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Carolyn Mosby's Posts

Exterior Design – Creating Hot Tub Décor

September 4th, 2014 by

exterior-design-hot-tubs-and-spasGood exterior design is a sum of its parts, bringing together disparate elements into one cohesive and balanced design.

Your hot tub or spa is a warm, bubbling respite away from the stress of everyday life. Shouldn’t the surroundings of your spa also create feelings of peace and serenity? I’m not talking about a Zen garden, although if that’s your theme, by all means go ahead – but rather adding design elements that engage the senses, and produce an air of tranquility. Isn’t that what your hot tub is all about?

Put into words, using adjectives – just what is it that a Hot Tub means to you. Not your current hot tub, but your ideal hot tub. What would it look like? Rustic? Elegant? Tropical? Modern? Now how does it make you feel – Chic? Adventurous? Pampered? Relaxed?

Principles of Exterior Design

Balance & Contrast

Exterior Design is not so different from interior design. To make interesting spaces, designers play with balancing and contrasting elements. An element is anything tactile and visual – everything in sight is an element that can be matched or juxtaposed with surrounding surfaces and objects.

Lines: Horizontal or Vertical, diagonal or curved. The visual lines around your hot tub – fence, walls, floors, even the hot tub itself can balance each other in simple or striking ways. Lines can be used to make a space feel taller or more spacious. The type of lines used can evoke very different feelings. Thick or thin, precise or varied, bold or barely there. Wall, ceiling and floor coverings often make use of lines, to bring balance or contrast to the shape of the room, or outdoor space.

hot-tub-exterior-decorating

Symmetry: Open any book on design and there will be an early chapter on creating symmetry. It’s all around us, and being that our own bodies are symmetrical, we are naturally drawn towards symmetry. In exterior design, you’ll often find landscapes very symmetrical, and the house as well. Symmetry is as natural as bookends, end tables or night stands, but can also be seen as boring by those who prefer to avoid repetition.

Asymmetry: Asymmetrical designs can be just as pleasing, but instead of using repetition, they create balance through contrast. The difference can be with color, size, position, texture, quantity or even empty space. If you want something different, consider radial design, with elements arranged in a concentric fashion around a focal point, like your hot tub!

hot--tub-and-spa-design-ideas

Scale & Shape

One can do a lot with scale & shape – the size and form of various elements placed around the hot tub, and if space allows, focal points placed further out in the field of vision.

Size:  The outdoors allows and begs for a larger scale than what can be done indoors. A few examples of large elements around a hot tub include outdoor fireplaces, overhead pergola or open air gazebos. Large oak leaf and ivy trellises can double as privy fences, and chunky living room style lounges and daybeds, fountains or sculptures can be added to your spa resort.

Form: Shapes are all around us – even the spaces in between ‘things’ have a shape. Shapes need not be 3-dimensional, that is they don’t have to have depth, and so are often added to walls, but can also be creatively used on floors and ceilings.

exterior-design-for-hot-tubs-and-spas

Landscape: When imagining the landscape around your spa, one way to consider scale and shape is to use a mix of small, medium and large plants (or small trees) to build layers of shapes and sizes. If you love blooms, plan and plant a perennial garden, blooming from early spring to late autumn. Your landscape doesn’t have to match your style completely, but should complement a theme. For instance, hot tub landscaping can be formal or casual, desert or tropical, beach or mountains. It can be inspired by Asian, Mediterranean or Latin landscape gardens. It’s best to consider your growing zone, and choose plants that will thrive in your climate, and with available daily sun exposure. Your local garden center has experts that can help you with plant selection for scale, shape and style.

Colors & Textures

color-wheelThere is a general rule of design that 3 colors is the maximum number of hues that one should use in a space. These are sometimes referred to as the dominant, secondary and accent colors. However, if you want to use more colors, make use of analogous colors, or those that are in the same general spectrum of color, or neighbors on the color wheel. Opposites on the color wheel are often paired together, in a complementary color scheme.

When designers consider a color scheme for a room or outdoor space, they can go in several directions, depending on the primary use of the space, and the wishes of those who will inhabit the space. If you have a theme in mind, or an overall style picked out, it makes it easier to narrow the color choices. Often, certain elements or focal points in the space become the primary inspiration for the color palette. But it doesn’t have to be!

hot-tub-decorating-ideas

Textures: Everything has a texture, and will fall somewhere on a spectrum of texture from smooth to rough. There are two types of texture – actual texture and simulated texture. Actual texture will have depth and a tactile sensation of texture. Simulated texture is created by duplicating the color value and darkness of the original, but in only two dimensions. It’s best practice to use a combination of surface textures, to suit your style. Generally, the more formal a setting is, the smoother the elements become, while more rustic or outdoorsy style will utilize a great deal more texture. Texture can be overdone however, so use with care, to avoid too many or too few competing textures.

outdoor-design-for-hot-tubs-and-spas

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

What’s the Best Hot Tub Temperature?

