In this guide we will cover step by step how to start up and set up a Hot Spring Spas Freshwater Salt System. The Freshwater Salt System is an option on Hot Spring Spas that converts salt into chlorine automatically. Once started up a hot tub owner will need to only maintain pH and Alkalinity. This conversion of salt into chlorine is made possible by the Hot Spring Spas Freshwater Salt Cartridge. These cartridges are amazing as they are maintenance free and only need to be replaced every four (4) months. The steps we will cover are listed below in the table of contents.
The first two steps of the start up process, Installing the Salt Cartridge and Filling the Spa should be done with the power turned off to the spa.
Freshwater Salt System Cartridge Installation
The first step to starting up the Freshwater salt system is to take the cap off the Salt Cartridge Slot. The Cap will be located on the top of the spa next to the filter cavity.
The cap can be removed by rotating the cap and lifting up. If this is the first time you are starting up your spa you will need to remove the plug that comes with the spa. To do this press the button on the top of the plug and lift it out.
Press the button on the top of the cartridge and insert into the slot. Make sure that either the plug or a cartridge is installed at all times.
Once the cartridge is inserted release the button on the top and give the cartridge a very light tug to make sure it is locked into place and seated properly. If it pulls out of the slot push the button on the top and re-seat the cartridge. Once the cartridge is seated, replace the cap.
Note: Cartridges should be replaced once every four (4) months.
Filling the spa
Hot Tub Fill Water Quality
Filling your spa with the best quality of water will help ensure your spa runs smoothly and will save you both time and money on maintenance. The best way to do this is by ensuring the water entering your spa is filtered with a high quality pre-filter. The Freshwater Clean Screen Prefilter is highly recommended for this as it reduces metals before they enter your spa.
Where to Add the Water to Fill the Spa
When filling your spa it is essential that it is done through the filter cavity. Filling your spa from the seating area can cause a problem called “air lock”. Air lock occurs when air is trapped in a pump preventing it from moving water as it should. When this occurs you will hear the hum of the pump but see nothing coming out of the jets. This can damage your spa’s pumps.
Filling the spa through the filter cavity flushes water through the pipes to help prevent air lock from occurring. To do this first remove the filter cover, then find the gray filter cap.
Twist off the gray filter cap and you will find a hollow tube. This is where you should fill the spa from.
The spa should be filled until the water level is one (1) inch above the highest jets in the spa as shown below. As the spa is filling it is highly recommended to add an initial dose of Freshwater Stain and Scale Defense. This is recommended even if you have used the Clean Screen Pre-Filter to ensure your water’s metal levels are as low as possible.
Testing the pumps
Once the water is at the appropriate level turn off the hose and turn on the power to the hot tub. It will take a few minutes for the spa to run through its priming cycle and for the controls to become available.
Once the controls come up first test the pumps to make sure no air lock has occured. This can be done through the jets menu. The highlfe’s touch screen control on the left below and the limelight spa models controls are shown below with the buttons for the jet menus circled.
If an air lock occurs turn off the pump immediately and use your garden hose to flush water through the gray stand pipe shown above. It may help to briefly turn on the pump while flushing water through the lines. However, if you do this do not have the hose very far into the stand pipe as the pump can pull the hose into the spa plumbing cause damage if the airlock is suddenly flushed out.
Initial Settings and Control Checks
Setting the Spas Temperature
The salt system needs a temperature of at least 95 degrees Fahrenheit to operate. Set your desired temp to your preference at or above that temperature. Note that the higher the temp the less time you can safely stay in the spa. For example at 102 degrees Fahrenheit it is recommended to not stay in longer than 30 minutes with out getting out to cool off.
Highlife Spa Models
On the Highlife control panel tap the temperature and use the up or down arrow to set the temperature. Then press the home button in the top left corner.
Limelight Spa Models
On a Limelight Model Hot Spring spa control panel press the options button then press the black button with a white dot next to the section of screen that says temperature. Then using the inner buttons on the right side of the control panel adjust the temperature up or down. When done press the back button.
Ensure the Salt System is Turned Off
There are still a few more steps needed to be done before turning on the Freshwater Salt System. So at this time it is important to ensure the system is turned off. To do this on Highlife Model Spas, press the water drop shaped button on the control panel.
On Limelight Model Hot Spring Spas you can get to the freshwater system by pressing the options button. Then the black button with a white dot in it next to the screen that says Freshwater Salt System.
