Don’t Forget the FilterPublished :
Your Spa’s Filter Plays an Important Part in Water Care
I’ll never forget the most memorable hot tub water care question I ever received regarding the topic of filters. Years later, the conversation is just as relevant today partially because it’s rather unbelievable and partly because it points out not only the proper use of filters, but also the important role they play in helping keep your spa water cleaner and your jets flowing smoother.
The call came from a dog lover who just adored her pet so much that she would let it use the spa almost as much as she did. I was familiar with this practice for pet owners and their swimming pools, but the thought never crossed my mind to share 1,500 of relatively confined liters of water with man’s best friend.
She called in to ask why after owning her brand-new spa for only a month, her jets were suddenly not providing the same hydrotherapy she had come to enjoy for the first couple weeks of hot tub ownership. Not to mention, the water was understandably a tad cloudier than she desired.
The slow water flow problem immediately begged the question, “When was the last time you took your filter out and rinsed it?” I asked.
Her response was worthy of an entrance into the Hot Tub Owners’ Hall of Shame:
It turns out this new hot tub owner not only didn’t know there was a filter in her spa working feverishly to assist in keeping her water clean, she also didn’t know it should be removed and rinsed regularly. With so many chemical options for spa owners to concern themselves with, the filter sometimes gets overlooked. I wanted to share some water care reasons why simple filter maintenance goes a long way to clearer water and some ways to easily accomplish the best spa experience imaginable.
WHY You Should Clean Your Spa Filter(s)
Enjoyment of your hot tub or spa means experiencing clean water. You chemically balance the water and check the sanitizer level. You are set to go. Clean clear water. Right?
Not if you overlooked the important, often neglected item – filters. Filters are one of the most important parts of the whole spa system. When bathers use the water, particulates like sand, dust, lint from clothing and soils from surrounding surfaces are often carried into the water. These particulates need to be removed to ensure water clarity.
This is where your filter comes in to play.
Remove your filter regularly. This means weekly if you use your spa a lot and never more than every two weeks if you are an occasional bather. When you rinse it off with a high pressure, fresh water streams, most times you can actually see the filter color change closer to its original white hue.
Spa filters eventually will become clogged with particulates – like dirt, organics and even dog hair! Some very tiny specs are so minute that they cannot be removed by washing or rinsing. This will result in a lower flow rate, placing a larger workload on the pump system to circulate water.
Your filter also does a great job of breaking down foaming as a result of freshly laundered bathing suits that contain residual laundry soap. If you experience this type of foaming, rinse your filter more than once a week and the soapy bubbles should dissipate naturally and at a quicker rate – all without the need to introduce more chemicals such as foam decreaser.
Other types of foam, the result of organics (body oils, sweat, hair, food/drinks, dust, leaves, rain, etc.) being introduced into the spa water, also can be broken down via the filter along with the addition of a water conditioner. Some products place a protective coating on the filter media strengthening the pleats for longer use without affecting flow rate or particulate removal.
HOW to Maintain Your Spa Filter(s)
Hot tub owners should be in the habit of removing the filter weekly and giving it a fresh water rinse. In warm climates, this can be accomplished with a simple garden hose. If it’s cold outside, you can do this in a utility sink or bathtub inside your house. Aftermarket hose attachments are available that are designed to help rinse the filter pleats, but if you don’t want to purchase these comb-like spray nozzles, a regular nozzle works just as well. This simple step will go a long way toward keeping the filter cleaner and prolonging its life.
There also are several products on the market that enable you to give your filter a deeper, chemical rinse. These products work adequately to remove loose particulates. Some involve an overnight enzyme soak, others involve placing your filter in the center of the spa water during a plumbing line purge process because the scouring agents used to clean out the tubes underneath your spa also are strong enough to clean the pleats in your filter if it is floating in the foaming water right before you are ready to drain and refill your spa. If you do choose either of these chemical methods, be sure to give the filter a quick rinse before replacing it back into your spa compartment.
The cleaning methods I have just outlined work for most any paper-media filters. There are ceramic filters available in the marketplace as well. If you have purchased one of these, usually more expensive types of filters, check with the manufacturer’s recommendations for cleaning. Many times, the ceramic plates will become coated with slime that can be rinsed or wiped off and replaced.
Finally, there are two home remedy methods that people have used over the years to clean their filters – dishwashers and bleach. I recommend only the first if you so desire. If you want to run a dishwasher cycle on your filter, first make sure it is dishwasher safe per your manufacturer and second make sure to remove your coffee mugs and plates. There’s just something about dirty filters and my morning cup of Joe that don’t mix well. As for bleach, do not make this very popular mistake. Sure bleach does a great job of making your filter look whiter, but what you have effectively done is eroded the paper media with a harsh chemical and lessened the life of your filter. You want your spa filter to work better not look whiter. It’s going to get dirty, that’s its job!
If your filter becomes clogged beyond the point of rinsing or if the media has eroded, you will need to buy a new replacement. Simply reference your operating manual or visit your local spa retailer to ensure you purchase the correct size and type of replacement filter. A good start is to measure your existing filter first. When you get to the point of purchase, you will be more confident in securing the correct replacement. There are many different options for filters including the size of particulates that they filter out (microscopic differences between tiny and super small), so compare the dimensions of filters with your personal preferences.
Spa filters need care and replacement just like the filters in your home and vehicle. Just remember the lady with the dog in her spa the next time you are enjoying a great soak in your spa. Then take a peek at your filter, you won’t regret it.
By Colin Taylor, B.Sc., MIScT
Silk Water Solutions Inc.