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Hot Tub Life Articles

The Facts about Ozonators

What is Ozone ? Ozone is a gas (like the ozone layer around the earth) that is produced by ultraviolet light exposure to oxygen. When ozone gas is injected into spa water, it acts as a very powerful sanitizer and will kill off almost all of the bacteria present. Ozonated spa water will remain clearer longer than just using bromine or chlorine as the primary sanitizer.

Ozone water purification is 3000 times more powerful than ordinary water sanitizers (bromine or chlorine). It does not give off that "chemical smell" normally found in pools and spas and tends to produce less skin and nasal irritation. An ozonated spa can usually go longer between water drainings than a spa using other sanitizer chemicals.

How does it work ? The ozone generator in a spa contains an ultraviolet light bulb. The unit sucks in oxygen from the surrounding air and exposes it to this light source. The oxygen is transformed into ozone which is "O-3" gas. This gas is then sucked into the jet piping of the spa by the "venturi effect" which creates a suction that shoots the gas into the spa water through either a water jet or a special ozone fitting located near the bottom of your spa.

The O-3 gas then goes to work attacking any bacteria present in the water.  The oxygen molecule (02) is left when O3 reacts with an oxidizable substance.  This means that the loosely held third Oxygen atom oxidizes (burns & destroys) organics and some metals (i.e. iron, manganese & others) since the weak bond cannot stay connected to the stronger O2 molecule.  The sweet smell actually occurs when an unused O3 molecule makes it through the water and escapes into the atmosphere. That molecule accounts for that "fresh" or "sweet" scent that is often noticed coming from an ozonated spa.

How long does it last ? Once injected into the spa water, ozone gas will only remain present for approximately 12 hours. This means that at the end of 12 hours, your spa will have NO SANITIZER in it ! For this reason it is recommended that an ozonator be turned on at least 2 hours every 12 hours. This will ensure an adequate amount of ozone sanitizer in the water at all times.

Do I have to use any other chemicals ? Yes, you do ! You should check and adjust your Total Alkalinity and pH levels once per week. You may still need a Demineralizer, Defoamer and a Water Clarifier. Even with an ozonator, you still need to add some form of regular sanitizer to your spa.

You can do this in one of two ways: You can add 2 caps of Spa Shock to the spa twice a week or you can keep 1 or 2 Bromine Tablets in a chemical Floater and leave the Floater in the spa at all times except when you are using it. Either of these methods will provide you with a minimum level of sanitizer in the spa even when the ozonator is off and neither will be enough to produce a bad "chemical smell" or any of the other negative side effects of regular sanitizers.

Does an ozonator ever need any maintenance ? Yes, it does. The ultraviolet light bulb in the unit will eventually burn out and need replacing. Bulbs usually last approximately 5 years under normal use and are relatively easy to replace. Aside from that, an ozonator will pretty much take care of itself.

How big is an ozonator ? Is it huge ? No, it isn't ! When ozonators first came out in the mid 80's, they were much larger than they are today. The first ozonators were about 2 feet high and 10 inches wide. It was a problem to fit them into some portable spa cabinets. With the increased technology available today, ozonator units have become much, much smaller and can be installed into almost any spa with ease.

How do I know if it's working ? There are a few ways you can check to make sure that you are injecting ozone into your spa. Most ozonators have an indicator light on them which tells you that the ultraviolet light is on. Also, you can actually see the ozone coming into your spa. You can see the little ozone bubbles coming out of your main spa jet. This is a real good indication that the unit is on.

Check out the Ozonators section in our online store.