Balancing the Water Chemistry
Now that water is in the spa you need to check certain measurements that are important to a hot tub. This is the part of hot tub maintenance where you can relate yourself to a doctor on a medical drama on TV. Where they are taking care of a patients vital signs like heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate, your job is to look after your spas pH, Alkalinity, Calcium Hardness, and chlorine levels. Like human vital signs these factors are very important for a hot tub to have a long and healthy life.
The first thing to do to take care of these measurements is to know where they are. To do this use a Freshwater 5-way Test Strip. At his point we are concerned with the pH, Alkalinity, and calcium hardness.
Add Salt to the Water
Before adding salt to the water, first look up either online or in you owners manual how many gallons of water your spa holds. You will need to know that number to compare to the chart on the back of the Freshwater Salt Bag. The chart will tell you how many cups of salt to add.
Turn on the jets in the spa and remove the filter lid. To ensure you don’t accidentally add too much salt begin by adding half the salt listed on the chart one cup at a time to the spa’s filter cavity. Once half the salt is added wait 5 minutes for the salt to fully dissolve. turn off all of the pumps, then use a salt test strip to check the salt level.
If the test strip shows the salt level is below 1,750 ppm, turn on the jets add one cup of salt, wait 5 minutes, turn off the jets, and re-test. Repeat this until the salt levels reach the 1,775 ppm. Do not add more salt than is recommended for your model.
If by accident the salt levels get too high, you will need to drain some of the water from the spa and add more filtered water back in to dilute the salt levels to where they are supposed to be.
Sanitize the Spa Water
Sanitizing your hot tub is an essential step as it keeps your water safe until the Freshwater Salt System is ready to handle the workload. To do this, turn on the jets and add the recommended amount of chlorine on the back of the bottle of Freshwater Concentrated Chlorine Granules. The goal is to have a reading of five (5) ppm chlorine on a Freshwater Five Way Test Strip.
You can also add a Silver Sanitizer cartridge to help maintain your sanitizer levels.
- Silver is an antimicrobial which prevents bacteria from growing
- by minimizing the amount of bacteria forming in the spa, we can minimize the amount of chlorine required to keep water clean.
- Silver helps the Salt System operate more effectively and efficiently and help extend the life of your salt cartridge.
- Each Silver cartridge lasts 4 months
Soften The Spa Water
Softening the water is essential for a salt system as calcium buildup also know as hard water can damage spa equipment. It can lower the effectiveness of the Salt System Cartridge and even shorten the life of the cartridge. If your calcium hardness levels show higher than 75 ppm on a Freshwater Five Way Test Strip you need to use a Vanishing Act Pillow.
The goal is to get the calcium level to 50 ppm on a five way test strip.
Turning on the Salt System
Output settings will vary based on how many gallons of water your hot tub holds. Enter the salt system menu the same as you did in the step above. Use the chart below to see what the recommended initial output setting is for your spa.
Highlife Spa Models
On Highlife spa models tap the water drop shaped icon to enter the Freshwater Salt System Menu. Once there you will see the screen below. Tap above the zero (0) on the output level control to set the system to the appropriate level. Tap below the number if you need to lower the output level in the future.
Limelight Spa Models
On a Limelight Spa Model press the option button, then the black button with a white dot on it that is next to where it says Freshwater Salt System on the screen. Then press the black button with a white dot that is top right of the control panel to change the output level. Using the black buttons with white dots on the right side of the screen you can raise or lower the Freshwater Salt System’s output level.
Once the output level is set the Salt System will now begin to generate chlorine on its own.
Re-check the water
Twenty four (24) hours after you have set the salt system output level you will need to check it again with a Freshwater Five Way Test Strip. The chlorine should be holding at 3ppm or above.
If the chlorine level has dropped below 3 ppm add more of the Freshwater Chlorinating Granules to raise the level to 5 ppm and press the boost button on the salt system. You will need to repeat this step every twenty four hours until the spa is holding at least 3 ppm of chlorine on a test strip.
It may take a few days for the Freshwater Salt System to independently maintain the chlorine level, depending upon the quality of your fill water, how many people get in, and how much you use it on those first few days.
If the level of chlorine goes above the “OK” range you will need to turn down the salt system output level and wait for the water levels to drop back down to the “ok” range before getting into the spa.