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Hot Tub Life Articles

The Spa Guy Answers Questions - Part 2

If you have a Hot Tub Spa question that you would like answered in an upcoming column, write to the Spa Guy c/o Poolandspa.com, 672 Los Feliz Street; Las Vegas, NV 89110.

Dear Spa Guy,

In the last edition of your newspaper, you had answered a question about a "high limit switch" that pops sometimes. This really confused me. What is the difference between the "high limit switch" and the "GFCI"? Isn’t it the same thing ?

G.D, Oklahoma City, OK

Dear G.D.,

Boy did we get tons of mail about that one ! The letter old G.D. is referring to was from a woman asking why her high limit reset switch would pop after she refilled her spa (answer was...power surge when she started it up because she had the heater "on" when she turned her house circuit breaker back on). This confused a lot of people. Let me explain.

There are usually two electrical "cutoffs" on a spa system. One is the now infamous high limit switch, which cuts the power to the heater when it senses a big power surge or the tub overheats. It is primarily there to keep the spa from heating up too hot (over 106 degrees).

The GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) is a main power shut off that will kill all power to the entire spa system. This is primarily installed for bather safety. If the GFCI senses a short in the spa electrical system, it will cut off all power so that no one can get a shock. If the GFCI keeps popping, it could be because any one of the components in the spa system (heater, pump, air blower, light, timer, etc.) has some sort of electrical problem.

If the high limit keeps popping, it is indicating a heater problem only.

Hope this clears up all the confusion !

Dear Spa Guy,

I try to keep my water chemistry perfect in my hot tub at all times. I use it almost every night and never have a problem with cloudy water. My wife rarely uses the tub, but when she does, the water is always cloudy the next day. There is also a film that forms around the water level of the spa. She is not a dirty person but she does have long hair. What could be causing this?

H.P., Hewlett, NY

Dear H.P.,

No, it’s not because your wife is a dirty person ! As a matter of fact I bet she is very nice looking with beautiful long hair.

We hear this a lot and there is a simple solution to your problem. Many women use either hair spray, mousse or styling gel in their hair (men with long hair do too). Remember, oil is the enemy of hot tub water, and most hair products are oily.

What is happening is that some of her hair is getting in the water when she uses the tub, and the hair product she is using is getting into the water. This will cloud the water and clog the filter, as well as cause the oily film you see on the spa shell.

An easy way to stop this is to keep some baseball type caps near the spa and to have her, or other bathers with long hair, tuck their hair up under the cap while in the spa. Failing that, she will have to wash her hair before taking a tub !

Dear Spa Guy,

You have gotta help me ! I am getting little white pieces of something in my spa. The water chemicals are OK and I just put in a new filter. They look like Styrofoam. I have an ozonator. Could it be going bad ?

L.F., Pittsburgh, PA

Dear L.F.,

When an ozonator goes bad, it just does not work any more. The bulb or the ballast stops working and must be replaced. Your white pieces are not from the ozonator, but are probably being caused by it !

Check the underside of your spa cover. Many covers have a type of insulating foam inside, visible from underneath, and that is probably deteriorating faster than normal due to the oxidation reaction of the ozone gas. The white pieces are from that foam.

Ozone is a great sanitizer of spa water, but the gas can cause premature degradation of the spa cover foam material. I would suggest getting a new cover that has a plastic seal wrap around the foam. This will stop the problem from happening in the future !