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Carolyn Mosby's Posts

Hot Tub & Spa Safety Products & Practices

June 8th, 2015 by

toddler-in-a-hottub-from-here-to-maternity-dot-comSafety products for spas and hot tubs? If you’re wondering how to child-proof your hot tub or spa, it’s a question that we get a lot here ~ new parents asking how to keep toddlers and children safe around hot tubs.

Not as common as pool safety products, which have several types of safety covers and dozens of pool alarm systems, but there are several practices and products that you can use to elevate your hot tub safety.

Today’s blog is a list of spa safety products and some hot tub safety tips to make a spa safer for children to be around.

 

LOCKING SPA COVERS

PLEASE-LOCK-THE-SPAEvery hot tub should have a spa cover in good condition, and cover straps with clips in at least 4 locations. If your cover begins to take on water, or puddle in the middle, buy a new spa cover, or replace the foam panel inserts. The small cover clips don’t look like much protection, but they’re almost impossible for small hands to operate. For more protection use our heavy duty spa straps, meant for protection from high winds, but they also function as another layer of protection.

LOCKING SPA CABINETS

lock_icon_image_150_wht_16460Most spa cabinet doors open fairly easily, and many have a magnetic latch that prevents the system from starting if the door is ajar, but very few people I know lock their spa cabinet door. All you need is a latch and padlock from a hardware store, and a screwdriver to install it. This will protect small people (who are always drawn to small doors) from getting under the spa, into the equipment bay, where electrical hazards (and other hazards) exist.

DOOR & GATE ALARMS

door-alarms-by-poolguardAnother good option to secure the spa is to use door alarms for any door or window that leads to the hot tub area. Like the pool fencing below, door alarms are a pool product that is easily adapted for increased hot tub safety. They install easily in minutes, and run off a 9V battery, like a smoke detector. Pass thru button allows adults to enter through either direction without setting off the alarm. Gate alarms can also be used, mounted on fence posts for backyard gates. They operate the same way as door alarms, but have attachments for different fence posts.

HOT TUB FENCING

In most areas, a suitable fence is required to install a hot tub. However, I know that there are many spas and hot tubs that don’t have a fence anywhere nearby. A good fence around the backyard will protect your neighbors and local wildlife from potential catastrophe, but what about children inside the house? In many homes, one door on the back of the house is all that separates a spa or hot tub. safety-mesh-pool-fencingAn easy solution is to install removable pool safety fencing around the spa, to create a secondary barrier to the hot tub. Mesh pool fence panels are 10 ft long, and install into wood or concrete; removes easily when using the spa, or when children are grown.

SPA CHEMICAL STORAGE

spa-chemical-lockerWe’ve talked before about safe spa chemical storage, here and also here, and shown you many ways to creatively and safely store spa chemicals. Tips for safe spa chemical storage won’t include storing them in the hideaway steps, or underneath the spa. Just like other household chemicals, hot tub chemicals need to be stored safely out of reach of children. A sturdy, locking chest or box with a latch is most suitable. Simply storing them out of sight, or out of reach (on a high shelf for instance), may not be the best place to keep your spa chemicals.

IN-GROUND SPA SAFETY

Some of the most unsafe spa designs is an inground or sunken spa. This is because they are at ground level and are often left uncovered or the cover is not anchored into the ground. For an inground spa or hot tub, you can secure the cover clips into the floor, just use a masonry or tile drill bit and use anchor sockets. indoor-inground-spaI also recommend the thickest and strongest spa covers for inground spas, 6″ tapering to 4″, to protect the spa cover from dancing kids, falling adults and sleeping dogs. It is common to use a flat cover indoors, but these are not very strong or energy efficient.

HOT TUB SAFETY PRACTICES

  • Always put the spa cover back on and latch the clips after use.
  • Keep the spa chemicals and the spa equipment safely locked up.
  • Consider additional layers of protection, like alarms and fencing.

single_eye_movement_150_wht_9341I applaud you for childproofing a hot tub, or making your spa safer, and commend your excellent research that lead you to my little ‘ol blog post! Whether you are protecting kids or grandkids, remember that there is no substitute for supervision! Keep a watchful eye on the children!

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

 

 

 

Hot Tub Cover Foam Replacement

May 15th, 2015 by

EPS-hot-tub-cover-foam-coresQ: Can the foam panels inside of your hot tub cover be replaced without buying the entire cover?
A: Yes! You can purchase a single, or both foam cores – vacuum wrapped and heat sealed in our US factory, and shipped to your door.

