Hot Tub Cover Weighs a Ton

Dear Mr. Pool and Spa Master:  My hot tub cover weighs a ton.  It used to be easy to lift with one arm.  Now my wife can’t lift it, and I have to give it a good heave-ho.  What’s wrong?   Richard in Boulder City

Richard, Your hot tub cover is toast–a big slice of closed-cell foam that is water saturated.

1)  It can’t be repaired–it’s not like a sponge and squeeze-dried

2) It’s probably harboring nasty bacteria.  I’d bet the cover reeks

3) Say hello to mold. (Got more yucky smell?)

4) It no longer properly insulates your spa’s water temp–and now you’re paying more to heat the water

5) A sprained back is in someone’s future as they try to lift the beast

Your options? 

1) Live with the 5 negatives listed above or

2) Replace it with a new cover.

Yes, that’s an expensive proposal, but your only choice.  I recommend that you order it through your local spa dealer mainly because they should be purchasing covers from a reputable manufacturer that provides a year’s warranty, and they will also assure that you get the right size cover for your spa.  It will likely be custom-made for you.  Why?  There are thousands of spa sizes, shapes and styles.  It’s too risky for a spa dealer to keep every size in stock.

To assure you get the right cover, do the following:

1) Measure the length and width of the cover and the corner radius

2) Measure the skirt length (the part that hangs down)

3) If you know your hot tub’s manufacturer, bring that.

4)  AND some hot tubs have a serial number.  That slam-dunks the right cover.

There are alternatives to the standard cover.  They cost more, and don’t have the features that, say the Sunstar manufacturer provides:


  1. UL Classified.
  2. Full 3-Year Warranty.
  3. Marine Grade Vinyl. Treated with mildew and UV inhibitors for year-round beauty.
  4. Vapor Lock Seal with Antaeus 2000™. State-of-the-art equipment is used to heat seal cores with Antaeus 2000, a scientifically formulated plastic developed exclusively for Sunstar to inhibit moisture absorption.
  5. Twenty-Eight Points of Internal Reinforcement. Every stress point is reinforced, including the hinge, handles, straps, corners and skirts.
  6. Tough ’N Sturdy Hinge. Four layers of vinyl add strength to this high stress area.
  7. Super-Strength Padded Handles. Five layers of added strength were it’s most needed.
  8. Premiere Skirt. An additional seal to keep heat in and dirt out.
  9. Tie Down Straps. Triple-reinforced straps secure the cover to the spa or hot tub with locking fasteners.
  10. Secure-Loc Fasteners. Lock with a key for extra safety.
  11. Plastic Drain Grommet. Aids the release of moisture trapped under the vinyl. Will not corrode or scratch spa.
  12. Double-Ply Poly-Laminate. Industrial grade vinyl with durable polyester fabric reinforcement. Mildew resistant.
  13. Tapered Foam Core. Standard covers come with 3 1/2” – 2 1/2” taper to keep heat in and allow rain to run off.
  14. Steel Reinforcement. Non-corrosive, strengthens center of Spa Top™
  15. Commercial Grade Nylon Zipper and Protection Flap. Heavy-duty nylon zipper is corrosion resistant. Protective flap for easy replacement of core.
  16. Hidden Zipper Pull Protection. Protects zipper pull. Adds quality finished appearance.
  17. GHSG™ Super Heat Seal Gasket. A revolutionary insulating hinge seal that saves heat and prevents moisture loss. Critical to long-term energy savings. Pays back through energy savings typically in less than 12 months, according to independent testing. Also protects bottom from abrasion.


Summertime Swimming Pool Video Humor

It’s summer.  Here’s some funny videos.  These pool blunders speak for themselves.

Now, The Pool And Spa Master’s All Time Favorite Swimming Pool Clip

Evaporation Biggest Cause of Swimming Pool Energy Loss


Standard blue "bubble cover" available at most pool stores
Standard blue “bubble cover” available at most pool stores

Did you get your heating bill for the first month of summer yet?  No, not for the house.  For that other money-sink, your outdoor swimming pool. 

