Wednesday, March 19, 2008

CED 2008 ~ Preparing for Spring's "Official" Arrival!

Just so everyone doesn't believe I spend ALL my time on the computer, blog hopping around, late in the afternoon yesterday, I began preparing the jacuzzi for spring! It was 50 degrees here yesterday and although there's still a chill in the earth and the wind, it made for the perfect time to get out on the back deck and make all the necessary preparations.
In my bathing suit and armed with a large terry cloth rag {that we use for this purpose only}, a bottle of stain and scale remover, and a towel and a robe for afterwards, I inspected and cleaned our jacuzzi.
First, I have to step down inside it, as our jacuzzi is sunken and the deck built up around it. This makes it so much easier for us, especially Don. Next, I left the jets off and wiped every inch of the jacuzzi's interior, jet casings and all. It is a time consuming process and takes me roughly half an hour just to wipe everything down. It's amazing how much lime and calcium deposits our city water contains and that is mostly what I am dislodging.
After exiting the jacuzzi, drying off, putting my robe and slip my shoes on, I remove the jacuzzi's filter and inspect it. Yep, it is dirty! There's faint trace of calcium and lime built up on the filter so in order for the filter to effectively remove all the debris I dislodged, it needs to be cleaned thoroughly. Well, anyone who has a jacuzzi can tell you that there are degreaser products available to clean your jacuzzi's filters, but since we are so very careful not to enter the jacuzzi with any oils, lotions, or deodorants on, grease isn't much of a problem for us; not as much as the chemicals in our water supply anyways.
Next, I use my wet towel to hold the filter to take it into our kitchen sink for cleaning. I fill one side of our sink with hot water and Dawn and use the opposite side for a thorough rinsing. Afterwards, the filter is ready to be placed in the jacuzzi once more but before I do that, I use a pool skimmer to remove all the fine particles that I can. I also use a vacuum the jacuzzi's interior ,with a special vacuum designed to work in water; we have a wet vacuum that is only used in the jacuzzi for cleaning. Once that is complete, I replace the now cleaned and allow the jacuzzi's jets to circulate the water so that the filtration system can re-circulate the calcium and lime deposits that I removed to be trapped in the now clean filter. At this point, the water in the jacuzzi is no longer crystal clear, but slightly cloudy but you can no longer see any small floating particles that might be caught by the newly cleaned filter.
I add the recommended Stain and Scale remover to the water. This product is by SpaGaurd and prevents scale build-up from high calcium levels and will remove any residual effects that I may have missed. We regularly use this concentrated formula to prevent scale build-up on spa surfaces, piping, and filtration and the heating elements. It also prevents stains caused by iron, copper and manganese.. Once added, I am able to turn on the jets and walk away. The jacuzzi and the now treated water will do the rest.
Today and in between the raindrops that are falling, I will remove the filter once more, bring it in and give it another gentle cleaning with hot water and dawn and a good rinsing. Once placed back in the jacuzzi, I can now focus my attention to treating the water for regular maintenance.
Part of a jacuzzi maintenance is keeping the water clean and clear. You don't want any bacteria or algae growing in it as it can make you sick, especially if you've an open or seeping sore anywhere that the bacteria can use as an entryway. Don and I make it a practice to be certain any war wounds we may receive from working in our yard, daily living, or any occasional injuries or accidents are in the healing stag and are scabbed over and almost gone before we enter our jacuzzi, for that reason. Before I add any of the maintenance chemicals, I check the level of foam in the water. If the jacuzzi is extremely foaming, I'll add an Anti-foam. Foam will make the jacuzzi resemble an exotic bubble bath but it isn't recommended as it may contain some undesirable compounds and detergents. One reason I rinse the filter thoroughly, as it can cause foam. Yuck!
Chemicals that I add, which have to be added one at a time, and have a time lapse before any other chemicals can be added are Shock and Total Alkalinity Increaser. These two are a part of our jacuzzi's regular maintainance and are added once a week! On schedule every week, just like clock work.