The foam core panels of your spa cover are the “core” of any spa cover, providing a sturdy, yet lightweight barrier to heat loss, up to R-value = 30, when you buy the thickest 6″ to 4″ taper, in the strongest 2 lb. foam density.

Thickness and density, and the 20 gauge steel channel are what gives hot tub works foam panels their strength, and the vacuum shrunk vapor barrier, with heat sealed seams is what allows us to provide a 5-year warranty on our spa cover foam, even covering water absorption!

Why Buy New Spa Cover Foam Panels?

Although the outside vinyl on a spa top can crack and fade and eventually need to be replaced, it is the foam core panels that are the most important part of your spa cover. Panels can break or become waterlogged (or both), at the hands of these spa cover enemies:

  • Grandchildren, using the hot tub as a stage, or the cover as a fort.
  • Dogs, especially big dogs who enjoy the warmth.
  • Tree Branches falling on the cover.
  • High winds blowing the cover across the backyard.
  • Friends falling or stepping on your spa cover, when a cover lifter is not used.
  • Bears, who like the piquant and nutty flavor of spa cover foam.

How to Buy Replacement Spa Cover Foam Core Panels

If you purchased your spa cover from Hot Tub Works, it’s easy – just call us with some info, and we can pull up the measurements for your previous or current cover. If you are not sure where the hot tub cover came from, no problem, we can make new foam panels with a quick measurement of your current, broken or waterlogged foam panels.Hot-tub-foam-cover-panels

  • Center height and outer height or thickness, of the foam panel halves.
  • Foam density, if known – or the foam density desired. 1.0 lb., 1.5 lb., or 2.0 lb.
  • Panel shape – square, round, hex or octagon, rectangle with radius corners or wedge corners.
  • Perimeter measurements, radius or corner length and diameter of foam panels.

You can also order over the phone, with our helpful spa cover experts guiding your measurements.

Cost of Spa Cover Foam Panels

Probably more than you may think, panel replacements for spa covers can cost 60-70% of the cost of a new spa cover. They require technician time to design with the CAD program and cut with our laser cutting system. Then we have the 20 ga. steel channel installed on the thick side before it goes to be sealed in a 6 mil vapor barrier. We are one of the few spa cover manufacturers that vacuum shrinks a continuous PE sheet, and then heat seals the seams on both ends.

There are too many variables of thickness, density and size to quote any reliable prices here, but if you need a single cover panel, it can run a few hundred, and for a set of both foam panel halves, it can run several hundred. So…. if the entire spa cover costs $400, the foam panels alone will cost about $275 – almost the cost of a new cover.

Buying just one foam panel insert will cost the same in shipping as buying both foam panel halves, so most people buy both foam pieces, according to Alea Cozzi, our Customer Service Manager, who knows such things… She also notes that because our hot tub covers ship Free – buying just the foam panels and then paying for shipping makes the cost of buying just the foam panels come close to the cost of a complete spa cover.

Buying New Hot Tub Foam Pieces

Don’t be discouraged that replacing the foam panels won’t save as much money as you thought – if your spa cover is only a few years old, you can save at $100-$200 over the cost of buying a new spa cover. You do want to be careful to use only closed cell EPS foam (Expanded Polystyrene), and for outdoor covers, it must be beveled, or tapered, so that rain runs off the side. You also have to be careful to buy the correct size, length and height, to fit inside of your spa cover. Call Us, and we’ll make sure you get the correct foam panels, in the density that you desire.

How to Replace Spa Cover Foam Panels

Jerry-showing-us-spa-cover-foam-coreIf you do decide to replace the foam core panels, the process of removing and replacing the foam panels is not hard. Fold the cover on its hinge, and unzip the two zippers their full length. Then simply pull out the foam panel, working it slowly from side to side, to remove it from the tight fitting vinyl “bag”.

When inserting a new foam panel, take care not to rip the vapor barrier as you are pushing it into the cover – the corner may get snagged on the zipper. Also, if the temperature outside is very cold, you may find it easier to install new foam panels inside the house, where the warmth makes the vinyl bag more flexible and easier to work with.

So, if your spa cover is fairly new, but the foam panels broke or became waterlogged, remove the foam panels and measure carefully. Give us a call for a price for replacement spa cover foam, and you can save some bucks!

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

 

Spa and Hot Tub Water Color Problems

April 30th, 2015 by

color-wheelWe’ve all been there before, when you lift the spa cover to discover a color other than clear blue. Hot tub water can be all colors of the rainbow when conditions aren’t right. Yellow, brown, green, white, and any shade in between.

Today’s topic is how to identify and troubleshoot colored spa water, to restore your beautiful blue spa water. It doesn’t matter what type of spa or hot tub you have, or even if your tub is as big as a pool, you can use these tips to fix colored hot tub water.