August 25th, 2014 by

hot-spaWhen I was younger, the target temperature for hot tubs was 105°, but that’s changed – now the CPSC recommends temperatures no higher than 104°. They also caution that one should always check the thermometer before entering a spa, and be aware that thermometers can be incorrect!

So, 104° for the regular hot tub soak – but that comes with a disclaimer. High temperatures over 100° are NOT recommended for pregnant women, hypertensive persons (with high blood pressure), or those with heart disease.

High temperatures can also irritate certain skin conditions, and temperatures of over 100° are not recommended for children, who overheat more easily than adults.

But what about all those other spa activities, besides a spine-tingling hot soak? There are other recommended temperatures, depending on the use of the spa, hot tub or whirlpool.

 

Exercise

Exercises such as Yoga, or various types of core workouts or stretching can be exhausting in a hot spa. If you use your spa for exercise, especially active exercise, you’ll find a temperature below 90° to be more comfortable. It’s also safer, to prevent overheating and hyperthermia.

Therapy

For conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia and other chronic pain diseases, warmer water increases circulation to the joints and allows for a more comfortable therapeutic exercises. Also helpful for rehabilitative movements or therapies. For most warm water therapy, a temperature below the body temperature 98.6° is desirable, something between 92-94°.

Special Conditions

Children, obese persons and those with MS can overheat easily, and should not exceed 100° in a spa or hot tub. In addition, it’s important to limit your spa session time to 15-20 minutes, and take in non-alcoholic beverages to cool the body.

Pregnant women should take care not to exceed 92 degrees in the spa or hot tub, and take in plenty of water or juice before and after hot tubbing, according to the Aquatic Therapy & Rehab Institute.

Those recovering from accidents or stroke can use a warm spa to slowly regain movements, by practicing simple flexion and extension exercises. Every patient may prefer a different temperature, but most will fall in between 88-92 degrees F.

Air Temperature

Also a factor in how hot or warm the water feels, is the air temperature outside. An air temperature of 75° may feel nice walking around outside, but can feel chilly as one sits in water that is below body temperature. 88° may be perfect when the air temperature is above 80°, but feel too cold when air temps are just above 60°.

~ So, whatever temperature you like, whichever feels most comfortable, that’s usually the ideal temperature. Just remember that the hotter the water is, the shorter the soak should be. Don’t want you overheating!

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

Wood Hot Tubs vs. Acrylic Spas

August 11th, 2014 by

 

animated-hot-tub

WOOD HOT TUBS vs. ACRYLIC SPASanimated-spa

Born in the fifties, growing up in northern California in the sixties, I can remember when my parents installed their first hot tub. It was a used oak wine vat that my father got from a winemaker he knew in Napa.

He set it up in the backyard, and filled it with hot water from the kitchen. After the first soak, when we all got out, our skin was stained a burgundy color! Mom was very nervous and put us in the bathtub and scrubbed our skin until it hurt.

Later on, he added a small Jacuzzi® brand pump, and pumped the water through a wood burning heater. A year or two after that he added a small pool filter, so he wouldn’t have to change the water so often. He also put in a gravity fed shower with a pull chain. It was a great outdoor shower, because the water was hot, straight from the tub.

This was 1965-ish, so remember there were no spa or hot tub suppliers back then, things were sort of cobbled together. And no, my parents weren’t hippies – they would consider themselves more avant garde – what you might call ‘early adopters’ nowadays.

Wooden Hot Tubs or Acrylic Spas - which is better?

 

ROUND ONE – APPEARANCE

round-1Both spas and hot tubs have appealing designs, but the natural wood staves of a hot tub, and the round shape has a more zen-like feel. Wrapped in a beautiful wooden deck and steps (which also hides the equipment and helps to retain heat, is the most beautiful approach to hot water soaking. The smell of the redwood or cedar wood gives off a natural aromatherapy

Winner: Hot Tubs

ROUND TWO – COMFORT

round-2Early wooden hot tubs didn’t even have benches, you had to stand up! Most hot tubs have simple wooden benches around the edge of the tub at different levels or depths. Hot tub walls are straight, and frankly, not that comfortable. Spas, on the other hand, have buckets seats, molded lounges and head rests.

Winner: Spas

ROUND THREE – COST

round-3With a wooden spa, you can definitely spend more than for an acrylic spa. Or, you could also build your own, from a kit or from scratch, (or from an old wine vat like my father) and save quite a bit of money. But comparing an assembled wooden hot tub with heater and filter to a modern spa of similar size, hot tubs are more expensive. A DIY wood hot tub, coupled with one of our spa packs is cheaper than most new spas.

Winner: Hot Tubs

ROUND FOUR – FEATURES

round-4Spas pummel hot tubs in this round! Modern spas have cool lighting, controls, waterfalls, audio/video. Hot tubs with a spa pack also have digital controls, and lights can be added to a hot tub, but most hot tubs are decidedly low-tech, and not usually feature rich. With a transistor radio and a nearby stream, you have all you need.