Billions, yes, billions of dollars are annually spent heating America’s swimming pools.  While swimming is one of the best exercises ever, (and my wife says the pool she had when the kids were youngsters,  saved her sanity by making the kids so tired that they would actually go to bed on summer nights), these holes with water are expensive to operate.  A 400,000 BTU gas heater will cost you about $7.24 per hour to heat your pool.  Compare that cost to your home’s 100,000 BTU central gas furnace at about $1.88 per hour.

There are environmental costs too.

Evaporation is the largest cause of energy loss in a swimming pool.  While it takes just 1 BTU to raise one-pound of water up one-degree, consider that each pound of 80-degree water that evaporates consumes—are you ready for this—1,048 BTUs of heat out of the pool.

Your only prevention of this loss is to cover the pool when it is not in use.  You could save up to 50 to 70-percent!  A simple application of a bubble/solar cover can also reduce chemical consumption.  It will also prevent debris from entering the pool. (Think less pool vacuuming.)

Not every pool can accommodate or retrofit an automatic cover.  So, your alternatives are a bubble/solar cover—that being the least expensive; a vinyl cover; and then an insulated cover.  Most of these covers can be989136_sale_icon attached to a reel.  Check with your local pool store to see if that is a likely resolution to your pool’s evaporation issues.

I know I’ll get a thousand of the following question after you all go out and purchase a new bubble/solar cover:  “Which way do the bubbles go?”  The bubbles go in the water.

BTW:  Always remove any cover you have on your pool before entering.  ALWAYS!  NO EXCUSES!

Yes, I’m cyber-yelling because sometimes folks think that a half removal of the cover is okay.  It is NOT! Remove the cover COMPLETELY!   

I’ll continue next time discussing solar heat, energy efficient heaters and other water/energy saving tips.  Meanwhile, you can call the Energy Efficient and Renewable Energy Clearinghouse at 1-800-363-3732 for more information.

Flex PVC Leaks. Wrong Glue?


The right glue makes the difference with flex pvc.
The right glue makes the difference with flex pvc.

Mike sent in this query:

  I have a 12-year-old Cal Spa with 2 4hp motor/pumps. The 2″ flex hose keeps springing leaks due to age. I have repaired it a half dozen times, but now it’s leaking where its too hard to reach. Is it worth the effort to replace all the 2″ flex? I replaced the pumps and motors a few years back.




Flex PVC  has a history of this kind of behavior–springing leaks. Part of the problem is usually from incorrect glue. Flex takes a special kind of glue. You must use specially designed primer and glue for flex PVC.

Replacing all the flex PVC  is waaaaaay too labor intensive. However, you can cut where the flex is leaking and replace it with schedule-40 regular PVC pipe. Be sure where you attach the schedule-40 to the flex that you use the specially designed glue I just mentioned.

Cloudy Spa Water Is Like a Cloudy Day-Depressing

Cartridge filters require regular maintenance
Cartridge filters require regular maintenance

Stan from Philadelphia asks:  No matter what I do, my spa water is cloudy most of the time, even after I have added bromine to it. I’m getting depressed with my spa. What am I missing?

Cloudy water means turbid water—opaque or murky.  You spa’s water should be clear and glistening.

So I’m assuming that your bromine reading is 2 to 3 ppms.  If it’s below that, double the shock and bring the bromine reading up to 2-3 ppms.  Inadequate disinfection is a common cloudy water cause.

However, I’d bet that you haven’t taken a peek at your cartridge filter for a while.  I’m not psychic, but after near 40-years of hearing “My water’s cloudy no matter what! You need to fix my water now,” I’m betting on your filter’s health.

What does that mean?  The filter strains your spa’s water.  It traps organic wastes like your hair, skin, and other yucky body stuff.  If it isn’t regularly cleaned the filter becomes your water’s most likely pollutant. 

