Hot tub owners always have questions with regards to dealing with biofilms. If your spa feels slimy or you notice slimy particles in the pool, then this post is for you. Are you looking for a way to remove the biofilm in your hot tub? Read further to learn more about biofilms in spas.
You can easily remove biofilm in your hot tub by draining it and cleaning it properly. But if you don’t wish to drain your tub, you can use enzyme-based biofilm cleaners to get rid of biofilm in your spa. Vinegar can even do the magic for you.
Hot tub slime is not what one needs to play with. It is not healthy and can cause accidents if not properly managed. To get more details on this, you need to read further as this article explains what biofilms are and how to deal with them effectively.
What does biofilm in a hot tub look like?
You might be familiar with those brown murky clusters that appear in your tub. You might even have noticed them spewing out of your water jets after a prolonged time of non-usage. Well, you might just have encountered biofilms. What are they?
Biofilms are clusters of various microorganisms, particularly bacteria. These bacteria exist as communities and colonies in conjunction with solids, oils, and other organic matter. The results can be monstrous.
These biofilms stick to tub surfaces. They are found mostly in pipes and in your plumbing. In addition, they also possess a protective layer of slime that can protect them against chemicals and sanitizers. This is enough reason to take it seriously.
One way to know biofilms are present in your plumbing is that your water feels slimy, and surely this could feel irritating. This slime is a way bacteria protect themselves against chemicals that could kill them. The slime is quite impervious to chlorine or bromine and thus could end up being a huge problem for your hot tub.
Your chlorine demand will increase, but even adding more chlorine won’t have much effect. Their appearance doesn’t also make for good viewing. They can cause discoloration in your pool water, making it foamy and cloudy, and also giving it a bad odor. This will end up discouraging bathers from using the tub.
What causes biofilm in a hot tub?
There are a number of reasons why you are having an issue with biofilms. I will list some below.
- Hot tubs that have sat for a long time: Hot tubs that have sat unused for a long time can contribute to this. If water is left to sit in a tub without draining, this can create perfect conditions for bacteria clusters to form. Also, even if the tub has been drained but there is still water in the pipes or the plumbing, biofilms can set in. Most of the time, what these bacteria need is just moisture, and their rapid reproduction rate means you could have an infestation on your hands.
- Warm temperatures: The temperatures at which hot tubs operate are perfect for the formation of biofilms. The hot tubs are usually at a temperature of 98°F. Bacteria find the conditions perfect for thriving. In addition, the pipes create a warm, dark environment. This factors into rapid bacterial growth.
- Contaminants from bathers: Biofilms can form as a result of the active use of your tub. Dead skin cells, the oils and other cosmetics from the bodies of bathers can be used as a building block. They provide nutrients from which these bacteria feed on and grow. They seek to form colonies in areas that don’t have many water disturbances. And when the pumps are off, they settle and adhere to your tub and pipe surfaces.
- Poor filters: When filters have become clogged up with repeated use over a long time, they become ineffective. Old cartridges can become blocked and either slow down filtration or stop it altogether. As a result, this can give biofilms a perfect place to grow. Water from such contaminated filters can cycle back into the tub. This will be the start of an outbreak.
- Insufficient sanitizer: The building blocks of biofilms are bacteria. If these bacteria are not dealt with on time, biofilm outbreaks are inevitable. If you fail to sanitize your pool with chlorine and other sanitizing chemicals when due, you are giving them the opportunity to grow. Bacteria colonies form rapidly, and if they are not nipped in the bud early enough, you have only yourself to blame. Biofilms are predominant in tubs that are not shocked regularly, water that is not balanced or where there is incorrect use of these sanitizers.
- From the factory: Yes, this might sound surprising, but it isn’t. Most hot tubs and spas could come with biofilms from the factory, and this is how. The manufacturers will usually do water testing. This usually involves checking to see if the plumbing is working efficiently. After a process like this, hot tubs are usually covered up and put into storage. The residual water in the pipes and plumbing will, under those storage conditions, form the perfect environment for the growth of biofilms.