After you’ve spent several months (or years!) taking care of your spa – your trained eye can tell right away when something’s not right. A bit less sparkly and translucent, dull and dirty looking. Or one of these strange spa water colors ~

HOT TUB WATER IS GREEN

green-hot-tub-waterWhen your spa has a shade of green, one may immediately think of algae, and if your sanitizer has been low, or your filter cartridge dirty, it very well could be algae. Touch the sides of the spa, and if it feels slimy, you can bet you have a small algae bloom on your hands. Algae can grow even under a spa cover, in the dark, and in hot water. To treat a hot tub for algae, check and balance the pH and alkalinity, and add a shock treatment. After filtering out dead algae, it’s always recommended to replace the spa cartridge with new.

Green hot tub water can also be from a mineral we know as copper. It can enter the water from copper pipes carrying fill water, or from natural well water. It can also come from copper heat exchangers used in gas fired heaters, or could come from using copper pool algaecide in a spa (not recommended). This is the same copper that can turn a swimmer’s hair green – but the water can be clear and bright green, without slime on the surfaces. Remove copper from hot tub water with CuLator.

HOT TUB WATER IS YELLOW

yellow-hot-tub-waterYellow algae is a particularly resistant type of algae that can exist in a dark heated hot tub, even in the presence of normal bromine or chlorine levels. It seeks out small out of the way crevices, and when in full bloom, will deposit itself as sheets across the spa surfaces. Treatment for yellow algae is to use a very high level of chlorine spa shock. Balance the water first, and turn off the heater before shocking the spa. Allow the water to circulate for several hours, with the cover removed. If the level drops to zero within 24 hours, shock the spa again, until it holds the chlorine level. After this shock treatment, drain and scrub the spa, bleach wash the spa cover and replace the spa filter with a new cartridge.

Yellow hot tub water can also come from an excess of Pollen in the springtime, especially if you have left the spa cover for some time, or iron oxides in well water can impart a yellowish color to the water, especially if the spa turned yellow after shocking. If you are on well water, use a pre-filter to remove all minerals from your fill water. Finally, if your bromine level is extremely high, the water can take on a yellow-red color, especially in the presence of low pH. Don’t enter a spa if the bromine residual is over 5 ppm.

HOT TUB WATER IS BROWN

brown-hot-tub-waterBrown water is not the most appetizing hot tub water color, and if your spa suddenly turned brown – the color of tea, you can once again usually find the problem to be high levels of minerals, namely iron oxide. This may occur within hours after shocking the spa, or making big pH adjustments. The filter cartridge should remove some of it, but to clear it up faster, you can force it back into solution with a sequestering agent like Metal Gon.

Brown spa water also occurs from contaminated fill water, and during dry hot periods, some municipal water supplies begin scraping the bottom of the barrel, which adds a lot of particulate matter to the water supply. You can combat this by using a Pre-Filter on your hose when you fill the spa, to remove even microscopic particles from your fill water.

HOT TUB WATER IS WHITE

white-hot-tub-waterMilky hot tub water, so cloudy that the water appears white can come from many causes. High calcium or alkalinity, or ineffective filtering or pumping, or air in the system causing micro-bubbles – all can make hot tub water turn white-ish. Contaminants from body lotions, cosmetics and hair products can also change the water color from blue to white. If your spa has cloudy water, here’s a blog post with 10 reasons why.

White hot tub water can also be infected with white mold, a type of bacteria that grows in small clumps and clusters. In spas that have not been maintained properly, this type of slime can be difficult to remove, but can be treated effectively with raising chlorine level to 30 ppm, running the spa for several hours and then draining. Replace the spa filter, and rinse all removable items like spa pillows, nets, baskets and thermometer in a strong bleach solution. Use a biofilm remover like Jet Clean to clean out the pipes.

HOT TUB WATER IS PINK

pink-hot-tub-waterPink algae is a close cousin of white water mold discussed above. Not actually an algae, it’s a form of bacteria, although it displays characteristics of an algae.  Pink spa water is not a very common color for spa water, and pink algae won’t actually color the spa water pink, except in very mature colonies. Treatment for pink algae is similar to white mold above. It’s not easy to eradicate, as it is able to tuck away cells that are difficult to reach – but it can be eradicated, by hitting it hard with shock (over 30 ppm), and using a purge product to clean the lines and crevices. Also be sure to replace your spa filter, and soak all spa items in a strong bleach solution before refilling the spa.

Don’t let colored hot tub water get you down! There’s always a solution….

