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Alicia Harris's Posts

Hot Tub Works LLC Receives 2018 Best of West Chicago Award

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2018 Best of West Chicago Award presented to Hot Tub Works LLCWEST CHICAGO — Hot Tub Works LLC has been selected for the 2018 Best of West Chicago Award in the Sporting and Recreational Goods/Supplies category by the West Chicago Award Program. This marks the third consecutive year that Hot Tub Works has received this prestigious award.

Each year, the West Chicago Award Program identifies companies that we believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the West Chicago area a great place to live, work and play.

Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2018 West Chicago Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the West Chicago Award Program and data provided by third parties.

About West Chicago Award Program

The West Chicago Award Program is an annual awards program honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local businesses throughout the West Chicago area. Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value.

The West Chicago Award Program was established to recognize the best of local businesses in our community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to recognize the small business community’s contributions to the U.S. economy.

Press Release Courtesy of West Chicago Award Program

Troubleshooting Hot Tub Temperature Fluctuations

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troubleshooting hot tub heater problemsOnce you’ve entered the desired temperature on your hot tub’s control panel, you expect the heater to keep the water heated consistently. You don’t want it to get too hot, then cold, then get too hot again! Temperature fluctuations of more than a couple degrees are not normal, and often indicate a problem with water flow or a faulty switch.

For example, let’s say that you set the heating level to 103º, and the temperature falls below 100º before the heater kicks on. Once it does, the heater keeps going until the water reaches 105º or trips the high limit switch. Likewise, if you set the thermostat and find that your hot tub water is consistently hotter or cooler than expected, you may need to start troubleshooting common hot tub heater problems.

Verify the Water Temperature

First things first – make sure that your control panel is showing the correct water temperature. Stick a thermometer in the water to see if there’s a discrepancy in the temperature reading, which could indicate a faulty temperature sensor or thermostat. On most hot tubs, this sensor is located just inside of the filter housing. The temperature probe should be pushed down securely into the thermowell, and the capillary should not have any kinks. A faulty thermostat is one of the most common reasons for hot tub temperatures to bounce around.

Check Water Flow

Once that’s done, check that the filter is clean and not impeding water flow. Water levels in the hot tub should be high enough, and the pump impeller and lines should be free of obstructions and/or air to prevent flow problems. Make sure that the spa pump is working properly and there is adequate pressure coming out of the jets.

Test Switches, Sensors and Heating Element

Next, check your other switches and sensors. The high-limit switch can be found on the heater itself. The high-limit switch is a safety feature that prompts a heater to turn off when a certain maximum temperature is reached, and improper adjustment or failure can cause excessive temperature fluctuations, or the heater may not work at all. Likewise, a pressure switch or flow switch that is too sensitive or going bad can also cause a spa heater to malfunction. The thermostat, which we discussed in the first section, also impacts your hot tub’s heating ability. Adjust as necessary in small increments, secure any loose connections, or replace the part if it’s no longer working. If the switches seem fine, check to make sure that the heater is still working and that the voltage reading across the leads of the heating element is correct.

Examine Other Factors

Other things to consider include the outside temperature, the insulating ability of your hot tub and hot tub cover, and whether the daily fluctuations in ambient outside temperatures are negatively impacting the water temperature inside your tub. If your hot tub frequently gets too hot in summer or consistently loses heat on cool evenings or during the winter months, insulation ability and/or the circulation schedule may be to blame. The inside of a spa cabinet can get warm very quickly, making it easy for water temps to fluctuate or overheat. Friction of the water circulating through the pump and plumbing lines also raises the temperature somewhat. An excessively warm spa cabinet may just need more ventilation, whereas a spa cabinet that’s too cool may need more insulation to help keep the heat from escaping. Use caution when adding insulation to the cabinet; placing it too close to equipment like the heater or spa pump can become a fire hazard. Hot tub covers should have the correct foam density for your climate and be well fitted to the hot tub. If your cover is sagging, heavy or starting to wear out, it may be time to buy a new hot tub cover.


Once you’ve found the source of your hot tub temperature troubles, you can work on fixing the problem at hand. Has troubleshooting indicated a faulty part? Check out the Top 5 Hot Tub Heater Problems for more info on diagnosing and repairing hot tub heater parts.

How to Troubleshoot Common Hot Tub Problems

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hot tub troubleshootingUnfortunately, hot tubs don’t always work the way we want them to. Heaters may not heat, water flow will be low or nonexistent, leaks can pop up and water chemistry can go awry. The good news is that most hot tub problems can be remedied with a little bit of troubleshooting and a quick fix or two.

Heater Not Working

Problem: What’s a hot tub without hot water? That’s an easy one – it’s not much fun at all! If your hot tub heater doesn’t seem to be working properly, it’s often the symptom of another underlying issue.

Solution: The first thing to check is your water flow. Is there enough water going through the lines to close the flow or pressure switch and prompt the heater to start heating? If not, continue reading in the next section to resolve the flow problem. If there is adequate water flow, it may be one of the electrical components of the heater – flow or pressure switches, thermostats, high limit switches, heater elements, loose wiring, blown fuses or a tripped breaker. For more information on getting your heater up and running again, check out this article about the Top 5 Hot Tub Heater Problems.

Low Water Flow

Problem: You turn on the jets, and the water pressure flowing through the lines just isn’t as high as it should be. You may even be seeing flow-related error codes popping up on your spa’s control panel. Low water flow is actually one of the most common problems hot tub owners have to deal with. With flow troubles, there could be several different things going on.

