How to clean your spa pool after a flood or storm

Our guide explaining all the steps needed to cleaning your spa pool after a flood or storm.

 

Hurricanes, cyclones, storms and floods can cause big problems for spa pools and swimming pools.

Some of the problems you may face include silt, sediments and organic matter introduced into the spa or pool, a change in the chemical balance of the water or even sewage and dangerous bacteria washed into your water. In addition, electrical components can be damaged when submerged or water-logged.

These issues cause major headaches and there are a few pitfalls that you might not have thought about

We’ve been in the spa industry for over 30 years, so we know a lot about spas and how to service them. We like helping spa owners get the best out of their spa pools, so we've put together this helpful resource to use when cleaning up after a storm or flood.

 

Safety First

Before you start the cleanup process, make sure you take these steps to keep yourself and your family safe.

 

Electrical safety for a flooded spa pool

Electrical Safety Warning sign

Before you start cleaning up your flooded spa pool, make sure you turn off the power using the main circuit breaker or the main fuse box. Your spa pool can pose an electric shock hazard, so this is important.

If there is water around the circuit breaker area or electronic control equipment, use an insulated plastic or rubber tool to turn off the main circuit breaker. Avoid standing on a wet surface or standing in water while being anywhere near the circuit breaker or any electrical components. If you are unsure about your safety, consult a registered / licensed professional electrician and get them to disconnect the power before you begin cleaning up.

Electrical Safety Checklist

  • Don't switch on any electrical current until a registered electrician has checked the circuit

  • Use an outdoor power cord. Don't use extension leads that are rated for indoors only.

  • Use an RCD or transformer on any electrical devices (such as pumps or pressure washers)

  • Make sure your extension leads have a ground pin (never remove this)

  • Don't allow any electrical devices or power cord connections to sit on wet ground or come into contact with water

 

Chemical Safety

If you have stored your pool or spa chemicals in an area that has been flooded, these chemicals may be dangerous and should be carefully disposed of. If any chemicals got wet or mixed during the flood, reactions may occur which could cause fire, explosion, or a release of toxic fumes. If this has occurred you may need to consult your local fire department or a hazardous chemical clean-up company to assist with safely disposing of the chemicals.

Pool and spa chemicals should always be stored in a safe, dry location. Ensure all lids are tightly in place and keep components that could react (like chlorine and acid) well separated. Make sure you are using personal protective equipment (PPE) when handling all chemical products - these should include eye protection,  gloves, appropriate clothing, and non-slip protective footwear. (Don't handle chemicals wearing open-toed shoes or sandals).

Personal safety for a flooded spa pool or hot tub.

Do not use your spa or hot tub after it has been flooded. Aside from electrical safety concerns we have already mentioned, contaminated water may contain raw sewage, hazardous chemicals or bacteria that can cause skin irritation or disease. Floodwater can contain silts and sediments and organic matter which can cause the water to become murky and develop algae. This matter can damage pumps and jets and needs to be cleaned before running your spa. Even if there are no of these hazards present, your spa's chemical balance may have been changed or upset by the addition of floodwater or excess rainwater.

Check for wildlife! After a flood, it is possible that snakes or other wildlife may have found a home in your pool or spa.

After a flood, there may be other hazards around your spa or pool area which you need to watch out for. Flood may have brought debris into your property like tree branches which can be a trip hazard. Flooding or high winds may have damaged safety gates or covers on spas and pools, so you may need to erect temporary safety fencing to ensure young children or pets cannot gain access to your spa or pool. Take special note of damaged covers which may no longer be secure.

Personal hygiene and Clean up

When you have finished cleaning up, ensure you wash hands thoroughly with warm water and soap before eating and drinking. If you are concerned about the quality of your tap water after a flood, boil all drinking water. It needs to stay at boiling point for at least one minute, so your normal kettle or jug won't do the job (they turn off right when the water gets to boiling point). Use a saucepan, bring the water to a rolling boil and let it boil for a full 1 minute, then allow to cool.

Any clothing that has been contaminated during your cleaning process should be washed in hot water with bleach or detergent.

Once you have checked these safety points above, you can move onto the next steps

Clean dirt and debris from your spa 

Use a pool scoop to remove obvious debris like leaves and dirt from your water. Remove large objects like branches and twigs. If soil or sediment has been washed into your pool or spa pool, you may need to drain it completely and start with fresh water.

Wait to drain your spa pool until the ground dries up

If you have an in-ground spa pool or swimming pool, don't drain the water out until the surrounding ground area has dried up to the standard level it was before the storm or flood. The water in your in-ground spa pool or swimming pool counteracts any 'hydrostatic pressure' from groundwater. If you drain your water too early, residual water in the ground after a flood can put pressure on pool or spa bodies causing them to crack or 'pop' out of the ground.

