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Gina Galvin's Posts

Salt Water Spas and Hot Tubs – FAQ

September 22nd, 2015 by

Image Credit: MISES.orgYou’ve heard about salt water spas or salt water hot tubs – as an accessory with a new spa purchase, or an easy add-on to an existing spa or hot tub.

To be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of salt water systems, let me say that right up front. But they do have certain advantages over other methods of keeping your water disinfected, and could be the best choice in some situations.

Here’s answers to the most Frequently Asked Questions about salt water hot tubs.



Well, I’m no chemist, but when you add water (H2O) and salt (NaOCl) together, you have all the ingredients needed to make chlorine. But first, you have to separate the molecules, breaking apart the Hydrogen, Oxygen, Sodium and Chloride. This is done through electrolysis, passing the water over two electrified platinum or titanium plates, (the salt cell) one positively charged (the anode) and one negatively charged (the cathode).

The small electric current causes the water and salt molecules to break apart (disassociate), and recombine into HOCl and NaOH, or Hypochlorous Acid and Sodium Hydroxide. Hypochlorous acid is pure chlorine and it instantly begins to sanitize the water. After some hard work killing off any germs in the water, the chlorine converts back to chloride and recombines with sodium, to form salt once again, in a continuous process.

Or, more simply – you add salt to the spa, about 2 lbs per 100 gallons, and hook up the salt chlorine generator device, and pass the water through it. As the salty water passes through the tiny electrolysis machine (electrified metal plates), it comes out the other side with a small amount of chlorine.


They usually do – but there are some times when the technology can fail. Like if you stop heating your spa and the water temp cools way down, below 60°, the salt cell will stop producing chlorine. Also, if the power goes out, or when the spa is turned off, the electrically powered salt cell also turns off, unlike a bromine or mineral floating dispenser.

If the salt cell becomes clogged or coated with minerals (which are naturally attracted to the charged plates), chlorine output can be severely reduced. Salt water systems also need the proper salt level in the water to operate, if too high or too low it affects output and cell life. And good water balance is important, if your pH and Alkalinity is or calcium Hardness is off, chlorine output and cell life are compromised.

If you are in a “hard water area”, where water comes out of the tap very hard (over 400 ppm), you may have a problem with mineral clogging of the salt cell, and a shorter salt cell life. Most manufacturers recommend a low calcium hardness level. If your calcium hardness level is over 150 ppm, look for a self-cleaning salt system.

And finally, your salt cell will eventually lose its mojo, and stop producing chlorine (or bromine) altogether, which can be 1-5 years, depending on the model.


  1. Softer, silkier water – because of the salt added. And if you use Dead Sea salts, you also get potassium and magnesium, and sodium.
  2. No binders and fillers – bromine and chlorine tablets or granules contain additives that just junk-up the spa water.
  3. Fewer chemicals to store and handle. You may still need some tablets and/or MPS on hand, but will only need them rarely.


  1. Salt is corrosive. Even at low levels of 2500 ppm, damage could occur to shiny chrome finishes, or soft rubber parts.
  2. Galvanic corrosion can make it easier for spa staining to occur, if your water has high levels of copper, iron or manganese.
  3. Draining a salt water hot tub can damage a lawn or landscaping, from high salt levels.


In the long run, the cost of s salt water hot tub system is going to be about the same as using chlorine granules or bromine tablets. Salt is cheap (but Dead Sea salts are considerably more), but you’ll need to replace it every time you drain the spa. And the salt cell (plumbed inline, or draped over the spa side) will need to replaced in 1-5 years, depending on the model. Do the math before you buy, and you may find that traditional methods will be cheaper – in the long run.


They all operate the same way, with a Salt Cell and a power source or Control Panel. The traditional cell is installed into the plumbing, where you cut out a foot or so of piping (after the heater, and any other purifier equipment), and plumb the salt cell in place. There is another type with a cell and cable; drop it over the side of the spa, and it just rests a foot or so below water, like the Saltron Mini. Most spa salt systems have a control box, wall mounted or spa mounted, for status and diagnostics, and allow control of chlorine output, with simple Up (^) and Down (v) buttons.