The shock treatment is a requirement. Every spa needs to be shocked to eliminate undesirable compounds that build up with use. Enhanced Shock allows you to quickly shock your spa and re-enter in just fifteen minutes as long as the free chlorine is between 1-4 ppm. I tend to wait twenty minutes and continue with the chemical maintenance before we get in. The shock also offers additional benefits—like keeping the water sparkling and fresh. This step will assist with removing anything remaining from yesterday's treatment. Before I add any additional chemicals, I test the free chlorine using a test trip. The test strip isn't an exact measurement of the level of chlorine, but it will give me an idea that I'm either close to or in the range I desire to be.
At this point, I have a few choices on what chemical to add. If the water is still slightly cloudy, I will add SpaGuard's Water Clarify. This product will help join these tiny particles together, that are microscopic and too small for the filter to catch, which will allow the filter to remove them, making and keeping the water clear and decrease any additional causes of foam.
Next, comes the Sanitizers. These are either Bromine, Chlorine, or a product called Soft Soak. When you fill your jacuzzi, you need to decide on one or the other and do not mix the chemicals. We use Bromine Concentrate in ours, simply because we use our jacuzzi a lot! Bromine is the strongest bacteria fighter and comes in powerful granules that are extremely easy to use. You simply apply the granules to the water in the correct amount while the pump is running. There is no need to pre-treat with bromide salts. No need to add oxidizers to activate it. And since Brominating Concentrate is pH neutral, there is no need to adjust pH or total alkalinity either. This "one-step" product is used as a regular sanitizer and as an oxidizer to rid the spa of odors and undesirable compounds, once a week.
In addition to the Bromine Concentrate, we use a Brominating Tablets. Instead of a granule like the Concentrate, these are actual 1-inch tablets that are added in a floating dispenser. They dissolve slowly and protect continuously. The tablets are acidic and may lower pH, so the pH and total alkalinity is be tested frequently and adjusted as necessary. Which is the next step in the process.
After the twenty minute time has lasped, I am ready to check the Total Alkalinity of the water. This is an important step as it assists in maintaining our jacuzzi's pH level.
Balanced water is essential to your comfort, water clarity, sanitizer efficiency, and the longevity of spa surfaces and equipment. Maintaining the pH is the most critical factor. It is also the most sensitive, changing rapidly when bathers, products or other elements enter the water.
When the total alkalinity is in balance, it buffers the pH. When metals and minerals like iron, copper, manganese and calcium are out of balance, they can also damage the interior jacuzzi surface and its filtration and circulation equipment. So, this is vital to our jacuzzi as well as our health. Adding Total Alkaliity Increaser stabilizes the pH level of the water by balancing total alkalinity. Once it is a normal range, I'm ready to adjust the actual ph levels, either by adding pH up or ph down, whichever is needed. Total Alkalinity also assist with avoiding a phenomen known as "pH bounce" If you've ever experienced it, you know what a pain it can be to maintain a correct level. Too high a pH, and you run the possibility of ruining your jacuzzi through corrosion; to low, and calcium can build up affecting your jacuzzi's filtration system. It's best to do this step correctly, use the Total Alkalinity Increaser, then take a water sample to your spa's dealer and have the water tested.
A water test is a simple test, it can be completed in a matter of minutes by your dealer. You simply take a bottle, submerse it in your jacuzzi's water, remove, cap the bottle, and off to the Spa Dealers you go. A test is performed on the water that tells you exactly the levels of the chemicals in your jacuzzi's water. It also is given to you in a printable form, with notations of each chemicals level and how much of what you need to add. I love it! This information gives me precise measurements and I'm able to return home, use the chemicals I need in the correct amounts and toss them in! It's truly as simple as that... and I avoid having to deal with any possibility of "pH bounce"... Love it!
Another factor of having our water tested through our jacuzzi's dealer is that we do not have to drain and refill our jacuzzi's water every 45-50 days. With regular maintenance, our spa is safe from any contaminates that could possible ruin our filtration and circulation system or the spas interior. We can enjoy the jacuzzi and not be waiting for water to drain or the jacuzzi to refill and then the water to heat up!
