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What Chemicals Do You Use to Start Up a Hot Tub?

At Master Spa Parts we often get the question, “What chemicals do you use to start up a hot tub?” But, it’s not just a matter of what chemicals to use, but how to use them. "What can go wrong?" you ask. As it turns out — plenty.

If you clean your jet lines after say, balancing your pH, you could find yourself going around and around wondering why you have algae issues and your hot tub’s pH isn’t balancing out. That is why it’s important to follow the steps in a particular order so you are no re-contaminating your hot tub.

With all this in mind, Master Spa Parts has numbered the steps you need to take in order to set up your hot tub the right way so you can spend more time enjoying your hot tub and less time being a spa-side chemist. We will also recommend some customer-favorite products that have received the highest ratings on the Master Spa Parts website.

During the process of starting up your hot tub, you may want to ensure your pump is firmly connected, there are no loose connections or fittings, the heater is plugged in, and any drain valves are closed. And, if you are working around any areas with electrical components, be sure to turn off power to the hot tub first. So let's get started with the first step, shall we?

Steps to Starting Up Your Hot Tub

  1. Rinse Your Hot Tub

    The first thing to do is rinse your hot tub. Even with a cover tied down over the winter, your hot tub will still accumulate bacteria. This is one of the easiest steps. Simply attach a garden hose and spray down the shell.

  2. Clean the Filters

    If by mistake you left your filters in the hot tub when it was closed, you will want to make sure they receive a thorough cleaning. If you have a spray nozzle attached to your garden hose, this should do the trick. But, to really get into those pleats you may want to consider a product such as the Filter Flosser.

  3. Clean Out the Jet Lines

    This is an important, but often overlooked step. Before you get to work adding chemicals and balancing your tub’s water, you first want to clean out the jet lines from all the algae, bacteria, and other contaminants that have built up over the past few months. To do this, use a product such as Proline Jet Line Cleaner. This will clear out all those “nasties” so they don’t get in the way of balancing the water later on.

  4. Drain Your Hot Tub

    Drain your hot tub by attaching a garden hose to your drain valve or to drain faster use a hot tub drain pump.

  5. Pre-Filter the Water

    If you live in area that has a considerable amount of heavy metals, lime, and other contaminants (or you’re on well water) then you would be greatly served by pre-filtering the water. (Don’t overthink the “pre-filter” designation; you are simply filtering the water before it enters your hot tub.) One of our favorite pre-filter products is the Pure Fill Spa Pre-Filter by Blue Water.

    Be sure to watch your tub while it is being filled to ensure you don't overfill.

  6. Remove Air from the Lines

    From air locks to pump issues, air bubbles in your hot tub’s plumbing can lead to a whole range of issues. How you go about this step is dependent on your hot tub’s manufacturer and model; some have self-priming features, others don’t. Therefore, you should consult your owner’s manual to find out how to go about completing this essential step.

  7. Balance and Sanitize the Tub Water

    Now that you have fresh, pre-filtered water in your hot tub and you’ve rinsed off the filter, now is the time to balance and sanitize your tub’s water by adding the start-up chemicals. But, before you begin, make sure your hot tub’s water reaches a temperature of at least 82º Fahrenheit. The heat of the water will help the pH balancers and other chemicals to dissolve more effectively.

    The best way to start up your hot tub is with a Hot Tub Chemical Starter Kit. This all-in-one kit includes all the essential items you will need to start up your hot tub, including:

    • AquaChek 6in1 Test Strips (50 Strips)
    • Granular pH Minus (2 lbs.)
    • Granular pH Plus (1.5 lbs.)
    • Granular Non-Chlorine Shock (2 lbs.)
    • Liquid Prevent II (16 oz.)
    • Granular Chlor-Aid (2 lbs.)
  8. Keep Pump Running for 10 Minutes

    After all the chemicals have been added to your hot tub’s water, all that’s left is to run the pump on high for a minimum of 10 minutes. This will help the chemicals mix properly and ensure more reliable results once you go to test the water.

  9. Run a Water Test

    To ensure the chemistry of your hot tub is correct, sample the water’s alkalinity by using a test strip such as AquaChek Test Strips (found in MSP’s Hot Tub Chemical Starter Kit). These test strips make it easy to check the balance of your hot tub’s pH and chlorine levels.

Now that you’ve started up your hot tub, just be sure to cover it when it’s not in use and to regularly test the water. And be sure to soak up as much hot tub fun as you can!