Winner: Spas

ROUND FIVE – MAINTENANCE

round-5Hot Tubs made of wood understandably require more maintenance than a hard acrylic or rotomold spas. The wood exterior should be stained and sealed every few years (just like a spa cabinet), and the inside should never be treated, only cleaned with a stiff brush and a hose when draining. Filter and chemical maintenance should be the same on both types, although the more equipment you have – the more potential for maintenance exists.

Winner: Spas

ROUND SIX – SANITATION

round-6Spas and hot tubs are equally sanitary when filtered and treated with spa chemicals, without which, both types would become green and potentially unsafe. However, spas, with their miles of hose and pipe, creates an ideal environment for biofilm, which can grow in poorly treated spas, or spas left empty. Hot tubs typically have very little plumbing for biofilms to form colonies. Although the smooth surfaces used in spas help with a clean surface, wood contains natural antiseptics, especially the rot and insect resistant types of wood used in hot tubs. This helps inhibit algae and bacteria from growing on the surfaces, kind of like Microban.

   Winner: Hot Tubs

ROUND SEVEN – EFFICIENCY

round-7Hot tubs made of wood are not as efficient as a well insulated acrylic spa with cabinet, even though both can use insulated hot tub covers. The thickness of the wood matters, and a hot tub can hold heat for hours, but it can never be as efficient as a well insulated spa. A poorly-insulated spa perhaps, but not one that is well insulated. However (always a caveat), if your hot tub is heated with wood, your electrical use will be less than a spa.

Winner: Spas

ROUND EIGHT – DURABILITY

round-8Even a well maintained wood hot tub will eventually develop wood rot. This can be repaired and stopped, or one can use a vinyl liner made to fit your spa, like a small aboveground pool. Even so, it is unlikely that a wooden hot tub can be continuously used for longer than 30 years. The surfaces of plastic or acrylic spas can scratch, chip or fade, but are generally impervious to structural damage. You could continue to rebuild a spa forever, I suppose – or at least 50 years.

Winner: Spas

 

>>> Let’s see, that’s 5 rounds for Spas, and 3 rounds for Hot Tubs. Some rounds were close, and both fighters gave it their all – but Spas Win!

On the surface, it looks like Acrylic Spas have more benefits than their wooden ancestors. But for people like my father, proud to have once told me that he has “never been in one of  those flooded boats” – there is nothing like a wooden hot tub with a wood fired heater, especially for homes that have lots of ‘natural’ appeal.

Either way you do it ~ enjoy your soak!

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

 

 

Replace or Renovate an Old Hot Tub?

August 4th, 2014 by

old-ugly-spaMost spa owners grapple with this question, if they live in one place long enough.

It usually happens like this – one day a spa repairman hands you an estimate for repair, in excess of $1000, and in addition to that, it’s time for another spa cover, and the cabinet is looking, well – less attractive than it once looked.

The manufacturers life expectancy of a spa, even good spas, is only 10-15 years.

However, you could keep renovating the spa every 10 years, and keep the same spa shell forever. A new spa pack every 10 years, maybe a new topside control. Excluding any catastrophic damage from extreme neglect, you could operate this way for 30 years, easy.

However, you just happened to catch a glimpse of the glitzy new spa models, with so many jets and features, and you think it may be time for a brand new spa. I know many people that do it like this; every 10 years, they just go out and buy a new spa.

 

What’s your Type?

It all comes down to what type of person you are. Take my little quiz below:

[] Yes  [] No – Do you prefer to replace or repair other home appliances, when they need repair?

[] Yes  [] No – Do you buy a new car every 3-5 years?

[] Yes  [] No – Do you enjoy DIY repair projects around the home?

[] Yes  [] No – Do you own 3 or more flat screen Televisions?

If you answered Yes to 3 or more of these questions, you are what experts call a “replacer”. If you answered No to 3 or more questions, you are what we call a “repairer“.

 

What’s your Threshold?

New Spas range in price from about $3000 to $9000, with the average price falling just north of $5 grand. For many people, they would consider a new spa when repair costs exceed half of the cost of a new spa. Like an insurance actuary, you analyze the risk and benefit of repairing, renovating and refurbishing your existing spa, versus ‘totaling’ the spa, and plunking down some cash on a new one.

sick-carThe comparisons to automobiles are intentional, and here’s another one; keep in mind that your old spa has very little trade-in value. You may sell it to a close friend or family member, but really, no one else wants to buy somebody’s used spa. Some spa dealers will take it off your hands, if they are in the business of refurbishing, or if you buy a new spa from them – but  don’t expect them to write you a check for it.

It’s mostly a financial decision, or it should be, but often some emotion creeps into the equation. You may start to weigh the benefits of a new spa such as high tech features, warranty, appearance, size or seating configuration. Go ahead, add in these benefits, crunch the numbers again and see where you stand.

