How To Balance The PH In A Hot Tub


In theory, owning a hot tub means you have a place where you could relax, chill, have a drink and simply forget everything around you, letting the problems, worries and tasks wait until you regain your energy and refresh yourself. But the practical part is a bit different.

In order to do all that, you’ll need to maintain your hot tub water healthy. Too low or too high, pH level could cause bacteria development and/or corrosion. Trying to elevate it can be quite exausting, and no matter how hard you try, your test strips show low or high values, while your water becomes cloudy and shows signs of scaling. This can drive you crazy, but before you lose your mind trying to figure it out and decide to cover it up for goods, this article should help you put the pH level in your hot tub back to normal and return to your relaxing routine in a no-time.

Hot Tube pH – What You Need To Know

During your high school chemistry classes, you’ve probably heard about acids and bases. As a reminder, the solution (chemical and water mix) with high hydrogen ions is acidic, and if it has less ions than plain water, it is basic. Your goal is to get your pH level to seven, which means your water is perfectly neutral. If your number is bigger, your water is more basic, and if number is lower than seven, it means it’s more acidic.

Measuring with test strips or a test meter will show you how acidic or basic the water in your hot tub, and the perfect pH level should be somewhere between 7.2 and 7.6 parts per million (or ppm). If it shows anywhere outside this range, this is the sign your water is not healthy and you’ll need to act up on it to remove any symptoms that could cause damage to your tub and your skin.

If pH Level Is Too Low

When the pH level drops under 7.2, it is time to react. This means the water has become acidic, which will affect your sanitizers and prevent them from working properly, which means every bath session is highly risky as there are lots of bacteria that could be harmful.

Some of possible bacteria you could meet are pseudomonas aeruginosa (it causes the hot tub folliculitis), or legionella (bacteria behind Legionnaires Disease), but there are also others. This type of water can also be harmful to spa components, as it could cause corrosion, and you’ll have to replace them if you let it stay untouched for too long.

If pH Level Is Too High

If your meter shows the value above 7,6, this, as stated above, means your water is basic. This type of water is usually poorly sanitized. This type of water also can form scale and let it build on the surface. It means not only your pH level is high, but also your calcium. Another symptom is cloudy water.

Total Alkalinity – Why You Need To Worry About This

This term describes the ability of the solution to neutralize the acids or buffer them if needed. The total alkalinity serves as a buffering tool for your pH level in your hot tub by stabilizing pH level while you adjust TA, risk free from fear that the other chemicals will cause additional problems. This is also the first thing you’ll have to do when changing any other chemicals – measuring and adjusting total alkalinity. The range you’re looking for is between 125 ppm and 150 ppm.

But be careful when adjusting total alkalinity and try not to overdo it! Add small doses, one by one, and test the water. But first, allow it to circulate through your tub and reach all parts before you test it. Once the TA level is good, start to adjust the pH level. And if lucky, your pH will already be in desired place just by taking care of alkalinity.

How To Fix pH Levels In Hot Tub

If the water in your hot tub is acidic, then you’ll need to add basic chemicals that will increase the pH, and if your water is basic, you’ll need the acids that will lower the pH level. But it is not as simple as it sounds – just taking care of your TA, then switching to the pH and resolving it one by one, as some chemicals tend to cause the TA levels to drop or rise, so it can be a bit tricky, but once you learn it, it is not so hard.

How To Raise Only Ph

The easiest task is the need to raise only your pH level, without doing anything related to the total alkalinity level. There is one product for this purpose, magnesium oxide. It can slightly raise your TA level, but it is minimal. Although it is not so probable you’ll have this kind of situation, because having low pH without the need to do anything to your TA is really rare, but if it does happen to you, look for the products with magnesium oxide as active ingredient.

How To Raise pH and TA

This is one of the most common needs, and to solve this problem you’ll need the products that have active ingredient sodium bicarbonate. Or, as most of the population calls it – baking soda. That thing that eliminates the funny smells from your fridge. The reason for its spread usage in both alkalinity and pH increasers lays in the fact that it helps pH and TA levels rise pretty easily.

