Every swim spa owner understands that keeping the water clean is the single most important task in their maintenance routine. Unsanitary swim spa water not only looks and smells bad, but it can also actually cause serious health problems. Hot tub lung, Legionnaire’s disease and dermatitis are no joke. So, beyond keeping the water chemistry balanced and regularly adding sanitizer, what else needs to be done? Shocking your swim spa on a regular basis is another important procedure that will help keep the water safe and healthy. You might now be asking yourself, “How often should I shock my swim spa?” In this article we’ll go over the basics of swim spa water shocking.
How Often Should You Shock Your Swim Spa?
The general rule of thumb is to shock your swim spa at least once a week. If it’s getting a lot more use than usual or several different people are using it, you may want to consider shocking the water twice a week. Just make sure to test the water beforehand and ensure your pH levels are where they’re supposed to be. A pH level that’s high or low will inhibit the effectiveness of the shock.
What Does Shocking Your Swim Spa Do?
Shocking your swim spa oxidizes organic compounds that can build up in your water. These organic compounds are tracked into your swim spa every time someone uses it. Dead skin cells, body oils, soap residues, suntan lotion, makeup and deodorants are just a few of the things that our bodies can introduce into the swim spa water. Insects, pollen and other airborne particles can also increase the organic load. As your water sanitizer naturally begins to break down, the organic contaminant concentration starts to increase. This can lead to cloudy, smelly water as well as foam and scum buildup.
Another thing that shocking the water does is convert chloramines or bromamines (depending on which system you’re using) back into chlorine and bromine. These amines are produced as the chlorine or bromine kill bacteria. They are responsible for the chlorine-like smell that is so common around swimming pools, hot tubs and swim spas. This conversion process re-establishes the sanitizer levels and helps keep the water free of bacteria, viruses and organic contaminants.
What Is Swim Spa Shock Made Of?
There are more than a few different types of shock available on the market. Which type you use will depend on the temperature you usually run your swim spa and its exposure to the sun. Calcium hypochlorite is most often used in full sized swimming pools. It’s not as effective at higher temperatures as it breaks down quickly in the heat. The calcium content can also be problematic for smaller water tanks as it has the propensity for precipitating out and causing scaling. Dichlor shock is more often used in hot tubs and swim spas that run at higher temperatures. There is also non-chlorine based shocks, but they won’t kill bacteria and viruses. However, they will reactivate chlorine and bromine based sanitizers which can kill off bacteria.
How to Shock A Swim Spa?
The first thing you need to do is test the pH level of the water and get it in balance. As mentioned, pH plays a major role in allowing the shock to perform properly, so balance your pH first. You should apply the shock in the evening so that it isn’t quickly broken down by the sunlight. Once applied, leave the cover off the swim spa for at least 20 minutes to allow the shock to offgas a bit. Read the shock instructions for how long you need to wait before you can get in the water again or do a quick water test to make sure everything is back in balance.
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