Dealers face challenges, suggest solutions for swim spa valet service
By Michelle L. Cramer
Swim spas are often used for longer durations than a typical hot tub, making them a prime gathering place for debris, says Joseph Stone, owner of Swim Fitness in Rancho Cordova, California. Debris is, of course, a nuisance for any body of water, but for a swim spa in particular, cleaning out debris can be quite the hassle.
“The debris has to get tumbled up high enough that it gets pulled into the skimmer,” says Ray Klubnick, owner and president of Hot Tub Liquidators and Coast Spas of Las Vegas. The problem with debris in swim spas, he adds, is that the water is so deep, the debris often can’t get high enough. “Then the industry will misrepresent itself by saying that the drains pull in the dirt. They do, only to kick it right back out the jets.”
Klubnick says that when he goes to customers’ houses to evaluate a swim spa for sale (his company refurbishes used swim spas), the homeowners often have it intentionally running so it looks clean — kicking the dirt around so you don’t see it settling on the bottom. “The industry does not have an answer, stopping short of getting a wet vac and trying to target the dirt off the floor,” he says of the lack of cleaning tools available specifically for swim spas. “It’s really frustrating.”
Thomas Rosander, president and CEO for Sonoma Hot Tubs & Pool Supplies in Sonoma, California, agrees that the depth of water in a swim spa can be challenging for removing debris. His solution: Water Tech Pool Blaster Volt FX-8Li with a telescoping pool pole.
While Heavenly Times Hot Tubs in Dillon, Colorado, doesn’t have many challenges cleaning swim spas, the larger body of water does require more chemicals, says owner Michael Swartz. “Our customers that use traditional sanitation methods require the use of two floating chemical dispensers” Swartz says. “We have noticed some gathering of debris in the wells of larger bodied swim spas, but we simply use the [Polaris] SpaWand to remove what does get in.”
Stone says that swim spa use keeps the water moving enough to get debris to the filters, in his experience. “Also, we use both simple manual or hand held vacuums that easily clean any bottom material,” Stone says. “But the best experience we have had both using and selling to customers is a rechargeable cordless vacuum that’s easy to use with no hoses needed and cleanable, easy to remove filters.” His recommended brand is the Water Tech Pool Blaster Catfish vacuum.
When compared to the hot tub valet services offered by EnviroSmarte Hot Tub & Swim Spa Center in Charlottesville, Virginia, owner Richard Pleasant says swim spas require much more time to clean.
“They are more difficult, since a good valet service will require getting [into the swim spa] to clean it,” Pleasant says. “[We use] long car wash type brushes, diluted hydrogen peroxide for spot cleaning, microfiber towels and a pool net [for debris]. Having the customer pretreat the water the day before the valet service can make the job easier and smoother. We do not recommend and have not used any automatic pool vacuum products on swim spas.”
For Jamil Toubassi, owner of Flint Hills Spas in Wichita, Kansas, the tool of choice for pesky swim spa debris is a MagicVac with a telescoping net. He says the added time required to do swim spa cleaning makes the service more expensive than services on a typical hot tub.
“In cases where we may be draining and refilling the swim spa, it typically stretches over two days versus and hour or two for a hot tub,” Toubassi says, adding that Flint Hills service schedule has to accommodate swim spas accordingly, which can sometimes be a challenge.
However, Pleasant says that, since swim spas do not have to be drained as often, the cost to service them balances out. “Swim spas do not have to be drained and cleaned but every six to 12 months, versus three to four months for a hot tub,” Pleasant says. “So annual cost [to the business] is roughly the same.”
Pleasant adds that, if the swim spa does not have enough water movement for debris circulation, then it may be a design issue. He’s generally not seen the debris issue with ATV swim spas from Marquis Spas or Tidalfit swim spas from Artesian. Klubnick says that the dual cyclonic filtration systems in Coast swim spas makes them impervious to the debris issue.
Overall, Stone says that water management and chemistry are key to successfully cleaning swim spas. “Water issues are related to most service issues,” Stone says. “Using appropriate spa chlorine — dichlor — is extremely important; do not use trichlor [which is] pool chlorine. Ensure filters are appropriately cleaned using an acid-based cleaner to get the oils out of a filter set. Take care of the water and most future service issues are minimized.”
Polaris SpaWand PRO
- Comes complete with interchangeable nozzles specially designed to clean debris from floors, steps and the water surface
- Provides quick, spot-cleaning of the spa
- Weighs 3 pounds
- SpaWand PRO XL available in extended length
Magic Plastics MagicVac
- Operated by placing your thumb over the ergonomic air hole located at the top of the Vac, submerging it near the area to be cleaned then releasing your thumb to trap debris
- Clear, UV stabilized chamber and built-in, removable debris filter
- Able to reach areas in excess of 7 feet away with the telescoping aluminum pole
- Weights less than 2 pounds
Water Tech Pool Blaster Volt FX-8Li
- Attaches to any standard telescopic pool pole
- Lithium ion battery technology, runs up to 60 minutes on full charge
- Equipped with a 12.75-inch vacuum head and (2) reusable filter bags
- Remove the vacuum head and use the included head and hose attachment to get into tight corners and crevices