If your filter harbors a grey or brown tinge, soak that disgusting thing in a cartridge filter cleaner (a product you can find at your pool and spa store designed specifically to deep clean polyester filters) to remove the debris that is entrapped in the filter’s fibers.

Good filter maintenance requires at least a monthly soak in a cartridge filter cleaner.  Rinsing your filter with a hose is okay, but not sufficient.

Your filter could also be worn out.  Most filters last about two years with regular caretaking.  So, if your filter’s fibers are the first thing you notice, it’s time for a new filter.

Now, if your filter maintenance rates an A+, then you need to check your TDS (total dissolved solids).  1500-ppms means drain the tub.  High TDS will not allow your bromine to properly disinfect.  Most hot tubs require frequent draining.  It depends on the size of the tub and how often it is used. 

If you have crossed off the funky filter and high TDS, then be sure to check the standards:  total alkalinity and pH.  See TOTAL DISSOLVED SOLIDS AND YOUR UNRULY TEENAGE MOMENTS: TOTAL ALKALINITY & pH posted below.

Also be mindful of regular shocking. 

If your spa is new to your household, you are probably using it more than you will next year.  This means that your water is under more stress and requires above average attention.

Sam Swims In Salt. Now Sam Wants a Pet Dolphin.

Sam swims in a “salt pool” and he wonders if he can get a pet dolphin now that his pool is a’ natural.

Well, Sam, a’ contraire.  What Sam doesn’t understand is that if he puts a dolphin into his “salt pool” that dolphin will to choke to death in chlorine!

“No way!” screams salty Sam!  Yeah, way, Sam. 

Sam’s salt pool is not exactly that.  Yes, Sam may be dropping hundreds of pounds of salt into his pool, but that salt is funneled through a mechanism that transforms the salt into CHLORINE.  Look closely at the mechanism it will read Chlorine Generator.

So, Sam, ixnay on the dolphin.

Keep the dolphin out of "salt pools."
Keep the dolphin out of "salt pools."

The generator installed on Sam’s pool is generating sodium hypochlorite – or you can call it by the common label—household bleach.    So Sam has invested into 50-year-old technology.  It is not a new eco, green, or healthy technology.  The biggest advantage is that Sam won’t have to trek down to his local pool chemical supplier to purchase liquid chlorine.  His pool is producing it on the spot.  He will, however, have to haul in 50-pounds bags of salt.

All chlorines are salt-based AKA sodium chloride.  Sam swims in chlorine.

Meanwhile back to my shameless self promotion. With my system you will swim in mineral water and be totally chlorine free.  Check out   BTW, the Riptide Alchemy Pool Sanitization system is on sale!

If you have more questions about salt pools, feel free to contact me.

Leaky Spa Warranty. Is A Smile the Fix?

Dear Pool and Spa Master, Maybe you can advise me what to do with a warranty issue.  I purchased a very nice and expensive hot tub last year.  It has a 5-year warranty.  I say “warranty” with much consternation.  Neither the dealer nor the manufacturer will HONOR MY WARRANTY and I’m pissed.  There was a leak where the pump and electric motor meet. A technician repaired the leak and said they sent the “bad” ring to the manufacturer.  I got a bill for a $12 part and a $75 labor.   When I protested the charge, the dealer presented a copy of a letter from the manufacturer that said the leak was my fault because of improper chemistry.  How could this be?  Ellen F. in New York.


