Debris In Hot Tub Water

In a perfect world, your hot tub would always remain well-maintained and ready for a dip at any time of the day or night. Maybe the chemistry balancing fairies would make a nightly visit to check your water to make sure everything is in tip top shape. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a world where these things get taken care of for us and we’re often faced with nasty problems either out of neglect or just regular wear and tear.

One of the issues you may face is having debris come out of the jets once they’re turned on. Although it seems like a big problem, it’s actually easily fixed once you find the root of your problem. Here are a few typical causes of debris in hot tub water.

Dirty Plumbing

Probably the number one probably cause of debris being emitted into the water is dirty plumbing. Organic build-up and other scum caused by lotion, oils, beauty products, and other cosmetics that are sloughed off by bathers eventually gum up the plumbing system. This stuff will eventually flake off from the pipes and fly into the water when agitated by the jets.

How to Fix It:

To remedy this problem, you’ll want to use a product like Spa Purge. Spa Purge works to break down all the gunk and clean out the pipes, somewhere you usually can’t get to using a bit of elbow grease. It’s a good product to use on a regular basis along with your regular maintenance schedule to prevent the buildup from getting significant enough to cause major problems.

To use Spa Purge, turn on your water and make sure it’s heated to 95 degrees or higher. Once the hot tub has reached that temperature, dump the entirety of the one liter bottle into the water and let it sit for 12 hours, periodically turning on the pump and jets for five minutes at a time to ensure proper circulation. Be careful to not let it foam over the sides of the tub.

Once the 12 hours have passed, drain the tub and rinse it. Spa Purge will break down clogged filters and other contaminants from the internal plumbing of the spa. It uses natural enzymes that bind to organic contaminants and breaking them down into smaller parts and compounds.

You may have to repeat the process or fill up the tub halfway after you clean it out for the first time. Once you are satisfied everything is clean, you can start refilling your hot tub and start the normal spa chemical program and start up process.

Deteriorating O-Rings

If you’re convinced that your plumbing isn’t the problem as you use Spa Purge regularly and diligently maintain your water but get a kind of black debris flowing into the spa, there’s a possibility your O-rings are corroding. This is a common problem among older models of spas and hot tubs.

How to Fix It:

Replace your O-rings. This will not only stop the debris but will keep your plumbing from leaking. The O-rings are inside of the union nuts and can be accessed by loosening the nut counterclockwise by hand and replacing the O-ring that sits inside. Be careful to make sure your power is off before you do any work underneath your unit. Here’s a helpful YouTube video that will explain the different O-rings and how to locate and identify each.

If you regularly use Spa Purge but are experiencing debris that is black you may have a problem such as deteriorating or corroding O-rings. Especially if you have an older spa this is a likely cause, and can be fixed by replacing your O-rings, this should not only stop the debris but make sure your plumbing is water tight also.

Corroding Jet Diffusers

If your plumbing is cleaned out and your O-rings are all intact, you could have corroding or deteriorating jet diffusers. Jet diffusers are the white plastic housings where your hot tub jets are mounted that are oftentimes eaten away overtime because of bad water chemistry. If your debris is white, this is likely the source of the issue.

How to Fix It:

If your diffusers are corroding, it’s recommended that you not only replace the jet diffuser but the hot tub jets as well as the bearings within the jet are usually corroded too. After you’ve replaced them, the only way to avoid this problem in the future is to keep your spa chemistry balanced at all times.


As always, the best advice we could give is to keep your hot tub water balanced at all times and properly maintained to ensure you don’t face any of these big problems. But if you do have debris in your hot tub water, we hope we’ve helped you diagnose the problem. Most of these are quick fixes that will have you back in the water in no time.
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