It is useful information to know that sodium bicarbonate has stronger effect on alkalinity than on pH, so if you recently had to lower your pH and the alkalinity level also went down, use one of these to raise it up while keeping the pH level under control and without affecting it too much.

How To Lower Your pH

The main ingredient and the active one in most of the pH decrease products is sodium bisulfate. It also lowers the TA, so it is quite possible you’ll need something to increase it. But don’t worry, it also serves as pH stabilizer, so it won’t be so tricky levelling them.

Alternative for this is muriatic acid. Use this only if you need to, because it requires extra caution, and you’ll have to wear protective glasses and chemical-resistant gloves. First you’ll have to dilute it, add it to your water, aerate it using your jets, and then leaving it overnight to do its work, before testing it again.

The Fresher, The Better


If you find it too hard to achieve the right levels of pH and TA, the solution is to drain your spa and refill it. Day before you drain it, use line flush and turn your jets on, let it clean any possible remains that could harm your new water. Then, when your hot tub is empty, clean the interior.

Possible Hose Problems And Solutions

When the time for the refill comes, you’ll most likely than not use regular hose attached to the outdoor spigot to pour the water in. And it doesn’t matter where you get it from, the chlorine level could be high, or some other metals could be problematic and cause the water to get hard. There are ways to limit or prevent it from happening and keep the water chemistry balance far less complicated.

Hose Filter Is Your Friend

In your store buy the in-line carbon or charcoal filter. It is easy to add to your hose, and will remove any possible negative ingredients from water. This kind of filters are used for RV water lines and keep them clean enough to drink it from the tap. Most of the filter types have connectors, and attaching them can be done by hand.

Metal Sequestrant Will Help

Adding this additive will suspend any metal contaminants in your water, preventing them from settling on the surface and causing the stain. This will not affect your pH, but it will make it easier to control and prevent some of the metals from making problems. Use it in dosage recommended by the manufacturer before balancing the water.

Problem Prevention – Keep Everything Clean

Simple but useful thing to do to minimize the possibility of chemicals problem is – cleaning. If your lines, filter and water are clean will prevent most of the problems from showing. Also, don’t leave the water for too long in your hot tube. Change it at least every three months. But if you use it frequently, you’ll maybe need to do it even more often.

Also, as soon as you see something floating, which is not intended to be there, remove it as soon as possible from your tub. Also, getting a hot tub cover can be helpful as it will prevent any objects from falling inside your pool.

Don’t Forget About The Goal!

Yes, we know, this is really boring and it can be unbelievably frustrating being unable to jump into your hot tub, just lay down and relax while you watch it during the process, but if your morale drops down, remember – you’re doing this for health! As soon as you’re done, you’ll be back in it. But don’t rush it or skip anything. Do what you need to do to keep it in a good condition, and it will pay you back. If you decide to ignore the signs that scream there is something wrong, you could end up with damaged hot tube parts or even your health.

And treating both of these if they get worse is really expensive, so it is by far better option to invest in maintenance, than to try, treat it and hope for the best.

What To Do If You’re Stuck

If you’ve tried everything possible, and simply can’t find the way on how to do it properly, visit the local water gear or pool shop. There you’ll probably find some guidelines on how to act and what to do, so simply follow step by step guides. And if you can’t do that or your nerves are at their end, you could ask someone there to recommend you a professional, or simply ask for advice.

Whatever happens, remember – think clearly, don’t panic and don’t flip out. Save your nerves for some other and bigger problems, this one is easily solvable, you just need the push in the right way, if you can’t figure it out by yourself.

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Taking care of your hot tub can be a real drag, but once you finish, you’ll be thankful and happy you’re able to enjoy it again. If you have your own routine that works for your tub, don’t change it. And if not, read this and feel free to ask for help, if you need it!

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!