3 Steps to Troubleshoot Your Spa Water Quality

So, your spa water isn’t looking or feeling like it should? The first reaction of many spa owners is to add more chemicals. Yet, adding chemicals may just add to the problem. Spa or hot tub water maintenance requires a systematic 3-step approach. This approach tempers the “add more chemical” response and enables you to get to the right solution, quicker.

No doubt, spa water troubleshooting can be tricky but we’ve devised a handy 3-step approach to help you troubleshoot your spa water issues.

Follow these 3 steps for better spa or hot tub water:

Step 1: Define the Symptoms. You notice something is not quite right about your spa water. Is it cloudy? Green? Smelly? Abrasive? These are the symptoms. It’s important to accurately identify the symptoms so you can move on to step 2 and 3.

Step 2: Identify the Cause. What’s causing that cloudy water? Usually, there is more than one possible cause but it’s important to know what the potential causes are so you can narrow down to step 3.

Step 3: Find the Solution. The solution to what’s causing your spa water problem may be simple or more complex but by following these steps you can narrow down the possible solutions and begin to solve the problem. How to troubleshoot your spa water: The table below offers a list of common symptoms along with the likely causes and solutions.

Use this chart as a reference when troubleshooting your spa water.

Symptom Cause Solution
Cloudy Water Excessive organic contaminates
  • Have children bathe before entering spa (to reduce organic contaminants)
Ozonator needs replacement
  • Have your spa technician test the ozonator to ensure it is not expired. A working ozonator is the best way to keep water clear.Check and adjust sanitizer level.
Lack of water sanitizer
  • Install an ozonator if you don’t have one. Ozone is a powerful non-chemical sanitizer.
Build up of particles
  • Use water clarifier to coagulate particles so they can be removed by the filter.
Water out-of-balance (ph, alkalinity, or total hardness)
  • Test water and adjust as necessary
Filter needs cleaning or replacement
  • Clean or replace your filter
White scale deposits

Low sanitizer level


High mineral content
  • Test water and balance as needed. Also, find out if you need a replacement ozonator. Ozone provides 200 times the sanitizing power of chlorine, without the added chemicals. Keep chlorine at .5 PPM or bromine at 1 PPM.
  • Use a descaling product and check ozonator. A working ozonator helps control scale.
Cloudy green water Algae
  • Check and adjust sanitizer level
  • Check the ozone generator. If your ozone generator is more than 3 years old, it might be time to replace it. Ozone frees up chlorine and bromine to kill algae more effectively.
Brown water
High mineral count

Low alkalinity level

Low sanitizer level
  • Check ozonator. Ozone relieves water from high iron content associated with brown water and scale.
  • Add a stain/scale preventer product
  • Test and add Ph/Alkalinity product as needed
  • Your ozone generator is the most powerful sanitizer for your spa water. Make sure your ozone generator is producing enough ozone. If not, it may be expired and time for a replacement ozonator.
Excessive foaming Soft water (calcium hardness is too low)
High TDS (total dissolved solids) level

Build up of body oils, lotions, detergents, cosmetics, etc. from people who use the tub.
  • Test calcium level and add liquid calcium, if needed.

  • Might be time to change the water in your hot tub.
  • Also, check your ozone generator. Ozone helps lower TDS associated with "ring around the tub.
  • Check the ozonator. Ozone is highly effective against organic compounds. If your ozonator isn’t working properly, your water quality will be affected.
  • Use an anti-foam product.
  • Require individuals to shower before entering hot tub.
Yellow water Low PH level
  • Test the PH level and adjust as necessary
Scum ring at water line

Inadequate filtration
Build up of oils

  • Check filter – clean or replace
  • Require individuals to shower before entering hot tub.
  • Replace expired ozonator, if necessary.
  • Clean scum line with appropriate cleaner.
Eye or Skin irritation

Chloramines from too much chlorine

Excessive organic compounds


Unbalanced Ph or total alkalinity levels

  • Check your ozonator! Ozone is highly effective in reducing chloramines in spa water. If your ozone generator is expired, replace it.
  • Check ozonator. Ozone is highly effective against organic compounds.
  • Use shock treatment, if needed.

  • Test Ph and alkalinity levels and adjust as necessary.

Your Ozone Generator Keeps Hot Tub Water Clean

The ozone generator plays an important role in maintaining crystal clear, sanitized spa water. Many of the problems you have with your spa water can be the result of a spa ozonator that is expired or not producing enough ozone. Ozonators are built to last 3-5 years, so f it’s been longer than that since your last ozone generator replacement, order a new spa ozonator now. 


Sign up for our email newsletter to recieve updates on
the industry and associated technology.