 

Spa Renovation Ideas:AquaRock Morocco 90 Spa

  • Refinish the wood Cabinet exterior
  • Construct a Pergola or Privacy Screen
  • Replace the Spa Pack and Control Panel
  • Clean and Polish the Spa Surfaces
  • Replace the Spa Cover
  • Replace the Spa Filter

You can do all of these things above for less than $2000, so if it were me, I’d Renovate my spa, until the cows come home. But then, I guess I’m just a repairer at heart. But I also have a threshold – I’m in year 11 now with my current spa – I think I can make it to 20 years…!

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

 

Spa & Hot Tub Information for Realtors

July 14th, 2014 by

home-for-sale-with-hot-tubLocal area Realtors have come to my husband and me for years, to perform hot tub integrity inspections, or to remove spas from homes being sold.

Surprisingly, very few people take their hot tub with them when they move, even though most are portable.

Listing a home with a hot tub or spa can be good or bad – good if it’s a beautiful, fairly new spa in a great location, but bad if run-down; in need of some TLC.

Some wise realtors may ask the seller to remove the spa if in very bad condition, while other spas can be spruced up with a new spa cover, and a quick coat of stain on the cabinet.

 

spa-movingMoving a Spa: Most moving companies can handle the transfer, although folks moving locally may use a local spa company with special dollies and trailers to transport it, who then can also hook up the spa at the new location, if proper power is available. Moving a spa usually costs $400-$600, depending on the size of the tub and the distance being transferred, more if electrical work is needed.

Removing a Spa: The same spa service companies can be called for a removal price. If the spa is in good condition, they may even remove it for free, if they are in the business of refurbishing and reselling used spas. If not, the cost for removal to a landfill should be less than the cost to move a spa to a new location, which any junk removal company can do.

When a spa or hot tub conveys with a home sale, it has to be clean, hot and in full working order to be an asset to the home.

[] Spa pump(s) should operate on command, and be fairly quiet.
[] If equipped, blowers should operate on command; and be fairly quiet.
[] The water should be 104°, hot and steamy when the cover is lifted.
[] The water quality should appear clean and clear.
[] Cabinet, cover and interior surfaces should be clean and bright.
[] Inspect electrical connections and look for any leaks or puddles.

Other advanced features that you may find on late model spas include small waterfalls, lighting and music. Some even have small televisions that pop up from beneath the cabinet.

If the seller is not occupying the home, you can arrange for a pool or spa service company, or your knowledgeable handyman, to clean and maintain the spa water. A basic spa service call would include: spa-repair-forum-guy

[] cleaning the spa filter
[] cleaning the spa
[] testing the chemistry
[] balancing chemistry
[] adding sanitizer
[] checking heater, blower
[] adding water if needed
[] Securing the spa cover
[] Report any problems

When a spa or hot tub conveys with a home sale, the buyers may want to know that an average spa uses $100-$200 per year in electricity, $100 per year in chemicals, and another $100 per year for replacement of spa covers or spa filters, and the occasional, hopefully rare spa component repair. Total ownership costs for a spa or hot tub should average around $300-$400 per year.

What’s the difference between a spa or a hot tub? Well, we wrote an entire blog post on the topic, but basically, a hot tub is a wood structure with a simple bench and a few jets. A spa is an acrylic or fiberglass tub or shell, with a blower, and multiple jets, some with as many as 90 jets!

A word on the spa cover. An ugly spa cover really makes the entire spa look junky and funky. Insulated spa covers can last 5-7 years before needing replacement at $300-$500. A spa cover in good condition will fit the spa well, and attach to the cabinet or floor via locking strap clips. It should not be waterlogged, or excessively heavy, nor have any tears in the material, on the outside or underside of the cover.

Dull & ugly spa covers can be spruced up with our spa cover cleaners and conditioners, to like-new condition. Covers that are broken, waterlogged or torn can be replaced quickly using our online spa cover order page.

One more tip – if the spa pump or heater is not working, it may be better to drain the spa, if it cannot or will not be repaired. Then gives buyers the option to ask for spa repair or removal before closing, or take it in as-is condition.

When Should a Realtor Advise a Seller to Renovate or Remove the Spa?

:-) Here’s some examples of when you might want to have that conversation – from uglyhousephotos.com

ugly-spa-1 ugly-spa-2 ugly-spa-3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ugly-spa

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

Minerals, Ozone and MPS for a Chlorine Free Hot Tub

June 19th, 2014 by

ozone-minerals-mpsIf you are interested in a method to operate a spa or hot tub without chlorine or bromine, you’re in the right place.

I have been bromine free in my spa for about 7 years. It’s a 400 gallon Marquis spa, that gets used 2-3x per week, by kids and adults. It’s an easy method that I’ve kept hidden until now – a great way to keep a spa or hot tub halogen-free, while ensuring that the water stays sanitary and healthy.