What kills spa biofilm?
Biofilm cleansers such as Spa Marvel Cleanser can effectively remove biofilms. They have to be enzyme-based cleaners because enzymes are really very effective at breaking down that slime barrier. These enzymes inhibit the growth of biofilms. They also cause them to detach. In addition, they render the bacteria sensitive to antibacterial agents.
There are two ways enzymes do this:
- They act on the slime: As mentioned before, the bacteria in biofilms create a slimy protective layer. This protective layer is what acts as a defense mechanism. It is also this layer that uses up the chlorine or bromine you are adding into your hot tub.
When you shock your pool, the chlorine or bromine attacks this layer. The layer is destroyed, but the bacteria underneath is still intact. You might keep on adding more shock, but you will be going nowhere. In some cases, the slime incorporates chlorine as part of its make-up. After such attacks, the bacteria colonies simply secrete more of the protective slime.
Now, in contrast, these enzymes referred to here are organic in nature. They can actually catalytically oxidize the outer covering. The slime stands no chance against them, and in a short time, the bacteria underneath them are exposed.
- They act directly on the bacteria: Some enzymes work directly on the bacteria by diffusing into their cells. They can penetrate deeply into the bacteria’s cell structures and cause cell death.
How do you clean a hot tub without draining it?
Cleaning a hot tub is a very essential process. You need your tub sanitized and free of contaminants that can cause problems. You will probably be wondering how you can do this effectively without having to drain your pool. Also, water bill constraints can be an issue to consider before draining the tub. I will list some steps to follow if you want to clean your tub without having to drain it completely.
- Start by scrubbing: While the water is still in the tub, start by scrubbing it. Scrub the interior thoroughly. Make use of a soft bristle brush to avoid scratches on the walls. The debris will predictably fall into the water. But you would want this water to run through the filters and be removed. In addition, make use of a vacuum or skimmer to remove larger debris. This will make the work easier for your filter.
- Remove and soak the hot tub jets: This process is important because it prevents dirt from clogging up your tub’s jets. This will help it have a more powerful stream. You can soak it in a solution of 50% water and 50% vinegar. The hot tub jets should remain in that mixture for 3–4 hours.
- Scrub the pipes: You can use a small toothbrush to get into the pipe conduits. Begin by scrubbing in and around the entrance to dislodge any dirt or debris. You might not be able to gain much distance, but you can remove dirt that builds up around the opening. You can also obtain a flexible cleaning brush that helps you clean further down the tube.
- Remove and soak the filter: After you have run the water in the pool through the filter, turn it off. Disconnect the filters and begin to wash them down. A hose can be effective at doing this. After that, scrub any lingering debris such as mildew, mold, or bacteria.
- Treat your water: After cleaning the different fixtures, you can now treat the water. Add the appropriate chemicals to adjust pH, acidity, and alkalinity. Also add sufficient shock to efficiently sanitize the pool.
How do you clean a biofilm on an inflatable hot tub?
To clean your inflatable hot tubs, you should make use of chemicals specifically designed to treat biofilms. Chemicals such as Aquafinesse Spa Clean and Spa Marvel Cleaner are quite effective. Add them to the hot tub before you drain the pool.
Does vinegar get rid of biofilm?
White vinegar is known for its antimicrobial effects on bacteria. It is also known for its cleaning effect on grease and grime. Just add 1 gallon of vinegar to your tub’s water and allow the water jets to run continuously for about two hours. This will be adequate. The only thing to watch out for is a decrease in the pH of the water.
What naturally kills biofilms?
Vinegar is a natural way to kill biofilms. Using enzymes is also a natural means of removing biofilm.
How can biofilm formation be prevented?
One of the ways to prevent biofilm formation is by making use of proper sanitary procedures. Make sure to shock your pool on a regular basis, check the water balance, and practice proper hygiene around your tub.