Solution: First things first – make sure the filter and drain cover are both clean. A dirty, clogged filter or drain cover won’t allow water to pass through very easily. Also check to see if water levels are where they should be, since low levels can negatively impact flow rates. Open up all of the jets to determine if it’s just a few malfunctioning jets (which will need to be repaired or replaced) or if it’s all of the jets (which might indicate a faulty gate valve). Other potential causes include blockages in the pump impeller, blockages in ozonator valves (if you have one) or air lock, which is next on our list. If your hot tub jets aren’t feeling as strong as usual, you’ll want to read up on this informative blog post: Hot Tub Jets Not Working?

Air Lock

Problem: Air lock happens when air gets trapped in the plumbing and has no way to get out, so the pump is unable to work properly. This often happens after a hot tub has been drained, cleaned and refilled.  If you turn on the hot tub and hear the motor running, but nothing is coming out of the jets, chances are pretty good that you’re dealing with an air lock problem.

Solution: To get those jets flowing again, you’ll need to “burp” the air out of the lines. There are a couple of ways to do this. The first method involves opening the jets and turning the jets on and off a few times, increasing the duration each time. If no air or water is coming out of the jets after three on/off cycles, you’ll need to release the air directly from the pump. More detailed instructions can be found in one of our recent blog posts, How to Fix Hot Tub Air Lock.

Leaks

Problem: You may have stumbled upon a leak as the result of troubleshooting other hot tub problems, such as low water flow or air lock. Or, in some cases, you may not even notice a problem until you see water leaking from the bottom of your hot tub. Rest assured, this is usually an easy problem to resolve.

Solution: The first step is to locate the source of the leak. Check any connections that utilize a gasket or o-ring to form a seal, including spa jets, lights, pumps, unions, filter housings, chlorinators and ozonators. Leaks can also happen where PVC pieces are glued together. If you can’t locate the leak by quickly looking in the equipment bay, you may need to do a bit more digging. Once the leak is found, you’ll know what kind of repair is needed. Hot Tub Works has many helpful articles on hot tub leak repair and how to do it properly.

Error Messages

Problem: The nice thing about error messages popping up on the control panel is that you have a clear direction for focusing your troubleshooting and repair efforts. The bad thing is that there are a LOT of them, and some codes can indicate a variety of different issues!

Solution: The owner’s manual for your hot tub will usually have its own troubleshooting guide paired with a list of error codes for your specific model. But if you’ve misplaced this guide, error code meanings aren’t too hard to track down. They generally pertain to three categories: water flow, heating and sensor errors. Lucky for you, we’ve gathered “The Big List” of Hot Tub Error Codes to help you out on your troubleshooting journey.

Noisy Pump

Problem: No one likes noisy neighbors, just like spa owners don’t appreciate noisy pumps! It’s not relaxing at all, and those noises are a red flag that something’s going wrong with your pump. If your hot tub pump is banging, rattling, squeaking or  squelching, it’s time to open up the spa cabinet and take a look.

Solution: It’s fairly common for bearings to wear out on pump motors, especially if the motor is older than five years old. A screeching, high-pitched whine coming from the motor is usually a sign that the bearings are failing. If so, either the bearings, the motor or the entire spa pump will need to be replaced as soon as possible. On the other hand, if you’re hearing a low-pitched grumbling noise, your pump may not be getting enough water. Make sure the intake valves are open and your lines are free of clogs and debris. Rattling noises are often caused by vibration of the pump while it’s running, which can be fixed with a rubber pad to reduce the rattle. If the pump hums for a little bit before popping the circuit breaker, you’re likely dealing with a faulty capacitor. For more help with troubleshooting various pump issues, check out this article about Hot Tub Pump Problems.

GFCI Tripping

Problem: If no power is reaching your hot tub, the first thing you usually check is whether or not the GFCI or circuit breaker has been tripped. When you reset the button or switch and it keeps tripping, there is something else awry with your hot tub or the electrical wiring.

Solution: It’s best to start at the source, making sure that the breaker is not worn out. Moisture and corrosion on electrical components can also cause a circuit switch to trip, so thoroughly check the GFCI box and the inside of the spa cabinet for signs of a problem. Wiring can also come loose or become damaged, causing incomplete circuits or a short in the system. If all of this checks out and no problems are noticed, it’s time to look at the different electrical components of your spa. The heater is the first place most people look, since it’s the most common culprit when a breaker continually trips. If the heating element is tested and appears fine, you’ll need to narrow down the faulty component through process of elimination. Disconnect everything, then reconnect them one at a time – lights, pump, sound system, ozonator, air blower, etc. until you determine which one is causing the problem. There are many reasons power may not be reaching your hot tub. Some of those problems are best left to an electrician to handle. When in doubt, don’t hesitate to seek out a professional’s opinion!

Cloudy Water

Problem: This is a common hot tub problem, and it’s a good indicator that something is “off” in your water balance or hot tub equipment. Not only does cloudy water look bad, but it’s usually not good for you OR your hot tub, either.

Solution: Calcium levels, total alkalinity, pH and sanitizer can all play a part in water cloudiness. Excess organic materials, biofilm buildup, dirty filters and plumbing malfunctions can also be a source of cloudy water woes. It’s sometimes difficult to figure out why the water gets cloudy, so Hot Tub Works put together a handy detailed guide: 10 Reasons Why Your Spa Water is Cloudy.

Smelly Water

Problem: Just like cloudy water, smelly water often stems from poor water chemistry or hot tub maintenance practices. Foul smells coming from the hot tub indicate that bacteria is taking over, and it’s time to act fast!