Even if you have an 'above-ground spa pool, you should still wait until the ground has dried up, so the draining water from your spa can soak into the ground without water-logging the soil too much.

To make sure there are no groundwater issues in your area you should consult with your local authorities or a professional spa/pool technician.

Your spa or pool only needs to be drained after the most severe storms or flooding, so if it's not necessary, you may be able to get your water back to normal with some treatment.

If you do decide to drain your water, use a pipe degreaser to flush through your spa plumbing, then drain and dump the water.

Clean or replace your spa filters

Cleaning your spa filter with a filter wand

After a storm surge or catastrophic flood, your spa pool filters may well be contaminated with silt and sediment so replacing them will help you get your spa water back to normal quickly.

Soak your spa filters in a filter cleaning solution  for at least 24 hours, then rinse them thoroughly with fresh water. Using a filter wand attachment on your garden hose makes the process a lot easier!

If you're using a chlorine-free system, use the Poppits cleaning solution for cleaning your filters.

 

 

Cleaning your empty spa pool

If you need to completely drain your spa pool and replace the water, there are a few things you should know about cleaning your empty spa.

After draining, clean any silt, dirt and debris from the interior of your pool or spa. Use a non-abrasive cleaning pad and non-abrasive spa cleaning products to avoid scratching.

Remove grime and 'scum' line from the spa shell. Be sure to use a non-toxic, non-foaming cleaning product. Clean and rinse headrests and the top sill.

After final clean, rinse with fresh water, then use a pump to drain all wastewater out

Use a towel to wipe clean and soak up all excess water. Squeeze the dirty towel outside the spa.

Add fresh water to your spa or pool

If necessary, you could consider getting a water tanker truck to deliver fresh potable water from a reliable source if you are unsure about the quality of water on your property. 

Read our detailed guide on restarting your spa with fresh water.

Sanitising your water

If the water doesn't need to be completely drained, you'll still need to re-balance and sanitise your pool with the appropriate chemicals to get your water clean and clear again. If you're using chlorine sanitiser take care to never mix chlorine with any acid products including cleaning products. 

If using a chlorine-free sanitiser follow the safety recommendations on the packaging and be aware that in a concentrated state, chlorine-free sanitisers can be caustic and can damage skin. Read our detailed guide on starting your spa with hydrogen peroxide chlorine-free sanitiser.

You should always wear gloves and eye protection when handling sanitiser products. 

Scoop a bucket of water from your spa and add your sanitiser to the bucket, then add and mix slowly back into your spa water on a clean cycle.

 

Adjust your pH and Alkalinity

Use a test strip set to check your pH and total Alkalinity and treat your water accordingly.

  • Your spa pH should be in the range between 7.2 - 7.8

  • Total Alkalinity should be between 80 – 160.

 

Use a Clarifier to treat cloudy water

Cloudy water can be caused by organic contaminants in your water - often introduced by lotions and grooming products, but a storm surge or flood may introduce elements into your water cloudiness. Contaminants can affect your water's pH level, alkalinity and hardness - all contributing to cloudy water.

Use a clarifier to help clear up cloudy spa water.

Read our detailed article on treating cloudy spa water

 

Treat your water for algae

If there is any algae forming in your spa, you'll need to treat algae with an algaecide product.

Read our in-depth guide to treating algae.

 

Frequently asked questions

 

Can spa water make you sick?

If you're not sanitising your spa water regularly or replacing it every 4 months or so, bacteria can accumulate and cause skin irritation and respiratory conditions. After a catastrophic flood or storm, it's a good idea to replace your spa water and thoroughly clean your spa to reduce the chance of illness.

How often should you drain your hot tub?

It is recommended to drain your hot tub or spa pool every 3-4 months and replace the water with clean water.

How much does it cost to drain a hot tub?

It will cost you around $300 to hire a professional to drain your hot tub or spa. You can drain your hot tub yourself for free if you have the time and the right equipment!

How do I drain my hot tub faster

Use a submersible pump, bilge pump or sump pump to speed up the draining process. If you're not in a rush, just undo the drain plug, connect a hose and slowly drain the water out into your garden using gravity.

How to get flood insurance for a hot tub

If your hot tub has been damaged in a flood, contact your insurance company or insurance broker to make a claim. You'll need to check whether your policy covers you for 'Force Majeure' events otherwise known as 'acts of God'.

Once you've made your claim, your insurance company may require you to submit photos of damaged areas on your hot tub or spa - or in some cases, they will send an insurance assessor to review the damage. Once the claim is in place it will be processed.

At some point, you may be asked to provide a written quotation from a company for replacement parts needed. Talk to us if you need a written quotation. You'll eventually receive a credit for the replacement parts necessary, or in extreme cases a new spa. You'll also need to pay any excesses on your policy  - or the excess may be deducted from your payout.

 


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