Brown Spa Water? Decoding Hot Tub Water Problems

hot tub water problems

Your grass is supposed to be green. The peonies in your garden are supposed to be pink. The clouds white. The afternoon sun will be yellow. But your hot tub water? It should be a clear, clean blue. But what happens when you open the cover and find the hot tub water to be a different color? 

When your water is a different color, the water chemistry is not balanced. “Unhealthy” hot tub water can be nearly every color in the rainbow — yellow, green, white, pink, and brown. Typically, the cause will be algae, bacteria, or mold.

While hot tub water problems are frustrating, there are solutions. Products like a sequestering agent and shock can often help. Or, worst case scenario, you drain and refill your hot tub with clean, clear water.

Keep reading to discover why your hot tub water is a different color, whether it’s green or pink, and find out how to treat the water. 

green hot tub water
No one wants to open the cover to their hot tub and discover that the water has turned green. Learn more about what causes green hot tub water and how to fix it.

Green Water

One of the most common hot tub water problems is green water. But before you dive into a fix, you need to figure out the cause of the green water. There are a few reasons your hot tub water could be green — high levels of iron or copper; not enough chlorine; total alkalinity; and pollen. However, pollen is the least likely culprit and will only affect your water in the spring. 

The fix to your green water will depend on the culprit. If mineral levels are high, you will use a sequestering agent like Gon Hot Tub Metal Remover from Leisure Time

If your chlorine levels are low, it’s time to shock the water. What is shock? It’s a non-chlorine sanitizer that makes it easier to keep your water clean and clear. Follow the directions on the bottle for dosage and use guidelines. Pollen can be removed with a skimmer but if it has changed the color of your water, it’s best to rinse and clean your filters. 

Yellow Hot Tub Water

Algae. If your hot tub water is yellow, the culprit is more than likely algae. How do you get rid of yellow algae in your hot tub? Shock, shock and, likely, more shock. You will also want to wipe down and clean any parts of your hot tub that you can, including the cover and shell, as yellow algae will make a home on any available surface. Follow up with a manual spa vacuum to remove any of the “floaters.” 

Algae can be stubborn so if you are still struggling, consider draining the spa and giving it a deep clean. Refill with clean water (don’t forget the pre-filter!) and enjoy a fresh start.

If you want to avoid the problem in the future, it’s important to know what causes yellow algae. Pollen, phosphates, and debris, as well as the temperature of the water, can cause it to grow.

Brown Hot Tub Water

Could there be anything worse than discovering that your hot tub water is brown? While green and yellow water are an annoyance shock, brown is just unsightly. But the problem might not be as bad as you think. The cause of brown hot tub water is likely minerals, specifically iron. 

It’s a two-step process to clear up the water. First up: Rinse and clean the filters. Second, add a sequestering agent like Gon Hot Tub Metal Remover, following the manufacturer’s directions.

white mold
If you have white slime or flakes in your hot tub, chances are it’s white mold. To get rid of white mold, you’ll need to drain and refill your hot tub twice.

White Slime in the Water

Do you have a slime or mucus-like film on the surface of your water? We’re sorry to tell you that you might be facing a white water mold situation.

Mold is a tricky problem to fix in a spa. It’s stubborn, and it’s more likely to set up residence in the plumbing of your spa. 

The best course of action for ridding your spa of white water mold is to drain it. But the process will be a little more involved than your typical drain and refill. You will need to thoroughly clean your hot tub, from the filter to the plumbing to the spa surface. After cleaning your spa, you will refill the tub, add a heavy dose of shock, and drain it a second time. Then you can refill the hot tub, shock the water, and balance the chemicals.  

Pink Slime

Your water looks kind of pretty when you set the LED lights to pink. But when the water just looks pink, it’s not so pretty. 

If you see this particular hue, it’s likely a pink slime on top of the water — and that’s not good. What’s the problem? Bacteria. But this tricky bugger will kind of look and act like mold.

And what do you do? You treat it like mold, which means draining and refilling your spa twice. 

When you first drain your hot tub, you will need to thoroughly clean it — from the inside out — including the cover. You can use a product like Ahh-Some, which helps get rid of build-up in your hot tub’s plumbing. You’ll add this to the water after you fill it up the first time. 

But how do you avoid these problems? While some are beyond your control, the best offense is a good defense. You can defend your water against bacteria, algae, and mold through a water care routine.