Jump to content

Going out of town - what to do?


Recommended Posts

Greetings! I’m wondering what folks do with their water chemistry while they’re away from their tubs for weeks at a time. I’m eyeing some 1-3 week vacations in the future and am seeking suggestions.

I’m currently on the dichlor-then-bleach method, and everything seems to be going well, generally. But if I neglect to add chlorine for more than 2-3 days or so I risk coming out to cloudy water, so certainly being away for a week or more will cause issues.

My tub (2007 Hot Spot Mallorca) has a habit of throwing an error from time to time too, so especially for a winter vacation I’ll arrange to have someone stop by the house and make sure it’s still running to prevent freezing. But I’d like to not have to saddle that person with intensive water testing or monitoring if I can help it.

The tub does have an ozonator that runs with the filter cycle, which is currently set to six hours per day (in two three-hour blocks) and is adjustable.

Thoughts? Suggestions? 

Link to post
Share on other sites

or....if you are not a fan of floaters...

I have found a very interesting capability of the product known as "Hot Tub Serum" which I have started to use on a regular basis.  I have been experimenting with this stuff, mostly because of its claims for certain victory - -which incidentally  are not unfounded ...  To date I'm not aware that the mfg promotes it for extended absences but I find to be very effective at flattening out the sanitizer decay curve, allowing me to go several days with zero chlorine. Wth a combination of a shock level of chlorine, and Hot Tub serum recommended dose in the water I have gone for as long as two weeks at a time, and my spa is ready to use when I get home.  I see no reason why you couldn't go three weeks;  I've just never tried it.  

Here's my experiments with the 'Serum

https://rvdoug.com/blog/pushing-the-limits-of-hot-tub-serum/

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/27/2021 at 9:23 PM, RDspaguy said:

Just get a foater and some tabs. It won't hurt anything from a few weeks of use.

lol,  yet you posted in another thread that you are not a fan of bromine floaters because of the damage they can cause yet trichlor is MUCH more acidic and can cause a lot more damage! Gotcha!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Awesome, thanks everyone for the responses. Yeah, I’ve always been apprehensive about using a floater and the tabs, which I understand will always be trichlor. Is that correct?

I do suspect I can get a floater to stay put in my skimmer basket, so that might help (i.e. it won’t get stuck floating right next to one side). But I’m still apprehensive. 

Also, don’t those tabs usually only last 3-5 days? What happens after that?

Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, RDspaguy said:

I am not a fan, and trichlor is worse, but for a few weeks it will be fine. It takes long term usage to cause damage, a few weeks is harmless.

@RDspaguyYou do know that I'm just yanking your chain, right?  ;)

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, samwise801 said:

I can get a floater to stay put in my skimmer basket, so that might help

That is exactly what you don't want. Unless you like replacing heater elements...

Best bet is to tie it of on a length of string in the flow path of jets that run during the filter cycle.

1 hour ago, samwise801 said:

don’t those tabs usually only last 3-5 days?

Dissolution rate is a factor of surface area and water flow. Since these change with number of tabs, setting on floater, location of floater, and pump run time it can be different in each circumstance. I would load it up and close it almost completely. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

or if you don't like dumping CYA into your water via the floater....

dose with ADBACs (QUATs) that supplement the killing power of chlorine.  a few weeks at very low dose rate isn't so bad, but I do have question for you puck guys -- are there pucks available with zero CYA contributions?  I guess the CDC's recommendations are going un-noticed.  they want zero CYA.  zip nada nothingamus.  none.  don't use it.  pick a chlorine source that  has none.  no dichlor ...  

Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, dlleno said:

or if you don't like dumping CYA into your water via the floater....

dose with ADBACs (QUATs) that supplement the killing power of chlorine.  a few weeks at very low dose rate isn't so bad, but I do have question for you puck guys -- are there pucks available with zero CYA contributions?  I guess the CDC's recommendations are going un-noticed.  they want zero CYA.  zip nada nothingamus.  none.  don't use it.  pick a chlorine source that  has none.  no dichlor ...  

