine is high (above 10 ppm for chlorine, 20 ppm for bromine). You have not posted any bromine readings.

Here is a video from Taylor Technologies on interferences to the pH test and how to correct it.

https://youtu.be/5uBrpapIcMI

 

 

My bromine levels are not anywhere close to 10, I keep it between 3-5ppm. So I guess the phenol red theory is out.

Won't a TA of 50-70 cause the water to be incredibly corrosive and dangerous to the equipment? Such a low TA goes against every source for this spa, from the manufacturer and manual to the in.clear documentation (which suggests 100 to 120). What do you recommend using to lower TA by such a dramatic amount? Muriatic acid or dry acid? Do you recommend doing this directly in the spa or diluting it first? (For muriatic acid, I use Acid Magic)

FYI - in the testing I've done previously, the pH rises to levels beyond the chart pretty much immediately once the jets turn on. Are you thinking if I bring it to 50-70 that it'll get to the proper level after some aeration occurs? I do have a 24/7 circulation pump in the spa -- will that impact things? 

I can give this a shot but I suspect it'll shoot up again.. I've tried adding a bunch of pH down over time to bring both the alkalinity and pH down in the past but I believe it just shot right back up. I have no idea where my pH will stand after getting my TA between 50-70 though - I guess I can try and see what happens. If I saw my TA at 50-70 I would've flipped out and adjusted it back up due to fear of corrosion from ultra-low TA.

Regarding borates - I believe products like ProTeam Gentle Spa or SpaPure Simply Soft are considered borates, correct? I usually add a bottle of that. I've tried using pH balance products but they haven't seemed to help but if my TA needs to be that low then I wouldn't have used it at the right time. But I thought I was advised against using those as well. 

Thank you!

 

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It is obvious you did not read the link I put in my first post on lowering TA or you would not have asked the questions you asked. Please read the link (I wrote the post).

https://www.poolspaforum.com/forum/index.php?/topic/28846-lowering-total-alkalinity-howto/

As far as corrosion goes LOW pH is the cause of corrosion, TA (which is nothing more than the measurement of bicarbonate ions in the water) neither causes or prevents corrosion. Not sure where you got the idea that TA or CH for that matter has anything to do with corrosion. High salt levels (whether from the salt added for the salt generator , baking soda added to raise TA, Dry acid, etc. can increase metal corrosion. Low levels of these do not. However, when 'corrosive' or 'aggressive' water is spoken of in the  pool/spa industry it is usually in reference to the calcium saturation index and has NOTHING to do with pumps, seals, etc. It is only relevant to plaster surface or grouted tile pools and spas in relation to damage to the plaster surfaces or grout. There is some anecdotal evidence that it might help prevent cobalt spotting in fiberglass pools and spas but had no relevance at all to vinyl pool and acrylic or fiberglass reinforced acrylic spa shells,

The 100-120 ppm TA recommendation is based on pool industry standards but it is not the whole picture.  This level is for organic chlorine sources (trichlor and dichlor) and organic bromine sources (bromine tablets or sodium bromide oxidized by MPS or dichlor) which are net acidic (acidic when added to the water and acidic when they oxidize organics  and cause a constant pH drop over time. You are using sodium bromide in a salt system or possibly a mixture of sodium chloride and sodium bromide.  These are more pH neutral (alkaline on addition to spa, acidic when they oxidize organics) Recommend TA by the industry would be 80 to 100 ppm but this is based on BEFORE Salt systems came into widespread usage and refer to usage of sodium hypochlorite, calcium hypochlorite, lithium hypochlorite, or a 2 step bromine system using one of these chlorine sources as the oxidizer. Electrolytic generation of chlorine or bromine sanitizer adds additional aeration and outgassing of CO2 since hydrogen gas is also produced in the cell at the cathode as tiny bubbles necessitating a lower TA to obtain pH stability in most cases.

The second factor is that the lower you try to put your pH the faster it will rise. This is because at lower pH the equalibrim between the bicarbonate ions in the water (TA) and the amount of carbonic acid in the water (CO2 dissolved in the water, think Seltzer or Club Soda)  shifts toward carbonic acid. The more CO2 the faster it will gas out. Don't try to place yout pH too low. With bromine 7.8 or even 8.0 is fine!

High pH up to about 8.0 is NOT a problem in bromine systems at all. However, if you are getting a fast pH rise every time you aerate the water it means you TA is too high and should be lowered. Period, End of Story! The link I posted will explain how to lower TA. Here it is again in case you missed it the other two times I posted it

https://www.poolspaforum.com/forum/index.php?/topic/28846-lowering-total-alkalinity-howto/

As far as borates go Gentle Spa is a product that I have used. Both products you mentioned are propriatary mixtures but my guess is that they are a mixture of boric acid and borax to  create a pH neutral product. However,  you can use plain boric acid (will slightly lower pH) or 20 mule team borax (sodium tetraborate decahydrate) which will raise pH and require the addition of acid to get the pH down again. I would recommend a 30-50 ppm level of borate no matter how you add it and would recommend the LaMotte borate test strips for measuring your borate level (Color change from pink to tan). They are much easier to read than the Taylor, Hach, or Aquachek, which all have a color change that is next to impossible to read (shades of tan that are very close). This is the only test strip I ever recommend except for the Hach and Aquachek salt titrator strips. The main 2 reasons for borates are their algaestatic properties and the fact that they add a secondary pH buffer system that works in the opposite direction of the bicarbonate buffer we call TA and help stabilize the pH around 7.7 - 7.8 . This only works when the TA is kept low enough to prevent fast pH rise so once again, with a salt bromine generator your TA is WAY TOO HIGH.

 

 I hope this helps.

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3 hours ago, darkmyst said:

FYI - in the testing I've done previously, the pH rises to levels beyond the chart pretty much immediately once the jets turn on. Are you thinking if I bring it to 50-70 that it'll get to the proper level after some aeration occurs? I do have a 24/7 circulation pump in the spa -- will that impact things?

 

If your pH rises immediately once the jets turn on then it means your TA is too high. pH rise is caused by outgassing of CO2. The higher the CO2 dissolved in the water the faster the pH will rise. 2 steps to counter this is lower the TA (this will lower the possible amount of CO2 that can form) and don't try to drop the pH too low (The lower the pH the more bicarbonate ions, which is what we measure and call TA, will be shifted to the the other side of the equilibrium equation as carbonic acid which is basically CO2 dissolved in the water.

CO2 + H2O <=> H2CO3<=> HCO3 + (H+)

This means that with the addition of any acid,which will contribute the (H+) ions the equation will shift to the production of carbonic acid (HCO3) which, in turn, exists as dissolved carbon dioxide gas (think seltzer or club soda) TA is nothing more than forced carbonation of our pool or spa water to a much higher level than what just atmospheric equilibrium would produce. The trend if for the CO2 to gas off into the atmosphere which cases pH to rise. If you want proof test the pH of a bottle of seltzer. It will be acidic. Now aerate it until it goes flat (shake it up), Test the pH again, It will have gone up,. Once all the CO2 has gassed off and you only have water left it should be pretty much pH neutral instead of acidic.

The 27/7 circulation pump could add to the problem but there are a few things you can do:

1. turn the jets so they don't break the water surface

2. turn off any air injectors if you can when not using them

3. circulate on low speed if you have that option.

 

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22 minutes ago, waterbear said:

It is obvious you did not read the link I put in my first post on lowering TA or you would not have asked the questions you asked. Please read the link (I wrote the post).

https://www.poolspaforum.com/forum/index.php?/topic/28846-lowering-total-alkalinity-howto/

As far as corrosion goes LOW pH is the cause of corrosion, TA (which is nothing more than the measurement of bicarbonate ions in the water) neither causes or prevents corrosion. Not sure where you got the idea that TA or CH for that matter has anything to do with corrosion. High salt levels (whether from the salt added for the salt generator , baking soda added to raise TA, Dry acid, etc. can increase metal corrosion. Low levels of these do not. However, when 'corrosive' or 'aggressive' water is spoken of in the  pool/spa industry it is usually in reference to the calcium saturation index and has NOTHING to do with pumps, seals, etc. It is only relevant to plaster surface or grouted tile pools and spas in relation to damage to the plaster surfaces or grout. There is some anecdotal evidence that it might help prevent cobalt spotting in fiberglass pools and spas but had no relevance at all to vinyl pool and acrylic or fiberglass reinforced acrylic spa shells,

The 100-120 ppm TA recommendation is based on pool industry standards but it is not the whole picture.  This level is for organic chlorine sources (trichlor and dichlor) and organic bromine sources (bromine tablets or sodium bromide oxidized by MPS or dichlor) which are net acidic (acidic when added to the water and acidic when they oxidize organics  and cause a constant pH drop over time. You are using sodium bromide in a salt system or possibly a mixture of sodium chloride and sodium bromide.  These are more pH neutral (alkaline on addition to spa, acidic when they oxidize organics) Recommend TA by the industry would be 80 to 100 ppm but this is based on BEFORE Salt systems came into widespread usage and refer to usage of sodium hypochlorite, calcium hypochlorite, lithium hypochlorite, or a 2 step bromine system using one of these chlorine sources as the oxidizer. Electrolytic generation of chlorine or bromine sanitizer adds additional aeration and outgassing of CO2 since hydrogen gas is also produced in the cell at the cathode as tiny bubbles necessitating a lower TA to obtain pH stability in most cases.

The second factor is that the lower you try to put your pH the faster it will rise. This is because at lower pH the equalibrim between the bicarbonate ions in the water (TA) and the amount of carbonic acid in the water (CO2 dissolved in the water, think Seltzer or Club Soda)  shifts toward carbonic acid. The more CO2 the faster it will gas out. Don't try to place yout pH too low. With bromine 7.8 or even 8.0 is fine!

High pH up to about 8.0 is NOT a problem in bromine systems at all. However, if you are getting a fast pH rise every time you aerate the water it means you TA is too high and should be lowered. Period, End of Story! The link I posted will explain how to lower TA. Here it is again in case you missed it the other two times I posted it

https://www.poolspaforum.com/forum/index.php?/topic/28846-lowering-total-alkalinity-howto/

As far as borates go Gentle Spa is a product that I have used. Both products you mentioned are propriatary mixtures but my guess is that they are a mixture of boric acid and borax to  create a pH neutral product. However,  you can use plain boric acid (will slightly lower pH) or 20 mule team borax (sodium tetraborate decahydrate) which will raise pH and require the addition of acid to get the pH down again. I would recommend a 30-50 ppm level of borate no matter how you add it and would recommend the LaMotte borate test strips for measuring your borate level (Color change from pink to tan). They are much easier to read than the Taylor, Hach, or Aquachek, which all have a color change that is next to impossible to read (shades of tan that are very close). This is the only test strip I ever recommend except for the Hach and Aquachek salt titrator strips. The main 2 reasons for borates are their algaestatic properties and the fact that they add a secondary pH buffer system that works in the opposite direction of the bicarbonate buffer we call TA and help stabilize the pH around 7.7 - 7.8 . This only works when the TA is kept low enough to prevent fast pH rise so once again, with a salt bromine generator your TA is WAY TOO HIGH.

 

 I hope this helps.

This is just all very surprising to me, because even the in.clear salt water system, which is designed specifically for hot tubs, calls for a 100-120 TA in their own manual. My spa manufacturer recommends numbers in a similar range. And every retailer and every manual I've read suggests to set TA first and pH second. If this information is accurate, then I feel like just about every spa manual, salt generator manual, and water chemistry website would need to update their guidance. 

I also worry that with such a low TA, my pH would literally be all over the place and that I'd have to check it almost daily. Certainly after each use, and in many cases we're in the hot tub late into the night. 

So this is just a bit mind-blowing considering it goes against everything I've read just about everywhere.

But I suppose it could make sense, considering nothing seems to be working out with everything that's suggested on all of the websites and manuals.

What specific advice would you have for me for a drain/refill scenario, and in what order? I've just got some Ahh-Some that I'll be using prior to a final fill to start fresh, some anti-metal chemicals, sodium bromide, gentle spa, muriatic acid, and plenty of traditional dry pH down/up chemicals. 

