White Flakes in Your Hot Tub ... What are They and How Do You Get Rid of Them?

What's with those white flakes ... Water Mould?

Flakes that are in your spa resembling pieces of skin, or may be akin to pieces of tissue paper in the water are indicative of white mould in your plumbing. 
White mould is an airborne spore that comes from trees, and develops in areas left damp such as garden hoses , dehumidifiers, sump holes, children's bathtub toys, hot tub filters that are left outside and reinstalled while not completely dry, swimming pools  and hot tubs.
White mould can be introduced to spa plumbing from wet testing at the time of manufacturing, or in the time between when it was drained at the showroom till the time it gets to your house.  It can occur if you drain your tub and don't refill it for a few days. White mould can also be introduced to spa water when filled from a garden hose that has developed some white mould while lying out in the sun. Always run water through your garden hose for a minute or so before adding water to your hot tub or swim spa. Sometimes it just drifts into your spa water while the lid is open.  
White mould can even remain in your tub and be kept at bay for months and years by conventional sanitizers such as bromine and chlorine. If you go an extended period of time without adding chlorine or once you go to a low chemical system (such as Spa Marvel®) and reduce the amount of sanitizer, the white mould can proliferate to a point that it becomes apparent (often 6-8 weeks before you notice it).  Left unattended white mould can overwhelm your spa.
To kill white mould, you need to super-chlorinate the water with granular chlorine.  Remove any headrests and leave the lid open for at least the first hour while performing this treatment.   Add 2.5 ounces (5 tablespoons, 75 grams) of chlorine per every 100 gallons (400 litres) of spa water or part thereof.   

For this treatment to be effective it is imperative that the chlorinated water is distributed throughout the entire plumbing system.  Ensure that all jets, valves, waterfalls, water features, aerators and diverters are open and are subjected to the chlorine. If your tub has a drain next to the pump or at the base of the cabinet to which you can attach a hose to facilitate draining, ensure that some of the chlorinated  water is bled through the drain at the onset of this procedure.  This is very important to do because any built in drains are a dead end in the plumbing and the chlorine will not naturally make its way down to that part of the plumbing, but the mould will.

Check the chlorine reading after 24, 48 and 72 hours.  If at any of these intervals the chlorine is anything less than ridiculously high (20ppm), treat the tub again with chlorine and start the clock over on the 72 hour time period.  

Do not use the spa during this process.  

It is important to note that the chlorine will kill the white mould so that it doesn’t continue to grow, but it will not make the flakes vanish. 

After 72 hours of successful chlorination:

  • Remove your filter and clean it.  Properly cleaned filters are pivotal to successful spa water care.  Using a filter soak such as Spa Marvel®  Filter Cleaner is recommended. After soaking the filter in filter cleaner it is critical that the debris is thoroughly removed from the pleats of the filter. The water pressure from showers, dishwashers and kitchen sinks is often not strong enough to remove the debris. If after rinsing your filter there is still discolouration in the pleats or if it still smells dirty, then it is not clean and you need to reevaluate your current filter cleaning techniques. (see our article on how to PROPERLY clean your hot tub filters)  Many people use a pressure washer (gently and carefully)  to quickly and effectively remove the debris after soaking the filter. If you do not have access to a pressure washer, the sprayer at the coin-operated car wash works well.  Most reusable hot tub filters ought to be replaced after 6 months of use. 
  • Add the bottle of Spa Marvel Cleanser (small green bottle) to the tub and run the jets on high-speed, for 1 hour.  Longer is fine, but for what we are doing 1 hour will suffice. 
  • Drain the spa.
  • Rinse everything out, run fresh water through the filter well, through each water jet and through any water features such as water falls.  You want to thoroughly flush out the plumbing. Remove all of the old water.  While submersable water pumps usually leasve about 1 - 2 inches of water at the bottom of the hot tub, our Pump Marvel will leave only 1/8th Inch.  This saves a lot of manual removal of remaining water, particularly if you have a swim spa!
  • Install the clean filter and refill the tub.  When a tub is drained there are still several gallons of  water that are in the plumbing, and this water can contain leftover flakes of white mould.  When you fill the spa, turn all of the jets on and if you see a lot of the flakes come out of the plumbing, drain and fill the spa again. If there are only a few flakes your filter will pick them up or they can be manually removed. 
  •  If your filtration settings are scheduled ensure that you are filtering a minimum of 6 hours a day. If your spa utilizes a hush pump (often referred to as a ‘circ’ pump) please ensure that it is filtering 24/7.  If you are unsure of your tub’s system, check your manual or consult you dealer. 
  •  Once the water heats up, add the bottle of Spa Marvel Hot Tub Treament.
  •  Add 2 tablespoons of chlorine.
  •  Balance the alkalinity to between 80-120 if necessary.
  •  After the alkalinity is between 80-120, then ensure that the pH is between 7.2 and 8.2, adjust if necessary.
  • If all goes well, you should be right back on track to enjoy your hot tub/swim spa as you have in the past and resume your usual Spa Marvel Maintenance Program:-)

If you have any questions regarding the use of Spa Marvel Hot Treatment, please feel free to contact us.

sales @ niftystuff.ca (remove the spaces)

Phone: 866-251-7102 Toll Free Canada and Continental U.S.A.

www.NiftyStuff.ca - Canadian Spa Marvel Sales

www.SpaMarvelWest.ca - Canadian Spa Marvel Sales

www.SpaMarvelWest.com - U.S.A. Spa Marvel Sales

Written by: Dale R. Farrier -- President --   NiftyStuff Distribution is a division of D.R. Farrier Holdings Ltd.

This article is protected by copyright laws. You are free to print and use the information contained in this article for your own use only. Reproduction or inclusion of this article on any website or publication is prohibited without written permission by the author.

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