Biofilm – Your Hot Tub’s Dirty Little Secret
A Healthy Tub
Much like your body’s overall state of physical health, your hot tub’s cleanliness has much to do with things you can’t see. Your hot tub water’s appearance and the visible surfaces of your tub are only part of the equation. You may see clear water and clean surfaces in your tub, which are good things! However, the state of your spa’s plumbing could be another story. Over time, even the most well-maintained tubs will end up with a buildup of organic debris. This debris is known in the spa industry as biofilm. So, what is biofilm? Do you need to be concerned about biofilm in your spa? And lastly, what can you do about getting rid of biofilm from your spa?
Biofilm is a gradual buildup of organic and inorganic material. These include bodily oils, lotions, bacteria, water mold, minerals, and even dirt. These contaminants accumulate on the inner surfaces of the plumbing lines and multiply over time. This biofilm can eventually lead to the necessity to use a greater amount of sanitizer. You will also struggle with cloudy water, waterline scum lines/deposits, and foul smells that linger no matter how much or how often you shock the tub. Waters Choice enzymes help immensely in avoiding these issues AND you don’t have to shock your hot tub.
Definition of Biofilm – a thin, slimy film of bacteria that adheres to a surface. SOUNDS PRETTY GROSS, HUH?!
4 Stages of Biofilm
Biofilm begins and progresses over four stages: attachment, colonization, growth, and distribution. In the first stage of “attachment”, this debris simply begins to adhere to surfaces. Attaching happens beyond the reach of your normal cleaning routine, such as the inner wall of your hot tub’s plumbing.
In the next stage, “colonization”, this biofilm accumulates in the same spot(s) where there is already some attachment. As a colony of biofilm accumulates it begins to grow thicker and starts protecting itself from the effect of sanitizers. It is at this stage we see growth of the biofilm in their little colonies.
During the 3rd stage of “growth”, biofilm begins to be shielded as it becomes thicker and more resistant to oxidizing chemicals. Then once the colony has reached a large enough size the bacteria and debris present move to the “distribution” stage. At this point, the biofilm is multiplied and spread to other areas/surfaces.
Once these 4 stages have happened, you’ve reached “critical mass” in the fight to keep your tub clean. As mentioned above you may begin to have unpleasant symptoms that are not easily or quickly cured.
What to do
Here’s what you can do to get rid of it and more importantly what you can do to prevent biofilm from progressing through its stages and causing problems. Perform a regular flush of your spa with a high quality purge product such as Waters Choice Clean & Drain.
For typical residential hot tubs, one 1 oz. tube of Waters Choice Clean & Drain should be added to the water to dislodge and remove all biofilm from the tub. Be sure to remove your tub’s filter cartridge(s) before adding the Clean & Drain and running the jets, as the whole point is to get the biofilm loose and free-floating in the water. The filter(s) can remain floating freely in the tub while the purge is taking place. After the tub has run for at least one hour, you will want to pump all of the water out. While the tub is emptying, you need to wipe down the shell with a soft cloth. Don’t let it dry on the shell or it will require some elbow grease (hard work) to get the gunk off. Clean & Drain is a very powerful and effective purge product.
Unless you’re using a completely enzyme-based sanitizing system, like Waters Choice, you’ll want to repeat this flush every 3-4 months when changing water. If you are using Waters Choice enzymes, you only need to perform this flush of your spa plumbing lines approximately one time per year. Here’s why you should use enzymes in your hot tub.
So flush your spa lines regularly, banish biofilm, and you can rest assured that you won’t be sharing your relaxing soak in the tub with the critters shown above.