Biofilm - The Unseen Scourge
Biofilm. A word that means so much to some and so little to most. For anyone outside of the janitorial or spa industry, this illusive word may have little meaning. So, in this post, we explore what biofilm is, how it can affect your appliances and how best to remove it.
Firstly, what is it? Biofilm is defined as any group of bacteria and other microorganisms that grow on surfaces in regular contact with water. Primarily, it can be found in spa environments, bathrooms, wet rooms and swimming pools. As with most bacteria, when it is found in abundance or alongside other accompaniments - such as solids, oils or organic matter - it can breed or combine to create more harmful strains. Some common forms of bacteria found in these wet environments include Legionella (Legionnaire's Disease), Pseudomonas Aeruginosas, Mycobacterium Fortuitum and E-Coli.
These bacteria occur naturally in the environment and can be found on our skin. Ordinarily, a healthy immune system will fend small quantities off but they can just as easily multiply. This is exactly how they find their way onto wet surfaces such as hot tubs. Once they have found the perfect colonising location, they produce a protective layer of biocide resistant slime. Biofilm thrives most successfully in dark, water-rich and warm environments above 32 degrees C. This makes spas, hot tubs and even a dark jetted bath tube the perfect site for them to grow.
Unfortunately, removing the water itself won’t solve the issue. As biofilm dries out, it goes into a dormant state. Once it comes back into contact with water, it will return to its live state - complete with that unsightly and slimy residue. The key signs of biofilm include:
- A brown ‘scum ring’ at the water line
- Filter discolouration
- Foaming and water problems
- Excessive consumption of biocides in line with a decrease in effectiveness
- Reduced pipe diameter (extreme cases)
- Illness in bathers
There are a number of ways that you can prevent biofilm and protect your hot tub or spa. As soon as biofilm becomes visible, wipe it away instantly with a hardworking cleaner such as our Spa Surface Cleaner. Make sure to wipe around the waterline and within the interior of the hot tub shell (when drained).
For the areas that aren’t easily visible such as the spa plumbing, our Spa and Hot Tub Flush can be used every 12 weeks. This effectively works to remove biofilms and keep your appliances running smoothly.
Some other tips include:
- Maintain proper water balance and continual biocide level
- Follow your existing testing and cleaning regimes regularly
- Shock your spa or hot tube after continual use or twice a month
In last week’s FAQ’s, we provided a suggested routine for cleaning and maintenance of your hot tub and spa. To read more click here.
In the event of bather illness, it would be advisable to have your hot tub water tested for microorganisms. This will help to determine whether the illness stems from your appliances or elsewhere.