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Treating Foam In The Pool or Hot Tub

July 26, 2019

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Foam, Foam, Foam

Foaming is very common in hot tubs, and a little more rare in pools. It can be subtle, just a few patches on the surface here and there, or it can be massive, a ton covering the entire surface of the hot tub or pool. Either way, it makes the hot tub or pool look fairly gross. And believe it or not, foam can actually be a health hazard to your swimmers. In this article, we are going to discuss the causes of foaming and ways to get rid of it so your pool or hot tub is clean, clear, and sparkling. 


Is It Foam Or Are They Bubbles?

Foam and bubbles are an entirely different beast. Bubbles naturally occur when the hot tub's booster jets are running, causing the water to churn up and create bubbles. Foaming, on the other hand, can be seen floating on the surface of the water while the booster jets are not running. Bubbles are nothing to worry about, foaming is concerning. 


What Causes Foaming In A Hot Tub Or Pool?

Foaming inside a hot tub or pool can come from a few different sources:

  • Organic matter (urine, sweat, body fat, saliva, etc)
  • Pool or Hot Tub Chemicals 
  • Hair Products
  • Skin Products
  • Detergents from swimsuits

It is good to remember, that anything that can be expelled or shedded from the human body will contribute to the foaming issues. As it sounds, this expulsion or shedding is fairly gross and can also lead to other health issues for swimmers, especially if proper chlorine levels aren't maintained. 

It is also good to remember that every chemical you add to the pool will raise the chances of foaming to occur. Please keep in mind though, that adding chemicals to the pool is a necessary part of pool and hot tub maintenance and shouldn't be avoided in order to control foaming. Later in this article we will explore the best practices for lowering foaming risks, and avoiding chemical addition is not one of those practices. 

Sometimes swimmers can forget to wash all of their hair skin products off before entering the pool and these products can cause foaming to occur inside the pool or hot tub. Detergents that have not fully washed off swimsuits are also at risk of causing foaming inside pools and hot tubs. 

This foaming can gather in little patches or it can be a thick layer covering the entire surface of the water. As you can see from this list, Foaming can be a health risk to you as an operator and your swimmers. This sweat expels from the This foaming is unsightly, and it indicates that the health of your water has been compromised.


What Are Total Dissolved Solids?

Regardless of how thick your foam is, it needs to be taken care of as foaming indicates high levels of Total Dissolved Solids inside your water. Total Dissolved Solids are the measure of all matter that was once solid, but have now gone into solution (meaning, they have essentially liquified). High levels of Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) will result in your water looking dull, dingy, and not pleasant. It can also make the water taste salty to swimmers who interact with it. High levels of TDS are not healthy for swimmers to interact with, and it can also cause major problems down the road for operators. The key to healthy, clear water in this situation is to maintain low levels of TDS.


How Do I Lower My Total Dissolved Solids Levels?

The only real way to lower TDS in a hot tub or pool is to drain the body of water, then refill it with fresh water. This draining and refilling process can be very time consuming, but really it is by far the most effective way to take care of the issue of foaming caused by high TDS. 


How Often Should I Drain My Pool?

A question we are often asked is how often do we need to drain and refill our pool or hot tub to control our TDS levels? It is interesting to note that this answer isn't based on time (days, weeks, months, etc.) but on the reading from an actual TDS meter. The general rule is as follows: 

Drain and Refill Schedule:

Pools, drain and refill @ 1,000ppm over start

Hot tubs, drain and refill @ 1,500ppm over start

The 'over start' reading means the TDS reading that is recorded right after you have filled the pool or hot tub. From there, you simply wait until that TDS reading has raised to the previously recommended number. 

It is also good to remember that these TDS levels tend to raise much more quickly in a hot tub than a pool. It is also much easier, generally, to drain and refill a hot tub, than a pool.


Should I Use A De-Foamer To Get Rid Of Foam?

De-foaming products can indeed be helpful when removing the foam caused by hair or skin products, but are rarely effective on foam caused by high TDS levels. Please keep in mind that a de-foaming agent will cause foam caused by high levels of TDS to dissipate in the moment, but it will not cease foaming from happening in the future


 How Do I Learn More About Pools And Hot Tubs?

Let's be honest, caring for pools and hot tubs is complicated. There is a general impression that working pools and hot tubs is primarily about balancing the chlorine and pH levels and making sure there is water in the pool. While these things are aspects of maintaining a pool and hot tub, they are not nearly the only components of operating pools and hot tubs. The best way to learn more about safely and properly operating your aquatic facility is to take a CPO® course through Pool Training Academy. Pool Training Academy offers both in-class and online hybrid courses that will ensure you know everything you need in order to truly become a pool and hot tub professional. Our award-winning instructors excel in delivering the class content in a relaxed, professional, and fun environment. You can sign up by clicking here

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