But why? Why would I want to operate a tub without chlorine or bromine ~ some of you may ask. I’ve always found it irritating, to my skin, hair and nasal passages, and it can be hazardous to store, plus I feel like our planet could use a little less Bromine.

Minerals + Ozone + MPS for a Non Chlorine Hot Tub

The secret to going bromine-free isn’t hard to follow; I use a mineral cartridge, an ozonator, and I shock the spa with MPS, non-chlorine shock, after we use it, or at least weekly if no one has used it, which is rare.

Minerals: I usually use the Nature2 spa stick, as I call them- or you can use the Filter Frog, or the Leisure Time spa mineral stick.We also have the SunPurity mineral purifier for Sundance spas and the Hot Springs Silver Ion Purifier

Just drop them in your filter, and the rushing water pulls out copper and silver ions that do a bang-up job of busting apart contaminants in the water. After 4 months, they need to be replaced, which I time to be at or around the time that I am changing the spa water.

Ozone: A spa ozonator puts ozone in the water, which zaps anything that comes near it. Some of the nicer model spas have a built-in ozonator, but if not, you can easily add an ozone unit to the spa – like the MCD-50, which is only around $100.  After12-18 months, the manufacturer recommends the Renewal Kit, they may last longer however.

Ozone complements the killing preferences of minerals, removing the really hard to kill stuff, like bacteria and viruses. But even ozone, as powerful as it is, has limitations with an imperfect delivery system. So, I supplement ozone + minerals with MPS.

MPS: After we get out of the spa, I just sprinkle in a dose of monopersulfate, aka MPS, as we call it around here. I let the jets circulate for a few minutes, and then shut it down to low speed and close the cover. No waiting for it to ‘gas-off’, like with chlorine shocks.

I use the HTH Spa non-chlorine shock, it’s the strongest type of MPS we sell, and it has a good price. We have other brands and formulations of MPS, by Leisure Time and Rendezvous and we carry the full line of Zodiac Cense, MPS & Aromatherapy in one!

Other Tips for a Chlorine Free Hot Tub

  • Drain the tub every 3-4 months. Before draining, use Jet Clean to fight biofilm.
  • Change the spa filter regularly, every 12-24 months, to reduce your sanitizer demand.
  • Don’t be afraid to double the MPS dose if you’ve had a full spa, with many users.
  • Run the filter 20-24 hours per day, to keep the minerals and ozone circulating.
  • Keep your water balanced, especially your pH and alkalinity.

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

Hot Tub Covers – Measuring, Ordering, Dancing

May 22nd, 2014 by

spa-covers-newBack in the old days, ordering a new hot tub cover was such a hassle. I am old enough to remember when you had to call someone from the spa store to come out and measure, and then a few weeks later you’d get a price quote in the mail. Ah, the good ole’ days.

The internet sure has changed everything. Our spa covers and hot tub covers ordering pages were just ‘optimized’, to make them more user friendly and faster to complete. It’s now just a 3 step process to order – actually, it’s more like a 2-step process, if you skip over the last step of adding spa cover accessories to your order.

Measuring a Spa Cover

It depends on the shape of your spa cover,  as to how much measuring is needed. If you know the make and model of your spa or hot tub, we provide you the measurements, and you can just double check them (please double check them).

radius-measureFor round tubs, we just need a diameter. For square spa covers, we need a length and width. If you have curved corners, we’ll need to know the radius of the curve. This is easily figured by measuring from the start of the curve to the intersection of the other side of the curve. Basically, for all spa covers that aren’t round, we’d like a measurement of each side, and any corner radius that is not a 90° corner.

You can use a simple tape measure to measure a spa cover, the flexible or rigid type. Just be sure to double check your measurements before entering them into the website. Measure your old spa cover if that was a good fit, and you still have it, otherwise, measure to the outside edge of the hot tub, or to the outer lip of your spa.

Special Spa Covers: Give us a call if your spa cover is:

  1. A curvy, freeform shape
  2. Is over 96″ on any one side
  3. Has more than two panels
  4. Has special cut-outs or flaps

We’re here from 7am-7pm, M-F, and 7-4 on Saturday. 800-770-0292. If you’re a little shy on the phone, you can do it all through email, send us a note!

Ordering a Spa Cover

next-Step One: After you’ve selected your spa shape or selected your spa make and model from the drop down list, Click Next, you’re already done with step one!

Step Two: In the first section, you’ll start by entering the dimensions (if you selected a spa shape), or confirm the dimensions (if you selected a make/model). Then confirm the length of the skirt (the flap that overhangs the side of the cover), and the length of the safety straps.

In the next section, you can choose a color for our 30 oz. marine grade vinyl. With 14 colors to choose from, you’re sure to find one to match the tub, the house or the patio furniture. If your spa gets a lot of rain and tree litter, a darker color will show stains less.

