Keep Your Hot Tub From Making You Sick

by Grace Motley

Hot tubs are relaxing havens away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, so the last thing you want is to get sick from microorganisms that are allowed to grow inside your tub. Improperly maintained hot tubs can transmit a variety of diseases, including serious illnesses such as Legionnaire's disease, E. coli infections, shigellosis and hepatitis. Fortunately, it is not difficult to prevent your hot tub from becoming an incubator for germs; here are a few hints for keeping your hot tub's water clean and disease-free:

Keep out the germs

Ideally, you want to keep harmful microorganisms out of your hot tub in the first place by taking a few simple precautions:

  • Don't allow anyone to enter the tub with open sores or cuts. These wounds can be a reservoir of nasty bugs such as Pseudomonas and Staphylococcus which can be passed to others who use the tub.
  • Keep your hot tub covered. A simple cover prevents mold spores and other microorganisms from entering your tub through the air; be sure to keep your cover clean, though, to prevent algae or slime growth.
  • Do not allow young children who aren't potty-trained in the tub. Feces can transmit a variety of serious diseases include E. coli infections and shigellosis. 

Treat it chemically

Though some may advocate not using any chemicals in hot tubs, it is risky to use an an unsanitized tub, even with other water treatments in-place. Therefore, you should always treat your tub, like one from California Home Spas & Patio, with an appropriate microbial agent. For hot tubs, bromine and chlorine are the two best options for sanitizing. Both are inexpensive, safe and effective at killing almost every harmful microorganism that might manifest itself in a hot tub. In most cases, bromine is preferred for hot tubs due to its resistance to breaking down under heat, and it is also possesses a lower odor content than chlorine. If you choose chlorine, be sure to use a product designed for hot tubs.

Before treating your hot tub, use a test kit to measure the levels of chlorine, bromine and the pH, which is a measure of water acidity and alkalinity. Testing your water periodically is important so that you do not under or over-treat your water with sanitizing agents. In addition, knowing your pH is important because either excessive acidity in the water can hamper your sanitizing agent's effectiveness. For understanding how to use your test kit and interpreting the results, contact your local hot tub dealer for assistance.

Flush the lines

It's important to provide ongoing maintenance, but you should also flush your hot tub lines each time you empty the tub. Internal water lines can host bacteria that you might not realize are inhabiting your tub, and even if you clean all visible surfaces, bacterial colonies will quickly reestablish themselves when water is added. Here are some hints on how to flush out the internal parts of your tub:

  • Circulate a commercial line flushing agent in the system. Before draining your tub, add a line flushing agent to your tub according to the manufacturer's directions, and circulate the mixture for several hours or overnight. The flushing agent will remove bacterial slime and other microorganisms that are attached to the walls of the water lines.
  • Change the filter. A typical hot tub filter can become a concentrated reservoir of harmful microorganisms, so be sure to replace it with a new one every time you drain the tub. Remove your tub's filter before circulating the flushing agent.
  • Flush out any leftover residue from cleaning. To clean out any unwanted line flushing chemicals, you need to add clean water to your hot tub and allow it to circulate throughout the system for about half an hour. Drain this 'rinse' water, and add clean water for the final time.