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My post is based on the actual chemistry that is occurring in your tub not manufacturing hype written by some corporate copy writer who is merely regurgitating the information taught in the CPO (certified pool operator) courses and often incorrectly because they really don't have an understanding of the basic chemistry involved.  Why do you feel that your pH would be all over the place with a lower TA? From what you have posted your pH is all over the place with your high TA. It is obvious that you are not understanding how buffer systems work. As far as manufacturer's claims go,  ask anyone in the industry NOT connected to a manufacturer or trying to sell retail about manufacturer's claims! ;)

 

I can give you countless examples of claims that are made that are simply not true. For example, the largest manufacturer of stabilized chlorine products will tell you that high levels of CYA are NOT a problem in swimming pools and will gladly $ell you algaecide to combat the algae that forms in your overstabilized pool because if people really understood the FC/CYA relationship it would hurt their bu$ine$$. This very same company will also sell you TA increaser at over $2/ lb. last time I checked and swear to tomorrow that it's different than baking soda that you can get for about .50/lb. They will gladly show you the ingredient label that lists sodium hydrogen carbonate and explain that baking soda is sodium bicarbonate and is not the same as what they are selling. Fact is Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate is simply another name for Sodium Bicarbonate or baking soda. Also the .50/lb baking soda from the grocery store is actually purer since it is food and pharmaceutical grade! IF you believe their info I have some waterfront land in the Everglades and a Bridge in New York that I will gladly sell to you! ;)

I can go on and on but I hope you get the idea.

Take my suggestions or don't. It doesn't matter to me but it seems you have some problems you are trying to solve and then don't want to try the solution offered even though following the manufacturers advice has not been working and I have explained why it's not working.

The only thing you have right is adjust TA first and then adjust pH. Raising TA is easy, add baking soda, Lowering it is what is done wrong and there is a lot of information that is out there that just doesn't work (slugging acid to lower TA and walking acid to lower pH: using a bucket of acid on the steps to create an acid column which is a variation on slugging; or getting caught in the merrygoround of adding acid in one shot to get the TA where you want it, discovering your pH is now dangerously low, and adding pH increaser -sodium carbonate, which raises TA MORE that sodium bicarbonate!-  to get the pH up and then discovering that you TA is now higher than when you started}. The procedure that I have outlined works. You can also read this thread but be aware that it might drop you pH dangerously low which can cause damage to your equipment.

https://www.poolspaforum.com/forum/index.php?/topic/19149-lowering-total-alkalinity/

The method I outlined (using an acid demand test so you lower you pH to  7.0 and no lower before aerating to raise pH) is slower going but it does not run the risk of possible equipment damage from a too low pH.  Once your TA is where you want it you can make final adjustments to pH. If it's too high add some acid. It won't be  enough to move your TA even if it's as low as 50 ppm. If it's too low just aerate or don't worry about it since your tub will be aerating and the pH will eventually rise. Also, bromine is very forgiving compared to an chlorine with no CYA and is effective in a pH range of 7.0 to 8.0. You just don't want it going over 8.0 or below 7.0, 7.7  to 7.8 will be your sweet spot, particularly if you add the secondary borate buffer in the range of 30-50 ppm

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16 hours ago, waterbear said:

My post is based on the actual chemistry that is occurring in your tub not manufacturing hype written by some corporate copy writer who is merely regurgitating the information taught in the CPO (certified pool operator) courses and often incorrectly because they really don't have an understanding of the basic chemistry involved.  Why do you feel that your pH would be all over the place with a lower TA? From what you have posted your pH is all over the place with your high TA. It is obvious that you are not understanding how buffer systems work. As far as manufacturer's claims go,  ask anyone in the industry NOT connected to a manufacturer or trying to sell retail about manufacturer's claims! ;)

 

I can give you countless examples of claims that are made that are simply not true. For example, the largest manufacturer of stabilized chlorine products will tell you that high levels of CYA are NOT a problem in swimming pools and will gladly $ell you algaecide to combat the algae that forms in your overstabilized pool because if people really understood the FC/CYA relationship it would hurt their bu$ine$$. This very same company will also sell you TA increaser at over $2/ lb. last time I checked and swear to tomorrow that it's different than baking soda that you can get for about .50/lb. They will gladly show you the ingredient label that lists sodium hydrogen carbonate and explain that baking soda is sodium bicarbonate and is not the same as what they are selling. Fact is Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate is simply another name for Sodium Bicarbonate or baking soda. Also the .50/lb baking soda from the grocery store is actually purer since it is food and pharmaceutical grade! IF you believe their info I have some waterfront land in the Everglades and a Bridge in New York that I will gladly sell to you! ;)

I can go on and on but I hope you get the idea.

Take my suggestions or don't. It doesn't matter to me but it seems you have some problems you are trying to solve and then don't want to try the solution offered even though following the manufacturers advice has not been working and I have explained why it's not working.

The only thing you have right is adjust TA first and then adjust pH. Raising TA is easy, add baking soda, Lowering it is what is done wrong and there is a lot of information that is out there that just doesn't work (slugging acid to lower TA and walking acid to lower pH: using a bucket of acid on the steps to create an acid column which is a variation on slugging; or getting caught in the merrygoround of adding acid in one shot to get the TA where you want it, discovering your pH is now dangerously low, and adding pH increaser -sodium carbonate, which raises TA MORE that sodium bicarbonate!-  to get the pH up and then discovering that you TA is now higher than when you started}. The procedure that I have outlined works. You can also read this thread but be aware that it might drop you pH dangerously low which can cause damage to your equipment.

https://www.poolspaforum.com/forum/index.php?/topic/19149-lowering-total-alkalinity/

The method I outlined (using an acid demand test so you lower you pH to  7.0 and no lower before aerating to raise pH) is slower going but it does not run the risk of possible equipment damage from a too low pH.  Once your TA is where you want it you can make final adjustments to pH. If it's too high add some acid. It won't be  enough to move your TA even if it's as low as 50 ppm. If it's too low just aerate or don't worry about it since your tub will be aerating and the pH will eventually rise. Also, bromine is very forgiving compared to an chlorine with no CYA and is effective in a pH range of 7.0 to 8.0. You just don't want it going over 8.0 or below 7.0, 7.7  to 7.8 will be your sweet spot, particularly if you add the secondary borate buffer in the range of 30-50 ppm