 

Carolyn MosbyHot Tub Works

 

Hot Tub Chemical Storage Ideas

March 23rd, 2015 by

Is the Container Store a favorite hang-out for you? Do you spend hours organizing everyone’s sock drawer in the house? Do you feel a calm sense of control when your surroundings are neat and orderly? Me too – storage and organization is kind of a hobby of mine. My Pinterest page is filled with ideas for organizing around the home and office.

Today I bring you some ideas for organizing spa chemicals, so they are visible and orderly – but also, and more importantly safely out of the reach of children and pets. Spa chemicals also need to be kept cool and dry, and be separated for safety. More on that later, but first, I have 4 ideas for organizing your spa chemicals and cleaners.

 

spa-chemical-storage-in-a-bench1. Deck Bench Hidden Storage

Part deck railing, part bench, the flip-up lid on this custom made wooden bench flips up to a large expanse for chemicals, filters, cleaners, and cleaning tools.

The problem with this design however is that the storage is outdoors, and subject to wide temperature extremes and humidity. High heat can cause some spa chemicals to expand and very cold temperatures can reduce potency. Moisture from rain or humidity is bad on many levels for spa chemicals. And, unless you add a latch to the lid, this design won’t keep out children.

 

 

spa-chemical-storage-rubbermaid2. Rubbermaid Storage Cabinet

This type of cabinet is perfect for garage or shed storage, and is suitable for wall mounting, to keep it off the ground, away from water and children. It also has a latch which can be locked.

You can install this indoors as well, to store your chemicals in a climate controlled environment. A plastic cabinet like this one will not corrode like metal cabinets will, in the presence of chlorine or bromine gas.
 

 

door-organizer-for-spa-chemicals

3. Over the Door Organizer

You’ve seen these used for cleaning products or shoes before I’m sure. I have used one for my shoes for years, but they can also be useful in office supply closets, laundry rooms and in spa storage closets.

Of course, this idea may not store all of your spa chemicals or cleaning tools, but it can hold the regular size bottles and test strips, and cleaners.

This has some great advantages in that the products are kept separate and snug in their own pouch, away from each other.

 

 

sterilite-bin-for-spa-chemicals4. Sterilite Storage Bin

A favorite method of thousands of spa owners, keeping your chemicals in a portable box allows you to keep them high and dry, even if you store the spa chemicals outside.

Being portable, this type of storage option let’s you move the chemicals indoors, and store in a locked closet or on a low shelf.

The problem with this method is that bottles tend to get thrown into the box, which could cause an accidental chemical spill. If you use this method, use several smaller boxes to separate sanitizers from balancers.

 

Spa Chemical Safe Storage Tips

  • Keep spa chemicals cool, 50-75 degrees F
  • Keep spa chemicals dry, safe from flooding and humidity
  • Store sanitizers separately from each other, and away from other chemicals
  • Twist lock the lid tightly on all chemicals after use
  • Rinse measurement containers before and after use
  • Keep chemicals safely out of reach of children
  • Never store chemicals loose on a shelf
  • Never use a shelf that may collapse in an earthquake

 

So get organized! If your spa stuff isn’t so safely or conveniently stored, use these storage ideas for your hot tub chemicals – and get yourself organized and ready for spa season!

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

Children in Hot Tubs

March 12th, 2015 by

hot-tub-kids

Children in hot tubs – is it dangerous?

When my children were young, many years ago, I can remember telling my husband; “they’re not just little adults, you know…”.

Especially for children under 5 years old, with bodies still growing, a hot tub could be unhealthy or possibly dangerous.

The first problem with children using hot tubs involves their ability to regulate temperature and the possibility for hyperthermia, or overheating very quickly, in a spa that is heated to over 100°.

The second issue with kids in a hot tub are concerns of bacterial infection, by absorbing pathogens through the skin, ears, eye, mouth and airways.

And third, the most important reason – is that unsupervised access by children under 5 has resulted in hundreds of drowning incidents by children under 5 years old.

Let’s take a look to see what health experts have to say about children in hot tubs.

  • CDC says: “Exclude children less than 5 years of age from using hot tubs.”
  • Red Cross says: “Children under 5 should not use a hot tub.”
  • APSP says: “No young child should be allowed in a hot tub until they can stand on the bottom and have their head remain completely out of the water.”
  • AAP says: Use a rigid, lockable cover on a hot tub, spa, or whirlpool, or fence in all 4 sides as you would for a swimming pool”
  • Mayo Clinic says: “Young children can quickly become overheated in a hot tub or spa.”
  • CPSC says: “Hot tubs pose a drowning risk to children and an overheating risk for young children.”
  • MHP says: “Hot tubs are too hot for young children, may have high bacteria, and the drain in the tub can trap children.”