Well, I guess they'll stop selling it soon. Better stock up!

I wonder the reason?

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think there are finally signs of taking the biofilm thing seriously -- and of course the evils of using chlorine while hamstringing it with CYA.  the two are a bad combination.    In my early research I found a study showing that biofilms could survive 1-3ppm FC. Even the CDC's kill rate numbers -- those have always been understood to be free chlorine, unadulterated by CYA -- now they have taken the next logical step and are saying 3ppm is the minimum FC UNMODERATED by CYA (for spas).  

so the "dichlor then switch to bleach" method is finally getting some airtime, if only for its recognition that CYA hamstrings chlorine.  anyone tried 3ppm with no CYA?  I worry that this will drive more people away from chlorine and into the world of heavily marketed non-halogen solutions that quote anecdotal stories instead of science.  

biofilm references here

https://rvdoug.com/hot-tub-maintenance/controlling-biofilms-part-1/

Link to post
Share on other sites

back to floaters -- if you are already carefully watching CYA and you've already "switched to bleach", then putting in a floater is going to raise CYA above your target and hamstring your chlorine for the rest of the water drain interval.  If you've not already "switched to bleach", then you're likely ok -- at least until your next trip when the floater goes back in and CYA climbs again.   

So @samwise801 one alternative to the floater is to use Hot Tub Serum.  I'm going to experiment with this stuff I think and see if I can push it beyond two weeks.  I've already shown that the stuff really improves sanitizer decay rate and allows (no load) chlorine to go to zero, and I've gone two weeks without adding chlorine so I have no doubt it will be up to the challenge. 

The key here is no load.  if you have biofilms already in your pipes then floaters just cover up the problem by over-sanitizing -- you'll just end up cranking up the dose rate while the CL gets consumed while fighting the biofilms.   but if you've purged with ahh-some and gained the victory over biofilms you have a good chance of success utilizing the slow kill rates of the stuff in Hot Tub Serum.  Start with a shock dose of chlorine, and the 'Serum will produce a wonderfully gentle decay rate (unless critters invade lol), and then you'll still have protection from the "QUAT" even with no chlorine (again, no bather load). 

experiments to come! 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Awesome, thanks everyone for the input and help!

I look forward to your experiments with Hot Tub Serum, dlleno. Trichlor and floaters just make me a little too nervous, though if that ends up being the best solution, awesome.

I didn’t deep-clean the tub after my last drain - I just neglected to, oops! - but the drain-and-refill before that did cough up some sticky, blue-green stuff. So I suspect I had some biofilm that came out last time; hopefully it hasn’t reformed. I’ll certainly be deep-cleaning the tub every time going forward, and will time it so I do a drain-ahh some-refill just before my vacation so the water is as clean as possible.

And yes, I monitor CYA and am working to keep it in the 30ish ppm sweet spot. But lately it’s crept up a little so I’m going to try this Bio-Active CYA-reducer stuff. I’ll trade you your findings on Hot Tub Serum for my findings with the CYA reducer.

Cheers everyone!

Link to post
Share on other sites

nice!  

I'm a simple guy really.  allergic to complexity;  but I did read the Hot Tub Serum label and noticed that it calls for a weekly dose for maintenance.  I also noticed that the product is EPA registered to control biofilms when used as directed.  This may be an assumption, but all of this tells me that whatever they've got in that stuff must exhibit some sort of decay rate that can be predicted -- otherwise they wouldn't specify a weekly dose!  I've already pushed its limits by going two weeks with no chlorine so I figure its just a natural next step to push things even further.  I'm not sure if this would be "off label" or not -- but I see it as "within the label directions"  -- I'll just dose with a four-week supply and then go four weeks!  how simple is that.

this could be a cool solution to avoid CYA build-up, so stay tuned.  I can see chlorine level monitoring in my future.  I just need to set aside four weeks where I have to stay out of my spa... that won't be fun lol 🙂.

how does this CYA-eating stuff work? 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Lot's of misinformation. Let me help.

