Swim spas tend to be the ‘middle child’ of water chemistry needs — instructions on chemical packaging are typically geared toward dosage for hot tubs; dosage information on pool chemicals is likewise packaged for swimming pools. Given the size difference, swim spa owners must calculate correct amounts. But disparities in use and typical loads, and significant differences in the chemistry of source water, all contribute to making proper chemical measurement a formidable challenge.
“Both mismeasuring and miscalculating chemical amounts for swim spas are problems in the industry,” says Nadia Beane, chief operating officer of Jack’s Magic, a manufacturer of pool chemicals in Largo, Florida. “Calculating dosages on swim spas can absolutely be a concern.”
She notes that sometimes swimming pool product needs to be added to swim spas in halves or even quarters of a measurement, which can cause confusion. Frequently, homeowners fail to consider the effect of adding a chemical that foams, as the agitation of the water can exacerbate the foaming effect.
“In a body of water the size of a swim spa, small miscalculations in water chemistry can have much bigger effects,” Beane says.
“My biggest thing is making customers aware of how much the water can affect everything,” says Trevor Simon, manager of Spas of Montana, a retail store with locations in Missoula and Helena. “Just because it looks clear doesn’t mean it’s in good shape.”
After learning the size of a customer’s swim spa, Simon will make a rough calculation of the necessary chemical amounts. He encourages customers to test their water frequently in the first few weeks, since the frequency of use and other variables will affect the amount of chemicals needed. Find a spa dealer that will help you, the swim spa owner, determine the right water care regimen but won’t over complicate the process.
Just like with regular hot tubs, you will need to maintain a sanitizer or disinfectant residual, the swim spas will require routine oxidation and you will have to watch water replacement. Keep in mind that the number of bathers will also have an effect on the adjustments you should make when maintaining the water.
Swim spa models vary by manufacturer with some units that have two separate sections — one for swimming and the other for relaxing. These tubs usually run off two filtration systems allowing each section to be tested and maintained separately. All-in-one units, however, will have the same water temperature across the board, requiring one water care regimen.
Nichols notes that, since swim spas are usually kept partially heated all the time, maintaining a sanitary environment is important to prevent them from becoming a breeding ground for bacteria. He urges customers to ensure ozonator or UV units on their swim spas are working properly, to check filters weekly and clean them when necessary and make sure the equipment area is clean, dry and free of debris. He also recommends cleaning and maintaining the swim spa skirt, cover and steps.
He also encourages customers to ask a lot of questions when they purchase a swim spa and to test their water often. “If a spa retailer doesn’t take the time to give the buyer some assistance, especially first-time buyers, don’t buy from them,” Nichols says. “Education is always beneficial to both parties.”