Biofilm – The Unseen Scourge
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Biofilm – The Unseen Scourge

Biofilm – The Unseen Scourge

Biofilm. From the word you’d think maybe it could be a biography movie, but no. We’re about to make this word on par with ‘moist’ for many people. Disclaimer, this is not a pleasant subject.

What is biofilm?

Biofilm is any group of bacteria and other microorganisms that grow on surfaces that are in regular contact with water. A mixture of bacteria, solids, oil and other organic matter (yuck), it can be home to harmful bacteria like Legionella (Legionnaire’s Disease), Pseudomonas Aeruginosas, Mycobacterium Fortuitum and E-Coli.

Now how do these bacteria get in your hot tub? They hitch a ride on you and your bathers! All of these bacteria occur naturally in the environment, though a healthy immune system can usually fend them off when they occur in small numbers.

After colonising their chosen area the microorganisms create a protective layer of ‘slime’ that is resistant to biocides. Can you think of a time where you’ve felt a slippery, slimy surface near or underwater? That was biofilm, it’s not a nice feeling.

Naturally forming under most conditions, biofilm thrives in dark, warm (above 32 degrees C), water rich environments. Thus making your spa, hot tub, and even jetted bath tub the perfect place for it to grow. Removing water from the equation is not enough to dispose of it, so draining your spa or hot tub will not be enough. As biofilm dries out it goes into a dormant state and will come back to life as soon as it is back in contact with water.

Symptoms of Biofilm

  • A brown scum ring at the waterline and filter discolouration
  • Foaming and water problems
  • Consumes excessive amounts of biocide as its effectiveness decreases
  • Reduces pipe diameter in extreme cases
  • Bather illness

Biofilm prevention

For biofilm on visible areas of your hot tub, it’s easily wiped away using our Spa Surface Cleaner on the waterline and the interior of the hot tub shell when drained.

For your unseen spa plumbing use our Spa and Hot Tub Flush every 12 weeks to help remove biofilms and keep the innerworkings of your hot tub squeaky clean.

Maintain proper water balance and continual biocide level. Follow your testing routine to keep everything in tip top shape.

Shock your spa or hot tub after heavy use, or twice a month.

Keeping on top of your cleaning regimen is important. See last week’s FAQ article for our suggested routine. Click here.

In the case of bather illness, it would be smart to have your hot tub water tested for microorganisms to see if your spa or hot tub was the issue. For more information on Legionella and microorganism testing read our previous The Pool article. Click here.

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