Don’t Let This Grow in Your Hot Tub Plumbing!

Published : September 15, 2019

Just because your hot tub water appears crystal clear and doesn’t have any odors, doesn’t mean everything is as clean as it appears. You don’t know what’s underneath your spa – inside the plumbing lines – and if you’re not careful, it could look like this:

SilkBalance Helps Prevent Biofilm








Yuck, right?

But don’t worry, you can easily help prevent Biofilm from forming with continued use of SilkBalance and it can quickly be removed by using Clean Start. This will help protect bathers in your spa and increase jet flow – a win, win situation.

Ideally, maintaining chlorine levels at 3 to 5 ppm or bromine levels at 4 to 6 ppm will effectively prevent the formation of Biofilm. Unfortunately, not every hot tub owner stays on top of his or her chemical routine, allowing Biofilm to form quickly.

Biofilm is a pre-existing collection of bacteria, microbes, and cells that are surrounded by an impenetrable protective layer. Once there is a Biofilm buildup, chlorine or bromine cannot effectively kill bacteria within the Biofilm matrix. Biofilm forms a plastic-like substance called extracellular polysaccharides (EPS) that acts like a protective slime layer allowing a collection of bacteria and microbes to reside within the matrix, and begin colonizing. It only takes a short period for bacteria to multiply rapidly in poorly sanitized hot tub water. Once a Biofilm colony forms, a routine sanitizer treatment program will continue to kill circulating bacteria; however, it will not eradicate the bacteria protected within the Biofilm layer. The minute hot tub water does not have an adequate sanitizer level, Biofilm residents take advantage of this opportunity and the bacteria quickly mobilize to further form protective colonies.

The more Biofilm builds up on the hot tub surfaces, the more the sanitizer tries to fight the gunk in plumbing, rather than working to keep the water clear and healthy. Once established, Biofilm will always find a safe breeding ground no matter the amount of sanitizer present in the hot tub water.

The Biofilm formation process

It is important to understand how Biofilm forms. Organic matter such as sweat, bacteria, cosmetics, and body secretions will lead to the formation of slimy organic deposits if they are not destroyed by sanitizers. Even when the water is treated with chlorine or bromine, these deposits can remain in the water, settling, and sticking to the nearest hard surface and act as a food source for viable bacteria.

Suspended particles, organic matter, and viable microbes in hot tub water are normally positively charged and can associate and form cumulative aggregate or settle onto surfaces (e.g. inside plumbing) where water is slow moving or stagnant.

Once the initial colonization has started, viable bacteria will quickly begin the process of Biofilm construction. Bacteria will enter and exit the Biofilm cell matrix. They settle, forming colonies and cell matrices easily. The surface also is normally positively charged, but there is no significant charge repulsion; therefore, they associate naturally.

Quite simply, the only options available for combating these slimy deposits found in the crevasses of hot tubs are to prevent with SilkBalance or purge with Clean Start.

Preventing Biofilm

SilkBalance water conditioner will work to prevent the proliferation of Biofilm. The combination of ingredients suspends organic particles circulating in the water, including microbes. While in suspension, they do not associate to any degree. At the same time, SilkBalance has a similar effect on clean surfaces, preventing the deposition and association of bacteria and organic debris.

If microbes cannot associate, they are less able to begin Biofilm construction. While SilkBalance does not destroy, kill, or remove Biofilm, SilkBalance can help to prevent its formation. SilkBalance also has a buffering capacity that assists sanitizers in the water to allow them to function optimally, which further reduces the number of viable microbes that can lead to Biofilm formation.

SilkBalance promote the suspension of organics so they do not settle. They flow with the water to the filter where they will be trapped and removed once the filter is rinsed during routine maintenance.

Removing Biofilm

If proper sanitizer levels in a hot tub are inadequate, it is highly likely that Biofilm is present. At this stage, flush out the hot tub with Clean Start. In fact, follow this regimen every time a hot tub is drained and refilled.

The belief of pouring copious amounts of liquid or granular chlorine into the hot tub and running the jets on high will do the trick is not effective; this practice will not completely clear the lines of organic buildup, or effect the established Biofilm.

The proper way to remove Biofilm buildup from the hot tub’s plumbing is to use Clean Start because it combines surfactants and scouring agents that foam and thoroughly cleanse the piping and tubing throughout the cavities beneath the hot tub. Clean Start degrades the polysaccharides, exposing the contents, the surfactant then suspends the loosened debris.

If the hot tub has been in use for many months, and a refill is necessary, use Clean Start plumbing cleaner for a fresh start. This will dislodge chunks of black, green, or dark-colored matter that will come out of the jets. After completing this process, continue draining the hot tub (along with the Biofilm) and enjoy clean, fresh water when you refill your spa.

By Eric Vician
Director of Promotions & Key Accounts

Eric Vician of SilkBalance Hot Tub Water Care



EDITOR’S NOTE: Excerpts from this blog originally appeared in Pool & Spa Marketing Magazine in an article written by SilkBalance. For a list of articles SilkBalance has contributed to the magazine and for more water care FAQs, visit:


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