Low Sanitizer (Bromine and Chlorine) in Hot Tubs

Oh no! I have low sanitizer in my hot tub! In hot tub water, it is very important to ensure you have a proper sanitizer level. Sanitizer is a chemical substance that kills bacteria in hot tub water. Different types of sanitizers are chlorine and bromine. Low bromine/chlorine levels in a hot tub mean that the bromine/chlorine levels are not in the recommended range that is effective to kill bacteria. Bromine/chlorine is needed in hot tubs to make sure bacteria are kept at bay. Good bromine/chlorine also ensures water is safe to sit in. 

What happens if I have low sanitizer in my spa?

When bromine/chlorine levels are too low, hot tub water can be a dangerous place for people to sit in. Bacterial levels in hot tub water start to rise and make them unsafe. Certain bacteria in hot tub water thrive off of low sanitization and hot water. Bacteria like pseudomonas folliculitis, is highly contagious bacterium that infects the skin of people with poorly sanitized hot tubs. Also with low bromine/chlorine, water in hot tubs can turn cloudy. This gives the water an unpleasant look and can take a couple of oxidizing treatments to get rid of and cost you money that would otherwise ne be spent. Hot tub water odours can also form with a low bromine/chlorine level. This indicates that there is a build-up of organics in the water which makes the water smell unpleasant.

low chlorine test kit

How to fix low chlorine or bromine in your hot tub.

The first step in troubleshooting low sanitizer is to determine if there are problems ESTABLISHING a sanitizer level or problems MAINTAINING the level. If the challenge is getting the sanitizer level to the ideal range, oxidize (shock) your hot tub with a SANITIZING shock (if you see the word ‘oxy’ or ‘monopersulfate’ on the label, chances are it will not work – check with your product provider to ensure there is active chlorine or bromine in the product) to ensure that your bromine/chlorine is not being used up by unwanted contaminates that could be floating around in the water. Alternatively, you can add a granular bromine/chlorine according to the package directions to increase your sanitizer level to the 3-5 ppm ideal range.
If the problem is MAINTAINING a bromine or chlorine level, make sure you are using bromine/chlorine tablets to help maintain sanitizer levels. These tablets are slowing dissolving and can help keep a stable level of sanitizer in hot tubs, almost automatically. Use as many or as few tablets in a floating dispenser to keep 3-5 ppm of sanitizer as is required by your bather use and water temperature.

chlorine floater

Long story short, in order to adjust a low bromine/chlorine level the best thing to do is add more sanitizer – just add it smartly – the right product at the right time.

Smart Tabs 2

 

 

Comments

  1. heather addison

    Reply

    wat is bromie mean for my hot tub as the chlorine and bromie is low. is it the white tablets that I put in the pool

    • Kathi B

      Reply

      Hi Heather! Many people use Bromine or Chlorine Tablets (the white ones applied to either a built in dispenser or in a floater) and yes, if not enough are added to maintain the bank of sanitizer (as determined by your test kit) that is what we mean by ‘low sanitizer’. To establish a bromine or chlorine level tablets will not work – they are designed as a slow release to MAINTAIN a level that is established by either a sanitizing shock treatment or an initial dose of your granular bromine or chlorine. When in doubt, bring a water test to your local hot tub product supplier or the company you bought your hot tub from. Please let us know if we can help in any way!

  2. Ottis Williams

    Reply

    I have had TWO hot tubs this year (the first was replaced free because of leaks), and in both of them we cannot get a reading on the purple/chlorine section of the test strip except for right after we use “enhancer.” Both tubs have/had an ozonator, and both use/used the extra cleaner in the tube in one filter. Even so, every time we use a test strip, 3 of the 4 readings are perfect – only the purple one remains white (not even pale purple – white). We shock the tub weekly. I’ve asked 10 people and received widely varying answers (from “you don’t need to add chlorine or bromine because of the ozonator” to “buy a floater and keep adding it until its right). I’ve had our spa water tested three times. No one seems to know how to keep that purple reading consistent. Help?!