Hi @waterbear

 

Today, for my first test with your advice, I got the TA of the spa down to 70, and the pH to 7.4; so the higher ranges of what you suggested. I ran the jets for about 15-20 mins, waited about 10 minutes after the jets stopped and tested again. My Taylor kit only goes up to 8.0 on the pH indicator but it looks like the pH is sitting at 7.8 at a minimum; possibly 8.0; it looks pretty close to both. For such a short duration of having the jets on, it still skyrocketed very quickly. I will test again after letting it sit for awhile longer, but I'd love your thoughts about next steps. My guess is taking the TA even lower, but given that I'm still seeing large jumps in pH with such a short duration of jets, I'm unsure if it will help? Do you suggest getting closer to the lower end of 50TA and 7.0pH or so before trying the jets?

 

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So I went ahead and got the TA down to 50, and the pH was down to about 7.0-7.2. 

I started the jets, and ran them for about 15 minutes.

The pH quickly jumped to 7.8

This still seems like a dramatic jump for 15 minutes of jets. In the past, the pH has never really settled back down or lowered after the jets came on, so I only anticipate further quick rise from here. Often times when we're in the spa, we're in for an hour, sometimes even more.

Additionally, as I was dipping my hands into the water to get my samples, the water seemed to irritate the hand and arm I used quite a bit. A highly annoying amount, actually.

I'm going to let the spa sit overnight and check on it in the morning, but I'd love further thoughts and feedback.

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14 hours ago, darkmyst said:

So I went ahead and got the TA down to 50, and the pH was down to about 7.0-7.2. 

Which Taylor kit are you testing wiith? Is it the 2005 DPD, 2106 FAD-DPD fro bromine, or another one? If you are using a Taylor kit did you use the Acid Demand test to determine how much acid to use lot lower your pH?

I started the jets, and ran them for about 15 minutes.

The pH quickly jumped to 7.8

Did it rise higher than 7.8 or stop there? Have you used a borate product as a secondary pH buffer (and have you actuallly tested the borate level or are you just dumping and hoping for the best? Is your TA STIll at 50 ppm after the pH jump? if not, how high did it jump? If it went above 60 ppm lower it again. Lowering TA is a process, not a one shot deal. The link I provided outlines the process and explains this.

This still seems like a dramatic jump for 15 minutes of jets.

Not really.

In the past, the pH has never really settled back down or lowered after the jets came on, so I only anticipate further quick rise from here. Often times when we're in the spa, we're in for an hour, sometimes even more.

Please reread ALL my comments above the reread the procedure for lowering TA. or not, it's your decision. The information I have provided works. It's based on sound chemistry and have proven itself time and time again for years. If you have a TA in the range I suggested and have added borate then your pH will settle around 7.7-7.8 for an extended period. It will creep up over time. Once it hits 8.0 lower it back to no lower than 7.6. This will help minimize your acid useage and give you the best pH stability but any system with a lot of aeration (in your case aeration starts in the salt cell since hydrogen bubbles are created in the cell during the process) and the aeration of the jets will always cause pH to rise because CO2 is constantly gassing off. The higher the TA the faster the outgassing. The lower the TA the slower the outgassing. The lower the pH the faster the outgassing, The higher the pH the slower the outgassing. Therefore running a low TA and a higher pH will give the the slowest pH rise. Pools with water features such as negative edge, waterfalls, deck jets, etc. have the same problem. Your advantage is that you are running bromine which is happy in a pH range of 7.0 to 8.0.

Additionally, as I was dipping my hands into the water to get my samples, the water seemed to irritate the hand and arm I used quite a bit. A highly annoying amount, actually.

TA has NOTHING to do as to whether the water is irritating or not. Something else is going on. LOW pH can cause water to be "irritating", very high bromine levels can cause water to be "irritating", pathogens in under sanitized water can cause water to be "irritating" aka "hot tub itch".

I'm going to let the spa sit overnight and check on it in the morning, but I'd love further thoughts and feedback.

I am beginning to think your testing is part of the problem. If you are using DPD testing for total bromine it could be partially bleaching out  due to very high bromine levels or you might be reading the chlorine scale on your test comparator instead of the bromine scale. It happens. )I once worked with a certified pool operator at a commercial pool installation that was entering wrong chlorine readings in the Health Department log book because he did not know how to read the scales on the comparator. This was someone that was supposed to be professionally trained and passed a certification course on pool and spa maintenance at commercial facilities!)  Very high bromine levels could explain the test results you are seeing. IF you are doing FAS-DPD testing for total bromine are what size water sample are you using? This will determine the multiplier for the drops used to determine total bromine. If you are using the K-2006 to measure bromine are you multiplying the results by 2.25 to convert the "chlorine" reading to total reading?

IF you want me to help you figure out what is going on I really need all the questions I asked answered. I know I asked a lot of them but I am trying to get a handle on exactly what is going on. FWIW, that fancy machine at the pool store is not really better than a Taylor drop based kit. I've used LaMotte's waterlink system when I worked in retail and know the limitiation of the colormetric testing chemistry. Taylor's titrations (drop counting) are actually better for some of the tests. Also, the fact that their pH test pinned at the top indicated high bromine levels. I am assuming that they are using the Lamotte Spin discs, it's the most common. Their pH test will have problems with FC over about 5 ppm or bromine about 10 ppm. Other systems than LaMotte's or ones that read strips are even less precise.

 

SO, let's start with exactly WHICH Taylor kit you have. It matters in helping interpret your results. Also, if you have not picked up a tube of LaMotte Borate test strips do so. You will probably have to order them online. They have a distinct color change range of pings to tans, unlike the Hach, Aquachek, and Taylor borate test strips which have very similar shades of tan and are next to impossible to read.

 

 

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On 10/16/2020 at 11:23 AM, waterbear said:

 

Hi @waterbear

I think the water discomfort may have been due to some of the chemicals still possibly fully taking in effect, e.g. I jumped the gun to test too soon. It seems ok now.

