What are Chloramines?

Often, when someone thinks of a hot tub, they think of that strong chlorine smell & they think that the tub is clean because of that strong smell – well, it’s not. Most likely, that is not chlorine, it’s chloramines & they are not a good thing. You shouldn’t have red, irritated eyes around your hot tub. Ideally, your hot tub shouldn’t smell at all. Chloramines build up in a hot tub when it is improperly treated. They happen when chlorine combines with ammonia (perspiration, oils and urine) that come into the hot tub with the bathers. 

So, let’s talk about chloramines. When you check your test strip, you want to check the level of FREE CHLORINE (FCl). That is the amount of chlorine that is left in the water after it has done its job of cleaning the water. If there is ammonia in the water, the chlorine becomes locked in a battle with it and does not allow any free chlorine to be measured (or do its job).  

Keeping up with your water chemistry and testing your water is very important. So, you have added chlorine like you normally do, but no FCl reading comes up on the test strip, that’s because it’s locked up with the chloramines. Now what? The easiest way is to super-chlorinate. It sounds counter intuitive – add chlorine to break up chlorine, but it works. You will have to add enough chlorine to reach approximately 10ppm and that will break the bond that the chlorine and ammonia have. You will need to run your jets for a while to let it gas off. Then you will need to balance your water chemistry again. 

Tip #1: Shower before you use your hot tub. 

Tip #2: Use your senses before you even break out the test strips: Is the water crystal clear? No, then you need to test it and clean it properly. Does the water smell? If it smells like a strong chemical, you may have chloramines. If is a musty smell, you may have bacteria or algae. You want to fix it before you get in. 

Tip #3: Use your test strips and balance your water chemistry on a regular basis. Good levels for your hot tub: 

  • FCl – 3-5ppm 
  • Alk – 40-120ppm 
  • pH – 7.2-7.8ppm
  • Hardness – 25-150ppm (25-75ppm if you are using the ACE Salt Water Sanitizing System) 

Take good care of your hot tub so hot tub can take care of you. Happy Hot Tubbing! 

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