Category Archives: Spa Maintenance

Maximize Your Cartridge Life

How can I tell when a Filter Cartridge needs to be replaced?

Pleatco Pool and Spa Cartridges

Pleatco Pool and Spa Cartridges

With no moving parts or electrical switches to fail, Filters Cartridges do not have a defined end-of-life. Instead media will gradually plug up over time.In a typical spa, the culprit that plugs the media is perspiration and body oils combined with soaps, chemicals, and very fine particulate. In a swimming pool, the loading is primarily debris along with suntan lotions and organic matter, such as, algae.

Assuming the Filter is properly maintained and correctly sized to the pump, determining when the Filter Cartridge is exhausted depends primarily upon three factors:

1) Shorter cycle time between cleanings

2) Low water flow rate and high differential pressure

3) Catastrophic failure such as a tear in the media or center core collapse.

All three are dependent upon proper pool or spa water chemistry and following a routine maintenance schedule. Filter elements are plastic and should be handled and maintained accordingly.

How do I maximize the life of a filter cartridge?

• Clean the elements per manufacturers cleaning instructions

• Never use a stiff brush to clean the media

• Maintain your pool or spa water chemistry in proper balance

• Alternate two sets of filter cartridges when cleaning

For swimming pools, clean the cartridge when filter canister pressure reaches 8 PSI above the initial system or new cartridge starting pressure. For spas, establish a routine cartridge cleaning schedule based on the amount of spa usage. If Baquacil is used as a sanitizer, the filter element must be cleaned with Baqua Clean before any cartridge cleaner is used.


What is the procedure to clean my filter cartridge?

1) Remove the cartridge from the filter housing following the manufacturer’s instructions

2) Use a garden hose with a straight flow nozzle to wash down the filter element. Work from the top down, holding the nozzle at a 45 degree angle, and wash all the pleats with emphasis between the pleats.

3) Rinse until all dirt and debris is gone

4) For all spa cartridges and elements used in swimming pools where perspiration, suntan lotions, and other oils are present, soak the element for at least one hour (overnight is most effective) in:

(A) a commercial filter cleaner, or,

(B) one cup tri sodium phosphate (TSP) to five gallons of water

(C) one cup dishwasher detergent to five gallons of water.

5) Rinse the cartridge again to remove oils and cleaning solution.

6) If the filter has a coating of algae, calcium carbonate (residue from calcium hypo chlorite), iron, or other minerals, soak the cartridge in a solution of one part muriatic acid to twenty parts water until all bubbling stops.

7) Rinse the filter cartridge clean and reassemble housing.

Filter cleaning instructions for chlorine users.

The life of your Pleatco Replacement Filter Cartridge depends upon you the consumer. Our heavy duty Polyester filter cartridge elements will show maximum longevity with proper care and maintenance. Here are some helpful hints to help you get the most out of our product.

The best indications of a “soiled” filter cartridge in need of a cleaning are an increase in pressure within the cartridge’s housing canister or a visible decrease in the system’s water flow rate. Generally an increase in pressure of 8 pounds per square inch (PSI) or greater above the filer’s normal operating pressure (as prescribed in the manufacturer’s owner’s manual) indicates the need to clean the cartridge.

The filter cartridge can be cleansed of coarse dirt and debris by pressure washing inside and out with a garden hose. Fine particles of dirt are more easily removed from the filter pleats when the cartridge is dry. Therefore after hosing the cartridge, allow the filter to dry and either CAREFULLY BUSH. Do not – scrub the pleated surface areas or apply a stream of compressed air to the filter’s outer surface to remove fine particles.

Algae, suntan oil, and body oils can form a coating on the filter pleats which may not be thoroughly removed by hosing. Such a film of algae and/or oils will rapidly clog up the filter’s pores thereby greatly reducing filtration. Therefore, it is imperative to remove such materials from the filter element as soon as possible. We recommend soaking the cartridge in a solution of commercially available filter element cleaner to remove algae and /or oils from the filter media. Follow the manufacturers’ directions for the proper use of such (surfactant, soap) – cleaning solutions. Allow one hour for soaking and then hose the cartridge thoroughly before re-installing in the filer. If clogging persists due to either algae or oils readjustment of water chemistry is necessary to combat the problem.

Excessive calcium or mineral deposits on the filter media can be removed by treatment with a muriatic acid soaking solution. Use commercially available 20% muriatic acid and add to water in a 1 to 1 ratio to make a 10% muriatic acid solution. CAUTION: Make sure to use a plastic container and take extreme care when handling acid solutions as they can be harmful to eyes, skin, and clothing. After cleaning the cartridge, flush the filter element with water, and remember to dispose of the acid solution properly.

A spare “stand-by” filter cartridge is an excellent investment. It provides convenience and a well maintained clean cartridge assures you that your filter will always be ready to operate at peak efficiency.

Taking Care of Your Spa Doesn’t Have to be Hard!

We suggest you fill your spa with water and then bring a water sample in to the store so we can test it for you.  We will tell you what your water chemistry is like and what to do to prepare your water for use.

However………..  Most people just can’t resist!  They get that new spa home and the electrician finally gets it wired up.  Of course, you have to put water in it so you can tell if it is wired properly.  And then…  Well, it can’t hurt to just hop in it for a little while.  Just to try it.  Aaaaaahhhhhh!!!!!  That’s awesome!