In the final section, you select your insulation weight and thickness. 6 variations available, with options like double wrapped foam core,  a continuous heat seal and heavy duty windstraps available.

  1. Economy Spa Cover: 1.0 lb foam, 4″-2″ taper, R-Value 12. 1 year warranty.
  2. Standard Spa Cover: 1.5 lb foam, 4″-2″ taper, R-Value 13. 3 year warranty.
  3. Deluxe Spa Cover: 2.0 lb foam, 4″-2″ taper, R-Value 15. 5 year warranty.
  4. Energy Saver Cover: 1.5 lb foam, 5″-3″ taper, R-Value 20. 5 year warranty.
  5. Ultra Spa Cover: 1.5 lb foam, 6″-4″ taper, R-Value 24. 5 year warranty.
  6. The Works Spa Cover: 2.0 lb foam, 6″-4″ taper, R-Value 30. 5 year warranty.

next-When you’re done with the selections on page two, you’re over halfway done! Hit Next to Advance to step three ~

Step Three: The third step in ordering a spa cover has some offers for bundling a spa cover lift, and other accessories that you may find useful like a floating spa blanket or spa cover care kit. If you want any of these items,next- click the Add to Cart buttons, or just hit Next again, and you’ll be transported to our shopping cart to review the spa cover order, in glorious detail with over 30 line items.

Dancingdancing for a new spa cover!

The reason for “dancing” in the title?

I just ordered a new hot tub cover about 2 months ago. When we clicked the final submit button on our new spa cover order, I leapt up into my husband’s arms and we did a quick happy dance!

It’s not like it used to be – it’s amazing, to be able to order a new hot tub cover in 10 minutes!

Isn’t technology wonderful?!?
Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

Saltwater Hot Tub – Pros & Cons

May 12th, 2014 by

saltron-mini

If you have been busy lately, you may have missed the new craze in hot tub maintenance – spa salt water systems.

A saltwater hot tub uses a salt cell which reacts with the salt that you add to the water (2 lbs per 100 gals), to produce pure chlorine. A low voltage power supply is mounted on the spa, where you can increase or decrease the chlorine level and set an operation timer.

 

Salt systems have many fans, who say it’s very easy to use, and they don’t have to touch or store bromine or chlorine. Most people also love the way the water has a softer and silkier feel. Saltwater hot tubs also have a few detractors. Let’s look at the Pros and Cons of switching from tablets to salt to sanitize the water.

Saltwater Hot Tub – Pros

  • Softer & Silkier Water

prosYou’ll notice it right away, salt water feels softer, like a mineral bath. The salt used is sodium chloride, regular tablet salt. The same salt that is in the ocean, but only about a tenth of the amount. Get the 40lb bag of pool salt at Walmart or your local home store, and add 2lbs per 100 gallons of spa water, and you’re ready to go! The salt is very cheap, like $7 per bag. The slightly salty spa water leaves your skin feeling refreshed, not irritated. Like bathing in mineral spring water.

  • No More Sanitizer

prosMaybe the best benefit of a saltwater hot tub, is that you no longer need to store bromine or chlorine tablets, which could be dangerous. You should still shock the spa, so keep a granular oxidizer on hand, but you can use chlorine free MPS if you prefer. Spa salt systems make their own chlorine, so it’s still a chlorinated spa, but it’s created naturally, and is without binders or additives – pure chlorine.

  • No More Odor

prosChlorine tablets smell bad in the bucket, and bad in the spa. Bromine is a little bit better, but I can still smell it on my skin and on my hair, hours after soaking. Have you ever opened up your spa cover and detected the strong smell of chlorine?  That’s the smell of combined molecules, chloramines or bromamines. Salt systems are much less likely to produce these foul smelling mutations of chlorine, because after a chlorine molecule is used up, it reverts back to salt, or sodium chloride!

  • Buffered Water

prosAdding enough salt to reach 2000-3000 ppm in your spa takes about 2lbs per 100 gallons of water. The mineral in the water, raises the buffering capacity of the water, to resist changes in pH, Alkalinity and Calcium Hardness levels. The addition of salt increases the total dissolved solids of the water, making the water less aggressive, and more resistant to water balance fluctuations.

Saltwater Hot Tub – Cons

  • Saltwater Corrosion

cons

This is the main issue against saltwater hot tubs, is that salt causes corrosion. At levels of 2000-3000 ppm, there should be no worry about damage to finishes and pool equipment. There is one material that doesn’t like salt, that being BUNA rubber, which some pump shaft seals are made of. Again, at normal levels, there should be no concern, but if your pump seal begins to leak, we do have shaft seals made for high salt or ozone conditions.

  • Salt Cell Replacement

consThe salt cell used for saltwater hot tubs is a titanium coated electrolytic cell, which will eventually lose enough of it’s coating to stop producing enough chlorine. Spa salt cells usually last 2-5 years, depending on the model, at which time you can replace just the cell (not the power supply). Keeping your cell clean (many models are self-cleaning), and not using it for cold spa water (below 60 degrees), are key to a long cell life.