I'm pretty confident that how I'm using the Taylor kit is on point, it's just a matter of getting things balanced and learning this process first-hand.

I use the Taylor 2106 FAS-DFD kit. At this point I was able to get the TA to 50 and the pH to around 7.4 before the jets. When I turned on the jets, the pH jumped to 8.0. Acid demand with one drop showed it would go to 7.8, so I am confident it's not any higher than 8.

Regarding borates, I want to clarify that I'm doing this testing on my spa prior to doing my drain/purge, because I want to wrap my head around this prior to working with fresh water and what I hope is a pristine and accurately balanced fresh start. I've ordered Borate test strips, so I'm unsure how many are in the current water. But, once I get those delivered and perform the refill it was my hope to use my stash of ProTeam Gentle Spa or SpaPure Simply Soft to bring up that level to 50ppm.

When I test for total bromine I use the 25ml mark so that one drop equals .50 ppm. This is registering at around 3.5 ppm.

I *think* I've already answered all of the questions. As I'm getting more comfortable with this and closer to the numbers I should be seeing, I'm hoping that a fresh drain and fill and proper borates will give me better preciseness. So I have a few additional questions: 

1. I've read conflicting articles that suggest products like ProTeam Gentle Spa or SpaPure Simply Soft have an outrageously high pH. Is this accurate, and if so, how should I account for that?

2. Is Metal Magic safe to use with my spa configuration? At what point should I be using it?

3. What's the proper order of operations for a drain and refill of my spa? These are the steps I'm considering and may need to be re-ordered, I'm also not sure when I should expect pH or TA to change with any of these steps and need to re-adjust, or when I should turn on the jets to test the pH after aeration is introduced:

1. Use Ahh-Some in current water, multiple rounds until grime is dramatically reduced. Drain water, clean surface of spa.

2. Refill spa. 

3. Balance TA to 50, lower pH to ~7.0 or ~7.2 (?), goal to ultimately bring it to 7.6 - 7.8 with aeration.

4. Add metal magic and phosphate remover.

5. Add borates (Gentle Spa or Simply Soft), get to 50ppm.

6. Add sodium bromide, bring up to ~3ppm.

7. Re-check pH  due to bromine being introduced, tweak if required.

8. Anything else?

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On 10/17/2020 at 9:51 AM, darkmyst said:

Hi @waterbear

I think the water discomfort may have been due to some of the chemicals still possibly fully taking in effect, e.g. I jumped the gun to test too soon. It seems ok now.

I'm pretty confident that how I'm using the Taylor kit is on point, it's just a matter of getting things balanced and learning this process first-hand.

I use the Taylor 2106 FAS-DFD kit. At this point I was able to get the TA to 50 and the pH to around 7.4 before the jets. When I turned on the jets, the pH jumped to 8.0. Acid demand with one drop showed it would go to 7.8, so I am confident it's not any higher than 8.

Regarding borates, I want to clarify that I'm doing this testing on my spa prior to doing my drain/purge, because I want to wrap my head around this prior to working with fresh water and what I hope is a pristine and accurately balanced fresh start. I've ordered Borate test strips, so I'm unsure how many are in the current water. But, once I get those delivered and perform the refill it was my hope to use my stash of ProTeam Gentle Spa or SpaPure Simply Soft to bring up that level to 50ppm.

When I test for total bromine I use the 25ml mark so that one drop equals .50 ppm. This is registering at around 3.5 ppm.

I *think* I've already answered all of the questions. As I'm getting more comfortable with this and closer to the numbers I should be seeing, I'm hoping that a fresh drain and fill and proper borates will give me better preciseness. So I have a few additional questions: 

1. I've read conflicting articles that suggest products like ProTeam Gentle Spa or SpaPure Simply Soft have an outrageously high pH. Is this accurate, and if so, how should I account for that?

Gentle Spa and similar products like Proteam Supreme Plus, BIoguard Optimizer Plus are formulated to be pH neutral and are most likely a mix of borac (either pentajydrate or decahydrate) and  boric acid or dry acid. Boric acid is acidic and will slightly lower pH if used as the primary borate source. Borax, either in the pentahydrate form (Supreme and Optimizer) or the decahydrate form (20 Mule Team Borax) are alkaline and will raise pH and will need the addition of acid when dosing, either muriatic or dry acid. The only difference between the pentahydrate (5 attached water molecules) and the decahydrate (10 attached water molecules) is the weight needed for the same borate level since the decahydrate weights slightly because of the addtional 5 water molucules attached. However, 20 Mule Team is much less expensive per pound than the BIoguarde and Proteam products.FWIW, Proteam pioneered the use of borate.  It does not matter how you choose to introduce the borate. Some methods requrie pH adjustment, others do not. The end result will be a boric acid/borate buffer system that works with the carbonic acid/bicarbonate buffer system we call TA to help maintain the pH at around 7.7 -7.8 for an longer time than without the borate buffer in addition to the algaestaic effects and the water 'feel' and 'sparkle'. Another use for Borax is to raise pH with minimum impact on TA (useful when using dichlor and trichor for sanitation) Sodium Carbonate (pH increaser or Washing soda for a lot less money at the grocery store) raises both pH and TA and will raise TA more than baking soda (which is what TA increase is, even if they label it sodium hydrogen carbonate instead of sodium bicarbonate since there are both names for exactly the same chemical).

