Though they’ve now been around for over 25 years, swim spas remain misunderstood by many consumers. Today, we will help clear things up by dispelling a few of the most common swim spa myths that we have come across.
Swim Spas Require Constant Maintenance
One of the biggest myths about swim spas is that they’re always dirty, or at least that they require constant maintenance to stay clean. The truth is that swim spas do require constant cleaning to stay clear and safe to use, but the swim spa’s filtration system does almost all of this work for you. There are two places that this myth seems to come from:
- People that were sold on a “zero maintenance swim spa” and were disappointed to find that out that they still needed to do some work.
- Those that have set their filtration times too low in an effort to save money.
When properly set, your swim spa’s filtration system will clean the water at least 2-3 times per day. If that is the case, all you should have to do to maintain clean, safe water is to regularly add sanitizer to the water and rinse the filters every few weeks. Chemically cleaning your filter every 3-4 months will also help keep them running at peak efficiency. If you notice sand or other debris settling at the bottom of your swim spa, you can also purchase specialized handheld vacuums to remove the debris quickly and easily.
Note: Consult your swim spa retailer to see how long your swim spa should run. Many swim spas require several hours to filter all of its water (though Hydropool swim spas’ Self Cleaning filtration system can accomplish this in 45 minutes or less!). No matter how good the filtration system is, all swim spas do require a minimum amount of filtration time to properly clean the water. If yours can’t seem to stay clean, it is likely operating under this threshold.
Swim Spas Are Expensive To Run
Although they are undoubtedly more expensive to run than a hot tub, when compared to other types of pools swim spas are considerably cheaper to both heat and maintain. In fact, even small pools without heaters will cost more to run than a swim spa set to a comfortable swimming temperature of 85 degrees Fahrenheit. There are two reasons for this:
- Size. Swim spas have only a fraction of the water that a regular pool has. This makes it much easier to heat and filter the water. Swim spas, therefore, run for less time than pools have to; while also using smaller (and more efficient) heaters and pumps.
- Insulation. Swim spas are designed to be used year round, even in cold Canadian winters. For this reason, swim spas are well insulated and retain their heat very well.
Though swim spas can cost several hundred dollars per month to run in the dead of winter, for most of the year they are fairly inexpensive to run. Most of our customers report an approximate energy cost of between $60-$100 per month for the majority of the year; cheaper than a standard pool pump!
Swim Spas Are Only For Fitness Enthusiasts
In the early days, swim spas were designed specifically for people who were looking for swim training. This has led some people to assume that they’re still simply small fitness pools. The truth, however, is that swim spas have evolved considerably in the 25+ years that they’ve been around.
There are now many different manufacturers that offer swim spas designed for many different purposes; from fitness enthusiasts to those simply looking for a small plunge pool, or a fun, flexible pool for their kids, or even just something that they can relax in during the summer and use as a hot tub in the colder months.
The Chlorine / Bromine In My Swim Spa Is Hurting Your Eyes
While chlorine and bromine can irritate your skin and eyes at very high levels, your swim spa should rarely, if ever, reach that level. If your eyes are bothering you either during or after swim spa use, it’s much more likely that your pH and alkalinity are to blame.
Your eyes have a pH level of around 7.5. The farther the pH of your swim spa water drifts from 7.5, the more irritating that water will be to your eyes. To prevent eye irritation, test the pH and chlorine/bromine levels of your water 2-3 times per week with a home test kit. Adjust pH as necessary. If your pH is consistently out of balance, or if your chlorine/bromine level is very high, don’t use it. Instead, go to your local swim spa store and get your water professionally tested.
Swim Spas With UV / Ozone Don’t Need Chemicals
This myth seems to have been started by some less than ethical salespeople looking to sell a couple of extra swim spas. UV and ozone systems are great for maintaining water clarity; they do not eliminate the need for chemicals, however. They simply help reduce the amount of sanitizer you need to add to the water to keep it safe.
Both UV and ozone systems rely on low levels of chlorine or bromine to kill any bacteria in the water. On top of that, neither UV nor ozone systems help to keep the water balanced. Regular water testing and balancing is still required whether or not you have one of these systems installed on your swim spa.
Recommending That Bleach / Liquid Chlorine Be Used Sanitize The Water & Clean The Cover
While bleach (aka liquid chlorine) does act as a sanitizer, do you really want to swim in bleach? Not only is bleach harsh on your skin, it can also cause damage to your swim spa’s filters, cover and jets over time.
Adding bleach to your swim spa also completely throws off the balance of the water. This means that any money you saved in sanitizer is immediately wasted on balancing chemicals while you also have to keep a closer eye on your water balance.
Bigger Pumps / More Jets Means A Better, More Powerful Swim Current
Our last swim spa myth is another one that likely started with salespeople. Many less knowledgable salespeople will sell people on the quality of their swim spa’s current system based solely on the horsepower rating of its pumps and the size of its jets.
The truth is that the horsepower rating of a swim spa pump isn’t really that useful when determining massage quality. There are two reasons for this:
- The “horsepower” of a swim spa pump is just a rating for how much energy it consumes and has nothing to do with water flow. For that reason, horsepower is actually a better measurement for how much power the pump will consume. The bigger the pump, the more energy it uses to run.
- Companies often list the “brake” horsepower of a pump, rather than it’s “continuous” horsepower. Brake horsepower is the rating given during the split second right after the pump has been turned on. The actual running horsepower of these pumps is often much less. For example, a 7BHP pump is often only 3-4HP when rated in continuous horsepower.
To really get a sense of how powerful a pump is, try to find out its gallon per minute (gpm) rating. This is the measure of how much water the pump can actually move. Well designed pumps will move a lot of water with a relatively low horsepower rating. If you want to know how good the massage is however, there’s more to it than just the size of the pump.
Designing swim spa currents is tricky. To do so requires a balance between the number, size and placement of the jets; as well as the design of the interior of the swim spa and the power coming from the jet pumps. Here are a few things that you should look for.
- Widestream jets. Wide jets distribute the current over a much wider area than round jets will. This allows you to move a bit from side to side without falling out of the current altogether.
- Electronic valves. Electronic valves (those that are operated with keypads and electronic buttons rather than knobs or switches) are much more efficient than manual valves (those that are operated with manual knobs or switches). This means that more of the power generated by the pumps will make it to the jets.
- No obstructions in the swim area. Some manufacturers will put seats or benches along the sides of the swim area. While this is nice if you’re simply looking for a pool to relax in, if you’re looking to swim against the current they can get in the way.
There are many myths and misconceptions about swim spas. Hopefully today we have helped to dispel a few of the more common ones. If you still have any questions about swim spas or swim spa ownership, contact one of our swim spa experts!