Ellen, I’ve represented the same spa manufacturer that you referred to here, and I have sold truckload after truckload of their spas, as well as other brands.  This leak at your pump and motor is common and it is nine-times out of ten  because of incorrect water chemistry balance.  To clarify, the warranty comes from the individual manufactures of the spa’s parts.  For instance, your spa’s motor was built by “Acme Motors,” and the pump was built by “XYZ Pump Works,” then purchased by your spa’s manufacturer and assembled at their factory.  That said, when a leak occurs at the mechanical pump seal (“bad ring”), it is usually caused by either too high or too low total alkalinity and/or pH–that means your water is either too alkaline or too acidicWhen your water is too alkaline, the minerals in the water grind the pump seal down.  Conversely, when your water is too acidic, the acidic water destroys the pump seal.   Now, if that pump seal leaked from day one of your spa’s installation, that is a warranty issue.  But when it occurs 18 months later, it reeks of consumer water mismanagement.    (Regarding the labor charge, review your warranty because after a year, labor is not usually included as part of your warranty.)

j0323766 Oft times the dealer will work with you because this kind of repair is easy with an inexpensive part replacement.  But I’d bet that your dealer is strapped right now, and if you came in fuming and finger pointing, he/she might have decided not to cut you any slack.  All of us are a tad more stressed than before:  You with the unexpected charge and your dealer counting dimes to keep the business afloat.  A smile and pleasant approach will get most consumers much further along with these kind of issues.  What would Pool And Spa Master do as the consumer?  I’d ask the dealer for a full explanation of how I could better manage my water, and maybe note that you do have friends and family that love your spa, and just maybe, that dealer will toss in something to take away the sting of an unexpected charge.

EWWWW, That Smell. That Chlorine Smell.

Roseanne from Kansas City, Mo,  was apparently appalled by my last post–the one about peeing in the pool.  She emailed the following question:

Dear Pool Master.  Your post about urinating in public swimming pools was disgusting.  Who does this? If you didn’t have the scientific proof noted, I would have screamed, “BALDERDASH!”  Every Thursday with a group of senior ladies, we exercise in our indoor public pool.( I’m sure these ladies would never let something slip from their bodies!  They are real ladies.)  And because our public pool has such a strong odor of chlorine, I’m going to assume that this bladder cancer and asthma threat in a urine-infested swimming pool doesn’t hold weight here. 

Please don’t put in a picture of senior ladies in a pool and ask who is the urine-spilling criminal.  Thanks.  Roseanne.

__________________________Roseanne's Swimming Club

Roseanne: The good news is that I could not find any free photos of lovely retired women swimming.  That bad news:  incontinence.  Sorry.

The really really bad news is: “That chlorine smell” is not chlorine that you are smelling.  You are smelling chloramine.  Chloramine is a by products of chlorine for disinfection and ammonia from human sources.  A healthy dose of chloramine will present your with any or all of these symptoms:  cough, eye irritation, and rash.  

If you think I’m full of hooey, go to this website, or just check out the quote I lifted from the site:



Chronic chloramines and the associated smell and irritation are caused by a variety of factors. Despite what many swimmers assume, the major cause of these problems is too little free chlorine rather than too much! “Free” chlorine, used to kill germs and help prevent the spread of waterborne illnesses, also oxidizes natural waste products from swimmers, including sweat, body oil, urine and other ammonia-nitrogen compounds. If the free chlorine levels are not sufficiently high to oxidize these nitrogenous wastes, the free chlorine combines with them to form noxious cholarmine compounds…

The Fix-It

“Shock” more often with free chlorine. Shock treatment involves raising the free chlorine level to at least 10 times higher than the combined chlorine level.

 Weekly is best for most pools but it may be required even more often for extremely heavily used pools.


Use a non-chlorine shocking agent like the monopersulfate-based oxidizers. These reduce chloramines without adding chlorine.

Many pool operators find alternating between traditional chlorine and the non-chlorine shocking agents works best.


You get the point, and the writer of the above link is dead-on with the reason why that “chlorine-smell” is a baaaaaad mamma-jamma, Momma. 

Gee, if public pools could use my chlorine-free disinfection system, this chloramine  business would so not relate.  But that’s just another blatant self-promotion.  If you are curious, check it out at

BTW, just got in some great questions about spa repairs and leaking motors.  I’ll get those answers up ASAP.


