A salt water hot tub combines the luxuriously soft water of salt systems with the relaxing and soothing comfort of heated spa therapy. A hot tub equipped with a salt water system is more cost effective and will require less maintenance than a regular hot tub so you can count on spending less time looking after chemical balancing and more time enjoying all the wonderful benefits.
There is nothing better than unwinding in a hot tub for a hydrotherapy massage combined with the soothing effects of salt water to relieve tension and stress after a long day. A salt generator will continually convert low levels of salt into an endless supply of sanitizing chlorine so you won't need annoying floaters or pucks. The only time you will need to add salt will be from splash out or during draining and filling.
The benefits of a salt water hot tub go beyond less eye and skin irritation, low maintenance and being cheaper to operate. You will require less draining and in most cases you will only need to drain your hot tub once a year compared to the recommended every 3 months with regular hot tubs. This is due to less foaming and buildup of scum lines from glues, binders and bi-products used in the production of bromine pucks.
If you are considering purchasing a new hot tub or converting your existing system to a salt water hot tub we'll explain how easy to is below but we'll first take a look at the benefits of a salt water system.
A salt water system designed to convert existing hot tubs is convenient, clean and allows for adjustable levels of chlorine that are essential for periods of heavy usage and times when the hot tub isn't being used. After you set the desired production you can count on consistent levels that will keep your spa crystal clear and free of other unsightly contaminants.
A salt water system for hot tubs works the same way a chlorine generator works in large salt water swimming pools. The low levels of salt water are broken down electrolytically into natural occurring chlorine that fight of germs and bacteria. As the salt water recirculates it's converted back to regular salt water which means the system can repeat endlessly for a continual supply of chlorine with no additives.
Just about any hot tub can be converted to produce chlorine from a generator with no alterations to your existing plumbing system needed aside from adding the generator. The drop over units available on the market today make it incredibly easy to get started and all you have to do is plug the unit in and let it do it's work.
The pump can be run at existing times or increased to a 24 hour cycle depending on bather load and the amount of chlorine needed. The salt system works independently from your existing hot tub system so you don't need to have your hot tub running while it sanitizes.
A salt water hot tub conversion is really simple and once it's installed you will need less balancing chemicals before you can relax and enjoy. If you are filling your tub for the first time make sure the water levels are at the required height and you balance your hot tub chemistry before installing the salt system.
1. Adding Salt to your Hot Tub
With everything balanced it's time to add the appropriate amount of hot tub salt. The most common salinity required is 2,500 ppm but refer to the manufacturers instructions and guidelines for your specific salt system. The amount of salt is really low and works out to about 2 pounds for every 100 gallons but be sure not to add too much otherwise you will have to empty some water and refill.
If you own a salt water hot tub it's good idea to invest in some salt water test strips or a digital salt meter if you prefer the convenience of instant and easy easy results. If your salt system has digital readouts of salinity it's still a good idea to self test regularly especially if you are new to owning salt water hot tub.
2. Installing the Salt Water Hot Tub System
The second and final step is to install the salt system in your hot tub after you have checked for chemical balance and salinity. There are two main types of installations and most devices will work great with both options.
The drop over or DO method is the easiest because it doesn't require any plumbing or altering your existing system. You simply hang the chlorine generator device over the edge of your pool so it is fully immersed in the water. You might find that attaching it to the filter or using a fasting device will help keep it in place.
The second method involves plumbing the salt system in-line or IL as apart of your existing plumbing. This method makes it a bit tidier and hides the unit out of sight if you don't want to see it. In some cases this might void your hot tub warranty so if you have any concerns you should contact the manufacturer of your hot tub before altering the plumbing. There will be installation instructions with the model you choose and can be carried out by a handy hot tub owner.
In addition to the many benefits of a salt water hot tub you will find that it will be a lot easier to balance the chemistry. This is due to the fact that salt water is more stable and enables everything else to work more harmoniously. A properly balanced hot tub will increase the efficiency of the salt system so it's a good idea to test the water at least once a week.
The better salt water hot tub units will have a feature that allows for a boost in chlorine during times of heavier use but a shock might still be required to eliminate organic waste and to get your free chlorine levels back up.
This quick guideline will go over the basic chemistry and balancing requirements for a salt water hot tub. The requirements are the same as a regular hot tub with the exception of total dissolved solids or TDS which will read higher because salt shows up in this reading.
1. pH and Alkalinity
The pH should be between 7.2-7.8 (7.5 optimal) and alkalinity between 80-120 ppm. These levels can be increased by adding baking soda or soda ash and decreased by adding muriatic acid or sodium bisulphate depending if you have an indoor or outdoor hot tub.
2. Calcium Hardness
Calcium levels should range between 150-250 ppm. It can be increased by adding calcium chloride and lowered only by draining some water and replacing with fresh water.
3. Total Dissolved Solids
Total dissolved solids consist of metals, minerals and other organics found naturally in your fresh water. It can also be caused by adding chemicals and other additives which will be reduced significantly in a salt water hot tub. High levels of total dissolved solids can only be remedied by draining water and refiling with fresh water.
Phosphates and other contaminants like fertilizer, shampoo, soap, lotions or perfume can be tested with test strips and eliminated as necessary. Some water softeners and filter cleaners contain phosphates and should not be used because a salt water hot tub produces naturally soft water so you won't need to use any additives.
Aside from keeping your hot tub balanced and running smoothly there are a few accessories you might want to add to increase the overall enjoyment. A hot tub cover will not only keep your energy bills down it will prevent children or anything else from accidentally entering the hot tub when adult supervision isn't present. In addition to a hot tub safety cover you may be interested in adding or replacing your existing hot tub lighting.
After you install a salt system you will probably be using your hot tub more often and the most common item that needs to be replaced is the filter. If you use a good hot tub filter cleaner regularly you will increase the life of the filter and keep your water looking crystal clear all year long.
A salt water hot tub has many benefits that a regular hot tub just doesn't have. If you join the many hot tub owners already enjoying the benefits of a salt water system you won't be disappointed.
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