First, if the tub is not going to be used for a few weeks and noj chlorine added then borate at 50 ppm and shocking before you go is your best bet, IMHO. Borate will inhibit the growth of some of the nasties that can lead to biofilms and some spa purge products are based on borate and sodium carbonate.

Second, many people have asked over the years why can't they make a tablet without CYA. It's because trichlor is a chemical made from chlorine and cyanuric acid. It is a chlorinated isocyanuate. It is very slow to dissolved, which is why it is pressed into tabs and used in a floater, and add 6 ppm CYA for every 10 ppm FC added. It is extremely acidic (very low pH when added. Acidic reaction when the chlorine is consumed.) It requires a TA of 100 or higher to prevent pH crashing when it is the main chlorinating souce.

Dichlor is also a chemical made from chlorine and cyanuric acid. It is a chlorinated isocyanuate. It is extremely fast disssolving so it is not suitable for use in feeders or floaters. It adds 9 ppm CYA for elvery 10 ppm FC added. It is moderately acidic (pH around 6 when added. Acidic reaction when the chlorine is consumed.)  It can be used at a lower TA as long as TA is being monitored and raised when necessary.

The CDC recommendation for NOT using CYA in hot tubs and spas is based on an incomplete understanding of the chlorine/cya relationship and their desire to simplify things. However, NO CYA means the chlorine is very aggressive to swimsuits. At least this is an improvement over about 10 years ago when most of the "powers that be" did not recognize this relationship between the sanitizing activity of chlorine and the amount of CYA in the water. Some CYA is beneficial, Too much and your water is overstabilized and undersanitized UNLESSS you run MUCH higher FC levels to compensate for the elevated CYA levels. For example, if the CYA is 100 ppm you would need to maintain a FC level of 8-15 ppm FC for normal sanitation, shock to 25 ppm and if you need to 'nuke' for biofilms or mustard algae it would be 100 ppm. FWIW, if the CYA is 100 ppm the tub water is safe to enter at 8-15 ppm FC since the activity of the chlorine would be the same as if  the tub was at 30 ppm CYA and 3-6 ppm FC. The recommendation of 3 ppm in an unstabilized tub is not new and has been around for years. Also, it needs to be taken into consideration that when no CYA is present the pH becomes very important in determining the disinfecting ability of the chlorine so it becomes a two edged sword. A small amount of CYA (around 20 ppm) effectively takes the pH effect out of the equation and it is MUCH easier to maintain a constant CYA level than a constant pH level in actual practice. Can I get an AMEN here?

Third, Hot Tub Serum is a Quaternary ammonium surfactant. This class of surfactants is found in fabric softeners, hair conditioners, cleaning wipes, and non chlorine, non alcohol disinfectant sprays. "Quats" are also used in salons to disinfect combs and brushes (that blue glass container of liquid that might say "Barbercide" that the combs are sitting in). Quats have also been used in the pool/spa industry for years as algaecides. The particular quat in Hot Tub Serum is Alkyl (60%C14, 30%C16, 5%C12, 5%C18)dimethyl benzyl ammonium Chloride which is also the same quat used in Ahh-Some Gel at a higher concentration:

https://www3.epa.gov/pesticides/chem_search/ppls/084409-00002-20180409.pdf

https://www3.epa.gov/pesticides/chem_search/ppls/084409-00001-20170731.pdf

It is also commonly found in many pool and spa Quaternary algaecides so it is not any kind of 'magic' product that will do wonders for your water. It is an EPA registered pesticide as are all Quaternary algaecides (and silver and copper for that matter) but it is not a primary sanitizer like chlorine, bromine, or biguinide.

