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Hot Tubs Spa & Portable Spa Hottubs Dictionary :: Glossary of Technical Terms for Hot Tubs

Hot Tubs Spa & Portable Spa Hottubs Dictionary :: Glossary of Technical Terms for Hot Tubs

  1. Acrylic:A durable and nonporous material used to form the hot tub surface.

  2. Air Leak:Results when connections on the hot tubs pump are not air tight. Pumps need to create a vacuum to work properly. Air leaks can cause high pressures which can damage the pump, filter or both. Aerated water can cause foam.

  3. Air Lock:Results when air bubbles form in the plumbing, usually during draining and refilling. Ask your hot tub dealer for the best remedy based on your brand of hot tubs.

  4. Algae:Small plant life which rarely grows in hot tub water. Often green, yellow or black, algae is slimy in texture. Yellow and black variations are hardest to kill. Algae is very rare in hot tubs.

  5. Algaecide:Used to kill algae in hot tubs, sometimes can causing foam.

  6. Alkalinity:How alkaline is measured in hot tub water, i.e. above 7.0 pH (see Total Alkalinity).

  7. Alum:Aluminum sulfate, commonly called floc, is used to help clarify hot tub spa water. Causes small particles to lose suspension so they can be vacuumed. Alum lowers the pH of the water (see Floc).

  8. Aluminum Sulfate:See Alum. Biguanide:(Pronounced BY-GWAN-EYED) A sanitizer which is part of a non-halogen (bromine or chlorine) water treatment system. Most chemicals used with chlorine are incompatible with biguanide treated hot tubs, and vice versa. The shock (see Shock) for biguanide treated hot tubs contains hydrogen peroxide.

  9. Broadcasting:Sprinkling a granular chemical over the hot tubs water surface.

  10. Bromine:A sanitizer similar to chlorine and one of the original hot tub sanitizers. Bromine is very effective against bacteria in hot tubs. Unlike chlorine, it sanitizes when combined with ammonia (see Bromamine).

  11. Bromamines:An ammonia and bromine combination which, unlike chloramines, does not have a strong smell.

  12. Calcium Chloride:Added to raise calcium hardness.

  13. Calcium Hardness:A measure of the level of calcium salts in the hottubs water. Helps determine how scaling or corrosive the water is. It is especially important to monitor calcium hardness for possible build-up on heater elements.

  14. Calcium Hypochlorite:A popular chlorine sanitizer in granular form. Calcium Hypochlorite has a long shelf life.

  15. Cartridge Filter:A hot tub filter with a pleated element which traps debris. Resembles a car oil filter. Requires regular cleaning and periodic replacement.

  16. Cedar:Aromatic, attractive wood sometimes used to finish the hot tub exterior cabinet.

  17. Chelating Agent:A chemical which binds up metals. Used to prevent metal staining and water discolorartion.

  18. Chloramines:Odorous organic by-products of ammonia mixing with chlorine. Minimized by showering before entering hot tubs. Cured by proper hot tub shocking or switching to fresh water.

  19. Chlorinator:A canister which releases chlorine or bromine into the hot tubs water as they dissolve. An in-line chlorinator feeds chlorine through the pool return.

  20. Chlorine:A sanitizer and an oxidizer. As a sanitizier, kills hot tub bacteria; as an oxidizer burns off organic matter and kills algae.

  21. Clarifier:Chemical used to remove haze from hot tubs and spas water. Particulate matter in suspension needs to clump to be filtered or vacuumed out.

  22. Coagulating Agent:See Clarifier.

  23. Cyanuric Acid:A stabilizing component of some chlorine forms, slows degrading of chlorine by sunlight.

  24. Defoamer:A chemical which reduces and/or eliminates hottubs foaming. Can be squirted over the water surface.

  25. Dichlor:A stabilized form of chlorine.

  26. Digital Programming:Popular controls used to manage such features as hot tub water temperature, filtering cycles, light and even accessories such as stereo and TV.

  27. Discoloration:Presence of unusual colors in the hot tubs water, commonly clear green or brown.

  28. Disinfectant:A chemical that kills bacteria and deodorizes.

  29. Enzymes:Proteins (formed by cells) that break down oily, odorous, gooey substances and converts them to water and carbon dioxide.

  30. Fiber Optics:Lighting system which has light generated at a remote source. Light is transmitted along fibers.

  31. Filter:A porous, fibrous material in cylinder form that’s called an element. It allows water to pass through while it collects particles, organic matter, oils, lotions and foreign debris accumulated by hot tub water.

  32. Filter Cycle:A programmed period of time the hot tub filters water each day. Also refers to the length of time between cleaning or replacing the filter element.

  33. Floc or Flocculating Agent:Added to hot tub spa water to coagulate or clump haze causing particles (see Alum or Clarifier).

  34. Flow Monitor:Gauges how fast and how much hot tub water is flowing.

  35. Flow Rate:The measure of how many gallons per minute pass through a hot tubs pump. A better measure of hot tub water movement than pump horsepower.

  36. Foam:Frothy bubbles that sometimes form on the hot tub water surface. Also, a polymer-based insulating material sprayed or cemented on the underside of the hot tub shell to slow heat from escaping through the shell. Heat is ALWAYS escaping off the surface of the hot tub water (see insulation).