Solution: Make sure pH and total alkalinity are balanced, and keep the sanitizer levels consistently within the recommended range. Shocking a spa will quickly kill off any bacteria lurking in the water. If this doesn’t help, it may be time to deep clean your spa. Purge biofilm from the lines with a cleaning product like Jet Clean, drain the tub, clean all surfaces, clean or replace the hot tub filter, and refill with properly balanced and sanitized water. If your hot tub still reeks when you’re done cleaning, check the cover. Mildew loves to grow on the underside of hot tub covers, which can make the whole tub smell musty. Keep your hot tub and cover clean, and maintain proper water balance so you’ll never have to hear, “Your Hot Tub Water Smells Bad!”


These problems (and more!) happen to every hot tub owner at some point or another, so it’s nothing to be worried or embarrassed about. Hot Tub Works has you covered! With countless informational “How To” articles, hot tub parts and chemicals, we have everything you need to get your hot tub back on track.

How to Fix Hot Tub Air Lock

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hot tub air lockIt’s a common scenario. You’ve just spent HOURS draining, cleaning and re-filling your hot tub, and you’re ready to take a soak. You turn on the jets, and although you can hear the spa pump motor running, no water is coming out of the jets. You may even notice an error code popping up on the display. It’s a dead giveaway – you have an air locked hot tub.

What is Hot Tub Air Lock?

Hot tub air lock happens when air gets trapped inside the plumbing, and the circulation pump is unable to prime. This keeps water from flowing through the water lines, preventing the pump(s), heater and jets from working normally.

Anytime a hot tub is drained for regular cleaning and maintenance, it’s easy for air to get trapped in the lines. But not to worry! Whenever hot tub air lock symptoms are noticed, it’s usually pretty easy to fix.

How to Fix Hot Tub Air Lock

There are a couple of easy methods you can use to eliminate air lock in your spa or hot tub. Before you get started, make sure the heater is either turned off or the temperature setting has been turned all the way down. If the heater kicks on while you’re purging the air, it can get damaged from overheating.

It’s worth noting that some newer hot tubs and pumps have a designated bleeder valve, which allows for quick and easy air lock elimination. Check the owner’s manual to see if your hot tub is equipped with a bleeder valve before trying any other methods.

hot tub jets

The first method involves “burping” the air out of the plumbing through the jets. First, make sure all jets are completely open by turning the faceplates counter-clockwise. Next, turn the jets on high for about 10-15 seconds, then turn them off again. Continue turning the jets on and off again, increasing the time by about 10 seconds each time until you see air bubbling out of the jets. When this happens, leave the jets on until the bubbles are gone or the jets are functioning normally. If you don’t see any air bubbles after three on/off cycles, you’ll need to try another method. Otherwise, you can damage your spa pump from allowing it to run dry.

fixing hot tub air lockAnother method is to remove air from the pump directly. This is actually much simpler than it sounds, and it only requires a screwdriver (to remove cabinet panels) and a set of channel lock pliers (to release the air). First, locate your spa pump, using the owner’s manual if necessary. If there is more than one pump, determine which one(s) is air locked. Remove the appropriate panel from the spa cabinet so you can access the pump, and very slowly loosen the large union nut between the spa plumbing and the motor to release the air. Once the air has finished leaking out, water will start to sputter out, and it will soon become a steady flow of water. When this happens, re-tighten the union. Turn the jets back on to see if the problem was solved. If not, you may need to call in professional help or try troubleshooting other hot tub jet problems.

Preventing Hot Tub Air Lock

One of the easiest ways to prevent hot tub air lock is to purge air from the lines as you are re-filling the hot tub. Instead of dropping the hose directly into the tub, stick the end of the hose into the filter well, and leave all jets completely open. This will fill the spa plumbing first, eliminating air from the lines as the spa is filled. But even this method has its flaws, and you may still run into air lock problems from time to time.

Sauna Benefits: Fact or Fiction?

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sauna benefits

Around the world, people of all cultures have enjoyed the health and relaxation benefits of saunas and other sweat-inducing therapies for thousands of years. More recently, modern advancements in infrared technology have made it easier – and more cost effective – for people to experience the benefits of a sauna from the comfort of their own home.

When it comes to sauna benefits, it can be hard to decipher fact from fiction. To help you sort through the claims, we’ve put together this handy sauna introduction, including information on the different types of saunas, how they work, the benefits they provide, as well as basic “need to know” information and warnings associated with sauna use.

Infrared vs. Traditional Saunas

Traditional saunas are available in two main types: wet and dry. Both are powered by some type of heating stove, usually wood-burning or electric. Modern traditional saunas use these heaters to warm volcanic rocks to a high temperature and provide radiant heat. The main difference between the two types of traditional saunas is the temperature and humidity at which they operate. Dry saunas are exactly that – DRY. The humidity stays fairly low, and the air is heated upwards of 190 degrees Fahrenheit. On the other hand, wet saunas (also called steam saunas) max out at a lower temperature around 110 degrees, and they use evaporated water to provide a more humid relaxation experience for the user.

New infrared saunas are a type of dry sauna, but they’re able to work at a lower temperature – around 120-140 degrees Fahrenheit. Why? Infrared heating technology warms the body more directly instead of heating the surrounding air, causing the same intense sweat but with less energy. Not only does the lower air temperature provide a more comfortable experience for the user, but it also saves quite a bit of money on monthly energy bills.

FUN FACT: On average, traditional saunas use about three times more energy than infrared saunas (4.5-6 kw traditional vs. 1.5-1.7 kw infrared)!

How do Saunas Work?

