TROUBLESHOOT HOT TUB WATER PROBLEMS

Well-maintained, balanced spa water is crystal clear and odorless, and should feel silky, fresh and clean. Water quality issues are not common with Marquis hot tubs, but local water sources, spa usage habits, or deferred maintenance can present unique conditions. If you notice poor water symptoms, consider the following remedies or contact your local Marquis Dealer for expert advice.

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CHEMICAL ODOR

Bromamines or chloramines: Spa sanitizer—such as bromine, chlorine or SmartChlor®—is odorless until it comes into contact with bacteria, microbes or other microscopic waste particles. Once neutralized, the remains of these particles (called “bromamines” or “chloramines”) may generate a distinct chemical odor. One option is to add Marquis® Water Clarifier which draws in smaller dissolved solids and clumps them together, making them easier to filter out. Another option is to add gentle and non-smelling Marquis® Non-Chlorine Shock Oxidizer to reduce bromamine or chloramine levels, returning spa water to an odorless, clean and sparkling condition. Regular use of spa shock each week helps to minimize chemical odors.

NOTE: If it is time to drain and clean your spa, follow the draining, cleaning and refilling instructions in your Owner’s Manual. Afterward, check the temperature and filtration settings, balance the water and add sanitizer as noted on the test strip.


CLOUDY HOT TUB WATER

If spa water has a dull, cloudy or murky appearance, one or more factors may be involved. First, ensure the filter is correctly installed. Next, determine whether cleaning the hot tub filter is necessary, or if it is time for a replacement hot tub filter. In addition, consider increasing the length of scheduled filtration cycles to compensate for spa usage habits or bather load. Other causes may include:

  • Excess dissolved organic compounds: Spa sanitizer neutralizes bacteria and other microscopic waste. Over time, the neutralized remains may accumulate and give the water a dull or cloudy appearance (and a distinct chemical odor). One option is to add Marquis® Water Clarifierwhich draws in smaller dissolved solids and clumps them together, making them easier to filter out. Another option is adding shock oxidizer (or, “spa shock”) to return the water to an odorless, clean and sparkling condition. Regular use of spa shock each week helps to prevent cloudy water.

NOTE: If it is time to drain and clean your spa, follow the draining, cleaning and refilling instructions in your Owner’s Manual. Afterward, check the temperature and filtration settings, balance the water and add sanitizer as noted on the test strip.

  • Not enough sanitizer: Without corrective action, low sanitizer levels enable bacteria or other waterborne microbes to flourish, giving the water a dull or cloudy appearance. Add sanitizer according to the product instructions and allow sufficient time for it to circulate. Once sanitizer level is normal, add shock oxidizer (or, “spa shock”) to remove the neutralized remains. Do not enter the spa until the water has returned to an odorless, clean and sparkling condition and sanitizer level is normal.

NOTE: If the spa has been neglected for an extended period of time, it should be drained, thoroughly cleaned, and refilled according to the Owner’s Manual. Afterward, check the temperature and filtration settings, balance the water and add sanitizer as noted on the test strip.

  • Hard water: Is your local water source prone to hard water? Does your spa water have a total hardness above 250 ppm? Cloudy water may be caused by too much dissolved mineral content (such as calcium, magnesium and iron). If Marquis® Metal and Stain Remover does not remedy the issue, the specific problem may be too much calcium. Follow the draining and refilling instructions in your Owner’s Manual, and be sure to use a five-stage pre-filter garden hose attachment when refilling (available from your Marquis Dealer). Using the pre-filter attachment reduces calcium (and other minerals) from your source water before it enters the spa.

DENSE OR "HEAVY-FEELING" WATER

Excess phosphates: Has it been more than three months since you drained, cleaned and refilled your spa? Has a large group of people (especially young people) been using your hot tub? If so, your spa water may have too much dissolved body oil, lotion, deodorant, shampoo, soap, detergent, or other microscopic residue. If it is not yet time to drain and clean the spa, add shock oxidizer (or, “spa shock”) as a short-term remedy. Otherwise, follow the draining, cleaning and refilling instructions in your Owner’s Manual. Afterward, check the temperature and filtration settings, balance the water and add sanitizer as noted on the test strip.