2. Is Metal Magic safe to use with my spa configuration? At what point should I be using it?

Metal Magic is safe and is an effective Phosphonate based chelating agent. Phosphonate based products are much more effective if you have a problem with metals in your water than EDTA based products such as MetalFree by Natural Chemistry. The question becomes DO you have metals in your water? IF so, which metal ions are the problem? Iron is the most common, but once can also have copper (usually from houses with copper plumbing or the use of copper ionizes or algaecides or some older non chlorine 'sanitizer' systems that did not effectively sanitize) or Manganese (well water). Metals can cause staining of poo/spa surfaces and people (green hair is caused by copper). If you do not have a metal problem why are you using a chelator? IF you DO have a metal problem are you aware that a chelator needs dosing every week to month since they break down need to be reapplied? They do not remove metals from the water, they just bind to them and keep them in solution so they cannot cause problems such as staining or coloring the water green, brown, or purple. Also, phosphanate based products increase the phosphate levels in the water which, under certain condition, could lead to problems with algae (however, not to the  extent that the manufacturers of phosphate removers would like you to believe and phosphate removers have their own set of problems with their use so I only recommend them as a last resort when algae cannot be controlled by sanitizer levels, borate, or a polyquat 60 based algaecide and the limiting factor in the algae bloom is phophate and not nitrate in the water since both are algae food. Nitrates can only be removed by water changes and normally come from fertilzier runoff so should not be a problem for hot tubs filled with city water but might be a problem with well water, particularly if it is an irrigation well.

Bottom line. I would not use a chelator unless I KNOW I have metal in my water (well water that is causing brown rust stains in sinks and toilets from iron in the water is the most common and can cause brown water in your spa when you shock. Some wells have manganese which can  cause gray to black staining and purple water. IF you are not using an ionizer or mineral stick system, copper based algaecides, or a copper sulphate based "santizer" system like Simply Blue and you don't have older copper plumbing then copper should not be a problem.

some manujfacturers of salt systems recommend using a chelator to help prevent scaling from high calcium but most chelators are not that effetcive at binding calcium (which is a metal, by the way) and are not a problem as long as your CH is no in the 500+ range (in my area some of those on well water have CH in the 600-1000 ppm range). However, if you maintian your pH from spiking and run a low TA to compensate for the high CH then scaling is minimized and most salt cells can be cleaned to removed scaling. In your case you are running your TA at 50-70 and you mentioned that CH is below 200 so scaling should not be a problem even with a CH of up to around 300 ppm, based on your other water parameters (temperature, pH, TA and salt (sodium bromide) level of about 1400 ppm

3. What's the proper order of operations for a drain and refill of my spa? These are the steps I'm considering and may need to be re-ordered, I'm also not sure when I should expect pH or TA to change with any of these steps and need to re-adjust, or when I should turn on the jets to test the pH after aeration is introduced:

1. Use Ahh-Some in current water, multiple rounds until grime is dramatically reduced. Drain water, clean surface of spa.

Use it according to manufacturer's directions, depending on the condition of your pluming and how often you purge.

2. Refill spa. 

After refilling the spa test your water. There will be no sanitizer at this point but you want to know your pH, TA, and CH

3. Balance TA to 50, lower pH to ~7.0 or ~7.2 (?)

  https://www.poolspaforum.com/forum/index.php?/topic/28846-lowering-total-alkalinity-howto/

Use this procedure get your TA in range as documented in the link above: Use the acid demand test to drop your pH to 7.0, aerate until pH rises to about 7.8, test TA. if TA is still high repeat until TA is in proper range when pH is about 7.8. it might take once, it might take several times depending on how high the TA of your fill water is. IF your fill water has a TA lower than 50 ppm used baking soda to raise it to desired level and adjust pH. After adjusting pH test TA again. If it's not at the proper range make appropriate adjustments by either dropping pH and aerating or adding baking soda. Once you hit the proper numbers it will be stable and will only require minor adjustments until you drain and refill. You might want to write down how much acid in total you needed to lower TA and or how much baking soda was needed to raise TA to make your next drain and refill easier, assuming the fill water parameters have not changed much. HOWEVER, if you need to lower the TA DO NOT ADD THE TOTAL AMOUNT OF ACID AT ONE SHOT unless your acid demand test says ti won't lower your pH below 7.0.

 

Quote

4. Add borates (Gentle Spa or Simply Soft), get to 50ppm.

After adding your borate retest both pH and TA. IF TA is higher than your target when pH is at your target of 7.7 - 7.8 lower it again. borate does cause a slight increase in TA but it is NOT carbonate alkalinity.

If you are using a borate product that is not pH neutral please follow the instructions for adjusting pH or read a how to on using either boric acid or borax and acid if you go that route. Be aware that if you use dry acit it adds sulphates to the water and some SWG manufacturers recommend  against it's use because suphates can shorten the life of some generator cells. Check your manual to see if dry acid is ok or if you must use muriatic. If you use muriatic in a spa it might be easierto pre-dilute some in a bucket of water adding acid to the water and never the other way around for safety reasons to approximately half strength to make dosing easier so you don't drop the pH too much. IF you do inadvertenly drop the pH below 7.0 add 20 mule team borax about a cup at a time until you get the pH back up while using full aeration. Check and adjust TA if needed once pH is in a safe range (above 7.0) and close to target. If you are in the ballpark I would not lose any sleep over it but you want to avoid a low pH because that is what is corroive to spa parts.

Once TA and pH are in line you can increased your calcium hardness if needed but no higher than 200 ppm. I would not worry about it with your posted CH of around 120 ppm unless you have excessive foaming in your spa (harder water is less likely to 'foam; from saponaceous matter in the water, which often comes from bathers in the tub (lotions, creams, hair products, etc.)

5. Add sodium bromide

check!

6. Add metal magic.

Only if you need it!!!!!!! IF not, don't!

7. Anything else?

Check sanitizer levels, adjust bromine generator to get them in line if needed, and enjoy a soak once sanitizer is right! Once you get everything in range you will find that your tub should stay pretty stable. Adjustments to sanitizer and pH will be your standard maintenance. TA, CH, and borate should remain pretty stable until your next water change (depends on how long you go between changes. In a 550 gal spa every 3-4 months is probably about right, IMHO.) IF you have a lot of spash out and have to add wager frequently you might have to make adjustments to TA, CH and borate before the next drain and refill. YMMV.

Hope this helps.

 

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Hello! New here, but am finding this information very helpful too! It has been years since I had a tub and just got one again. It has an older genesis bromine generator on a 24/7 circ pump. Lots of jets, and I’ve been re-learning the spa chemicals. I’ve been having these same pH rise issues and that was just with trying. To maintain a TA of 80. I’m letting it all settle out and fall where it may, my TA is around 50 and still falling, but my pH has become increasingly stable. For some reason I thought the TA buffer was something other than using the carbonic acid system. All those years of physiology makes me thing of phosphoric acid, lactic acid, albumin as good buffering systems ;) I’ll be adding boric acid when it arrives to 50 ppm.

