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Carolyn Mosby's Posts

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.



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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



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! :-)

Restless Legs Syndrome – Relief in a Hot Tub!

September 22nd, 2014 by


Tomorrow (September 23) is the international day of awareness for Restless Legs Syndrome, otherwise known as RLS.

RLS is a neurological condition that gives sufferers uncontrollable leg movements, or urge to move the legs – a restlessness – especially while lying still, or trying to sleep. Symptoms are more pronounced at the end of the day, which also makes RLS a sleep disorder.

It has recently come to the forefront with millions of sufferers, even celebrities such as Keith Olbermann, former MSNBC talk show host who has been given a diagnosis of RLS. But, this is not a new condition, having been first identified 70 years ago, in 1945.

Symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome

  • A strong impulse to move the legs, especially when sitting or laying in a prone position.
  • Moving the legs or feet brings temporary relief.
  • Legs have feelings of tremors or pulling, itching or like bugs under the skin.
  • Involuntary jerking of the legs during the daytime, or kicking at night.
  • Insomnia, or poor sleep patterns, as a result of leg tremors.

Diagnosis of Restless Legs Syndrome

Your doctor can determine if RLS exists, although you may already have a good idea. Symptoms such as those above can assist in a diagnosis, however, there are no specific tests that can be used to make a definite diagnosis. Like other ‘experiential’ conditions, RLS is primarily diagnosed symptomatically – by how you describe your troubles to your doctor. Cramping and twitching of the legs, which worsens when the body is at rest, and tending to increase at the end of an active day, are typical complaints of a person suffering from RLS.

Relief for Restless Legs Syndrome

There are many contributors to RLS, such as diet, activity and lifestyle. Making certain changes can help alleviate symptoms, and there are many treatments available, including many Parkinson’s Disease medications that can help. Before seeking a medication solution, which can have side effects, it is recommended to try other self-help methods of relief.

  • Moderate exercise for the lower body, such as swimming, walking or biking.
  • Avoid sitting or standing in one position for long periods of time.
  • Stretches for the legs and lower back. Yoga and Pilates can be especially helpful.
  • Pressure massage can be very helpful, from a sympathetic partner or with a lower leg massage machine.
  • Swaddling the legs, or wearing compression socks is helpful for many sufferers.
  • Sleeping with a large pillow between the legs can also bring relief.
  • Steady sleep schedules can help reduce fatigue, which tends to worsen symptoms.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol and tobacco, which can also make symptoms worse.
  • Dietary supplements, especially Iron and Magnesium can eliminate symptoms.
  • Avoid stress, take it easy. Mental stress can aggravate symptoms.
  • If you are overweight, reducing caloric intake can reduce leg stress.
  • Avoid OTC sleeping pills, anti-nausea medications and antihistamines.

Finally, a warm bath before bedtime, or a short session in a hot tub, can bring fast relief, especially when combined with light stretching of the calves, hips and thighs. If you suffer from lower back pain, symptoms of RLS are frequently associated with tension that begins in the lumbar or coccyx region, and radiates down the back of the thighs.relief-for-RLS

Hot tubs and Spas bring relief to millions of people suffering from a variety of conditions. Restless legs syndrome is just one more. Give it a try! If you don’t own a hot tub, don’t rush right out and buy one, but first try a week of 20 minute soaks in a hot bathtub, with some light leg stretches. Point and pull the toes, pull the knee up toward the chest.

Immediately after leaving the bathtub or hot tub, try a kneeling position, with a straight back, buttocks resting on your heels. Standing up, stretch the calves by placing both hands on the wall and leaning in slowly. Stretch the thighs by lifting up your leg behind you, and pulling your ankle toward the buttocks.


Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works


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.


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!


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.


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!


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.



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.



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.


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




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-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-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-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-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-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-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-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-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