Then there’s that batch of spa chemicals that came with the package.  Maybe if you just read all the labels you can figure it out.  It might be a while before you can get back to the spa store with a water sample and you just can’t wait that long!  We understand.

We’d still like you to bring a water sample so we can help you get your water balanced.  It also gives us a chance to talk with you about how your tub is working and answer any questions you may have about how to operate the spa or how to manage the maintenance.  But, if you’re in a hurry to get using your spa (and who wouldn’t be?), then maybe this will help:

Here are the basic steps to start using your new spa

When you first fill your tub, add the stain and scale control according to the dosage on the bottle label.

  1. Run your tub for 24 hours with just the stain and scale in the water.
  2. After the 24 hours, take your filter cartridge out and rinse it thoroughly before putting it back in.
  3. Balance the water’s alkalinity and pH.  Use the test strips that come with the spa package.  You will also have things like pH Plus (or pH Rise, or pH Up)  pH Minus (pH Lower, pH Down) and Alkalinity Rise (or Plus or Up). Add very small amounts at a time to make the adjustment.  Adding a lot at once can push the reading to the opposite end of the scale and start you on a yo-yo effect trying to get your water balanced.  Take it slow.
  4. Once the alkalinity and pH are adjusted you can add your sanitizer.  You probably got a monopersulfate sanitizer (Nature II) with your spa package.  Put the sanitizer stick somewhere near your filter cartridge.  (The package shows putting the stick inside the cartridge, but we don’t recommend it.  They too often end up down the pipe and into the spa pump.)
  5. Put a dose of shock in the water.  You may have gotten a non-chlorine shock, or one with a small amount of chlorine.  Nature II requires one initial dose of a chlorine shock to “activate” it; after that, you may use either a chlorine- or non-chlorine shock.  Add shock according to the dosage on the bottle.
  6. Pick a day.  Any day.  And make that your shock-the-spa day.  Once a week you will add a maintenance dose of shock, and if you have a lot of people in the tub on any particular day you will want to add another dose of shock when they get out.


Relax.  That’s what you have your spa for!  It is common for people to “fuss with” their new spa.  After all, it is a new toy and they want things to be “just right”.  It doesn’t have to be perfect…   just “in the ball park”.  So, take it easy, and enjoy your spa!


Some other stuff to know about using your spa:

Your test strips will be made to test whichever sanitizer you are using (monopersulfate, chlorine, or bromine for example) alkalinity and pH.  They may also test for Calcium Hardness.  Water hardness is important because if there is too little calcium in the water it will try to remove calcium from your plumbing.  If there is too much calcium in the water it may crust-up your plumbing and heater.

The dose printed on the bottles of spa chemicals often say to add “one capful” per so-many-gallons of water.  Please be sure you are adding a cap-full and not a cup-full!  (It has been done before.)

Once your alkalinity and pH are balanced, they do not vary too much in a spa.  You may be familiar with balancing the water in a pool.  Large amounts of acid rain, leaves falling in the pool, and large amounts of make-up water may change the water balance.  This is not a big factor in spa water chemistry.

You may notice your spa water getting foamy or cloudy.  It could be due to bathers using some sort of clothing or bathing suit in the spa.  (Not everyone wants to be naked in there!)  Laundry detergents and fabric softeners, along with body oils, lotions and perfumes can all cause problems with water clarity.  There are a number of products made to reduce foam or to break up oils and clarify the water.  Use them sparingly as over-use may cause the same problems you are trying to cure!

There are scents made to be used in spas.  These provide long-lasting aromatherapy along with your hydrotherapy.  Special spa scents will not cause an oily residue as will perfumes or other scented additives.  Some scented things are made to be used in jetted tubs.  These jetted tubs are bathtub-sized and are drained after each use.  Bath salts and scents made for jetted tubs may not be suitable for use in your spa.

Water temperature is comfortable for most people at around 100°.  It is recommended that you do not stay in water hotter than 104° because it will raise your body temperature to an unhealthy level.  You may find that you enjoy your spa more and can stay in it longer at temperatures even lower than 100°.  In fact, in the summertime, you may not want to heat your spa at all.  It doesn’t have to be hot!

Your spa water should be completely changed every three to four months, depending on usage.  It is a good idea to time this so you won’t need to change the water during the winter.  When you change the water, you should clean your filter cartridge thoroughly and start the steps above just like the first time you filled your spa.  It is handy to have a spare filter cartridge so that you can clean one and let it dry out completely while you use the other one.  Whenever you take the cartridge out, be careful that nothing (like your sanitizer stick) gets down into the pipe.

You may bring a water sample in for testing anytime from half an hour after we open until half an hour before we close.  Bring about a pint of water in a clean plastic container with a plastic cap.  The sample should be brought to the store promptly and not left to bake on the dashboard of your car.  This is a good time to ask any questions you may have about your water chemistry and about maintaining your spa.

If you are now thinking this all sounds complicated, relax!  It really isn’t hard.  Like anything new, it just takes a little time to get used to.  You will be an old hand at this in no time.


If you have any questions don’t hesitate to stop by the store or give us a call at 508-676-3850.  Or email us at