The Problems with Children in Hot Tubs

HIGH TEMPERATURES: Young children have skinny little bodies with thin skin. They absorb heat much more rapidly than adults, and can become overheated in just minutes in a spa at 104°, which can lead to dizziness, nausea or even unconsciousness. Children under the age of five heat up four times faster than adults, and also struggle to breathe the very hot and humid (steamy) air coming off of the water. Children older than five should limit exposure to hot water, both by reducing spa temperatures to 100° or less, and limiting soaking time to under 10 minutes.

EXPOSURE TO BACTERIA: In a public spa or hot tub, you never know if the water is sanitary, and if the spa is heavily used – its’ probably not. My advice is to never allow children to use a public spa, where they can be exposed to mycobacteria and pseudomonas or the parasite cryptosporidium. Skin infections, ear infections, or even respiratory infections are possible with adults and children, but children are more susceptible to attack. In a private hot tub or spa – assuming that your spa is not overused and is carefully maintained, and everyone showers fully before using the hot tub – the risk of bacteria exposure may be less. However, sickness can still occur if too many people are in the spa, or if the child stays in too long, or goes underwater, allowing exposure through nose, ear, eyes and mouth. Using the air blower in a spa can produce more aerosol bacteria, released as the bubbles reach the surface.

DROWNING / NEAR DROWNING: A spa or hot tub should always be secured by a locking spa cover, which will make it unlikely that a young child can gain access. Children older than five, working as a team, can manage to remove a spa cover – I can tell you from experience! A hot tub in the home or backyard can be every bit as dangerous as a swimming pool, and should be regarded as such. Drowning can occur from a bump on the head, overheating or from becoming entrapped or suctioned to the spa drain outlet. Teach your children to never use a spa or hot tub without constant adult supervision.

If you MUST allow your Children in a Hot Tub

The hard part is – kids LOVE hot tubs, and it’s a magnet for them. They are drawn to it because it’s close to their size, like a mini-pool, and for kids like mine, if you don’t let them do it while you are watching, they’re going to do it while you are not watching. If you really want to allow children older than 5 to use your private / home hot tub, here are some sensible rules to make it safer.

  1. Everyone Shower before using spa
  2. Turn down temperature below 100°children-in-hot-tub
  3. Limit soaking time to under 10 minutes
  4. Keep heads above water at all times
  5. No more than 3-4 kids at a time
  6. Constant adult spa-side supervision
  7. Have warm towels and cool drinks ready

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

Spa & Hot Tub Maintenance

February 20th, 2015 by

image from ThermospasWell hello again, my dear readers; I would have thought this topic would go to one of our more technical writers, but my hot tub was voted as the most well-maintained, and they asked to know my secret! :-)

Flattery will get you everywhere I suppose,  so here I am with some basic spa and hot tub maintenance information. What do you need to know to take care of a spa or hot tub? Read on, dear reader.

 

Care = Prevention

When we talk about spa care and hot tub maintenance, you really are practicing problem prevention.  There are a number of things that are done on a regular basis, regular hot tub maintenance tasks, and then there are those best practices or methods that are used to keep your spa running well, while being energy friendly and safe for pets and children.

 

Spa & Hot Tub Chemical Maintenance

  • Test spa water for pH, chlorine/bromine, alkalinity and calcium levels 2-3x per week.
  • Adjust pH, alkalinity and calcium as needed. Maintain a constant chlorine/bromine level.
  • Clean the spa cartridge filter when the pressure gauge rises 7-8lbs, or 1-3x per month.
  • Set the 24 hr pump timer to run on low speed for a total of 12-18 hours daily.
  • Drain the spa every 3 months to prevent buildup of dissolved solids.
  • Refill the spa using a pre-filter that screws onto a garden hose.
  • Shower before using the spa, and Shock after using the spa.

 

Spa & Hot Tub Equipment Maintenance

  • Spa Covers: Use a spa cover lift, air-out the spa cover 2x per week, clean & condition spa cover 3x per year.
  • Spa Filters: After cleaning allow it to dry fully before reinstalling. Use filter cleaner 2x per year, replace filter every 1-2 years.
  • Spa Pumps: Run on high speed only during use or adding chemicals. Don’t allow pumps to run dry, or with an air-lock, or low water level.
  • Spa Heater: Maintain proper water chemistry and keep a clean cartridge filter to protect your heater element.
  • Spa Cabinet: Protect from direct sun, lawn sprinklers or rain splash around edges. Stain and or seal the surfaces as needed.
  • Spa Shell: Acrylic or plastic spas should be polished when emptied, wood hot tubs require cleaning without chemicals.