A salt water hot tub can be bromine if you use sodium bromide or chlorine if you use sodium chloride. So you don’t have to switch from bromine, just because you start using a salt chlorinator. It depends on which types of salt you use – sodium bromide salts will convert to bromine and sodium chloride salts (regular salt) will convert into chlorine. The cost of using the Bromides will be higher however, but bromine does have benefits over chlorine in a hot water environment.

super salty~ I hope you enjoyed this little lesson on salt water spas and hot tubs. Salt water hot tubs are quite enjoyable, and have great benefits, as long as you maintain good water balance, proper salt levels, and don’t overwork the cell. Use MPS shock (non-chlorine shock) after each use, to reduce the amount of chlorine needed, which will extend your salt cell life.

Corrosion issues can be solved by using a zinc anode somewhere in the spa, which will protect shiny finishes. Staining and scaling issues can be solved by using a Stain & Scale control.

Give us a call, or leave a comment below if we can help out in any way!



Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works




FAQ About Spas and Hot Tubs

August 17th, 2015 by

spa-hot-tub-careBefore I came to Hot Tub Works, I worked in a spa retail store for ten years, selling spas. So when it comes to questions about hot tubs and spas, we must have heard them all.

There’s a lot to consider when buying a spa or hot tub, so many features, styles and options. Nothing overly complicated, but for someone who has never owned a spa before, it seems very confusing.

Today’s FAQ or Frequently Asked Questions, answers questions about Buying a Spa or Hot Tub. Next time, I’ll cover questions about spa safety and ongoing spa maintenance.

Q: How often do you need to Change the Water?
A: That depends on how much you use the spa or hot tub, and how clean your bathers are (see above), but generally speaking, most residential spas are drained every 3-4 months. For spas and hot tubs that are mandated to conserve water, there are ways to extend your time between changes for up to a year if needed. 

Q: How does a Spa Filter work?
A: Spas and hot tubs are filtered by pleated polyester cartridges. A filter pump pulls the water through the material, which traps dirt and particles down to a very small size. As the dirt loads up in the cartridge, it will need cleaning with a garden hose, once or twice per month. After 12-15 cleanings, it’s time to replace the spa filter

Q: How does a Spa Heater work?
Spas and hot tubs are heated by an electrical immersion element, much like the types used in electric home water heaters. When the control system gets a call for heat from the thermostat, it checks flow, pressure and temperature before sending power to the element, which heats up very fast to warm the water as it rushes past the element.

Q: What Chemicals are needed for a Spa?
Spas and hot tubs are most often sanitized continuously with bromine tablets in a floater, and shocked with a non-chlorine oxidizer after each use. Many spas also use an ozonator or mineral purifier to supplement the bromine. Also, you’ll need to check and periodically adjust pH, Alkalinity and Calcium Hardness levels.

Q: Do I really need a Spa Cover?
 Yes, absolutely – it’s like having a house with no roof, or a refrigerator with no door – it just wouldn’t make sense not to have a quality spa cover. By the way, most standard spa covers that come with a new spa are usually junk – but it’s a good starter cover. Most folks buy a new spa covers every 3-5 years.

Q: Do I really need a Spa Cover lifter?
Yes again – but many people try it for a while without a cover lifter, and end up a spa cover lifter soon. Without one, you risk damage to the spa cover while moving it, or when it’s off the spa. And if your cover becomes even slightly waterlogged, oof! it’s heavy. And fellows, it may be easy for you, but smaller people (like me!) really struggle without a cover lifter.

Q: What Replacement Items will I need to Buy?
Spa cover every 3-5 years, filter cartridge every 1-2 years. Ozone cells wear out after 18 months, and mineral purifiers last 6 months typically. You’ll also have a stock of chemicals that will need regular replenishing. Spa pillows may deteriorate after several years under the cover.

Q: Will my Spa attract Rodents?
It’s not uncommon for mice to try to make a home beneath the warm spa cabinet. Using mint bags or moth balls will deter them, as will keeping it clear around the spa. Seal up any access points, but never block any vents (although you can staple a wire mesh over the vents).

Q: Is an Air Blower required equipment?
It is not, many hot tubs don’t have one, as they are more of a soaking vessel. Adding forced air into the return line accentuates the force of the bubble, and having seat jets, well that just feels really good! The problem with the blower is that they are usually somewhat noisy, and makes the water really “bouncy”. They also tend to lower the water temperature because they draw in air that is much colder than the water.

Q: Where can I install a Hot Tub or Spa?
A: A spa or hot tub full of water can weigh over 3000 lbs! For this reason it must be placed on a 4 inch thick reinforced concrete slab, or an equally sturdy wood deck (on compacted earth) capable of holding 100 lbs per square foot. You should never install on a balcony or unsupported deck, or set on the bare earth. 