Once borates are in play, do you really need to mess with the carbonic acid system as much through the use of bicarbonate? Seems like that is just a continually losing game where co2 is lost. Is there a different type of pH adjustment that can be used that doesn’t have intermediaries that are offgassed? I’d rather get it dialed in and create a strong buffered system right within the correct ranges than needing to continually correct it...

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Hi @waterbear

 

Thank you again for all of your help. Today I drained and refilled the spa. I have not added sodium bromide yet. I just filled the tub, got the water to temperature and started adjusting the pH and TA. The TA is sitting at roughly 50, but so far the pH is wanting to stay at or drift around 8.0 after aeration. CH is low, around 140 or so.

I'm wondering if the borates will help? So here's my next round of questions:

1. Should I continue to lower my TA to resolve this, or is there any type of danger or concern with going much lower than 50?

2. Should I add borates prior to introducing sodium bromide and bromine and balancing again, or after?

3. When I add the borates, will there be any benefit to doing it when I get the pH to around 7.0 or 7.2 and prior to introducing aeration? Or will it not matter so I may as well do it after I get the pH to settle around 7.7 - 7.8 after introducing aeration?

4. Gentle Spa suggests adding additional product over time. Will this also increase borates over time and therefore should be avoided, or do borates slowly lower over time?

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3 hours ago, darkmyst said:

Hi @waterbear

 

Thank you again for all of your help. Today I drained and refilled the spa. I have not added sodium bromide yet. I just filled the tub, got the water to temperature and started adjusting the pH and TA. The TA is sitting at roughly 50, but so far the pH is wanting to stay at or drift around 8.0 after aeration. CH is low, around 140 or so.

What does "roughly at 50" mean? With a 25 ml sample the Taylor TA test has a precidion of 10 ppm per drop of titrant. so it's either 40, 50, 60. How many drops did it take for the color change from green to red? Best way it to add drops until the last drop produces no further color change and then don't count that last drop. pH should rise up towoard 8.0 after aeration. I've said this several times already. CH is fine for now at 140 ppm. IF you have a problem with foaming then you can raise it later but 140 should be fine.

I'm wondering if the borates will help? So here's my next round of questions:

Once again, the secondary borate buffer tends to move pH in the opposite direction of the bicarbonate buffer and causes the pH to settle around 7.7 to 7.8 for a longer period of time before needing to lower pH again.

1. Should I continue to lower my TA to resolve this, or is there any type of danger or concern with going much lower than 50?

You can go lower and sometimes 40 or even 30 ppm might be indicated BUT you are not there yet. Get your TA to 50 to 70 ppm, pH  to 7.8 to 8.0. and then add your borate to 50 ppm and tweak your TA and pH again. Monitor pH and TA and see how long it takes for pH to rise ABOVE8.0 You are not using an acidic sanitizer or oxidizer (trichlor, dichlor, organig bromine tabs, or MPS) so you are not at great risk for your pH crashing from the constant addition of acid. Your system will tend to rise in pH because of the constant outgassing of CO2 and the two things that minimize that are low TA and keeping pH at high end of range.

2. Should I add borates prior to introducing sodium bromide and bromine and balancing again, or after?

Doesn't matter as long as your bromine is not too high, which will cause interference with both the TA and pH indicators. This is why I like to get everything in like before adjusting sanitizer but that is my personal preference.

3. When I add the borates, will there be any benefit to doing it when I get the pH to around 7.0 or 7.2 and prior to introducing aeration? Or will it not matter so I may as well do it after I get the pH to settle around 7.7 - 7.8 after introducing aeration?

ONCE AGAIN, GET YOUR TA TO 50-70, pH TO 7.8 - 8.0, ADD BORATE TO 50 PPM, RETEST TA AND AND pH AND ADJUST AGAIN IF NEEDED. If you are using a pH neutral product like Gentle Spa you probably won't have to adjust anything.

4. Gentle Spa suggests adding additional product over time. Will this also increase borates over time and therefore should be avoided, or do borates slowly lower over time?

Borate is only lost through splash out. It is similar to salt or sodium bromide in that respect.

20 oz of boric acid or

32 oz of 20 mule team borax with 15 oz of 31.45%  (20 Baumé) muriatic acid  to compensate for the pH rise caused by the borax (each broken into 3 doses and added as a dose of borax followed by a dose of acid once the borax is fully dissolved with full circulation pumps running)

25 oz of Sodium Tetraborate Pentahydrate (Proteam Supreme or Bioguard optimizer) with 15 oz of 31.45%  (20 Baumé) muriatic acid  to compemsate for pH rise (each broken into 3 doses and added as a dose of borax followed by a dose of acid once the borax is fully dissolved with full circulation pumps running)

will raise 550 gal. to 50 ppm borate.

Boric acid will slightly lower pH but aeration will take care of that and if you are starting at a pH of 7.8 to 8.0 then your pH should not end up lower than 7.4 to 7.5 and will rise on it's own as CO2 gasses off.

If you are using a proprietary pH neutral product then follow their dosing and then test to check your borate level,  pH and TA.,  Gentle spa is a mixture of boric acid, sodium tetraborate pentahydrate, and fragrance. Proteam Supreme Plus (NOT the original Proteam Supreme but the PLUS) is identical without the fragrance and costs less. Dosing is 4 oz per 150 gal of water which will give you roughly 30 ppm borate so to add 50 ppm borate with these products you would need approx 20 to 25 oz by weight of these products. Since actual gallons of water is most likely less than what the manufacturer states I would go with the smaller amount and test and add more until you creep up to the target. Remember, borate does it magic in a range of 30 to 50 ppm. Get your borate level toward the upper end of the range and test it every 2 to 4 weeks and when it approaches 30 ppm bump it up again. Splash out and topping off the water level is the main reason borate drops so if you lose a lot of water you might to test more often, perhaps weekly.