 

Saving Money & Energy

  • For daily use, keep the temp at 98°, or 94° if you only use it every 3-4 days.
  • Bump up the temperature to 101° – 104°, and then shower before using spa.
  • Keep your spa cover tightly fitted, and for extra insulation, use a floating foam blanket.
  • For colder areas, add R-30 insulation to poorly insulated spa cabinets.
  • Set the spa timer to operate mostly outside of peak daylight energy use hours.

 

Spa Safety

  • Covered: Don’t forget to always keep the spa tightly covered, with safety clips attached.
  • Locked: Indoor spas should be in locked rooms; lock doors and fences to outside spas.
  • Secure: Be sure that spa drain covers are safe and secure.
  • Spa Rules: Use safety signs and teach children the spa is only used with adult supervision.

dont-forget-2

 

Make a list or set a reminder in your calendar to not forget these important hot tub maintenance tasks. And if you have someone else in your family doing it as a chore, believe me, you better follow up behind them!

I hope I was able to answer all of your questions about taking care of a spa! Leave a comment if you have any other ?’s about hot tub maintenance, or you want more information on any of my tips above!

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

 

Deck it Out – Hot Tub and Spa Decks

January 26th, 2015 by

hot-tub-deck-designsAre you tired of the same old backyard? I am – after looking at all of these beautiful pictures of spas and hot tubs wrapped in wood, built by creative and crafty homeowners (and their contractors).

If your spa (like mine), is just sitting on the back porch, on a boring slab of concrete, here’s some inspirational photos of spas sunken into wood decks, with thanks (and image credit) to Decks.com and Houzz.com.

Further down, I have some details on spa deck construction, or considerations when designing a spa or hot tub wood deck.

1. Simple & clean spa deck design provides privacy and space for entertaining

hot-tub-spa-decks-1

2. Multi-level deck design with down lights to illuminate steps without blocking stars.

hot-tub-spa-decks-2

3. Cantilevered deck sections and faux rock spa skirt and privacy wall.

hot-tub-spa-decks-18

4. Hot Springs spa wrap around deck design gives plenty of room for drinks and towels.

hot-tub-spa-decks-17

5. This old house got a facelift in the front and back, integrated spa into the back stairs.

hot-tub-spa-decks-16

6. Curved composite planks match the circular acrylic hot tub, set below Wisteria blooms.

hot-tub-spa-decks-15

7. Ultra modern home with deck wrapped hot tub with lots of access to equipment.

hot-tub-spa-decks-14

8. Horizontal privacy wall contrasts perfectly with the stained decking around this spa.

hot-tub-spa-decks-13

9. Spa tucked nicely on the edge of the patio, integrates well with custom wall and steps.

hot-tub-spa-decks-12

10. Spa appears to float in air, steps on left side lead down to spa equipment access.

hot-tub-spa-decks-10

11. Luxuriously finished teak wood for large gatherings with a grand view.

hot-tub-spa-decks-9

12. Positioning the spa at a jaunty angle in relation to the house creates better visual flow.

hot-tub-spa-decks-8

13. Need more circular shapes in your life? Perfect contrast to a square house and backyard.

hot-tub-spa-decks-7

14. Another example of asymmetrical spa placement, in relation to the house; adds more angles.

hot-tub-spa-decks-6

15. Pergola! Corner posts can tie-off long drapery; top is great for Clematis or Wisteria vines.

hot-tub-spa-decks-5

16. This looks like a dream. Safety fence rails are important for raised decks (and cliffs!).

hot-tub-spa-decks-4

17. Wood and stone play nicely together in this spa deck and privacy wall.

hot-tub-spa-decks-3

18. A Hot Springs spa deck planner idea, with two wood topped islands, wrapped in faux stone.

hot-tub-spa-decks-19

 

Spa Deck Materials

When building a wood deck, there are usually several options of wood, from basic pressure treated yellow pine, to insect resistant redwood and cedar, to imported hardwoods like Ipe or Balau. Composite deck materials mimic the look of real wood, but can outlast real wood, without the need for future sanding and staining.

Spa Insulation

Another important consideration when building a spa in a deck is the insulation around the tub. When sinking a spa shell into a deck without a spa cabinet, some insulation should be planned for, to save on heating costs. When a wood hot tub is sunk into the deck, a heavy insulated pad can be wrapped around the tub, below deck level.