Q: How much will my Electrical Bill Increase with a Spa?
A: Generally about $10-$20 per month, depending on where you live. Some areas of the US pay much more than other parts of the country pay for electricity. In most cases, you may not even notice the bump of $15 per month.

Q: How much will I spend on Spa Chemicals?
A: If you buy our 6-month chemical packages, you’ll spend about $250 per year on chemicals, but you can go a la carte, and spend much less, by buying only what you absolutely need. But, it’s important not to skimp too much on chemicals, or you end up having to drain and clean to correct a poor water situation.

Q: How do I Drain and Clean a Hot Tub?
A: Most have a spigot underneath that you connect a garden hose to, or you could use a small submersible pump. While empty, it’s  a good time to clean the surfaces, especially around the water line. When refilling the tub, you may need to make adjustments to water chemistry, if your fill water is less than perfect.

Q: What are the larger Expenses for a Spa Owner?
A: In most cases, the spa is trouble free for at least 5 years. At that point, things begin to show your age. You will likely need a new spa cover by now, maybe a new cover lifter, too. Spa components and electronics are more stable nowadays than 20 years ago, and you can expect trouble free performance for 10 years or more.  In most cases, a major spa repair is not more than $500 in spa parts.

Q: Do I need a Spa Cover on an Empty or Unheated Spa?
A: Yes, unless the spa is covered and shaded from the damaging effects of the sun. Just a few hours of daily direct sunlight can damage spa interior surfaces. Spa covers also serve an important safety function by keeping out children and animals.

Q: How much space is needed around the Spa?
A: The spa cover and spa cover lifter need to have room to operate, and depending on which cover lifter is used, you will need from 6″ to 18″ of clearance on 3 sides of the spa. Also important is easy access to the equipment spa pack (pump, heater, filter, blower, valves…).

Q: Can I place the Spa or Hot Tub Indoors?
A: This is generally not recommended, due to the heat and humidity that a spa gives off during use, and even while covered. It also presents a flooding hazard, and there will certainly be lots of water around the spa. Moisture and humidity will damage your walls and your home over time, unless the room is designed to manage the moisture.

Q: Do you have to Shower before Using a Spa?
A: It is recommended to shower before using the spa, to reduce the oils and dirt (and even bits of fecal matter) that will enter the spa. My usual routine is to shower and remove make-up, put my hair up, and then saunter to the spa. But there are times when I don’t have time, and that’s OK once a week or so, just shake in some shock after use. Water management can become difficult if the spa is used as a bathtub, requiring extra chemicals and filtration to compensate.

Q: How Hot do Spas Get?
A: Spas are triple protected with high limits and temperature sensors to detect an overheating situation that could be dangerous to users or to the equipment. Most spas will not heat above 105°, but for safety’s sake a lower temperature of 102-104° should be used, and for children, the temp should always be under 100°.

Q: How fast do Spas Heat Up?
A: It depends on the size and voltage of heaters. 220V spas will heat twice as fast as 110V spas. Heater elements are sized in kilowatts, with larger spas using an 11 kw element, but smaller spas with a 5.5kw or 4kw element. 220V spas with an 11kw element can heat 6-8 degrees F per hour, but 110V heaters (plug and play models), only heat 2-3 degrees per hour.  Once it heats up, a well insulated spa can maintain a hot temperature quite economically.

Q: What is a Well Insulated Spa?
A: Full foam spas spray expanding foam throughout the space between the spa shell and the cabinet, except in the equipment bay area. This is the best form of insulation. Spas used in warm southern climates don’t need as much insulation as northern spas, but the more you have, the cheaper and faster it is to heat!

Q: Is it OK to use Well Water in a Spa?
A: Sure, well water is typically fine water. If your home has a water softener and in-home filters, it may be best to use your spa test strips to test the unfiltered water (typically from the hose) and the filtered or softened water from the sink. Well water may contain more heavy metals and minerals which could stain some spa surfaces, similar to what you may see in your bathtub or bath sinks. I always recommend using a pre-filter for well water or for city water that smells, looks or tastes funny!

Q: Do I need to have a Fence around my Spa?
A: Not directly around the spa, but in most towns and cities in the U.S., a portable spa or hot tub is treated with the same fencing regulations as an aboveground swimming pool. You probably do need some type of fencing to protect the community; check your local government website for details.

Q: What Tests do I need for the Spa Water?
You’ll need to regularly check the spa pH level and the bromine level, just about every other day, or at least before you use the spa. Bromine level should be a constant (all the time!) level of 3-4 ppm and the pH should be adjusted if needed, to be between 7.2 and 7.6. Test strips easily give you results in 30 seconds.

