Cloudy Spa Water

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What's the cause? Let's take a closer look

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Doug Sims wrote to PSN describing a perplexing problem that has been vexing his customers.

The service manager for Spa & Pool Specialists in Des Moines, Wash. tells of stubbornly cloudy spa water with white flakes that, in most cases, could not be cleared up with a system flush.

The company switched spa brands three times in three years, but soupy conditions continued, despite the fact that these units were equipped with top-of-line filtration systems with UV and/or ozone.

Manufacturers and chemists said it was biomold. But Sims wasn’t convinced.

After years of investigating, a spa maker finally “’fessed up,” Sims says.

The cause of the corn flake water is calcium stearate, a lubricant manufacturers use to extrude the 1½-inch flex PVC pipe throughout the system, Sims says. Cutting out a section of pipe, he saw something that looked like “dried milk” inside, and the air tubes appeared foggy.

To solve the issue, the manufacturer instructed Sims to pour Jet Dry, the dishwashing agent, into the system and let it run for an hour. He had to use two bottles of Foam Down to control the suds. Then he was told to drain the tub and repeat the process.

Next, he had to take out and clean the jets and remove the coagulated gunk at the bottom of the spa.

It’s a hassle, but this seems to do the trick, Sims says.

But he’s wondering how widespread this problem is.

Encounter any weird problems in the field? Write PSN Senior Editor Nate Traylor at