Good circulation in your pool means much more than filtering water - it's getting all of the water in the spa or hot tub moving & through the filter. Circulation is more than filter or pump turnover; its removing dead spots - you know those areas where there's always some slime growing or where dirt & debris seems to constantly accumulate.
The better the water is circulating, the better the filtration, the cleaner the spa. In fact it typically takes more than FOUR turnovers to get all of the water completely filtered.
Most of us see a typical hot tub & think, "wow, look at all of that circulation." And, yes, there is. Between high & low speed jets, multiple pumps, air blowers, water falls, etc, there should be virtually 100% circulation. But there isn't. As in a swimming pool, we're looking for turnover for filtration & treatment's sake.
As you use your spa and move your body around your spa, you aid in the circulation, thus eliminating these dead spots. This is also why regular wiping and cleaning is so important. Get inside of that filter well just before draining & clean the whole area with a toilet brush.
Now that the water is circulating properly, good filtration removes dirt, debris & even certain large bacteria & algae. Filter your water for 8 to 12 hours every day that the spa is operating. By the way, for the best filtration, be sure to chemically clean your filter every 6 to 8 weeks to remove accumulations of greases, oils & other bather and environmental waste that clog your hot tub filter & that routine rinsing will NOT remove. Spa Care is simple.
Why you need to Chemically Clean your filter: As noted just above, chemical cleaning of your filter aids removing greases, oils & other bather and environmental waste that will soil your filter and shorten its life. Normal, regular backwashing & rinsing will not remove these wastes.
Tip: allow the filter to thoroughly dry before re-installing.
Most spas have at least several areas with little or no circulation. This is where biofilms and bacteria can begin to grow. These areas produce the "stuff" that contributes to cloudy or "unhealthy" water and higher than normal chlorine or sanitizer usage. At least once a week, the surfaces should be wiped & vacuumed to remove debris that the filter misses. Wiping is a must. It's like taking care of your teeth - you know that you should brush & floss, but...Oh, and don't forget to clean that water line regularly to break up biofilm build up.
Here's what Spa & Hot tub cleaning involves:
Test your spa water at least 2 times per week & bring in a 1 quart water sample for a complete computerized test & analysis monthly for best results. Testing keeps you up to date on what's going on with your spa's water.
Don't rely solely on how the water looks or smells. In fact most of the SERIOUS water problems that we see (skin rashes, odors, slimy surfaces, etc.) occur when the water is "crystal clear". Make pH, total alkalinity & calcium hardness adjustments promptly. You'll protect the filter system, the spa surfaces, get better chlorine & sanitizer efficiency and virtually eliminate red eyes & dry skin.
Finally we get to water chemistry. Hot tub water chemistry IS easy - just 4 simple steps:
Definitely one thing that swimming pool owners can't readily do!
The last key is draining & refilling. This is a key to spa care because proper draining & refilling MUST be done on a regular basis - usually every 2 to 4 months depending on usage. If the spa water is getting funky looking & smelling and it's been several months, don't bother with anti-foams or water clarifiers, just drain it.
Click here for all of the details on Purging, Draining & Refilling.
For greater detail on the previous 5 Keys, see our notes in the Pool Guru section
Whether you have an inground spa (shown below) or portable/movable spa or wooden hot tub, they all essentially work the same: