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Spa Terminology

Spa Terminology

Acrylic: a popular plastic used to make spa inner shells
Air Leak: when connections on the pump’s suction side are not air tight. Pumps need to create a vacuum in order to work properly. Air Leaks can cause high pressures which can damage either the pump or the filter, or both. Aerated water can cause foam.
Air Lock: when air bubbles form in the plumbing, usually during draining and refilling. Ask Central Jersey Pools for an easy fix.
Algae: small plant life which rarely grows in spa water. It comes in green yellow or black. They are slimy in texture. Yellow and black are hardest to kill. It is rare in spas.
Algaecide: Kills algae; can cause foam.
Alkalinity: A measure of how alkaline, or basic, your spa water is.
Alum: aluminum sulfate, commonly called floc. It is used to help clarify water. It causes small particles to fall out suspension so they can be vacuumed. Alum lowers the pH of the water. See: Floc.
Aluminum Sulfate: See: Alum.
Biguanide: (pronounced BY-GYAN-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 spas, and vice versa. The shock for Biguanide treated spas contains hydrogen peroxide.
Broadcasting: Sprinkling a granular chemical over the water surface. Ask us at Central Jersey Pools.
Bromine: A sanitizer similar to chlorine, one of the original spa sanitizers. It is very effective against bacteria. Unlike chlorine, it still sanitizes when it combines with ammonia as bromamines.
Bromamines: an ammonia and chlorine combination which, unlike chloramines, is not as smelly, and keeps on sanitizing, though not as efficiently.
Calcium Chloride: added to raise calcium hardness.
Calcium Hardness: a measure of the level of calcium salts in the water. Helps determine how scaly or corrosive the water is. It is especially important to monitor for possible build up on heater elements.
Calcium Hypochlorite: a popular chlorine sanitizer, in granular form. It has a long shelf life.
Cartridge Filter: a filter with a pleated element which traps debris. Looks like an oil filter for a car. It needs regular cleaning and periodic replacement.
Cedar: aromatic, attractive wood sometimes used to finish the spas exterior.
Chelating Agent: a chemical which binds to metals; used to prevent metal staining and discolored water.
Chloramines: smelly organic byproducts of ammonia mixing with chlorine. Minimized by pre-spa toileting and showering. It can be cured by proper shocking or a change to fresh water.
Chlorinator: a canister that releases chlorine or bromine into the water as they dissolve. An in-line chlorinator feeds chlorine through the pool returns.
Chlorine: a sanitizer and an oxidizer. As a sanitizer, it kills bacteria. As an oxidizer, it burns off organic matter and kills algae. It is in the halogen family. Calcium, lithium, and sodium hypochlorite are some choices. See Cyanuric acid.
Clarifier: chemical used to remove haze from water. Particulate matter in suspension needs to clump to be vacuumed out.
Coagulating Agent: see Flocculating Agent and Clarifier.
Cooper: a barrel maker who wraps steel straps around wooden staves to form a water tight container.
Cyanuric Acid: a stabilizing component of some chlorine forms; slows the degrading of chlorine by sunlight.
Defoamer: a chemical which reduces and/or eliminates foaming. It pops bubbles. You squirt over the surface of the water.
Dichlor: a stabilized form of chlorine.
Digital Programming: popular controls used to manage such features as water temperature, filtering cycles, light, and sometimes such accessories as a stereo and TV.
Discoloration: presence of unusual colors in the water, commonly clear green or brown.
Disinfectant: a chemical that kills bacteria and deodorizes.
Enzymes: proteins (formed by cells) that break down oily, smelly, gooey substances and convert them to water and carbon dioxide. They may be a useful supplement.
Fiberglass: laid up and/or shaped to form spa shells.
Fiber Optics: lighting system which has light generated at a remote source. Light is transmitted along fibers.
Filter: a porous, fibrous material in cylindrical form – called an element. It allows water to pass through while it collects particles, organic matter, oils, lotions, and foreign debris that accumulates in the spa water. The cartridge type element is almost universally employed, through DE – diatomaceous earth – is in rare use.
Filter Cycle: a programmed period of time the spa filters the water each day. Also refers to the length of time between cleaning and replacing the filter element.
Floc or Flocculating agent: added to water to coagulate or clump haze causing particles. See alum or clarifier.
Flow Monitor: tells how fast and how much water is flowing.
Flow Rate: the measure of how many gallons per minute passes through the spa’s pump. It is a better measure of water movement than pump horsepower.
Foam: frothy bubbles which sometimes form on the spa water surface. Also, a polymer based insulating material sprayed or cemented on the underside of the spa shell to slow heat from escaping the shell. Heat is always escaping off the surface of the spa water.
Free Available Chlorine: the amount of chlorine able to sanitize the water; it is not tied up in chloramines.
Haze: “cloudiness” in water caused primarily by low sanitizer content, by very small, floating particles and/or high pH.
Heater: the way spa water is warmed, electrically. Low pH can attack the heater. Some custom spas have gas heaters.
Humidity: in excesses, it can cause mildew, especially in indoor spas, where moisture tends to be trapped in the spa room.
Hydrogen Peroxide: a non-chlorine oxidizer (shock) used with Biguanide systems.