Saunas work by heating the body, causing the skin’s pores to open and release sweat at the same time blood vessels dilate near the skin’s surface. This boosts circulation to the skin, which helps cool the body as heat is transferred to evaporating sweat. The heart accelerates to around 120-150 beats per minute in order to keep up with the increased circulation and maximize the transfer of heat outside the body. Core body temperature will increase slightly, but your body works to keep this change within a healthy range. The combination of heat, increased circulation and accelerated heart rate helps the body release endorphins, which induces a relaxed, tranquil feeling and can reduce muscle and joint pain.

Sauna Benefits

There are numerous studies on the benefits of sauna usage. However, studies that focus on specific health benefits (such as lowering high blood pressure) have revealed conflicting information. That said, regular sauna use has been shown to produce the following positive results:

at home sauna benefits

  • Physical and mental relaxation
  • Stress relief
  • Increased, improved circulation
  • Feeling of refreshment and rejuvenation
  • Muscle pain and tension relief
  • Arthritis and/or joint pain relief
  • Reduction in chronic fatigue
  • Better, more restful sleep
  • Clearer, firmer skin
  • Improved sense of well-being

Some people claim that sauna use also helps with weight loss. However, the truth is that the immediate weight loss you notice is mostly just water weight. The average person loses a pint of water (or more!) in a single sauna session. You may have lost a pound from that pint, but now your body is dehydrated. Remember to drink plenty of fluids before and after each sauna session to prevent any negative health effects. When used in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise program, saunas can help enhance your weight loss efforts, in addition to relaxing sore muscles after a strenuous workout.

You may have also heard claims that saunas help to detoxify the body. While there is a small amount of truth to this, the amount of toxins and heavy metals excreted in through the sweat glands is minuscule compared to what your kidneys, liver and other organs are doing already. Saunas are not the cure-all for eliminating toxins in the body, but they certainly aren’t hurting anything.

What You Need to Know

Before using a sauna for the first time, it’s important to understand the associated risks. Because saunas increase your core temperature, they’re not recommended for people with heart disease or respiratory difficulties. There are a handful of studies that indicate saunas may actually help reduce high blood pressure. However, as with any serious health conditions, it’s important to get feedback and approval from your doctor before starting. You should not use a sauna if you are pregnant, have epilepsy, are sick and running a fever, or if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Sauna use may also cause negative reactions with certain medications. When in doubt, ask a healthcare professional.

sauna benefits

As we mentioned earlier, saunas make you sweat – a LOT. Drink plenty of water before and after using the sauna to replenish your fluids. Be on the lookout for signs of dehydration or overheating, including dizziness, lightheadedness, nausea, extreme thirst or the onset of a sudden headache. If you feel any of these symptoms, leave the sauna immediately, sit down and sip on a cool glass of water until symptoms subside. In extreme cases, medical attention may be necessary; listen to your body!

Above all else, remember to relax! Enjoy your time in the sauna. If you’re new to saunas, start slow with 10 minute sessions, and gradually work your way up to longer 15, 20 or even 30 minute sessions. Just don’t overdo it, and again, listen to your body to know when it’s time to quit! To pass the time, you can read a book or magazine, listen to music, talk with friends, or simply meditate and allow your mind to unwind in silence. Many newer saunas come with a built-in sound system to play your favorite music or relaxing, ambient tones.


Hot Tub Works carries a broad selection of top notch infrared saunas, from single user portable saunas to more extravagant four-person cedar saunas. With so many different options and our everyday low prices, it’s now easier than ever to have your very own in-home sauna. In no time at all, you too can experience the many benefits of owning – and using – an infrared sauna.

 

10 Gift Ideas for the Spa or Hot Tub Owner

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holiday hot tub gifts

Jingle bells, jingle bells – do you hear ’em? The holiday season is upon us, which means thoughtful friends (like you) are making shopping lists of gifts for friends and family.

Since you’re reading this, we’re guessing you’re probably a hot tub owner. If so, this means you likely know others who also belong to “The Hot Tub Club.” A gift that helps them enjoy their spa is the perfect way to show you care about their health and well-being.

If you’re ready to start shopping, Hot Tub Works has you covered! We have gifts for all the hot tub owners on your gift list, and they’re priced to fit any holiday shopping budget. Let Santa take a break. It’s your time to shine as the ultimate gift giver this year!

To tell the truth, these gifts are great for any special occasion – not just the holidays. Here are 10 ideas to get you started:

 

Aromatherapy Products

hot tub aromatherapyThere are so many forms of spa aromatherapy – crystals, elixirs, spa beads and even scented spa shock. They all make great gifts or stocking stuffers, and they’re quite affordable. If you’ve never tried aromatherapy in the hot tub before, you really should. Aside from the enriching aromatic experience, each product provides uniquely focused relaxation for the user. Whether refreshing the mind or rejuvenating the body, there’s an aromatherapy solution for every need or occasion. All natural ingredients and the perfect blend of moisturizing botanicals promise to soften skin, relieve stress, reduce inflammation and soothe aches and pains. These products are perfectly safe for spa surfaces and won’t clog jets.

Waterproof Playing Cards

waterproof playing cardsLooking for the perfect stocking stuffer? These waterproof playing cards go great with a floating game table, or they can be used all by themselves. Durable PVC material makes the cards completely waterproof without being too stiff to shuffle. This is a full deck of 52 regularly-sized playing cards, which comes in its own plastic carrying case. These cards are excellent for hot tubbers relaxing with others in the spa, but they also work quite well in a swimming pool setting. Give the gift that provides hours of fun for any age group!