  37. Heater:The method in which hot tub water is warmed electrically. Low pH can attack the heater. Some custom hot tubs have gas heaters.

  38. Humidity:In excess is associated with mildew, especially on indoor hot tubs where moisture tends to be trapped in the hot tub room. Not as much of an issue in outdoor hot tubs.

  39. Hydrogen Peroxide:A non-chlorine oxidizer (shock) used with biguanide systems.

  40. Insulation:A polymer-based foam-like material placed between the hot tub shell and the air around the shell essential that works against heat loss, muffles sounds of pump operation, conserves energy and sometimes strengthens the shell.

  41. Intakes:Grated openings in the hot tub shell plumbed to the filter through which water is pulled by the pump(s). Hot tubs without intakes draw water through the skimmer at the surface into the filter system. No pump should be attached to just one suction fitting.

  42. Ionizer:A device that generates copper and/or zinc and/or silver ions to kill bacteria and algae.

  43. Jets:The openings through which water flows into the hot tub. Jets affect the direction, volume and velocity of water.

  44. Lighting:Can be arranged around the perimeter, underwater and other various ways to create better atmosphere and allow reading in the hot tub.

  45. Lithium Hypochlorite:A stable sanitizer that works at hot tub temperatures. It’s dust-free, has a long shelf life, and lacks strong chlorine odor.

  46. Main Drain:An exit for water from the hot tub, usually at the lowest point in the hot tub shell.

  47. Non-Chlorine Shock:Potassium peroxymonosulfate, an oxygen based hot tub shock, that eliminates most chloramines and bromamines in hottubs.

  48. Organic Matter:Debris such as microorganisms, perspiration, urine and pollen that needs to be burned up or “oxidized” regularly to prevent haze, algae and chloramines.

  49. Oxidizer:Chemical that burns up organic hot tub matter.

  50. Ozonator:A device used to generate ozone. Assists in disinfection, deodorizing and flocculating in hot tubs.

  51. Ozone:A gas which kills bacteria and assists in purifying hot tub water. It is generated and introduced into hot tub water by an ozonator.

  52. pH:Potential hydrogen. A measure of how acidic or base the water is. A hot tubs pH of 7.0 is neutral, below 7.0 is acidic. Hot tub water should be kept slightly base (alkaline) with a pH between 7.2 and 7.6; 7.8 is tops for biguanide.

  53. pH Bounce:A wide range of movement of pH levels due to excessive amounts of any added chemical and especially low alkalinity level.

  54. Polyethylene:A plastic used to make some hot tub cabinets.

  55. Polyquat Algaecide:Nonmetallic algae killer. Compatible with mineral systems. Check compatibility with biguanide.

  56. ppm:Parts per million. The same as milligrams per liter, mg/l. A measure of the quantity of a chemical present in hot tub water.

  57. Primary Sanitizer:The essential chemical that kills the negative stuff in hot tubs, i.e. bromine, chlorine and biguanide.

  58. Priming:Starting a flow of water to a pump so it won’t suck air.

  59. Pump:Moves water through the filter and heater system and back into the hot tub. Pumps either push or pull water through the filter.

  60. PVC:Polyvinylchloride. A plastic used in piping.

  61. Generator:Makes chlorine from dissolved salt water in hot tubs as it is pumped through an electronic cell and back into the water.

  62. Sand Filter:Uses sand to collect debris from water running through it.

  63. Sanitizer:A chemical used in hottubs to kill bacteria. Usual generic names are bromine, biguanide and chlorine. Calcium, lithium, and sodium hypochlorite.

  64. Scale:A hard deposit of calcium carbonate which can attach anywhere in or on the hot tub and is damaging to heater effectiveness.

  65. Sequestering Agent:A chemical which bonds with metals to deter staining or discoloration (see Chelating Agent).

  66. Shell:The container which holds both soakers and water. Loosely called the hot tub.

  67. Shock:The action of adding a chemical known as an oxidizer to hot tub water to gas-off organic wastes which cause cloudiness and algae.

  68. Skimmer:A box-like compartment in the hot tub through which debris, oily film and contaminants flow into the filter when the pump is on. Some have a removable basket to collect large debris.

  69. Slurry:A soupy mix of chemicals in hot tub water, usually in a dedicated plastic bucket or watering can.

  70. Soaker:A term describing a person enjoying the benefits of warm, circulating hot tub water.

  71. Stainless Steel:A material which resists staining from minerals. Most grades are impervious to rusting. 316-grade stainless steel is best. Used in many heaters.

  72. Strainer:A basket in some spa pumps that collects debris which could restrict water flow. Super Chlorinate:Using high amounts of chlorine to break down odorous chloramines (see Shock).

  73. TDS:Total dissolved solids. As the name implies, a measure of solids dissolved in and polluting the water. A high level of solids interferes with sanitizing, chemical effectiveness and can cause foam.

  74. Tetraborate Compounds:Alternative clarifiers and algaecides. Total Alkalinity:A measure of the stability of pH. Low total alkalinity causes pH to fluctuate wildly when small amounts of acid or base are added. High total alkalinity makes water more susceptible to scale and high pH, hence cloudy water (see Alkalinity).

  75. Urethane Foam:An insulating plastic used in some hot tubs to protect against heat loss and reinforce the surface to provide support.

  76. Valve:A mechanical means of altering water flow in a pipe.