Spa Deck Structural Design

A full size spa is heavy (nearly 1000 lbs), and a spa full of water can weigh 5x more! When placing a spa in a deck, the spa itself must be resting on a 4″ slab of reinforced concrete, or other suitable base that can handle at least 100 lbs per square foot. Want to install a spa on the upstairs deck? Better call a structural engineer, and get out the checkbook – strong underpinnings are needed for any elevated spa or hot tub.

Spa Privacy

Your location may not need much privacy, but if you have close-by neighbors like I do, a slatted or lattice wall can keep out prying eyes. A low wall can be incorporated into the deck surrounding the wall, as many of pictures above show. Draperies, fabric shades and plants can also be used to add privacy to your outdoor spa or hot  tub.

Spa Safety

Every spa installation demands safety considerations. Fencing or rails around raised decking is important, but even more important is a way to block access to the spa, with fences and gates, and with locking spa covers.

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

Baby It’s Cold Outside: Winter Hot Tub Tips

December 29th, 2014 by

spa-during-winterFor many spa or hot tub owners, winter is the perfect time to enjoy a hot soak in your outdoor tub. Here in Southern California, the winter temperatures rarely dip below 50°, which hardly qualifies as cold for most of the country.

If you live in colder climates, where 50° would be a winter heat wave, you can safely (and sanely) enjoy your hot tub. In winter, the air is crisper and the stars are brighter, and even if there is snow all around, it’s the perfect time to enjoy your hot tub with family and friends.

Here’s some tips to help enjoy your hot tub, during the holidays, and all through the winter.

 

1. Wear a Hat

For women (or men) with long hair, wearing a hat helps to keep your hair dry, which will help to regulate your body temperature, and prevent catching a chill while using the hot tub. Not only important for keeping your hair dry, we all know that 70% of heat is lost through the top of your head – so break out a ball cap, knitted cap or even your ten gallon Stetson®.

2. Wear Face Moisturizer

Skin cream, or hand lotion will help protect your face from bitter winter winds, which can be drying from low humidity. A layer of moisturizer (or even suncreen) will keep your skin from drying out, and keep the moisture in your skin. It also forms a barrier over your pores, to reduce absorption of spa chemicals that may be released at the surface of the water.

3. Wear Sandals or Slippers

Most outdoor spas are at least 10 steps from the door. And unless you have a red carpet runway from the doorway to the spa, slippers or sandals will help keep your spa clean, and keep your tootsies warm and dry, as you make the mad dash to the hot tub. Surfaces around a spa can also be slippery, so wear something on your feet to keep from becoming a slip and fall statistic.

4. Warm Towels

My favorite spa accessory is a towel warmer, which my wonderful husband gave me (us) as gift on my last birthday. It’s a small box, about the size of a micro-fridge, that holds 2-3 towels, always toasty warm and ready for use. Don’t have a towel warmer? No problem, pop some towels in the dryer beforehand, and store them in a small box just inside the door to the house.

5. Cool Umbrellas

If you have a patio umbrella near the spa, have it ready to pop open in the event of rain or snow. If you wear a hat, you may not need to use an umbrella, but if not, it’s nice to have a large umbrella or small parasol to keep winter weather from raining on your parade. Hold on tight in high winds, and if a rare winter thunderstorm develops, it’s best to head indoors.

6. Hot Drinks

In warmer outside temperatures, nothing is as refreshing as a cool beverage (I like infused waters), to help regulate body temperature. During the winter however, we like to make up a batch of Mexican hot chocolate, and pour it into an insulated coffee carafe, to keep it warm. Coffee mugs are perfect for the liquid chocolate; just be sure not to spill any in the tub!

7. Spa Covers

The colder the weather is outside, the faster your spa will lose heat. Spas without an effective cover will have trouble maintaining the heat during freezing temperatures, and may not recover fast enough after losing ten degrees while the cover is off. If your cover is struggling to keep the heat in, consider that it may be time to buy a new spa cover, and perhaps also investing in a floating spa blanket.

Don’t let the cold weather temperatures drive you indoors! Enjoy your spa or hot tub all year round, just remember to limit your soaks to 20 minutes, and enjoy your soak without alcohol or drugs, which can be dangerous.

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

Hot Tubs & Brain Function

November 24th, 2014 by

hot-tubs-make-you-smarterSoaking in water soothes the savage beast. Hot tubs are well known for reducing aches and pains, and research has shown that it relaxes muscles as it improves blood flow and raises muscle temperature. But did you also know that your spa or hot tub can make you smarter?

In a study done with 60 mid-aged women suffering from fibromyalgia, hot water immersion and light exercise was prescribed, including mobility, aerobic, strength, and flexibility exercises for 16 weeks.