Filter Flosser

filter flosserIf you’ve owned a hot tub for any amount of time, you know how time consuming it can be to clean a hot tub filter. With a Filter Flosser, that chore can be done in just minutes. Not only will it save the gift recipient a ton of time on regular hot tub maintenance, but it will also conserve water and prolong the life of their filter cartridges. The powerful, precise stream of water goes deep between filter pleats to provide a simple, efficient cleaning experience.

 

Spa Ozonator

spa ozonatorHere’s a gift that’s sure to please! Spa ozone systems are a simple, yet effective way to rid a hot tub of bacteria, viruses and other organic contaminants. If the person you’re buying for has a newer hot tub, chances are pretty good that it already has an ozone system built in. However, if the hot tub is more than a few years old, an ozonator will likely be a welcome addition. Spa ozonators reduce the need for sanitizing chemicals, and they leave behind no residues or harsh by-products, making this a great option for people with sensitive skin. They also pair perfectly with mineral sanitizers.

Spa Cover Lifter

spa cover liftMany people who own a spa already have (and use) a spa cover lifter. However, if someone on your gift list doesn’t yet have a cover lift, or if they need to replace their old, rusty one, Hot Tub Works has the perfect gift you’ve been searching for. A spa cover lift is a gift of convenience, making it possible for anyone to open a heavy spa cover by themselves. It also helps prevent damage to the cover while it’s off the tub. Lightweight aluminum and sturdy steel cover lifts are available to accommodate most spa covers, large or small.

Lighted Napa Bottle Chiller

lighted ice bucketThis gift will be the talk of the holiday party, as well as every hot tub party after that! This unique wine and beverage chiller is illuminated by color-changing LED lights. Choose from 24 colors, 4 color-changing settings and 2 brightness levels at the touch of a button. The rechargeable battery provides 8-10 hours of lighted entertainment, making it perfect for parties and get-togethers. The weatherproof design allows it to be used outdoors or indoors – it’s up to you! Just add ice, add your favorite canned or bottled beverages, turn on the light, and it’s ready to go.

Insulating Spa Blanket

protective thermal insulating spa blanketA floating thermal spa blanket is an inexpensive gift that can save any hot tub owner a chunk of change. The most notable benefit is that it prolongs the life of a spa cover by blocking chemicals and water vapor from gassing off and absorbing into the cover. This blanket also increases a spa’s efficiency by locking in the heat. This lightweight thermal blanket is easy to put on and remove, and it comes in two convenient square sizes: 7’x7′ or 8’x8′. If the spa isn’t perfectly square, simply trim the blanket with scissors to match any custom shape.

Spa Care Kits

spa care kitLooking for a gift that just keeps giving? Surprise the hot tub owner on your shopping list with a spa care kit. There are 6-month maintenance kits for both chlorine and bromine users, multi-packs of scented spa shock, a spa cover care kit, floating sanitizer systems and cartridge refills, as well as all-inclusive spa start-up kits. We even have a kit for spa owners struggling with hard water issues. Just place a spa care kit in a wicker basket, add a gift bow or some colorful tissue paper, and give the gift of worry-free hot tub maintenance this year. Spa care kits also make fun “teaser” gifts if you’ll be surprising a loved one with their very own hot tub this holiday season.

Cantilever Umbrella

market umbrellaWhile soaking in a toasty hot tub, the last thing anyone wants to do is bake in the sun – especially when the weather gets warmer. This is why many hot tubs are located in shaded areas or under some type of roof or overhang. However, there are quite a few spas that don’t have that optimal placement, which is where offset cantilever umbrellas, also known as market umbrellas, come in handy. Hot Tub Works has two styles available – one is a 10′ umbrella with a metal plate that slides under your hot tub (3 colors available), and the other is a 9′ umbrella that can be bolted down or attached to a sturdy base (12 colors available). Market umbrellas also work well for patio tables and seating areas.

Infrared Sauna

infrared saunaWe saved the best for last! Imagine the look on your loved one’s face when you surprise them with a brand new in-home sauna. The growing list of sauna benefits is simply incredible. Besides soaking in a hot tub, there really is no better way to relax your muscles, detoxify your body and unwind at the end of the day. It’s not just a sauna – it’s a valuable wellness tool and is often considered a health investment. From extravagant 4-person infrared saunas to the less expensive single user or portable models, there’s a relaxation station for every budget.

Not finding what you’re looking for? There are so many other great hot tub gifts available in our online store. Another idea is to provide a “personal spa service” of sorts, helping the hot tub people on your list drain and clean the spa and/or condition the cover. Other ideas include an outdoor carpet or wood runners to help keep feet clean, new spa towels and a towel rack, or you could even spice things up by adding some music to their spa. It’s not too hard to find the perfect gift. The options are endless!

From all of us at Hot Tub Works, we wish you a safe and happy holiday season!

Help! My Hot Tub Pillows Stink!

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how to clean hot tub pillowsIt’s a common scenario. You open the hot tub cover and settle in for a warm, relaxing soak. Next thing you know, your senses are bombarded by the overwhelming aroma of smelly hot tub pillows…YUCK! Not relaxing at all! Lucky for you, it’s not too hard to eliminate that stealthy stench.

Why Do My Spa Pillows Stink?

Bacteria, mold and mildew thrive in warm, moist environments, making your hot tub a hot spot for the growth of these smell-inducing microorganisms. Left unchecked, they can accumulate and make your entire hot tub – not just the pillows – smell bad.

It’s easier for microorganisms to grow if the water’s pH is unbalanced and sanitizer levels aren’t high enough. Bacteria can also build up over time if the spa doesn’t get drained and cleaned properly. Failure to remove the spa cover and allow it to breathe or “gas off” regularly can also exacerbate smelly spa issues.

