Dealing with Calcium Scaling in your Spa

by Tony Turbo.

Calcium scaling can be a problem in most any hot tub. It can cause at least three problems for you.

  1. It can stop the spinning of your jets as it encrusts both the jet bodies and their spinning inner parts.
  2. If you have a salt system in your spa, it can coat the salt system electrode preventing it from converting the salt to either chlorine or bromine.
  3. Lastly, though mild cases appear as a sort of white dust on your spa shell, more serious cases literally feel like sandpaper on your spa shell making your spa experience pretty miserable.

So, let’s discuss Calcium scaling in more detail, how to prevent it, and why Serum Total Maintenance can prevent it.

What is Calcium Scaling?

Calcium scaling is generally Calcium Carbonate. It is off-white in color and occurs in your hot tub when your pH is too high, generally above 8.0. Once Calcium scaling starts it can increase rapidly. I’ve seen spas go from perfectly clean to encrusted in scale overnight.

You might think that high Calcium levels in your water (also called hardness) lead to Calcium scaling. They do, but only indirectly. You are more likely to have scaling issues with “hard” water however you will never see Calcium scaling in your hot tub if you keep your pH in the proper 7.2 – 7.6 range.

How Severe can Calcium Scaling be?

In a sense there are 3 levels of Calcium scaling severity. In its mildest form, you might not even see it because, if you have a salt system in your spa, scaling will occur on the system’s electrodes before anywhere else. If your salt system spa stops producing bromine or chlorine, and everything else seems correct, there is a good chance you have Calcium scaling on your system electrodes. Here’s what may be going on. Calcium is an electrical insulator. If your electrode is covered in Calcium, electricity can’t pass between the electrode plates and its that electricity that produces a process called electrolysis that is responsible for the production of chlorine or bromine.

At the next level you will see a white, chalky “dust” on your spa shell. All by itself this is not too much of a problem, but it indicates that things are about to get worse. Also, if you see this and you have a salt system spa, you already have calcium scale on your system electrodes.

Last, we get to the “sandpaper” phase. Now you have a thick encrusting layer of scale on your spa shell. It rough to the point that it is uncomfortable to sit on. It’s also very hard to remove mechanically and impossible to remove from inside your plumbing this way. But there’s hope.

Why is Calcium Scaling Harmful?

If Calcium scaling occurs in your spa, it will cover every bit of surface under the water in your spa. This means all of your plumbing, your pumps, your jets, your salt system electrode, as well as your spa shell surface will be covered in scale. It can damage all of these components because it is abrasive as well as being both an electrical and heat insulator.

How do You Remove Calcium Scaling?

The simple answer is vinegar! Acids will dissolve calcium and vinegar is acetic acid. So, if you have calcium scaling in your spa, buy two or three gallons of regular store-bought vinegar and throw it into your spa. Let your spa operate for 24 hours and the scaling will be gone. At this point your spa water pH is likely too low, and you may want to drain and refill your spa. It might also be a good time to purge your spa with our Serum Total Cleanse, using the old water.

How do You Prevent Calcium Scaling?

As noted earlier, Calcium scaling can be more of a problem in areas of the country with hard water. However, you can prevent it by ensuring you keep your spa water pH in the 7.2 – 7.6 range.

Here is an easy “trick” and it’s a Hot Tub Serum trick. Our Total Maintenance is a very effective pH buffer. pH buffers help stabilize pH, helping to keep your spa water pH in the proper range. However, it is very important to get your pH correct BEFORE adding Total Maintenance. If your spa water pH is 8.2 and you add Total Maintenance it will be very difficult to get your pH into the 7.2 – 7.6 range because, as a pH buffer, it’s doing its job and preventing the movement of pH. Don’t do that!

Hot Tub Serum’s Lifetime Jet Warranty

Hot Tub Serum, alone among spa chemical providers, offers a Lifetime Jet Warranty for regular users of our Total Maintenance. The reason is quite straight-forward. Among the quality spa manufacturers, jet failures are actually rather rare and the most common reason for jet failures in these spas is Calcium scaling which, as we’ve noted, only occurs when your spa water pH is too high. As an effective pH buffer Total Maintenance stops this problem and we are willing to say so in writing. It’s that simple.

Thanks for reading,

Turbo Tony

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