We do, however, drain and fill our jacuzzi regularly. Probably more like every 65-70 days. I keep a log that I designed on our computer. It allows me to record our maintenance schedule and I know when it is nearing or time to drain. This is something we will be doing in the next several weeks as we prepare for the upcoming enjoyment season! Right along with purchasing a new filter on our next visit to have our water tested.
The most often question that I am asked is probably, "Do you use your jacuzzi year round?" Yes, we do! We're probably not in it as often in winter, mainly due to snow levels on our rear deck surrounding the jacuzzi, although we've been known to shovel it so we can use it, LOL! Another factor, is if it is extremely cold. Now let me tell you we've been out in the jacuzzi in extremely cold temperatures. I'm talking like 1 or 2 degrees Fahrenheit, but any lower than that and you can have it! We do have to use a little caution and common sense when enjoying it in winter. Any water spilled over and onto the deck boards, freezes almost instantly when it is that cold. It certainly makes for an interesting sprint to get to and inside our rear door and interior hallway!
Summer time is another factor. We often get asked, "How can you stand to be in the jacuzzi when it's so hot outside?" Well, that is easy enough to be adjusted. We lower the waters temperature. In 90 or 100 degree temperatures, we will lower the water temperature to around 90-95 degrees. I realize that sounds like but when you realize your body temperature is normally 98.6, trust me that is enough to cool you off!
I also need to add a disclaimer here: We do follow our jacuzzi's safety precautions. Don has high blood pressure so we have to be extremely careful that he stays in the jacuzzi no longer than 15 minutes at a time. I follow this rule as well, as the water temperature can raise your blood pressure when you stay in longer than recommended. People with diabetes also need to use a jacuzzi with caution as they often have circulatory problems which can be affected. Another consideration that I'm going to add in here is the use of alcohol! As your body temperature increases, it can rev up your metabolism, which can increase or decrease your body's own ability to maintain your blood sugar and increase the metabolic rate of which your body absorbs alcohol.
We are extremely cautious with the use of alcohol and do drink responsibly, meaning there's a big difference from enjoying the jacuzzi while having one glass of red or white wine, and having a beer, or a mixed beverage. More than one, stay out of the jacuzzi! We won't go into how I know that one, let's just say suffering a case of the dry heaves is no picnic and can easily ruin what may have been an enjoyable evening!
Another precaution we take is for Alexxis' safety. Well, the safety of any child really. {For those who don't know, Alexxis, is our 23 month old grand-daughter.} Since Alexxis is mobile now, we take every measure to ensure her safety. She isn't allowed on our rear deck without the supervising of an adult! We also latch our jacuzzi's cover after each and every time we are in it, without fail! We make "no mistakes" there and often take the time to re-check one another's latching. This is extremely important!
As Alexxis is now getting older, we're looking into adding a small wooden fence and a self-locking gate to be added off of our home and to the fence that surrounds the jacuzzi on two sides. Actually three sides of our jacuzzi is enclosed, while the fourth side is open onto the remaining area of our rear deck. Enclosing it for a few years, or possibly allowing it to remain in place isn't a problem. As I've previously mention, we're very "safety first". There is no substitute.
Maintaining our jacuzzi is just one of my many roles around our home. It is one that I find enjoyable, even if it is a bit of a hinderence waiting for this before that can be added. I've found it best to grab a beverage, a good book, and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature while completing my tasks. I look forward to spring's arrival tomorrow.... hopefully, warmer temperatures won't be too far behind. Oh, I almost forget to mention that while enjoying cleaning our and maintaining our jacuzzi yesterday, I also heard the "cheerio-cheeriup" song of an American robin. He was singng my sentiments exactly... "Cheeriup, Spring!" I wasn't able to actually see him, but hearing his song, I know Spring is on it's way!

1 comment:

liannallama said...

oh, I can't tell you how much I wish we had our own jacuzzi! Lucky you--what a treat! I used to live in a place where we had one--a lot of work, but soooo worth it! Enjoy!