    • Kathi B

      Reply

      the challenge with bromine and being consistent is all about the products you use to both establish and maintain the level. All products have their own formulations and some are better at consistency than others. We are really happy to help! Can you email the photos of the products you use to watercare@aqua-tech.ca and we can put together a plan for you 🙂 – have a great day!

  3. Ottis Williams

    Reply

    I would need to go home to get the names, but we refer to them as orange cap (Spa Guard enhanced spa shock oxidizer) and purple cap (Spa Guard
    alkalinity). There is also a box of packaged chemicals for start up, empty and refill and for weekly shock called Trio from Spa Guard – is that enough info? They came up when I googled. The tub is a Jacuzzi 365. Thanks!

    • Kathi B

      Reply

      can you please email me a picture of the orange cap (with the label) as this is a product we don’t use in Canada. Also, do you have any other products? The ‘enhancer’ you mentioned? I will be helpful to hear more about what you do in a week as part of the routine – for example – add a Trio # 1 pouch at start up; add a weekly #2 Trio pouch weekly…when do you add the orange cap….what else do you add and when? It seems like the sanitizer portion of your routine is missing….

      We use the Trio here with the following process: Add the Trio #1 pouch and one #2 Trio Pouch at fresh fill. Then add Bromine Granules to establish a sanitizer level in the 3-5 ppm range of your test kit. Add Bromine Tablets to a floater or built in dispenser (your spa has a cavity in the floating weir door in front of your filter) using as many or as few as it takes, and adding more weekly, to keep the bromine reading 3-5 ppm.

      Then, weekly, fill Bromine Tablets as required and add one of the #2 weekly Trio pouches. If you ever have a great party and the bromine levels drops, add Bromine granules to re-establish the level.

      You will need to balance the total alkalinity, ph and calcium hardness levels but i don’t think your question relates to that so i will leave that for now.

      In case it helps, here are links to the 3 items i mentioned:
      https://aqua-tech.ca/store/index.php/hot-tub-chemicals/bromine-chlorine-and-sanitizers/bromine-tablets.html
      https://aqua-tech.ca/store/index.php/hot-tub-chemicals/bromine-chlorine-and-sanitizers/trio-soft-soak-brominating-granules.html
      https://aqua-tech.ca/store/index.php/hot-tub-chemicals/kits-bundles-and-chemical-free-options/trio.html

  4. Donna Lattuca

    Reply

    Hello I cannot get the free chlorine level for my hot tub to increase. On the test strip where it should be purple is always White. How do I increase the free chlorine level? Also my hot tub always Foams and has a slight smell even after draining and refilling several times. Never goes away even with defoamer. My pH level is good, my alkalinity level is good, free chlorine level isn’t even taking a reading, and stabilizer level is low. I use bromine tablets in a floater, 3 tablespoons of shock 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon of stain and scale control and one tablespoon of clarifier weekly. Please help

    • Kathi B

      Reply

      Hi Donna:
      The challenge you are having can be many things. You are using bromine in your hot tub so that is the important colour to pay attention to on your test strip. That is the colour you want to maintain in the 3-5 ppm range to ensure safe, fresh and clean water at all times. Foaming and odours are most common when the water balance is off (your total alkalinity and ph being good would indicate this is not the case, but feel free to bring us a water sample so we can make sure – test strips are not as accurate as a lab analysis) so the next thing to look at is the shock. Can you email us a photo (front label and back label) of your shock treatment so we can look at the chemical content of it to give you better advice? watercare@aqua-tech.ca

      i hope this helps for now, happy hot tubbing!

  5. Stacy Schulze

    Reply

    This looks like a great site.
    I just emptied and refilled my Master Healthy Living Spa. They told me to use half bottle of EZ Spa Cal to start up since it used an EcoPur Charge insert.
    After running for awhile everything checks out except the Free Chlorine shows white on the test strip. What next to correct. We usually use the EZ Spa Boost.