Fourth, there are three chlorine sources that do not add CYA to your water The are all close to pH neutral (alkaline when added, acidic when there are consumed):

Calcium hypychlorite (cal hypo) which is moderately slow dissolving but adds 7 ppm Calcium Hardness for every 10 ppm FC added. It is normally sold in granular form (that needs to be predissolved) or can be used in a special feed system in commercial applications. It is also available in tabs for commercial use that must be used in special feeders that do not allow pressure to build up to prevent explosion. It is extremely reactive and has been linked to several warehouse fires, which is why the purer and stronger formulations (68% to 73%) are not normally available for consumers but only to the trade. It does not play well with other forms of chlorine and some other pool chemicals and can spontaneously combust and/or explode.

Lithium hypochlorite (lithium shock) is a fast dissolving powder. It's main drawback is that it it the most expen$ive chlorine you can buy.

Sodium Hypochlorite (liquid chlorine, laundry bleach, pool chlorine) It is available in strengths form about 3% to 12.5%, the only difference is how much you need for a given FC level. It is usually dosed manually but it can be automated by either using a peristaltic pump dosing system or by installing a salt water chlorine generator which produces sodium hypochlorite as the final product.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Continued from my previous post:

On 3/30/2021 at 4:49 PM, dlleno said:

are there pucks available with zero CYA contributions? 

No, see my post above for an explanation. This question gets asked a lot. There is only one form of chlorine that is slow dissolving so it can be used a s puck in a floater. That is the chlorinated isocyanurate known as trichlor (Trichloroisocyanuric acid,1,3,5-Trichloro-1,3,5-triazine-2,4,6(1H,3H,5H)-trione, Trichloro-s-triazinetrione).

3 hours ago, dlleno said:

how does this CYA-eating stuff work? 

The bacterial desegregation of CYA by bacteria (usually anerobic) has been well known for a long time and is often seen in swimming pools that are closed for the winter. However, the end product is ammonia compounds which can be difficult to remover which form perisitant combined chloramines (also seen in pools closed for the winter). The actual pathways for this are summarized in these papers:

https://aem.asm.org/content/aem/71/8/4437.full.pdf
 

http://eawag-bbd.ethz.ch/cya/cya_map.html

I would be careful this product in a spa only because persistent CC in a spa is a known problem because they remain covered and are not exposed to UV from the sun, unlike outdoor pools. I also noticed that this product is marketed for pools and not spas, probably for this reason and  because a water change in even a very large spa of 500 to  1000 gallons or a swim spa at 1500 to 2000 gallons is trivial compared to an "average" swimming pool with 15000 to 20000 gallons of water. Other CYA reducers on the market (many of which are based on melamine to cause melamine cyanurate to precipitate out and, in theory, eventually collected by the filter with cloudy water until then (This is the same precipitate that forms with the Taylor CYA test, btw) are also marketed to pools and not spas. 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok. So hot tub serum has comb cleaner in it, The cdc is mis informed,  and chlorine pucks don't exist without cya. Check

I'm getting tremendous results with Serum. Even "good enough" pH buffering for those not afraid to let TA fall, and I haven't used borates for 6 years.  ll post more results as I obtain them!

Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, dlleno said:

Ok. So hot tub serum has comb cleaner in it, The cdc is mis informed,  and chlorine pucks don't exist without cya.

IF you read what I posted I stated that hot tub serum is a quat, which is a group of chemicals that are used for multiple purposes, but most often as a disinfectant and algaecide. Anyway, comb and brush cleaner is a different product than Barberscide, a disinfectant. (I know something about this also since I have been a licensed Barber and a licensed Cosmetologist since the 70s and have taught both professions).

 The CDC is not misinformed. They are trying to simplify things for residential spa owners (the recommendation of 3 ppm FC and no cya is for residential spas. It will work but there are negative side effects and they are not taking the effect of pH on unstabilized chlorine into account. ) For that matter, the entire pool and spa industry is only recently recognizing the effects of CYA on chlorine and much of that is becasue of the early work of several members and Ben Powell of the Pool Forum did before TFP ever existed. Much of the credit for getting the information out goes to chem geek, who was active on Pool Forum, TPF, Garden Web, and here and is also responsible for some of the changes made in regards to ionizers and metal salt 'sanitizers'.  FWIW, many state health departments still do not recognize the effect of CYA on chlorine and there are a few that have always banned the use of any stabilized chlorine source in a commercial spa (but have required close monitoring of pH and possibly the use of ORP.