How Do I Clean My Spa Pillows?

Regular cleaning will not only keep your hot tub pillows smelling great, it will also keep them looking great and slow down the rate of deterioration. Here are some quick tips to clean your hot tub pillows and get rid of that stinky smell:

  1. Remove the pillows from your hot tub. Some pillows are connected by suction cups, some by screws, and some by a specialized plug or clip. Use caution and follow the manufacturer’s instructions so you don’t damage the pillow or attachment pieces.
  2. Prepare the cleaning solution. If it’s part of your regular maintenance, use a gentle hot tub cleansing product. For mild mildew, vinegar and baking soda should do the trick. For more stubborn smells or severe mold and mildew, try bleach and a mild detergent. The use of gloves and safety goggles is recommended when handling strong chemicals.
  3. Use a sponge and cleaning solution to clean the pillow. Gently scrub to make sure every bit of mold and mildew is removed. If your pillow has a cover or can be disassembled, all pieces should be thoroughly cleaned. For hard-to-reach areas, seams, indents or deep textures, use a toothbrush. Don’t scrub too hard, or you’ll damage the pillow.
  4. Rinse pillows thoroughly to remove all cleaning solution.
  5. Allow the pillows to dry completely. This will kill off any remaining bacteria, mildew or mold spores. Warm, sunny days are perfect for this! Any strong scents left over from the cleaning solution (such as vinegar or bleach) should dissipate as the pillows dry.
  6. Clean hot tub surfaces in the areas behind the pillows. Don’t forget this step! Mold and mildew love to hide and accumulate here, so it could be where the smell was originating.
  7. Reassemble the fully dried pillows. When you’re ready to use them again, put them back in the hot tub, and enjoy that freshly-cleaned spa pillow scent!

Other Maintenance Tips

Keeping a close eye on water balance, sanitizer levels and overall cleanliness will help your entire hot tub stay looking and smelling good for many years to come. If you start to notice a smell coming from the spa, don’t just mask it with aromatherapy products – those can come after the bad smell is GONE. Find the root of the problem first, and eliminate the cause. Common sources of strong odors include the pillows, biofilm buildup in the plumbing, a dirty filter, an aging spa cover or even the water itself.

For regular pillow maintenance, gently wipe or rinse away chemical residue at least once a week. This is an easy way to prolong the lifespan of the pillows. If you won’t be using the hot tub for a while and are concerned about mildew issues, simply remove the pillows, clean them thoroughly (using the steps above), and store them in a dry place until they’re needed again.

If you notice that your hot tub pillows have started deteriorating and are smelling bad more frequently, it may be time to find replacement pillows. Hot Tub Works has many different types of spa pillow replacements to fit many models of hot tubs. We might just have what you’re looking for!

How to Drain a Hot Tub…Quickly!

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Knowing how to drain a hot tub is one thing. Knowing how to drain a hot tub quickly is another. It can save so much time in hot tub maintenance! The average hot tub should be drained every 3-4 months, depending on frequency of use, water quality and other factors. Using the drain plug alone or siphoning water through a garden hose can take hours and hours to complete. In this blog, we’ll introduce you to some quicker methods for draining a spa or hot tub in minutes.

 

First Things First

Before getting started, check local ordinances to make sure you are able to legally drain the spa. Can you drain it into the yard? Can the water drain into the street? Is there a sewer hookup nearby? Perhaps there’s a draught in the area, and water conservation measures are in effect. Knowing this info before getting started will save you from headaches later on.

jet clean hot tub cleanerchange or clean the hot tub filterA couple times a year (or more), it’s a good idea to purge the plumbing in your hot tub. Bacteria, body oils and other organic matter form layers of nasty biofilm, which can lurk in the pipes and cause skin irritation or illness. Using a cleansing product like Jet Clean breaks down the biofilm so it can be removed while draining. Just add the chemical, turn on the jets, and let it circulate for 20-60 minutes, following label instructions on time and dosing. Don’t fret if brownish, foamy goop comes to the surface – this means the cleaner is working!

After the lines have been purged, turn off all hot tub functions and flip the circuit breaker; you don’t want the pump or heater to come on while the water level is low. Remove the filter for cleaning, and assemble your supplies…it’s time to drain the hot tub!

Draining the Hot Tub

There are couple of easy ways to quickly drain a hot tub. Either method can be used in addition to the drain plug or combined with other draining methods for maximum efficiency.

use a submersible pump to drain a hot tub

Submersible Pump

The fastest way to drain a hot tub is to use a submersible pump. Personally, I like using the AquaPro APC3000 submersible pump. This 1/3 HP pump can be used with a ¾” garden hose or a 1¾“ sump pump discharge hose to remove up to 30 gallons per minute (1,800 gallons per hour). The math is pretty simple – a 450 gallon spa can be emptied in as little as 15 minutes flat. Yes, you read that correctly!

The AquaPro is nice, because it includes a sensor to automatically turn off once the spa has been emptied. Since you won’t have to babysit the pump, use this time to clean the spa filter or get started on the spa cover. There should only be a little bit of water left in the bottom, which can be removed manually or with a wet/dry vac.

Shop Vac Siphon

wet/dry shop vacuumAnother fast method for draining a hot tub is using a wet/dry vacuum to get a siphon started. Drop one end of a long vacuum hose into the spa, and connect the other end to the wet/dry vacuum. Turn it on for a few seconds – just long enough to let the hose prime and get the flow moving. Turn off the vacuum, and quickly disconnect the hose so the water can flow out onto the ground.