Q: Can Children Use a Spa or Hot Tub?
A: Toddlers should not be allowed to use the spa. At age 4 or 5, supervised children can be allowed a short session in spa water that has cooled to below 100°. Because young children are more susceptible to bacteria, they should always keep their head above water.

Q: Can I do my own Spa Repairs?
A: Spa Maintenance is simple. Spa repairs (to pumps, heater or control circuits) is within reach of most handy homeowners. Most spas nowadays are self-diagnosing, with very little testing or troubleshooting required. Owner’s Manuals for modern spas and spa packs are quite detailed with step by step flow chart repair guides. And we have all the spa repair parts you could ever need, here at Hot Tub Works.

Thanks! I hope you learned something! I learned that I shouldn’t sit so long in one position – I need to go sit in my spa for awhile. Bye!



Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works



Hot Tub Water Test: Like a Boss!

July 27th, 2015 by

TESTING-HOT-TUB-WATER-LIKE-A-BOSSTesting hot tub water regularly is important to avoid peaks and valleys of sanitation and water balance. Testing everyday is not needed unless your spa is used on a daily basis. Test your water 2-3 times per week, or more often if the spa is used frequently.

For years I used Test Strips to test my hot tub water, that’s what the Hot Tub Guyz (where I bought my first spa) told me to use. They even gave me a free bottle in a starter kit.

When I started working here at HotTubWorks – I was immediately shown a better way of testing hot tub water. It was in a product meeting, when someone asked when were going to start offering a real test kit for sale. I find out that we sell 12 different test strips for spa water, but we don’t have the “pool” test kit that everyone around the office uses.

It is now years later, and guess what – we still don’t sell the test kit which we all agree is the very best. Maybe this post will embarrass them into action! You can’t really rely on test strips for spa water – when you are only working with 300-500 gallons, it’s crucial to be accurate, or you can easily underdose or overdose.

Good Spa and Hot Tub Water Test

Spa-and-hot-tub-test-strips-travel-packSpa test strips are made to work with hot water, and are ‘calibrated’ especially for spas (whatever that means), but the wide range and hard to determine color matching makes them less accurate or reliable, when compared to other types of hot tub water testing.


Better Spa and Hot Tub Water Test

digital-strip-testerA better way to test spa water is to not abandon test strips, but to remove the human interpretation from the equation. No offense, but your eyesight and color matching skills aren’t what they used to be (mine neither!). The AquaChek Digital Strip Reader analyzes the test strip from 16 Million colors, and improves accuracy of test strip use immensely.


Best Spa and Hot Tub Water Test

The best way to test hot tub or spa water (if accuracy is important to you), is to use a liquid drop style, pool test kit. The one we all use here on our own hot tubs is usually, the K-2006, although some people have the K-2106. Both test kits are by Taylor, a well respected source.

Titration test kits are different, and here’s why. Take a water sample in a test vial and add the reagent. Then add an indicator solution, dropwise, or drop by drop, counting the drops until you achieve a solid color change (from red to blue for example). Multiply the number of drops x 10, and you have your calcium and alkalinity reading, accurate to within 5 ppm.


Yes it takes longer to do a titration test, but not much longer. You can do a full battery of tests, Bromine, pH, Alkalinity and Hardness in under 5 minutes. If your hot tub calcium or alkalinity is low, refer to the charts in the booklet, which tell you exactly how much adjustment chemical to add.

If your hot tub pH is high or low, you can do a titration test on the pH sample, adding Acid demand or Base demand reagents, dropwise, until your desired pH color is reached.

For measuring Bromine, and Bromamines, nothing beats a titration test. Traditional test kits have you add DPD reagent #1, 2 and 3 to the water sample vial, and compare the colors. FAS-DPD uses titration (drop counting) to most accurately determine chlorine or bromine readings to within 0.5 ppm.

You can buy the Taylor K-2006 test kit online - just not at Hot Tub Works! The box label reads Chlorine, but it tests for both Chlorine and Bromine. You won’t need the Cyanuric Acid test, unless you have an outdoor and uncovered spa.


So, if you want to be accurate with hot tub water testing (and who doesn’t?), get the best hot tub water test available, and toss away your test strips for good!


Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works



Hot Tub Filters: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

June 22nd, 2015 by

mystery-filter-cartridgeOnce upon a time, if you wanted a replacement spa or hot tub filters, you went down to your local spa store and bought or ordered a replacement filter cartridge. There wasn’t a choice of brand, they were all made by Unicel, or Aladdin.

