GIMME SHELTER- Ahhh.... Ewww!!! Keeping your Hot Tub clean

David Cox
Hot Tub Sales, Charlottesville Aquatics

PHOTO BY Laura Burns

Q: My hot tub has been looking pretty nasty lately.  Not only that, but it's starting to smell kind of funky too.  What can I do to make the water clear again and enjoy my spa without any strange odors?

A:  I've seen some pretty funky hot tubs in my line of work, and it's amazing what some simple maintenance and common sense can do for you. You'd be surprised how a short lapse in maintenance can really do some damage. Just the other day I had a call from a guy who hadn't done anything to his hot tub in a few months, and it was pretty nasty.  I basically had to drain the whole thing and blow the lines out.  

One of the grossest things I've encountered is when someone unwittingly mixes two different brands of chemicals, which can result in solid particles suspended in the water. But while this is certainly disgusting, it isn't dangerous and can easily be cleaned up.

While mixing chemicals is bad enough, using pool chlorine in a hot tub is the ultimate spa maintenance error. You may think you're cutting corners by using the same product for your pool and your spa, but you could end up causing an extremely dangerous chemical reaction that produces a toxic gas.

If you do happen to find yourself with some suspended solids, small vacuums and nets are available that should help with clean up. 

If your water is not clear, it's usually an indication that it's time to shock (oxidize) your spa. This should be done anywhere from once a week to three times a week depending on the frequency of usage of the hot tub.  

Another common problem is grime or build-up on the sides of your spa. This happens naturally because there are minerals in the water. There are products you can buy for stain and scale control that help reduce any grime and also work well as surface cleaners. 

Always be sure to leave your spa covered when it's not in use, especially if it's an outdoor tub. This will help keep leaves and other debris out.

Spa maintenance can be expensive and time consuming and is certainly something to consider when buying a spa.  The most affordable spas on the market probably aren't the best buy in the long run when you take maintenance and other factors into consideration.