Insulation: a polymer based foam-like material between the spa shell and the air around the shell essentially to avoid heat loss, muffle sounds of pump operation, conserve energy, and sometimes strengthen the shell.
Intakes: grated openings in the spa shell plumed to the filter through which water is pulled by the pump(s). Spas without intakes draw water from the skimmer at the surface into the filter system. No pump should be attached to just one suction fitting.
Ionizer: a device that generates copper, and/or zinc, and/or sliver ions to kill bacteria and algae.
Jets: the openings through which water flows into the spa. Jets affect the direction, volume, and velocity of the water.
Laminating: a process by which usually dissimilar materials with differing properties are layered and bonded to each other to achieve, for example, greater strength, lower heat transfer, and better sound absorption.
Lighting: perimeter and underwater – various ways to create an atmosphere and allow reading in a spa.
Lithium Hypochlorite: a stable sanitizer at spa temperatures, dust free, long shelf life, in powder form, lacks strong chlorine odor.
Main Drain: an exit for water from the spa, usually at the lowest point in the spa shell.
Non-Chlorine Shock: potassium peroxymonosulfate, an oxygen based shock, eliminates most chloramines and bromamines.
Organic Matter: debris such as microorganisms, perspiration, urine, pollen, etc. which needs to be burned up, or oxidized, regularly to prevent haze, algae, chloramines, etc.
Oxidizer: a chemical which burns up organic matter.
Ozonator: a device used to generate ozone. It assists in disinfection, deodorizing, and flocculating.
Ozone: a gas which kills bacteria and assists in purifying water. It is generated and introduced into the spa water by an ozonator.
pH: potential hydrogen. A measure of how acidic the water is. A pH of 7.0 is neutral. Below 7.0 is acidic. Spa water should be slightly basic (alkaline) with a pH of between 7.2 and 7.6; 7.8 is tops for Biguanide.
pH Bounce: wide range of movement of pH levels due to excessive amounts of any added chemical, and especially low alkalinity level.
Pillow: resting places for your sore body parts.
Pink Slime: a colorful term to describe a tenacious algae form (actually bacteria) which rarely shows up in spas using Biguanide.
Polyethylene: a plastic used to make some spa cabinets.
Polyquat Algaecide: non metallic algae killer. It is compatible with mineral systems. Check compatibility with Biguanide.
PPM: abbreviation for parts per million. It is the same as milligrams per liter – mg/l. It is a measure of the quantity of a chemical present in spa water.
Primary Sanitizer: the essential chemical that kills the bad stuff in your spa; e.g. bromine, chlorine, or Biguanide.
Priming: starting a flow of water to a pump so it will stop pumping air.
Pump: moves water through the filter and heater system and back into the spa. Pumps either push or pull water through the filters.
PVC: polyvinylchloride- a plastic, perhaps extruded.
Quats: quats and polyquats are effective algaecides; sometimes a cause of foaming.
Redwood: attractive, durable wood used to cover cabinets.
Residual: refers to active or inactive chemicals left in the water.
Salt Water Chlorine Generator: makes chlorine from the dissolved salt water in the spa as it is pumped through an electronic cell and back into the water.
Sand Filter: uses sand to collect debris from water running through it.
Sanitizer: a chemical used to kill bacteria. Usually generic names: Bromine, Biguanide (pronounced BY-GWAN-EYED), and Chlorine. Calcium, Lithium, and Sodium hypochlorite are some choices.
Scale: hard deposit of calcium carbonate which can attach anywhere and is damaging to heater elements.
Sequestering Agent: a chemical which bonds with metals so they can’t cause staining or discoloration. See also: Chelating Agent.
Shell: the container which holds both soakers and hot water. It is loosely called the spa or hot tub.
Shock: the action of adding a chemical called an oxidizer to spa water to gas-off organic wastes which cause cloudiness and algae.
Skimmer: a box-like compartment in the spa 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.
Slurry: a soupy mix of chemicals in water, usually in a dedicated plastic bucket or watering can.
Soaker: a term describing a person enjoying the benefits of warm, circulating spa water.
Stainless Steel: material which resists staining from minerals. Most grades are impervious to rusting. 316 is the best. Used in many heaters.
Strainer: a basket in some spa pumps which collects debris which could restrict water flow.
Super Chlorinate: Using high amount of chlorine to break down smelly chloramines. See Shock.
TDS: totally dissolved solids: as the name implies, a measure of solids dissolved in and polluting the water. A high level of solids can interfere with sanitizing, chemical effectiveness and can cause foam.
Tetraborate Compounds: alterative 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 the cloudy water. See Alkalinity.
Urethane Foam: an insulating plastic used in some spas to protect from heat loss and sometimes to reinforce other materials.
Valve: a mechanical means of altering water flow in a pipe.
Watering Can: a plastic garden can used to dissolve specific types of granular chlorine prior to sprinkling into the spa. Dissolve only enough for one dose. Don’t store left over solutions. Don’t use for other brands or chlorine types.
Water Mold: a type of bacteria found in nasty looking spa water. White gray or pink in color. They are very slimy and difficult to eliminate.
Weir: a pivoting flap, door, or dam in a skimmer. It prevents bugs and leaves from floating back into the spa. They collect in a basket while allowing water to recycle through the spa’s filter system.
 

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