 

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On 10/19/2020 at 12:11 AM, waterbear said:

 

 

On 10/19/2020 at 12:11 AM, waterbear said:

 

Ok, an update:

I finally got my borate test strips in. Even the LoMotte brand is kind of hard to read. Anyway, I added the borate, and it looks like it's around 50. The pH actually seemed to drift down slightly (granted, the water has been sitting for a couple of days since my last test). Either way, in my case that's good news. Ultimately with borates the pH seemed to drift around 7.6 - *after* aeration.

I then added in the sodium bromide. The salt generator hasn't done anything yet. I re-tested with jets off and it was the same. However, after introducing aeration it climbed back up, the color looks like at least an 8 (kit only goes that high) and a drop of acid demand as of now brings it down to around 7.7. TA is firm at 50. 

I will try and drop a bit of muriatic acid in and see if it holds steady after introducing aeration again. I'm also going to double check my borates again when the water settles down a bit.

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8 hours ago, darkmyst said:

Even the LoMotte brand is kind of hard to read.

Much easier than the other brands I listed that have almost identical shades of tan. Read the LaMotte strips in full sunlight. It makes it easier to differentiate the colors. Also, borate does not need to be exact. If you are in the 30  to 50 ppm range you are good.

Turn on your salt generator and get your bromine readings in range. Your TA should be pretty stable Aeration is always going to raise your pH. so test your pH after the aeration is off for a but.if it is 8.0 then drop it down to around to 7.8. The amount of acid needed will be minimal but you will need to adjust pH in any system that has a lot of aeration (hot tubs, negative edge pools, water features such as spillover spas, waterfalls, deck jets, fountains, etc.)

FWIW, the sodium bromide is basically pH neutral in water so it has no impact on your pH. The aeration will raise the pH with or without the sodium bromide in the water.

You really are overthinking this and stressing too much instead of enjoying your tub. Follow the water parameters I gave you, monitor them  (pH daily to weekly after the tub is just running on circulation with no aeration and has been uncovered for about half an hour to allow it to reach equilibrium with the atmosphere and to allow volatile oxidation byproducts to gas off, TA weekly to monthly, Borate  and CH  biweekly to monthly and sanitizer daily, make adjustments when needed (you will find that any adjustments needed will be small ones), and you should be good to enjoy your tub. Remember, it's a hot tub, not a science experiment.

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10 hours ago, waterbear said:

Much easier than the other brands I listed that have almost identical shades of tan. Read the LaMotte strips in full sunlight. It makes it easier to differentiate the colors. Also, borate does not need to be exact. If you are in the 30  to 50 ppm range you are good.

Turn on your salt generator and get your bromine readings in range. Your TA should be pretty stable Aeration is always going to raise your pH. so test your pH after the aeration is off for a but.if it is 8.0 then drop it down to around to 7.8. The amount of acid needed will be minimal but you will need to adjust pH in any system that has a lot of aeration (hot tubs, negative edge pools, water features such as spillover spas, waterfalls, deck jets, fountains, etc.)

FWIW, the sodium bromide is basically pH neutral in water so it has no impact on your pH. The aeration will raise the pH with or without the sodium bromide in the water.

You really are overthinking this and stressing too much instead of enjoying your tub. Follow the water parameters I gave you, monitor them  (pH daily to weekly after the tub is just running on circulation with no aeration and has been uncovered for about half an hour to allow it to reach equilibrium with the atmosphere and to allow volatile oxidation byproducts to gas off, TA weekly to monthly, Borate  and CH  biweekly to monthly and sanitizer daily, make adjustments when needed (you will find that any adjustments needed will be small ones), and you should be good to enjoy your tub. Remember, it's a hot tub, not a science experiment.

Seems like I'm just not getting any luck recently. I'm now getting no indication of bromine after adding the sodium bromide even though the generator says it's generating bromine. Doing some troubleshooting on this front and will report back further....

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Collect water directly from a jet and test. You might have a high sanitizer demand for some reason and the bromine in the tub is being quickly consumed. If you can get water from as close to the cell as possible when it's actively generating you will know if it's a problem with the generator or a high sanitizer demand situation. If you just purged it's possible that there is gunk in the pipes that wasn't cleaned out that is creating the sanitizer demand. If you have sodium bromide in your water you can add half a cup of household bleach to convert it in to bromine sanitizer and 'jump start' your system. Monitor the bromine levels for the  next wee or tw and see if they drop. IF they do you generator is not working.

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9 hours ago, waterbear said:

Collect water directly from a jet and test. You might have a high sanitizer demand for some reason and the bromine in the tub is being quickly consumed. If you can get water from as close to the cell as possible when it's actively generating you will know if it's a problem with the generator or a high sanitizer demand situation. If you just purged it's possible that there is gunk in the pipes that wasn't cleaned out that is creating the sanitizer demand. If you have sodium bromide in your water you can add half a cup of household bleach to convert it in to bromine sanitizer and 'jump start' your system. Monitor the bromine levels for the  next wee or tw and see if they drop. IF they do you generator is not working.

Update: Bromine eventually started generating. It's at night now, and I just got home, but it looks like after the Gentle Spa was added to approximately 50ppm borates, and after 30 minutes of jets, the pH appears to be around 7.8. I'm not sure if I should make further efforts to lower this to closer to 7.6 or 7.4? If yes, do I secure it with additional borates by lowering to 7.0 or so and adding more? Or am I being too picky and let it rest at 7.8?  I will check it again in the morning, I only have an inside light to hold it against.

Bromine is high. Apparently when it started working, it started working really well - probably as a result of the increased effectiveness due to the lower pH. So, I'm going to let the tub sit and release bromine. Ideas to help reduce bromine would be great.

There's a bit of foam, very loose and bubbly like what you'd see in a regular tub with bubbles.  It's not a lot, but enough to be slightly annoying. This existed before the high bromine too. I don't use any soaps in the spa while cleaning it, so I'm wondering if this may be residual foam from the Ahh-Some or something, but I did make sure to drain the tub to the bottom... and my pump gets it down to about 1/4 or a 1/2 inch, so there wasn't much left in the tub water itself... I'm hoping this eventually goes away.

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