EYE OR SKIN IRRITATION

  • pH imbalance: Low pH (acidic water) or high pH (alkaline water) can cause eye or skin irritation. Test and balance the water and, if necessary, add sanitizer as noted on the test strip.
  • Excess bromamines or chloramines: After spa sanitizer neutralizes bacteria, microbes and other microscopic waste, the neutralized remains (called “bromamines” or “chloramines”) may accumulate over time and begin to cause eye or skin irritation. Adding shock oxidizer (or, “spa shock”) reduces bromamine or chloramine levels, returning spa water to an odorless condition. If it is time drain and clean your spa, follow the draining, cleaning and refilling instructions in your Owner’s Manual. Afterward, check the temperature and filtration settings, balance the water and add sanitizer as noted on the test strip.

FOAMY HOT TUB WATER

Air bubbles are perfectly normal, but persistent foam on the water surface is not. First, test and balance the water, then add sanitizer as noted on the test strip. Next, add shock oxidizer (or, “spa shock”) according to the product instructions and allow sufficient time for it to circulate. Test the pH balance and sanitizer level again and balance accordingly. If foaming continues, use Marquis® Defoamer to treat the symptoms. Underlying causes of foaming may include:

  • Excess phosphates: Has it been more than three months since you drained, cleaned and refilled your spa? Has a large group of people (especially young people) been using your hot tub? If so, your spa water may have too much dissolved body oil, lotion, deodorant, shampoo, soap, detergent, or other foam-causing residue. If it is not yet time to drain and clean the spa, add shock oxidizer (or, “spa shock”) as a short-term remedy. Otherwise, follow the draining, cleaning and refilling instructions in your Owner’s Manual. Afterward, check the temperature and filtration settings, balance the water and add sanitizer as noted on the test strip.
  • Hard water: Is your local water source prone to hard water? Does your spa water have a total hardness above 250 ppm? Your foaming issue may be caused by too much dissolved mineral content (such as calcium, magnesium and iron). If your hot tub is equipped with in-line sanitation cartridges, remove these temporarily and treat the water with Marquis® Metal and Stain Remover. If this does not remedy the issue, the culprit may be too much dissolved calcium. Follow the draining and refilling instructions in your Owner’s Manual, and be sure to use a five-stage pre-filter garden hose attachment when refilling (available from your Marquis Dealer). Using the pre-filter attachment reduces calcium and other minerals from your source water before it enters the spa. Afterward, check the temperature and filtration settings, verify that in-line cartridges are installed properly, balance the water and add sanitizer as noted on the test strip.
  • Calcium overdose: Have you recently added Calcium Increaser? If so, does the spa water have a total hardness above 250 ppm? You may have added too much calcium by mistake. The only remedy for calcium overdose is to partially drain your hot tub and add fresh water to dilute whatever calcium remains. After refilling, check the total hardness again, then test and balance the water as usual and add sanitizer as noted on the test strip.

GREEN HOT TUB WATER

If spa water develops a green color it may be due to algae growth. Algae are aquatic plants which can develop if the sanitizer level is allowed to remain too low for too long. Add sanitizer according to the product instructions and allow sufficient time for it to circulate. Test and balance the water and sanitizer. Once the sanitizer level is normal (allowing enough time to neutralize the algae), add shock oxidizer (or, “spa shock”) to remove any dead algae remaining in the water. Allow sufficient time to circulate according to the product instructions.

NOTE: If the spa has been neglected for an extended period of time, it should be drained, thoroughly cleaned, and refilled according to the Owner’s Manual. Afterward, check the temperature and filtration settings, balance the water and add sanitizer as noted on the test strip.


PH INSTABILITY

Often referred to as “pH bounce,” this is a symptom of low total alkalinity and/or low total hardness. As a result, there is not enough buffering capacity to maintain a stable pH balance. Test and balance the total alkalinity and total hardness, then retest the pH balance and sanitizer levels, and add the appropriate Marquis balancers as needed.