Peeing in the Swimming Pool & Bladder Cancer! My Worst Nightmare.

Which kids are peeing in the pool?
Which kids are peeing in the pool?


Let it be known that I DO NOT SWIM IN PUBLIC POOLS.  The following news piece recently crossed my desk and ripped open my nightmare of being tossed into a public swimming pool that’s not blue, but a golden urine-yellow.  That’s right, folks, good, old-fashioned pee in the pool.

That combined with everyone else’s body yuck, and the fact that most public pool maintenance dudes are not necessarily the swiftest water skimmers, I DO NOT SWIM IN PUBLIC POOLS.  BTW I’m an expert swimmer.

Here’s the abbreviated version of a sciencedaily March 31 report:

Champaign, IL — A 10-year study on disinfection byproducts (DBPs) reports on the connection between certain DBPs in drinking water that are “emerging” in scientific studies and their carcinogenic potential, according to a March 31 ScienceDaily report based on a University of Illinois press release.


The study, which began with a grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has found that iodine-containing DBPs are much more toxic and genotoxic than other DBPs now regulated by EPA, according to University of Illinois geneticist Michael Plewa, the study’s author.


Plewa said another “somewhat surprising” discovery concerns nitrogen-containing DBPs. “Disinfectant byproducts that have a nitrogen atom incorporated into the structure are far more toxic and genotoxic, and some even carcinogenic, than those DBPs that don’t have nitrogen. And there are no nitrogen-containing DBPs that are currently regulated,” Plewa said…


In addition to drinking-water DBPs, Plewa said that swimming pools and hot tubs are DBP reactors. “You’ve got all of this organic material called ‘people’ — and people sweat and use sunscreen and wear cosmetics that come off in the water. People may urinate in a public pool. Hair falls into the water and then this water is chlorinated. But the water is recycled again and again so the levels of DBPs can be tenfold higher than what you have in drinking water,” Plewa said, noting that studies show higher levels of bladder cancer and asthma in people who do a lot of swimming.



This brings me back to shameless promotion of my chlorine-free sanitization system for pools.  Dude, it really works and you can laugh in the face of that “chlorine-smell.”


Alternatives can be a good thing.

Scale Build-Up On Pool Tiles–A Case of Mini-Stalagmites & Elbow Grease

Dateline Brian.   Please, help! I’ve tried everything to remove hard water build-up from the tile around my pool. I’ve had no luck, and I’m at a loss.  Thought you might have an answer for me.

Well Brian, the Pool and Spa Master does have an answer–actually several answers.  Sadly, they all involve the age old cure for most issues—elbow grease.

The reason for the scale build-up is either high TDS (over 3000 ppm) or your chemistry  (our friends, total alkalinity and pH)  has been off the mark for a while. 

First get your TDS tested.  If your TDS is high, you might have to consider draining your pool. You can also do a half-drain and refill.   Remember: If mini-stalagmites are building up on your tile, your plumbing is likely seeing the same evolution. You must also get that total alkalinity and pH balanced. 

Scale Build-Up On Your Pool's Tiles Can Also Develop Within Your Pool's Plumbing
Scale Build-Up On Your Pool's Tiles Can Also Develop Within Your Pool's Plumbing

Once this is done, get  a pumice stone, and a product from your pool store called, Bio-Dex 300 Tile Cleaner.  Once at your pool, grease up your elbow, offer your buddies some free beverages, and provide them with the same grease for their elbows.  Engage those now-greasy elbows and begin scrubbing the tile crud in 2-foot sections. 

Do you use liquid chlorine?  This can also contribute to scale build-up on your pool tiles.  Why?  Just one-gallon of chlorine contains a whole bunch of salt, which will add to your TDS issues.

Now let me slip in this purely self-promoting note:  My chlorine-free pool sanitization system found at, will alleviate the chlorine business and also keep the salt out of your water and make your swimming experience much healthier.

E-mail me back if you need additional information.

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