As the number of pools and spas using pleated filter cartridges grew to more than 5 million in the US – more domestic manufacturers entered  the ring, namely Filbur and Pleatco.

Spa filter cartridges are surprisingly simple to manufacture, all you need is a machine to make neat pleats in the fabric, and roll it into a tube, and a second machine to shape and stamp the end caps.

This has given rise to a large number of imported spa filters being dumped on US shores, in packed shipping containers. After arrival they are sent to large retailers such as Walmart and Home Depot, and other mass merchants.

reemay-filter-fabricThere are some important quality differences in these cartridges, imported from Singapore. It starts with the fabric, which is not Reemay®, but something called remay, as in “quality remay construction”. That really burns me up, and I hope the DuPont legal team has some recourse against those who use copycat names.

According to sources at Unicel, the fabric used in most imported hot tub filters is inferior; and “low-end manufacturers are using low-grade spunbonded polyester to reduce costs, however there is a significant difference in cartridge performance”.

Let me give a personal opinion, and excuse my French; the spa filters from Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart and others are crap. And not just because they use something other than Reemay, but also because the fabric weight is not posted, or even mentioned.spun-bonded-polyester

For spa filter cartridges, a 3 oz. fabric weight (per square foot) is most suitable, with 4 oz. used on high flow systems, or very large spas. What is the weight of the fabric used in the spa filters sold by Home Depot, Lowes and Walmart? No one knows, it seems to be a closely guarded secret.

Below are some of the features of a Pleatco hot tub filters – compare that to their Pro line filters, which merely says “installs in seconds” – well, duh.

  • High performance pleated polyester media – (100% Reemay)
  • Reinforced antimicrobial end caps
  • Extruded PVC center cores
  • Molded threads, no loose inserts

If you want the best performance out of your hot tub filters, stick with an established and well known brand like Unicel, Filbur, Pleatco or Aladdin. Don’t be tempted to buy a half priced cartridge that won’t even last half as long, and you’ll have a cleaner and healthier hot tub.

Take it from me ~ I’ve used the cheapo cartridges before, and within two days the water is hazy, and within a week I had to clean the cartridge. After two months, I threw it in the trash can. A good hot tub filter, from the brands I mentioned above, can last 2-3 times as long, with less cleaning and better filtering.



Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works


Cloudy Hot Tub After Shocking

May 28th, 2015 by

cloudy-spa-water-after-shockingI once asked Jack how he shocks his hot tub, and he said, and I quote “I take off my towel – that really shocks my hot tub!

Cloudy spa water immediately after shocking your spa is almost considered normal – there’s a lot of chemical reactions going on! But, clear water should return to a spa within a few hours.

However, when adding just ounces of a spa shock makes the water cloudy, there are other things going on; here’s a few places to look for the cause(s) of cloudy hot tub water after shocking.


Swimming Pool Shock

Using pool shock will almost always make your spa or hot tub cloudy. It’s not as fine or re-fined, meaning the particles are much larger, and they don’t dissolve right away. It also is loaded with calcium, which can be a problem if you’re in a hard water part of the country. If you want to use chlorine shock, use Spa 56 chlorinating compound, especially formulated for hot tubs, but don’t use pool shock in a spa or hot tub.

High pH & Alkalinity

Before you shock a spa, it’s always best to check your pH and Alkalinity. Especially if you shock after using the spa; adding a few sweaty bodies into your hot tub definitely spikes the pH with higher alkalinity levels, and a strong shock treatment can knock carbonates and bicarbonates out of solution, making spa water cloudy. Keep some spa pH decreaser on hand, you can use it for lowering both pH and alkalinity.

Hard Water Hot Tub

My water comes out of the tap here at 450 ppm of Calcium Hardness, which is high but not as high as some people in nearby desert areas or on a well. When your spa water is hard, that means it has a lot of dissolved calcium in it. Spas and hot tubs operate best around 200 ppm, and when there is more than that – it can come out of solution as visible scale. Especially if your spa pH is high, and you also have high calcium hardness, shocking the spa can make the water cloudy. To prevent this problem, fill your spa with water that has gone thru the water softening tanks, or use a Pre-Filter on your garden hose, to reduce total hardness levels.

