Tips for Opening Your Spa after Long-Term Non-Use

If your spa has not been used for a long time then there is an important procedure to follow before using it again. The first step to making your spa ready is to clean it, including draining all of the water out.

After draining, scrub the spa surface gently and let it dry.  Clean or replace the filter cartridges and let them dry as well.  Most importantly check the electronic systems and verify they are working well.  Contact a professional if repairs are needed.

Spas can pose a greater challenge in maintenance than pools because warm water encourages bacteria growth and chlorine loses its effectiveness faster.  Steam from the spa allows bacteria to spread even faster since bacteria are present in the steam and can enter your body through nose and mouth.

Maintaining Your Spa

  1. Regularly check your spa’s chemical and mineral levels. Test strips are excellent for this purpose. Test strips will provide readings on calcium hardness, total alkalinity, pH, bromine, chlorine, and total hardness of the spa water. Test strips are ideal because they are readily available, easy to use and read, mess-free, and some test strips have 6-in-1 readings.
  1. Do not add all needed chemicals at once to the water. The correct method is to add each chemical one by one and allow a gap of 2 hours between them. This will maximize the effectiveness of each chemical and allows them to disburse evenly through the water. Always measure the chemicals before adding them and keep the filter system running, and always follow safety procedures. We highly recommend wearing safety glasses, gloves, and protective clothing!
  1. Alkalinity is tested first. Preferred alkalinity is 120 ppm.  To balance it, add either sodium bicarbonate or sodium bisulfate. If the alkalinity of the water is above 120 ppm, you should add sodium bisulfate to bring it down. If the alkalinity is below 120 ppm, add sodium bicarbonate to bring it up.
  1. The next test is for chlorine and bromate levels. The chlorine and bromate levels should be maintained between 1.5 to 3 ppm. Chlorine dissolves very quickly in the hot water of spas while bromate dissolves slowly, checking the levels of chlorine and bromate every other day during peak usage periods is a good practice.

Important Note: Do not over-sanitize your spa with excess chlorine; doing so can damage the spa’s equipment or cover.

  1. Now test for the calcium hardness level. The calcium hardness level for a plaster-finish spa is 250-450 ppm. For an acrylic-finish spa, it should stay between 100-250 ppm. After maintaining calcium hardness maintain the pH level. Ideal pH should stay between 7.2 – 7.8.
  1. Finally, it is time to shock your spa. Use the appropriate shock depending on what type of sanitizer used. Ask a professional if you are unsure.  Shock should be added every week to keep the water clean and clear.

Filter cartridges should be cleaned every 2 weeks. Clean filter cartridges remove dirt and debris from the water and help to keep your spa filter system running properly.  To clean the filter cartridge, simply remove it from the filter and use a hose to rinse out accumulated dirt.  Specially designed brushes that attach to a garden hose are available and can be helpful in this task.  If the filter cartridge is damaged, torn or frayed, it will need to be replaced.

Intex spa filter cartridge replacements, Filbur spa filter cartridge replacements, and Unicel spa filter cartridge replacements are excellent options to consider when shopping for new cartridges.

Spa covers needs proper cleaning as well and a good schedule for cleaning is about once a month. Be cautious to not use harsh or abrasive cleansers as they could damage the cover. If you have a vinyl spa cover then conditioning it after cleaning will extend its life.


The chemical levels in your spa water should be checked and balanced regularly. High levels of any chemical can make your spa equipment corrode and if the chemical levels are too low then the result will be bacterial proliferation.

Unlike opening a swimming pool that may be closed during winter months and requires a lot of maintenance work before opening, spas can be used all year long so regular maintenance is crucial and frequent cleaning is required.