  6. Andrew Philipson

    Reply

    Hi, I have an in line brominator on my tub, I am in a very soft water area and use hot water auto fill on the tub, when the tub isn’t used the bromine level is maintained at an acceptable level but as soon as someone gets in the bromine just disappears, I don’t know how to make it so that it stays without over loading the tub when it isn’t used, any suggestions would be appreciated.

  7. Sam

    Reply

    Hi, we have a lay z spa, we are new to spas so wanted to start small. I have added the bromine tablets to the floaty (4) but the water is murky and doesn’t seem to clear. The test strip reader is white, should I add more tablets or empty the spa and start again?

  8. Amy

    Reply

    Hi there, can Bromine get rid of the hot tub foliculitis bacteria? I had hot tub foliculities a couple months ago from a different public hot tub and stupidly I made the mistake of wearing the same bathing suit in our brand new hot tub the other day. I broke out again with hot tub foliculitis. Do I need to do a whole emptying and cleaning of my new tub now or will the Bromine in my new tub get rid of it and prevent others from getting infected? I will be buying a new bathing suit!

  9. Bianca

    Reply

    I have a question. I went about two weeks without chlorinating my hot tub because I was out of town. I use the granular chlorine. Anyway, my water got very cloudy. I’ve got all the levels back to where they need to be but the water is still cloudy and has a strong smell. I would describe the smell as being acid like or maybe even alkaline like. The pH is on according to the test strip. I am always afraid to shock because the only time I have, I ended up having to drain it due to the acid levels.

    • Kathi B

      Reply

      Hi Bianca: thanks for your question. It is very hard to diagnose your challenges without a full water lab analysis. If you have a local hot tub company you work with a really recommend a full water test. From your question it sounds to me like the water is due for draining and refilling – is it more than 3 months since your last water change? Other than that, i can try to help if you email a photo of your test strip and the products you use to watercare@aqua-tech.ca

  10. Lori

    Reply

    Help! Set up new lazy spa without incident. BUT then the lid came off float w chlorine tabs. Needless to say, we are about 10x the amount. The pool store said it will take time, but the sun will take care of it? Also, the Stabilizer is like 0. I can’t find the proper way to resolve this issue.
    Thanks

  11. Ralf

    Reply

    Does HTH Start up work to establish the bromine level?
    I have low Bromine levels for the last 3 days and thought maybe the HTC Start up could bring it to the required range.
    I’m using Bromine pucks in a floater.

  12. Nichole

    Reply

    I have an inflatable lay-z-spa. My test strips are registering my free chlorine level is as high as it will register and my ppm Stabilizer is as low as it will register on the test strips. When I called the pool store they told me I needed to add more chlorine. I use chlorine rather than bromine. Is this correct? Or what do I do to solve this problem??

  13. Sandy

    Reply

    I was away from home for nearly two weeks and during that time the chlorine in my hot tub went to nearly nothing. Is it safe to add chlorine and get it back up to range and still sit in it or does it need to be drained?

    • Kathi B

      Reply

      You should be able to get the spa into proper condition again. Just add 1 or 2 bags of SpaGuard Spa Lite (based on your water volume). Keep the hot tub cover off for at least 15 minutes and then test the chlorine reading. If it is 3 to 5 ppm you are ready to soak and enjoy

  14. Andreas Bettin

    Reply

    Hi, we have a Master Spa that has the EcoPur charge in it. When we followed the directions by the dealer in terms of when to add the chemicals I found that they were under-dosed in terms of volume of water and like the others in this forum I would get low or non-existent chlorine readings (but PH, alkalinity and hardness were all in a good range). And did have cloudy water issues. I have been getting my water tested locally and they’ve been great at helping to get the levels to the proper level and suggesting the right products. My question is I know they say that the EcoPur charge is supposed to sanitize the water but do I really need this? Instead use one of those chlorine puck floaters and add some chlorine granuals after each use?