Though not quite as fast as using a submersible pump, this method can still empty out an average-sized hot tub in a matter of minutes. The large hose diameter makes it much more efficient than a garden hose siphon. The nice thing about using the vacuum hose is that while water is being siphoned out of the spa, you can use the “wand” end to remove dirt and debris from the floor and seats. Once the water level is low enough that the siphon isn’t pulling water anymore, hook the hose back up to the wet/dry vacuum to remove the last puddles of water from the tub.

Final Tips

hot to drain a hot tubIf you’re going to be leaving the spa empty for a while, don’t forget to remove water from the lines, too. A new layer of biofilm can build up quickly if the water is allowed to stay in the pipes, and you’ll be right back at square one when you refill! This can be done with a wet/dry vacuum to blow and/or suck the water out. Or, if your spa has one, briefly turn on the air blower, making sure all jets are open first. Remember to turn the power back off once you’re done with the air blower.

Thoroughly dry the tub with a soft towel. Next, use a spa cleaning chemical to remove tough scum and protect the tub surface. Finish cleaning (or replace) the filter cartridge, clean and condition the cover, and hose off the spa cabinet if it’s looking dirty. If you’re not refilling the hot tub right away, allow the filter to dry completely, and store it indoors.

 

Of course, you can always just use the bottom drain on the hot tub and wait for several hours. Then again, the faster the hot tub is drained and cleaned, the sooner you can get back to using it! Hot Tub Works has everything needed to clean and maintain your freshly drained spa, from cleaning chemicals and replacement filters, to water balancing chemicals and test strips. Have questions? Give us a call!

Hot Tub Pros & Cons: In Ground vs. Above Ground

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hot tub pros and cons

Looking to buy (or build) a new spa or hot tub? There are two basic types to choose from – in ground hot tubs and above ground hot tubs. Each type has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, and there are many styles to choose from within each category. To help decide which one will work best for you, we’ve put together a handy list of hot tub pros and cons.

In Ground Hot Tub

If you’re considering an in ground spa or hot tub, chances are that you’re either looking to purchase a house with one already installed, or you’re thinking of installing one in your own backyard. These hot tubs can be attached to a pool as a pool-spa combo, or they can be completely independent of a pool. If you live in the snowbelt but would like to use your hot tub over the winter, avoid pool-spa combos that share the same pump and filter system or allow spa water to overflow into the pool.

Pros

  • in ground hot tubAesthetically pleasing addition to backyard. Perfectly complements any pool.
  • Permanent fixture – durable and built to last.
  • Can add value to home.
  • Easy maintenance if pool and spa share the same pump, filter and sanitizer system.
  • Hot tub doesn’t have to be drained if sharing water with the pool.
  • Customizable design options – shape, seating, lighting, jet placement, water features, spillover into pool, building materials used, etc.
  • Easy to get into and out of spa.

Cons

  • in ground hot tubFewer hydrotherapy jets.
  • Concrete spas are more abrasive on skin and swimsuits.
  • Most have basic bench-type seating around the spa, which isn’t as comfortable or accommodating.
  • Must be heated each time it’s used, which consumes a lot of energy.
  • Expensive to install.
  • Excavation and construction process takes time – 2 weeks to 3 months (or longer).
  • If using a cover, it’s more difficult to remove without a cover lift.

Above Ground Hot Tub

Also known as a portable spa, above ground hot tubs are a common choice for people purchasing a spa for their home. A portable spa doesn’t require any special permits, construction or extra equipment – just set it on a flat surface, fill it up, plug it in, and it’s ready to use! With a little creativity and planning, you can help it blend into your backyard setting and boost its visual appeal.

Pros

  • above ground hot tubComfortable ergonomic seats at varying levels to accommodate people of all heights.
  • Smooth acrylic finish is gentle on skin and easy to clean.
  • Many hydrotherapy jets with varying settings for a full body massage.
  • Lower purchase price, and costs less to operate and maintain.
  • Simple installation.
  • Building into a deck or other elevated landscaping can provide the illusion of an in ground spa.
  • Well-fitting spa cover conserves heat, keeps water cleaner and can be easily removed with a cover lift.
  • Always heated and ready to use; no waiting period for the water to warm up.
  • Most spas come with pre-installed extras – color-changing LED lights, water features, built-in stereos, etc.
  • Placement near home provides convenient winter access.
  • Can be moved to another location at any time.

above ground hot tub

Cons

  • Does not blend into landscape as easily.
  • Must be drained every 3-4 months to maintain water quality.
  • Not customizable. Fewer options for size, shape and interior materials.
  • Must use steps to get into and out of the spa.
  • Requires extra care to make sure the cabinet and cover stay looking new.
  • Must use specifically labeled spa chemicals. Pool chemicals are stronger and will damage your tub.
  • Filter cartridges need regular cleaning, which equals twice the work if you also have a pool.

Which is Better?

There really is no clear winner here. Both styles have their own merits, so it all comes down to personal preference. If you want to add extra dimension to your backyard, enjoy hosting social events at your home, or you just want a relaxing soak every once in a while, an in ground hot tub will likely suit you best. On the other hand, if you place more value on comfortable seating, powerful hydrotherapy, relatively simple upkeep, and you plan on using it frequently, you might opt for an above ground spa instead.

How to Keep a Hot Tub Clean While on Vacation

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how to maintain a hot tub while on vacation

If you’ve owned a hot tub for any length of time, you know that it requires daily maintenance to keep the water clean and sanitary. But what do you do when you aren’t home to clean the spa for a few days or weeks? How do you keep the hot tub clean while you’re on vacation? Not to worry – we’ve got all your answers right here!