  • Warm Water Only

consSalt systems, for pools or spas, have trouble producing chlorine at low water temperatures. When water temperatures drop into the 60′s, very little chlorine output is generated, even though your salt cell is working overtime. Many salt systems will shut down, in a self-protection mode, when low water temps are sensed. This of course, is not a big deal for spas and hot tubs – as long as you keep the water 65° or higher, you’ll have no problems.

  • Bromine is Better

consBromine does have certain qualities that make it better than chlorine, as Jack wrote in his recent blog, Bromine vs. Chlorine in hot tubs. He points out that bromine is more stable at higher temperatures and pH levels. But most of the argument is made against Tablet Chlorine, not chlorine generated from salt, which although still chlorine, has far fewer of the downsides of using tablet or granular chlorine.

 

pros-and-cons-saltwater-hot-tub - pub domain imagesSaltwater hot tubs are still using chlorine, but it’s not your father’s chlorine – it’s pure chlorine, or hypochlorous acid, and can’t be compared to the tablet type. I love my Saltron Mini salt system in my spa. I’ve had it installed for nearly a year now, and other than add some replacement salt, I haven’t had to touch it. I still test the water, and shock the spa weekly, but my water balance is more steady and the water feels and smells great. And no corrosion damage!

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

 

Choosing the Best Hot Tub Cover Lift

April 21st, 2014 by

spa-cover-lifts

Hot tub cover lifts are the best aftermarket item you can buy for your spa or hot tub. When I originally bought my Baja spa, my husband and I thought we didn’t need a lift, and saved a little money on the overall cost.

We quickly discovered how important a cover lifter is; it’s pretty much impossible for one person to remove a spa cover by themselves. If we didn’t get injured, our spa cover probably would get damaged.

But, how to choose the best hot tub cover lift for your particular spa? After all, there are a lot of differences between the 10 hot tub cover lifts that we sell. Here’s a guide to help you compare spa cover lifts, narrow down the choices, and find the hot tub cover lift that’s best for you.

Shape of Your Hot Tub

Some of our hot tub covers are meant to fit round tub shapes, and others won’t work on round at all. In our spa cover lift comparison chart, below, you can see that we have about 4 hot tub cover lifts that fit round and square spas, and another 6 cover lifts that will fit onto square spas, or straight sided spas.

Size of Your Hot Tub

This is not usually a concern, unless you have a very large tub, like a swim spa. Most of our hot tub cover lifts will work on a spa up to 8′ across, and a few cover lifts will fit spas up to 10′ across. If your spa is larger than that, you probably have a 4-panel or larger cover, in which case, you may use two cover lifters, one on each end of the spa.

Clearance Required

This one is super important – some hot tub cover lifts require very little clearance, or space beside the spa to flip and store the cover off of the spa. But other cover lifts can require as much as 4 feet of space, because they hold the cover parallel to the floor. Some cover lifts also require side clearance, for the arms to swing on either side of the spa.

hot-tub-cover-lift-comparison-chart-5

Assisted Cover Lifts

All of the covers use a fulcrum principle, or lever, to assist in the opening and closing of the spa cover, but those with gas shocks give an extra assist when opening the spa cover, and then allows the spa cover to close more gently. Gas shock assistance is especially helpful when a spa cover begins to take on some moisture and the weight increases.

Cover Lift Costs

Not a huge difference in prices, but spa cover lifts currently range in price from $100-$225. The cheaper hot tub cover lifts are still very durable, but have a much simpler design, and may have fewer materials. Since they are all fairly close in price, may I suggest that you focus on features and what will seem to work best on your spa.

Warranty

The warranty for hot tub cover lifts are either 1yr or 5 yr, but unlike our spa cover warranties, lift warranties are pretty tight – you know, “Acts of God, Vandalism, Neglect, Abuse, Modification are not covered by this warranty…”. But, from my experience here in our returns/warranty department, warranty issues are rare anyway for spa cover lifters.

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Cover Lift Attachment Method

Most people cringe at the idea of drilling large bolts into the side of their new spa cabinet. About half of our spa cover lifts require drilling into the cabinet, to mount the mechanism in place. The other models slide under the spa, with a large plate to keep it in position – and some cover lifts have the option of installing into the cabinet, or under the spa.

Cover Storage Position

Some hot tub cover lifts place the cover down against the side of the spa, some stick up just a foot or so, and other spa cover models hold the spa cover in a full, upright position. The upright spa cover can be good for privacy and as a wind block – unless you are in an area of very high winds! Most of the above-spa stored covers warn against using the cover in winds over 10 mph.

If you have specific questions about your spa cover lifts  – please give us a call. We have experts with all the information at their fingertips, to answer any question or concern you may have and help you select the best hot tub cover lift – for you!

