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Hot Tub Life Articles

The Spa Guy Answers Questions - Part 4

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,

I just want to take this opportunity to tell you that I really LOVE your column. I first saw some old Spa Guy articles on your Web Site and I think you are both funny and informative (no, I am not your mother) ! Who the heck are you and where did you learn so much about spas ?

B.L., Franklin Square, New York

Dear B.L.,

I have received many "love letters" like yours since I started writing this column (many over the Internet). But alas, I must insist on remaining anonymous. Just think of me as "The Spa Guy" - I think it is best that way. As far as my credentials are concerned, I have been in the spa business for 14 years. I started out as a swimming pool serviceman, but quickly found out that you don’t get as dirty fixing spas and hot tubs ! I have sold spas, fixed spas, renovated spas and built spa rooms and decks. I can’t say that I have seen it all, but I have certainly seen a lot during my tour of duty in the field.

Dear Spa Guy,

When I got my spa, it had four black "built in" headrest pillows mounted on the top of the spa shell. They started to absorb water, then they all fell off. I have tried many different types of glues, but nothing seems to work. How can I get them to stick ?

J.S., Grand Blanc, Michigan

Dear J.S.,

The first thing you have to do is to try to dry them out. Many of the spa pillows that come with spas are made of a cushion-like rubberized plastic that is prone to water absorption if not let to dry out. I would suggest removing the pillows from the spa and leaving them out in the sun to dry. Depending on how bad they are saturated, this may take a few days or a few weeks for all the water to drain or evaporate out of the material. Once dry, I recommend using a silicone glue (in a tube) to attach them to your acrylic. Make sure that both surfaces are clean and free of both water and any oils. Apply the silicone to the back of the pillow, set in place, then put a piece of duct tape over the pillow to hold it firm. It is best to do this when the tub is drained. Allow to set for 24 hours, then refill tub. This should hold well. One more tip is to try to keep the water level of the spa just UNDER the bottom of the pillow. This way, they are less apt to soak up water in the future.

Dear Spa Guy,

My copper heater housing tube keeps getting little pinholes in it. I just replaced it for the third time in five years. This is getting really costly. Why does this happen. To me, it looks like they are just made like crap ! Please help.

F.M., Houston, Texas

Dear F.M.,

Well, on one hand, the design of those copper heater tubes might be "crap", but on the other hand, it is probably you, F.M., that is causing these problems. Let me explain.

When they first started making self contained spas in the late 70’s, the electric heater coil housings were made out of PVC plastic. This was not good because they could melt down and burn if something went wrong. Soon thereafter, many manufacturers changed over to copper housings, like the one you have. The problem with copper is that it is very susceptible to corroding due to low pH levels in the spa water. This is what’s happening to you. If you let the pH and/or Alkalinity go down too low, the water gets very acidic and will rot out your copper heater housing. This can happen in as fast as a few months. I am sure that you do not test and adjust your water chemistry weekly, like you are supposed to. I would start doing it if I were you (or try using a product called Perfect pH - it automatically adjusts the pH for you).

Since a lot of people were having similar problems, many of the spa manufacturers started making their heater housings out of stainless steel in the late 80’s. For many spas, you can now replace your old copper heater tubes with the new stainless ones. These are much thicker, and are far more resistant to extreme changes in the tubs’ pH and Alkalinity.

Your best bet would be to switch over to stainless steel the next time you pop a leak, as well as start using the Perfect pH chemical. This will save you money in the long run.