    • Kathi B

      Reply

      Hi Andreas – great question! We do not carry the EcoPur product so i would suggest using the great care and expertise of where you have bought it from.
      Sorry i could not help
      -Kathi

  15. Jan

    Reply

    Spa cloudy high phosphates no bromine despite using starter now twice. I’m ready to go back to Chlorine. Any suggestions? I am treating spa for phosphates also.

    • Kathi B

      Reply

      there are lots of great ways to treat a spa and to know the right advice, we really need to know what program you follow and what products you are adding – do you want to email us at watercare@aqua-tech.ca and we can try to help? It sounds like you are doing a lot of work that most folks don’t require when they use the Trio program….we just want to use as little chemicals and have a natural, soft and safe spa….that is EASY 🙂
      https://shop.aqua-tech.ca/products/spaguard-soft-soak-trio-spa-kit-3-month-kit

  16. Reply

    Hi,
    I’m having issues with my chlorine spiking to the top of the scale when i put in my weekly maintenance pouch. The brand is Calypso, the pouch is 31 Super S.W.A.T. clarifier and eliminator.

  17. Leon Mullis

    Reply

    The bromine container says not to store in a hot place. How hot is hot?

    • Kathi B

      Reply

      Just regular room temperature is best for storage

  18. Laura Edwards

    Reply

    So frustrated. I’ve been to the pool store twice now. Got out inflatable 160 gallon hot tub and want to get in it. Have had the bromine floater in there since Friday. This is Monday And still no bromine reading on the test strip. Have put in the bromine shock three times over three days. A few tsp at a time. Nothing… Rrr. We’ve done everything they said to do since Saturday. They said all other levels are fine. What the heck. Does it take weeks to get this bromine going? Water still cloudy. It’s such a small tub. I don’t get it at all…

    • Kathi B

      Reply

      Usually Bromine is the best way to maintain hot tub water. The key to troubleshooting your challenge will be determining if the issue is establishing or maintaining the bromine bank.
      We would recommend adding SpaGuard Bromine concentrate (https://shop.aqua-tech.ca/collections/all/products/spaguard-brominating-concentrate-800gm) and then waiting 15 minutes and re-testing the bromine reading. Continue doing this until the bromine is reading 3-5 ppm on your test strips. Are you using a bromine tablet to maintain the level once it is established?

  19. Christopher Lowe

    Reply

    Hi I am using bromine tablets for my spa and all my levels are perfect other than the (free chlorine) indicator.I have shocked the pool twice with non chlorine shock and still no free chlorine.could you please help.

    • Aqua Tech

      Reply

      Hi Christopher! If you use bromine no need to worry about the chlorine reading, you either use bromine or chlorine not both, the test strip has both options for convenience so there is only one type of test strip not two depending on what you use for sanitizer! So since you’re on bromine just disregard what the test strip is indicating about the chlorine and only focus on the bromine level for your sanitizer! 🙂

  20. Jackie

    Reply

    Hi. Reading the comments I found out the reason the Bromide level in my swim spa is always low, is because it needs tablets to be maintained. My question is, since the tablets release Bromide slowly, how long will it take for the level to be safe and will I still need to add the granular Bromide every day?

    • Kathi B

      Reply

      That is an excellent question. Please add bromine granules to raise the bromine bank whenever the level is under 3 ppm on your test strips. If the bromine tablets are not able to maintain that level once established it means you will have to add a higher quantity of bromine tablets to have enough surface area and erosion to keep the level up. So, long story short, add more bromine tablets more often. What brand of bromine tablets are you using and what is your water temperature? Happy Swimming!

  21. Deen

    Reply

    Hello,
    We’ve got a brand new hot tub and I just can’t get the bromine levels up. Everything else on the test strip is where it should be. I’ve shocked it and it reads fine, until the next day it’s back down again. I can’t keep shocking it, I assume? Do I just keep adding A LOT of bromine until it goes up? I’ve already added several ounces, but I’m afraid to add more.
    We have a cover; which is always on unless it’s in use. Thanks!

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