A spa is just like anything else that’s built to enjoy and use on a regular basis and requires a moderate amount of care and maintenance. If the care of your spa is provided as a routine part of ownership, it will continue to give you years of enjoyment. Neglect of anything, including your home spa, results in damage, decay and repairs. The bottom line? Be nice to your spa and it will be nice to you. Let’s take a look at some of the basics:
Water and Chemicals
Keeping your spa’s water clean and clear benefits the health of both you and the spa. Oils from your skin, suntan lotions, detergent residue from bathing suits and grime should be controlled. All of these not only degrade your water; they can also harm your spa’s equipment and components. This is the benefit of keeping the proper chemicals and additives in your water. Manufacturer’s instructions should always be followed. If you have hard water in your area, use a product to balance your calcium levels. Excess calcium levels lead to scaling and erosion of your jets and mechanical equipment. If you use the spa often or have several persons using the spa, drain and replace the water every 90 to 120 days.
Keep your spa clean. Never use abrasive cleaners or scrubbers on the acrylic surfaces. Use only recommended cleaning agents specifically designed for spas and hot tubs. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for these. Cleaning the filter at least once a week will extend its life as well. Soak the filter once a month to loosen and remove residue and replace the filter about once a year. Make sure your pump, jets and filtration are operating properly and before using, always check your pH level and add chemicals as needed.
Your spa’s cover is designed not only to keep in the heat but also to protect you spa’s acrylic surface. Leaving your spa uncovered and exposed to direct sunlight for long periods of time can lead to cracks and blisters in the acrylic shell. This type of neglect will most often not be covered by the spa manufacturer’s warranty. Be sure to always keep your spa covered and locked down when not in use. You can extend the life of your cover by simply keeping it clean. Remove dust and debris buildup regularly with a wet rag or vinyl cleaning solution. After treating the water with chemicals, keep the cover off for at least 20 minutes. Do not run the jets at high speed while the cover is on the tub and clean the inside area with a dry cloth about once a week to remove damaging chemical residue. Lastly, spa covers are not designed to support any weight so refrain from sitting on or storing heavy items on top of your spa cover.
Examine your spa for small problems while cleaning, adding chemicals or using. Catch problems early, make the necessary repairs and minor problems will remain minor instead of becoming big, costly problems.
Use Your Spa
Don’t let your spa sit idle. If you live where winter temperatures are prohibitive, winterize you spa or drain if needed. All other times, keep you chemicals balanced, perform routine maintenance and enjoy the use of your spa. Leaving the spa idle and ignoring routing maintenance will gradually cause deterioration of the water and your spa as well as the equipment. Take responsibility, keep your spa in good working order and use it. The care you give it will reward you with a spa that returns your investment year after year.Continue Reading
A relaxing evening in the spa can be the best part of any day. It offers its user a sanctuary from the trials and worries of the office or a hard day’s work. The worst aspect of that relaxing period could be that you may be paying more than you should for those precious, peaceful moments. Heat loss and inefficiency in spas can be a drain on your electricity. On average, a spa costs over $360.00 annually to heat. Reducing heat loss is one way to lower energy usage and ultimately the costs of owning a spa.
If you’re in the market for a new spa, read on as we will discuss some of the features to look for. If you already have an energy hoarding unit that you’re not ready to part with, there’s a few tips we’ve addressed here for you as well.
New Features on Spas
To make owning a spa more affordable, manufacturers have come up with innovative ways to upgrade equipment and improve features on their tubs without aggressively affecting your pocket book. When shopping for a spa, ask your dealer about the energy efficiency of the unit. Here’s what to look for:
- Spa Covers — Insulated spa covers keep most of the heat inside the spa. Make sure your cover is equipped with straps that lock the cover down to the unit. Not only will you improve the safety aspect of your spa, but a tightly sealed cover greatly reduces heat loss from around the edges. Check to make sure your spa’s cover will be tapered or sloped; creating a run off for any excess rain water that may build up on the cover. As spa covers age, you may notice the weight of the cover increasing as the foam inside becomes saturated with moisture. Once this happens, replace the cover immediately as a water logged cover will have lost most of it’s insulating qualities.