Study participants tested for higher cognitive function after the 16 week study, as compared to tests completed prior to the study, and as compared to a control group. In addition, they had a self reported higher pain threshold and reduction in pain symptoms.

By way of contrast, another study at Kent State showed that exposure to acute cold, lead to pronounced reduction of cognition, before and after soaking in cold water at 55°.  Subjects were tested against various known cognition tests for reaction time, before during and after cold water immersion. Brr… I hope they paid those students well!

Hot Tubs Make you Smarter?

You heard it here first, folks. But, how exactly can we make this claim, and what is making some test subjects test better on cognition skills during and after a soak in hot water? According to a study by Titis Wijayanto, at Kyushu University, “passive heat exposure increases oxygen delivery in the pre-frontal cortex to maintain pre-frontal cortex oxygenation”.

So, in the presence of heat, and more specifically an increase in the core body temperature, the body responds by sending more oxygen rich blood to the frontal cortex. This is why you are so brilliant in the hot tub, and immediately afterwards!

Don’t confuse hot tubs with hot weather, however. The US Army has studied the effects of outside air temperature extensively on it’s soldiers, and both hot and cold environments have an adverse effect on soldier performance in various cognition tests, especially at temperatures below 50° and above 90° F.

Power of Water – Known to the Ancients

cleopatra-being-bathedAs far back as Hippocrates, water therapy was appreciated for it’s effect on the mind. The Greek doctor said that water therapy was necessary to prevent “lassitude”, or physical or mental weaknesses. During the rise of the Roman empire, great baths were erected for the ‘spiritual fulfillment’ of the citizenry.

For the ancient cultures of the Inca in South America, water was a deity, and natural hot spring baths were infused with local eucalyptus. The baths are still in operation to this day, known as the Baños del Inca. In North America and Europe, water therapy flourished until the middle ages, when puritan ethics decreed bathing to be something lascivious.

During the 17th and 18th centuries however, this gross misjudgement was corrected, and bathing for health, and well being become popular again.

Hot Water Therapy for Mood Elevation

happy-personMany studies have shown the effects of hot water immersion and an elevated mood, which can last for several hours after soaking, like the runner’s ‘high’. a study in 2020, by Dubois, et al showed that when test subjects (120 persons) were given regular warm water therapy, anxiety was reduced with less prescription drugs.

And in another study on the effects of hot tubs and depression, even the CDC is onboard, stating that hot water therapy improves mood and reduces depression.

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

Time for a new Hot Tub Spa Pack?

November 20th, 2014 by

balboa-digital-spa-pack-is-wifi-readyHow do you know when it’s time to install a new hot tub spa pack? Your spa shell and the PVC plumbing can essentially last forever, but the pump, heater, blower and controls – being electronic and mechanical, will fail after awhile.

Most spa packs will perform flawlessly for the first five years. In years 5-10 they have one or two problems, and after 10 years they tend to become an annual headache. A switch here, a plug or wire there, and then a circuit board, heater element or new pump motor.

clunker-car-clipIt’s like those old junkers that I used to drive when I was [much] younger. I never felt secure or safe in those old cars, and was always worried about reliability – would I make it home? Every since I could afford it, I have been driving late model automobiles, so I no longer have to worry about repairs or break downs.

Just like with hot tub spa packs – eventually you get tired of the annual headache, and want a reliable hot tub, hot and ready when you want to use it!  Say goodbye to those spaghetti air hoses and hard to push buttons that never seem to work. Call our spa technicians if you need advice on replacing an air spa pack with a digital spa pack.

balboa-spa-appWant even more reasons to replace your spa pack? New Balboa spa packs are wifi-enabled, and allow you to control all spa functions from a smartphone, tablet or desktop app. And, consider the extra ports for plugging in new equipment like ozonators, lighting or music – plug and play! Digital spa packs, in addition to precise temperature control, offer smart filtration modes, including standard freeze protection.

One more benefit, I almost forgot to mention. Replacing a spa pack gives you the chance to increase the size of the pump, filter, heater or blower. Check with our spa technicians before purchase, but if you have ever found your spa to be lacking in some areas, our Build-a-Pack tool allows you to build a hot tub spa pack especially suited to your needs.

Complete Hot Tub Spa Pack Prices*hot-tub-spa-pack

So, you can see – with the exception of the dual pump 4hp Balboa packs that are over $1000, most new spa packs are not as expensive to buy as you may have thought.

With free shipping, and our award winning Hot Tub Works technical support, you CAN replace a hot tub spa pack yourself, for about $700. That’s less than half of what a repairman would charge!

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

*As of today ~ Spa Pack Prices subject to change! :-)