RED OR METALLIC STAINS

While primarily an aesthetic issue, red or metallic stains are typically due to excess iron content in your local water supply. Use Marquis® Metal and Stain Remover according to the product instructions. If this does not remedy the issue, collect two water samples: 1) a fresh sample from your local water supply, and 2) a mid-depth sample from your hot tub. Bring both samples to your local Marquis Dealer for testing, and ask for recommended products.


SANITIZER - NO RESULT

  • Not enough sanitizer: Add sanitizer according to the product instructions and allow time to circulate. Once sanitizer level is normal, add shock oxidizer (or, “spa shock”) to remove dead microbes and neutralized waste. Do not enter the spa until the water has returned to an odorless, clean and sparkling condition and sanitizer level is normal.

NOTE: If the spa has been neglected for an extended period of time, the spa should be drained, thoroughly cleaned, and refilled according to the Owner’s Manual.

  • Too much sanitizer has been added and is bleaching out the test strip: Remove the spa cover to allow water to ventilate while running the hot tub jets for 30 minutes. Then, test the sanitizer level again to see if the reading is normal. If the sanitizer level is still too high, turn the jets off and partially drain your spa. Add fresh water to dilute the remaining sanitizer, and test the water balance and sanitizer level again as noted on the test strip.

SANITIZER - TOO HIGH

Remove the spa cover to allow water to ventilate while running the hot tub jets for 30 minutes. Then, test the sanitizer level again to see if the reading is normal. If you suspect the sanitizer level is still too high, turn the jets off and partially drain your spa in a safe manner. Add fresh water to dilute remaining sanitizer, test and balance the water, and adjust the sanitizer level as noted on the test strip.


SCUM LINE (RING AROUND THE TUB)

Scum lines are usually a result of “extra stuff” people bring into the spa, such as body oil and dirt, which accumulates at the water line. Increasing the length of filtration clean-up cycles will allow more time for surface skimmers to trap and remove any accumulation. To wipe away the scum line, you may use a sponge glove to clean the acrylic surface without scratching it. To prevent issues in the future, encourage your guests to rinse off before entering the spa, or consider using Marquis® Ultimate Maintenance to keep water clear of organic scum accumulation and improve sanitizer efficiency.


WHITE BUILDUP (SCALING)

Excess calcium content in your local water supply can cause a white stain or buildup on acrylic surfaces (also known as “scaling”). Excess calcium buildup may also damage internal hot tub components or diminish water flow through the plumbing lines. Underlying causes of scaling may include:

  • Hard water: Is your local water source prone to hard water? Does your spa water have a total hardness above 250 ppm? Follow the draining and refilling instructions in your Owner’s Manual, and be sure to use a five-stage pre-filter garden hose attachment when refilling (available from your Marquis Dealer). Using the pre-filter attachment reduces calcium and other minerals from your source water before it enters the spa.
  • Calcium overdose: Have you recently added Calcium Increaser? If so, does the spa water have a total hardness above 250 ppm? You may have added too much calcium by mistake. The only remedy for calcium overdose is to partially drain your hot tub and add fresh water to dilute whatever calcium remains. After refilling, check the total hardness again, then test and balance the water as usual and add sanitizer as noted on the test strip.

YELLOW HOT TUB WATER

Yellow-tinted water may be an indication of low total alkalinity. Test and balance the water as usual and, if necessary, add sanitizer as noted on the test strip.


GET LOCAL HELP OR ADVICE

Your local Marquis Dealer is a bona fide water care expert with a keen understanding of your local water supply. In addition to testing your water samples, they can recommend the right Marquis-approved products to keep your water balanced, crystal clear, and feeling great. Marquis water care products have been fully tested for compatibility and reliability, ensuring the best results and long-term peace of mind.

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Related topics:

Marquis Water Care Products

Marquis Hot Tub Filters

Marquis ConstantClean System

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