- Insulation — At minimum, the shell and plumbing of the spa should have a generous amount of insulation. Even though most heat is lost from the top, well-insulated interiors reduce heat loss from below. If you live in an area that experiences extremely low temperatures or snow conditions, ask about a “full foam” option. This encapsulates the entire underbelly of the spa with solid foam for optimum insulation.
- Pumps — Energy-efficient pumps are becoming more common in spas. Make sure that your spa has at least one 2 speed pump for filtration. Most spas are pre-programmed to filter twice a day for two hours a day. Rather than going full bore for those 4 hours, running the filtration pump on low speed will greatly reduce the amount of electricity used.
- Heaters — Modern heaters utilize improved heat transfer with less waste. An undersized heater will require your spa to run longer and draw more energy. If you are into the technical jargon, as a good rule of thumb you should have a 1.5 kilowatt heater in a 110 volt unit and a 5.5 kilowatt heater in a 220 volt unit.
- Go Green – Not literally! “Going green” is not the fondest term in the pool and spa industry as it is sometimes associated with poor water chemistry. When discussing energy usage, “going green” means decreasing consumption of electricity and ultimately lowering your carbon footprint. Some spa manufactures specialize in just this. Ask your dealer to see their most energy efficient models. These units most often do not feature large jet quantities or the latest iPod stereo, but they certainly create a relaxing oasis on low energy usage.
Making an Existing Spa More Efficient
There are a few things you can do to improve your current spa. Some are common sense, others may not have occurred to you. Just a few steps can help you reduce the cost of operating your current spa:
- You should never locate a spa on an open deck. If you have one on a deck, the open air beneath robs the heat from your spa. Underpin the deck with insulation board and siding if possible. This will help keep the temperature beneath the deck much warmer and prevent breezes from chilling your spa from below.
- Lower the temperature of your thermostat when not in use. Keep your spa at 80 – 90 degrees and turn it up an hour or so before using. This will save energy over keeping it at a higher temperature all the time.
- Use shrubs, privacy panels or fencing around the spa area as windbreaks to retain the spa heat better.
- If your spa is equipped with them, make sure your air venturi valves are closed when the spa is not in use. An air venturi valve blends air from outside your spa with the water in the jets. Pumping cold ambient air inside the spa will drastically lower the temperature and cause it to constantly run trying to maintain its heat.
- Turn the thermostat very low or off when on vacation.
You’ll get more spa for the money by following these few tips. Keeping operating costs down will increase your enjoyment, knowing your spa is costing you pennies per day instead of dollars.Continue Reading
Portable spas are extremely popular because of their versatility, portability, and affordability. Their interior design makes them the most comfortable to sit in, and their price is within range of virtually any family or individual desiring the benefits of a warm, relaxing spa and hydrotherapy massage. Because of their wide range of amenities, portable spas are most often more desirable than permanent spas.
Portable spas are above ground and can be used inside the home or out. As long as the spa can be located on a flat surface, it can be used on an inside floor, a deck or concrete area. Besides the lower pricing on portable spas, this is a feature that many consumers like.
Here are a few things to consider when shopping for a portable spa:
- Your choice — Box stores and home improvement depots that carry portable spas typically offer one or two styles in stock but most models would have to be ordered online. Buying a spa online without actually sitting in it first is like buying a new car without test driving it. You want to sit in the model you plan to purchase to make sure you are comfortable in it. (All Secard Pools locations have an array of empty and running models to “test drive” and choose from.) Viewing a running model also allows you to see the performance of the jets and filtration system. Your purchase decision will last for many years. Your new spa should have all the options you need and want to give you the best service and satisfaction.
- Wiring — Portable spas run on either 110 or 220 volt electrical. You should decide on which type you prefer before making your purchase. 110 volt models are extremely easy to hook up and plug in to a standard household outlet just as a blow dryer would. Survey the area in which you plan on placing the spa and make sure there is an outlet near by prior to your purchase. Most 110 volt spas are outfitted with a 12 ft. cord. 220 volt models will require a licensed electrician but typically will heat faster and come equipped with larger pumps.
- Insulation — When using your spa, you want to ensure the water temperature is easily maintained. Closed cell foam insulation should be used by the manufacture to prevent heat loss from the spa shell and hold the water temperature at a steady setting.