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

Beginner’s Guide to Spa & Hot Tub Care

April 7th, 2014 by

spa-care-and-maintenanceSpa and Hot Tub Maintenance – take a deep breath, this isn’t so hard. And if things get out of control, you can always drain the spa and start over. :-)

For the new spa owner, or for a person who is new to spa maintenance, I have some tips to maintain water chemistry and spa equipment, along with some regular maintenance and cleaning duties to keep your spa water clean and ready for use!

If you’ve seen my post on the Secret to Hot Tub Water Chemistry ~ you’d know the secret. In short, test the water and make small adjustments to pH, Alkalinity, Calcium Hardness and Sanitizer level – with regularity. ideal-spa-chemical-levelsRegular testing would mean testing the spa water 2-4 times per week, and making adjustments as needed, to keep your levels in the proper ranges. Keeping a log is a good idea, just writing down your test results, and any notes on adjustment.

Tap water is pretty good spa water, in most areas. But in some areas, and you know where you are – there is soft water or hard water or high alkalinity and pH, or high levels of chloramines, or metals and minerals. You can test your tap water with your test kit, or when testing after a drain and refill, you can measure the suitability of your tap water as spa water. Using a Spa Pre-Filter removes metals, odors and the finest silt from your spa fill water.

Back to the matter at hand, in addition to testing and adjusting the spa water chemistry 2-4x per week, there are other duties and tasks that need to be done to maintain overall spa health.

Clean the Spa Filter

spa-filter-assemblyThe spa filter can be located under the skimmer basket, and accessed from inside the spa, or it can be a small tank that is opened up underneath the spa, to clean or replace the filter. If underneath the spa, you may have a valve that can be shut to prevent water from rushing out when you open the filter. Loosening a large nut or just turning the filter body counter clockwise is the usual method to access the filter cartridge. Some water spillage is inevitable when opening it up, but if you are careful it can be very little.

If your spa filter has a pressure gauge attached to it, the cartridge needs cleaning when the pressure rises 8-10 lbs, or when flow is noticeably reduced. If you have no gauge on your filter, you should clean the filter on a regular schedule. hasta-la-vista-babyI clean my own filter cartridge every 4-8 weeks, depending on how often I use the spa. If my hot tub is being used a few times per week, I’ll clean the filter every four weeks, or monthly.

Replace your spa filter every 12-24 months, again depending on usage. Another way to do it is to change it every 10-15 cleanings, because that’s what really breaks down a cartridge. Every time it’s cleaned, fibers loosen up and it loses a little bit of dirt trapping ability. Keep track of your spa filter’s age or cleaning cycles, because at some point soon it’s gonna be Hasta la Vista, baby!

Clean the Spa

skimmer-netA full cleaning of the waterline and surfaces can be done when the spa is drained. Just be sure not to use any old household cleaner or soap. If you are going to use any chemical on your spa surfaces, use something like our Spa Cleaner, to keep out phosphates, nitrates and who knows what else.

Vacuuming the spa can be accomplished with small vacuums that are either battery powered, or garden hose powered. The Pool Blaster vacuums are battery operated and fast to use, or you can use the Grit Getter to suck up the little grains that gather in the corners. The Spa Vac connects to your vacuum hose for fast vacuuming of even large leaves.

Floating debris can be removed with a skimmer net, or if you left the cover off during a windstorm and it’s full of leaves, it can also be used to scoop up the larger leaves under the water.

Air-Out the Spa Cover

One of the most important things you can do to help your spa cover live a long healthy life of service is to remove it at least twice per week. Use the spa cover lifter to completely remove it, or gently place it off the spa if you don’t have a spa cover lift. Give your cover a few hours to breathe and shake off some of the constant heat and moisture. spacover-cleaner-and-conditionerThis is also a good time to add chemicals or shock the spa, if you aren’t using it at the time.

Another spa cover maintenance item is cleaning and conditioning the vinyl spa cover. Especially if your spa cover is outside, spa cover cleaner removes airborne oils and dirt, tree sap and pollen while cover conditioner replenishes the vinyl plasticizers that keep your spa cover vinyl covering soft, strong and looking great.

Add Fill Water

This is so often forgotten, and if the skimmer starts to suck air, in could damage the pump, in some situations. The water level should be in the middle of the skimmer intake, or a little higher. You don’t want it too high, and you never want to over-flow the spa, so keep a close eye on it while filling!remote-hose

Keep a garden hose close-by. If your garden hose is too far away, set up a sub-spigot by running a hose from a splitter on your current spigot, to a spigot that is mounted on a stake. Then you always have a hose right next to the spa for filling or topping off the hot tub water level.

To take care of 95% of spa care tasks, just remember to…

dont-forget-

  • Test and adjust your spa 2-4x per week
  • Clean the spa filter every 4-8 weeks, replace every 1-2 yrs
  • Keep the spa clean; drain & refill every 2-4 months
  • Air-Out the spa cover twice per week
  • Add water as needed to keep it full

 

Until next time;

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works