In my last blog we discussed organic contamination and how it affects your pool, spa, home, really anywhere water, bacteria and a surface come in contact. It is an important new discovery that is helping us understand how to keep water clean, safe, crisp, clear and provide a pleasant experience. You can see a newly posted, short video about organic contamination and Sphagnum moss on our website.
How do I get my spa, or pool to be organic contamination free and keep it that way?
So the question remains, how do I get my spa, or pool to be organic contamination free and keep it that way? First, if you haven’t done anything to remove the organic contamination or keep it from forming, then be assured you have organic contamination on every surface. It is very difficult to remove organic contamination once it has formed.
The best example of how difficult it is to remove organic contamination is the tartar on you teeth. That is organic contamination and all the brushing, flossing, and mouthwash use will not remove the tartar. Your dental hygenist has to scrape it off with sharp (an often painful) tools. It would take toxic acid to remove the organic contamination. That would destroy your teeth and gums along with the organic contamination. Scrubbing the surface of your pool or spa might remove some of the organic contamination, but not all of it. If it isn’t totally removed, any remaining will re-infect all the surfaces and restore the organic contamination in hours. All the interior surfaces of your spa or pool are impossible to clean.
Spa System Flush
I know of one chemical that is EPA certified to remove organic contamination. We tested it. It did remove some of the organic contamination, but it off gassed a chemical or chemicals that were very toxic to my lungs and all those in the same room. We found a spa flush that claims to have an effect on organic contamination and it does break organic contamination free from the spa and doesn’t cause any severe side effects. This is supplied in our SpaNaturally® kit (Spa System Flush).
Soon we will be releasing a new solution that is even better at removing organic contamination with no side effects. We test these products in our laboratory on organic contamination grown in cultures and then also test them in the field.
The bad news for spa owners is that they need to flush the spa to remove organic contamination whether it is new or old.
Here’s the problem: When spas are made at the factory they are tested for leaks by filling them with water from tanks in the factory. organic contamination grows in these tanks so the water transfers bacteria and organic contamination to the new spa. It is impossible to remove all the water from the spa. It is then shrink wrapped and stored. Everywhere there is water there is organic contamination that dries and hardens as the spa is stored.
brand new spa being flushed!
When you refill your new spa the dried organic contamination comes back to life and spreads throughout your spa water. Another fact is that the more jets in your spa, the more organic contamination there is also. Each jet is fed by a tube made of plastic that comes from a manifold. The more jets, the more pipe, the more places where water collects and forms organic contamination.
I proved this by using a long scope like those I used to use for colonoscopy. In a new spa, the tubes leading to the jets were clean until they curved. Along the bottom arc of the curve the organic contamination started and continued until the tube curved back either up or down.
Another place where organic contamination forms is in the housing of pumps. These are wet tested in the factory and have the same problem as the spa jets. In fact, I recently had to replace my circulation pump in my own spa that is organic contamination free. Three days later the water became cloudy and started to foam. I flushed the spa and black organic contamination came out with the flush. After flushing the spa returned to crystal clear water, with no foaming. I then checked other pumps and found black organic contamination in the pump housings.
Heat also affects organic contamination formation. Bacteria and organic contamination are very temperature sensitive. The closer the temperature of the water gets to 100°F the higher the bacteria growth rate and therefore the more organic contamination forms. Lower temperatures inhibit (but don’t stop) bacterial growth.
How much flushing is needed?
Depending on the amount of organic contamination in the spa, more than one flush may be needed to completely remove all the dried biofilm. I needed to flush my new spa seven times (using our current flush) before it stayed clean and clear.
You are probably asking the same question I did while this problem was being understood and researched. Could the spa manufacturers make a organic contamination free spa? I know they can. We have been working with spa manufacturers to flush their water tanks and treat the water with moss so they don’t transfer organic contamination to the spa when it is wet tested. So far, the results are very encouraging. When we flush the new spas, very little organic contamination is removed even after months of storage.
In review. organic contamination coats all spa and pool surfaces in contact with water. It is very difficult to remove. Using the right chemicals and system can remove organic contamination. All spas, new and old must be flushed. On the horizon, biofilm free new spas are possible.
Next, I’ll talk about pools and preventing organic contamination from forming.
David Knighton, MD