- Cabinetry – Spa cabinets have come a long way over the years. Beware of any spa that is built with an outside cabinetry that is not synthetic. Wood and water do not mix and a soggy warped cabinet is the first thing to deteriorate on a spa. Additionally, the framing within the spa should be a pressure treated material.
- Components — Check for the number of jets and their placement. If the jets are not positioned to have therapeutic value, the number of jets won’t matter. Many manufacturers think that by putting more jets in a spa it is more effective. Actually it’s quite the opposite. You want pressure in areas that need pressure and not waist it in areas that don’t. The control panel and filtration equipment should be in an easy-to-reach position. You don’t want to have to climb under the spa cabinet every time you need turn the heater on or clean the filter.
- Size — The bigger the spa, obviously the more room. If you’re the outgoing type, get one that seats your family along with other family members or neighbors. If you are simply looking for yours and a spouse or partner’s comfort, one that seats only two or three is your best bet.
- Comfort — The ergonomics of a spa are extremely important. Check out the contour of the interior to ensure your comfort. Does the seating feel comfortable? Is there a headrest area that fits properly. Is a pillow easily attachable? Never forget that its purpose is comfort and relaxation.
Whenever possible, here at Secard Pools, we always promote and support purchasing American made products. With American made spas, If there are problems, parts are much easier to find and less expensive. Also, make sure you understand what the warranty covers. Buying from a local dealer will ensure the warranty is enforced and there’s always an expert to answer your questions as you begin using your new spa.
Photo taken at our Orange, Ca. Secard Pools & Spas showroomContinue Reading
So you’re ready to reward yourself with a little slice of luxury. You want that portable spa or pool that you and the family have been eyeing for a long time. The big box stores and membership wharehouses have it on sale, now is the time to strike. They have the purchasing power and now have it down to where it’s easily within reach. Before you pack up and make the trip down to their huge facility, slow down and look at what you may — or may not — be getting for your investment.
Who’s The Expert?
- When you go to select your model, you’re sure to have some questions. A big box store often has revolving door issues with various departments. If Don or Donna is employed in that particular department, just how much do they know about the product you are about to invest your hard-earned money into?
- With the box store, you may have spoken to one person on Tuesday who gave you information. On Friday, they’re off and you’re speaking with someone else. Realistically, neither Don nor Donna may be there and your salesperson has been pulled from the curtain and blinds or paint department to help you with your purchase. Even on a good day, how much training has the salesperson had. How long have they worked in that department?
- When it’s delivered, you want it as near as possible to the area where it will be permanently located. The box stores have a clear delivery policy. You can choose from curbside delivery or delivery at curbside. From there, you’re on your own.
- Was the warranty information explained thoroughly? Is there a warranty after it’s delivered? If the merchandise is flawed, the box stores do not have service technicians to come to your home.
- Who installs your prized possession? If it becomes damaged during installation, what recourse do you have? Who takes ownership of the problem? You?
- Big box stores thrive and survive on sales. Secard Pools thrives on customer relationships. When you’re a customer instead of a sale, the experience can change — dramatically.
- Pricing from your local big box store can sometimes be a misconceived value. While you may be able to save on cereal or saw blades, portable pools and spas are not their forte. Not only are the products from Secard Pools far more superior, you may be surprised to know that they cannot beat our prices.
- You can expect your salesperson at the local Secard Pools to be knowledgeable. This is what they do; this is their area of expertise. They don’t sell paint, blinds or storm doors. Their training is from the factory and years of experience. They are proud of their product and they want you to know all about it.
- With proper access, delivery is made to your specifications. Your spa or pool comes to your home and is placed where you want it. A home visit for a problem is simply a call away.
- Secard Pools can easily provide installation. We know the proper installation methods and, should there be a problem, it becomes our problem, not yours.
- At Secard Pools, we explain and support all aspects of warranties that apply. Your protection extends past the sale. Secard Pools takes ownership of our product and your satisfaction.
- Any water chemistry issues can be handled by your local Secard Pools retail location. Bring a water sample to us for free analysis and a quick resolution of your problem. The box store is not equipped to handle such issues.
Would you rather be a customer or a sale? At Secard Pools, a customer is a long-term agreement between us and you. A sale is a short-term relationship and something big box stores thrive on. Once you’re gone, their only concern is the next sale.
Photo credit Patrick HoeslyContinue Reading