 

First Things First…

No matter how long you’ll be away from home, what the outdoor weather is like, or what time of sanitizer you use for your hot tub, some procedures will stay the same across the board for vacation-proofing your hot tub:

  • Test and balance the water.
    • Test the alkalinity and calcium hardness of your spa water, and balance it accordingly.
  • Clean or replace the filter cartridge.
    • change or clean the hot tub filterThis is one of the most important things to do before you go on vacation. Clean or replace the filter cartridge before you leave.
    • If you leave for a week or two with a dirty filter, you’re going to have dirty water to contend with when you get home.
  • Sanitize the water.
    • Make sure there’s enough sanitizer to get your spa through vacation, and lower the output levels as needed.
    • Since there will be no people in the hot tub while you’re gone, the sanitizer won’t be used up as quickly.
    • Before you leave, treat the water with spa shock, and run the pump for about 30 minutes to ensure the water has been well circulated.
  • Secure the spa.
    • No matter how long you’ll be away, make sure to keep your hot tub cover or entrance(s) locked down.
    • If an uninvited guest goes for a dip in your spa and something bad happens, you may be held liable. Keeping the cover firmly closed will also keep dirt out and heat in.

Now that the basics are out of the way, let’s look out how this maintenance plan will change depending on a number of different factors.

 

Planning According to Duration

Short Vacation

If you’re only leaving town for a couple of days, there’s no need to do much else besides the basic instructions listed above. Enjoy your trip, knowing that when you return home the hot tub will be in the same pristine condition you left it in!

hot tub vacation

Long Vacation

Here, it mostly depends on how long you will be gone. A week? Two weeks? A month or more? For 1-2 week vacations, preparation work is extremely important. If you have a friend or neighbor who can drop in a couple times to monitor water quality and add more sanitizer, this will make it easier to keep the water clean and clear while you’re gone. As incentive for adding sanitizer for you, allow them to use the hot tub while you’re gone! To save on heating expenses, you can also decrease the temperature by 10 degrees.

On the other hand, if you’re going to be gone for quite a while, or if it’s been a few months since the spa was last drained and refilled, you may be ahead to just clean and drain your spa before you leave. Be sure to use a product like Jet Clean, which will clear the lines of biofilm and other hidden gunk. Drain the tub, and turn on a blower or low pressure air compressor to completely clear the water out of the lines. This will prevent freezing damage or yucky bio-growth taking over the plumbing. Once the tub is fully drained, thoroughly clean and dry the tub with a soft towel or sponge. Leave all drain plugs off to release any remaining water in the system, and put the spa cover back on to keep the tub clean and out of direct sunlight. It will be ready for a fresh refill when you return!

*Please note that wooden hot tubs cannot be drained for extended periods.

 

Planning According to Weather

Warm Weather

warm weatherIf weather conditions are pretty warm in your area, the main thing you’ll need to worry about while you’re gone is algae growth. Keeping sanitizer levels up is your best defense against an algae outbreak, and shocking the spa before you go will certainly help. If needed, use a spa algaecide to treat and prevent algae. It’s OK to turn off the pump and heater while you’re out of town if there’s no risk of the water freezing.

Cold Weather

cold weatherIf temperatures are consistently below freezing, you’ll need to ensure the hot tub and plumbing will stay thawed while you’re away. As long as the spa is properly heated, it’s alright to drop the water temperature by 10 degrees to save on heating costs. Leave the pump and heater on to keep the water warm and circulating. If you have freeze protection for your hot tub, it will automatically turn on the circulation pump when temperatures approach freezing.

 

Planning According to Sanitizer Type

Bromine or Chlorine Sanitizer

Bromine is the most popular sanitization chemical for hot tubs and spas, and it’s actually pretty easy to manage while you’re out of town. Just load up a bromine floater with 1” bromine tablets, and turn the output setting down to the lowest setting to keep the chemical flow to a minimum.spa bromine and chlorine

For chlorine, just remember to NEVER put 1” tri-chlor (stabilized pool chlorine) tabs into a spa floater. Tri-chlor tablets are intended for use in pools only, but di-chlor granular chlorine can be safely added to spas. If you rely solely on chlorine granules for sanitizing the water, you may need to have a friend or neighbor help out until you get back home. On the other hand, if you have a chlorine hot tub, it’s likely that you also supplement the chlorine with a mineral sanitizer or an ozone system. If that’s the case, keep reading to learn more!

salt chlorine generator for spas and hot tubs

Salt Chlorine Generator

If you have a salt water hot tub, you won’t have to worry too much while on vacation! Just make sure salt levels are sufficient for chlorine generation, and shock the water before you go. The chlorine will not be used up as quickly while the spa is closed, so the generator will not be working as hard to maintain free chlorine levels.

Mineral Sanitizer

mineral floaterMineral sanitizers are valuable in that they can supplement most other sanitizer systems – bromine, chlorine and ozone, included. Some mineral sanitizers are packaged as floaters and paired with bromine or chlorine, while others can be dropped directly into your spa filter. Aside from the standard pre-vacation spa maintenance, you’ll just need to make sure that your mineral cartridges are good to go. Most mineral cartridges last about 4 months, so if needed, just replace them before you leave.

Ozonator

spa ozone generator

Just like a salt chlorinator, an ozone generator won’t require much extra effort before you close up the hot tub. Just ensure everything is working properly and the water is properly balanced and sanitized before you go. You won’t have to worry about overdosing the tub on ozone, so you don’t even need to adjust the timer if you don’t want to.

 

With a little extra planning and preparation, your hot tub will be ready to use in no time once you return. Don’t let routine hot tub maintenance keep you from enjoying the vacation you deserve!