To:  Multi-Tech Products

I am a spa dealer in Arizona, and I have a customer asking about extreme color fading in their 15 years-old, in-ground acrylic spa.  I have attached a photo.  What would cause this to occur?  Would spa chemicals be a likely culprit?  Please help.

Thanks,

Kevin

bilo pic

     (click to enlarge)

To Kevin,

Yes, your photo confirms a problem with extreme color fading.   There are two common causes of fading in an acrylic spa.  Pure acrylic is transparent, so pigments are added to achieve the attractive colors and effects.  These pigments are subject to fading from over exposure to chemicals and to a lesser degree sunlight  For example, it has been proven that high concentrations of chemicals like “tri-chlor” can completely bleach out spa surfaces.  UV light from the sun can also be a contributing factor.   Your spa may be suffering from a combination of both problems.  The cracks around the top edge are evidence of excessive exposure to the sun’s heat.  The sun’s radiant energy can result in very high acrylic surface temperatures during the day.  The cracks form as a result of repeated expansion and contraction from large swings in temperature from daylight to night.   This occurs frequently when a cover is not used when the spa is not in use.  If you look closely, the entire top surface is covered with cracks and crazing.  See our crazing blog entry below.   Manufacturers insist on  the use of a cover when the spa is not in use.  This is required to prevent cracks and crazing.  Most manufacturers will void a warranty when a spa cover is not used routinely.   See the “Why use a Spa Cover blog entry”.   It describes more on crazing.

https://multitechproducts.wordpress.com/2013/08/14/why-use-a-spa-cover/

Fading like your example would require years of exposure to strong sunlight, therefore, I believe excess sanitizing chemicals in the water is the prime cause of the fading.  Your case is the worst example of chemical/sunlight fading that I have personally seen in my 25 years’ experience.  You should also read the following blog entry.

Additional information at:   https://multitechproducts.wordpress.com/2012/04/20/surface-discoloration-in-an-acrylic-spa/

Early fading is usually limited to a thin layer on the surface.  In these cases it can be removed by sanding, buffing, and polishing the surface.  However, eliminate the source(s) of the problem.  Refer to our procedures in the website, or our Buffing and Polishing DVD for instructions on renewing the gloss on the surface.

https://multitechproducts.wordpress.com/2012/04/14/how-to-buff-and-polish-spa-surface/

You asked about chemicals used to maintain water chemistry.  Since they are strong oxidizing agents, it is a logical question.  First, if these chemicals are used properly, there will be no issue.  Some exceptionally strong oxidizers can create problems.  For example, it has been shown that high concentrations of “tri-chlor” in hot water can cause severe bleaching in acrylic spa surfaces.   Spa owners who use this chemical in the tablet form have real problems with fading, since they can rest on the acrylic surface, and dissolve slowly.  A high concentration of the chemical exists at the immediate area surrounding the tablet. When chemicals are involved, the fading is generally at the water line.  Generally speaking, we have witnessed very few issues with acrylic due to any of the common spa chemicals, which include bromine, chlorine, and ozone.  Acrylic is an outstanding product for spas, and has fewer problems than any material ever used for them.  But your photo shows what can happen when the spa is abused, and manufacturer recommendations are ignored.

I hope this helps.

Regards,

Rob

To Multi-Tech Products Corp.

Thanks for the great advice on this spa.  However, do you think it can be salvaged?

Kevin

To: Kevin

The simple answer is that it is possible to salvage.   We offer a FRL system that can be used to refinish  and create a completely new, attractive, long term surface that will last 15 to 20 years.  For information and instructions, go to http://www.multitechproducts.com/categories/frl-refinishing-system/

Also, refer to http://www.multitechproducts.com/content/procedures/frl%20PROCEDURE%20Final%20Draft.pdf

Your spa is a good candidate for the FRL resurfacing system, which is designed to create a new attractive surface on an aged spa that still is structurally sound, or is installed in a location that would be very expensive if one were to attempt to remove and replace it.  Even if there are structural issues, reinforcement can be added prior to the FRL application.  The FRL materials are applied directly on top of the acrylic surface.  Do not try this with bathtub, marine, or pool refinish coatings, since they will only provide a few years of service before peeling or delaminating from the surface.  Our FRL system has been proven to work in this application,and even over severely crazed acrylic, and is perfect for oxidized gelcoat surfaces.   However, it should only be performed by trained surface repair professionals, but we have seen people with handyman skills be successful with the process.  One important consideration is that the mechanical and electronic systems for hydrotherapy are still functional, and without issues.  Some of the advantages offered by the FRL system  include:

In ground spas may require a lot of costly work to remove and replace.  The FRL system will save dollars, and is a permanent solution.  The spa can be in service again in about one week.  Most structural problems can be fixed during the process.  Even modifications can be added to the steps, seats, and tile areas using standard composite methods prior to the FRL application

Please let us know if we can be of further help.

Good Luck,

Rob