Chlorine pucks don't exist without CYA. Period!

f9e.gif

Link to post
Share on other sites
18 minutes ago, dlleno said:

Even "good enough" pH buffering for those not afraid to let TA fall,

Afraid to let the TA fall? I guess you missed all the posts about running TA in the range of 50-70 or possibly a bit lower for pH stability. IF you understood how the bicarbonate/carbonic acid buffer works you would know that it only makes pH rise and the lower it is the slower pH will rise. It has no effect preventing pH drop. Quats do not buffer pH so there might be a secondarily pH buffer in their 'inert ingredients'.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Why do you assume I missed posts?   I've read them.   But I've also  been doing this for 3 decades lol I just learned it from experimentation. 

Yes Serum has more than comb cleaner in it.  

Link to post
Share on other sites
30 minutes ago, dlleno said:

Yes Serum has more than comb cleaner in it.  

Once again, Quats are NOT used to clean combs, They are used to keep them sanitized after they are clean.

 

31 minutes ago, dlleno said:

But I've also  been doing this for 3 decades lol I just learned it from experimentation. 

Only three decades? On how many pools and spas? Just yours? Think I have you beat here too. Just in this forum I have 9 years on you! (And this is the last one I joined.)

Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, waterbear said:

FWIW, if the CYA is 100 ppm the tub water is safe to enter at 8-15 ppm FC since the activity of the chlorine would be the same as if  the tub was at 30 ppm CYA and 3-6 ppm FC.

Is there a chart that shows this relationship (i.e. CYA vs. recommended safe Cl level) or is it a linear 3x factor?  When CYA is 3X the recommended level, you need 3X the free Cl?

Thanks.

Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, RDspaguy said:

and the amazon site also says that "Designed for use with the CCH Cal-Hypo Feeder". As I said, they need to be used in a special vented feeder and not in a floater.

https://cchpoolcare.com/

The website states that it is designed for commercial pools and Poolweb has it for sale for a mere 466.22. FWIW, the CCH is a Sigura company and they have been promoting cal hypo for years under the HTH brand. You might know some of their retail brands such as HTH, Leisure Time, and Poollife. (Chemtura, on the other hand, was the major major manufacturer of chlorinated isocyanurate with such brands as Biolab, BioGuard, Omni, ProGuard, Spa Essentials, SpaGuard, Seaklear, Natural Chemitry, Sun,  Aqua Chem, Pool Time and Spa Time brands. Chemtura sold it's pool/spa lines to KIK Custom Products in 2014, who also markets the Clorox line of pool/spa products. Can anyone say Monopoly? ;) )

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/1/2021 at 8:01 AM, dashmer said:

Is there a chart that shows this relationship (i.e. CYA vs. recommended safe Cl level) or is it a linear 3x factor?

It is not linear. There are charts. The original Chart was done by Ben Powell and can be found on his PoolSolutions website in in his PoolForum. Chem geek expanded the chart in 2007, based on the chemistry of chlorinated isocyanurates and it can be found on the TFP website. I recommend Ben's chart from PoolSolutions since it is simplified and it works. Chemgeek's chart is more complicated since it is based on the chemistry at each CYA level  but, IMHO, is a bit of overkill in actual practice and even TFP has simplified it and made it closer to Ben's chart.

FWIW, the CDC released recommendations for commercial pools in 2017 that FINALLY acknowledged the effect of CYA on sanitation even though the research goes back to the 70s (and is referenced in the recommendation)

This blog post has more information:

https://blog.intheswim.com/fresh-thoughts-on-cyanuric-acid/

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
×
×
  • Create New...