Lotions & Potions

Once I caught my (ex) boyfriend with 3 smelly soccer friends, sitting in the tub after a Sunday match. After their hour long soak, I went to put the cover back on (uh, yeah…), and the water looked funky, so I added some spa shock and it went cloudy. Why? Because of all of the oils, sweat, dirt and who knows what else they washed into my hot tub (gross).

woman-in-robeAnd ladies, we are also not without blame ~ skin lotions, make-up, hair products, deodorant – it all washes off into the tub. And spa shocks don’t do very well with oily gunk, they have trouble breaking it down and this can turn your hot tub cloudy after shocking. So, keep your spa as clean as possible by showering before using, or at least be fairly clean, and keep your hair up.

I have a ritual before using the spa, which is usually in the evening. First, I spend 20 minutes removing make-up and showering. Then I saunter to the pool deck in my robe and hair wrapped up in a towel, (just like a real spa resort).

And unlike Jack, who says he shocks his spa by disrobing, my spa is shocked after I’ve enjoyed a long leisurely soak. I dip a test strip to double check pH and alkalinity, and shake in 2 capfuls of Zodiac Cense, a non-chlorine spa shock.



Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works


Hot Tub Recycling or Hot Tub Graveyard?

May 7th, 2015 by

hot-tub-recyclingIf you have ever wondered what to do with an old, unused and probably non-working hot tub – this post is for you. The lifespan of a hot tub needn’t be short, the shell and other parts can last a lifetime, with occasional equipment repair and replacement, or a few spa parts here and there.

And that’s part of the problem, is that acrylic spas are built to last, and they aren’t biodegradable, as a wooden hot tub can be. Plus, it’s too big to fit in your blue recycle bin! If you call a local junk pickup service, they take the spa straight away to the landfill and just kick it off the truck. This is the least “green” option of getting rid of an old hot tub.

Trade-in your Hot Tub

If you are planning to buy a new spa, a slightly more green way to recycle a spa is to trade it in on a new model. Many spa dealers and manufacturers have a program to haul off your previous spa at no charge, and may even pay you something for it. Spa shops may then strip the spa of any useable parts, or they may sell it to a spa scrapper who may rebuild or refurbish the spa, to resell it as reconditioned. But most of the time, they just haul the tub around back to the spa graveyard. Photo below is of several spa manufacturers lots, courtesy of Google Earth.


Sell your used Hot Tub

You can sell it to a local spa scrapper / refurbisher, if you can find one. Check with friends and family. Post a listing on, or on But don’t offer it for Free, ask for at least $100, up to $500 or more if the spa is in operating condition. When you offer a spa for free, it doesn’t seem that enticing, even if it holds water and heats up. If you can rent or borrow a truck and trailer, perhaps you may be able to deliver the spa (for a few hundred bucks more!).

Strip it Down and Recycle what you can

First, remove the spa pack and spa side controls, all of the equipment. You may have a better chance of selling the components. New spa packs can run over $1000, so you may be able to get some money for the equipment from a spa guy, or a fellow spa owner. At the very least, it can be useful for spare parts. After all of the electronics are removed, you can strip away the cabinet from the shell. Wood and plastic cabinets can be recycled. Next, cut off all of the PVC fittings, valves and pipes, which can also be recycled. Finally, the spa shell itself can be cut up into smaller pieces, using a reciprocating saw with a 9″ blade.  The acrylic spa shell is not recyclable, but a rotomolded (thermoplastic) spa shell can be recycled. The spa cover can also be recycled, separately into it’s components – vinyl, foam, steel, nylon.

Turn it into a Backyard Pond or Water Feature


After stripping down the spa as described above, the spa shell can be placed into the ground, and covered with a vinyl or rubber pond membrane, and surrounded by rocks and plants. A small pump in the bottom can supply water for a 3-tier fountain, spouting frogs or urinating boy statue – whatever you want. Keep it sanitary with copper sulfate or other natural sanitizer. Or, stock it with Koi fish and use plants and circulation to keep it clear. Be sure to consider safety, and place the water feature behind a fence or within the fenced backyard.


Turn it into a Gardenhot-tub-garden

After stripping down the spa and removing plumbing fittings, set it in the ground and fill it with dirt to make a very colorful box garden!

Choose a sunny spot in the yard, close to water and not too far of a walk, and you can grow your own summer and fall garden! An 8-person spa can hold a lot of vegetables!


Turn it into a Dog Househot-tub-dog-house

That’s what this energetic dog owner did, and not only did he create a warm dog house by flipping the spa shell upside-down, but he also integrated a water fountain into the top!

Using a reciprocating saw, he cut out the doggie door and placed a utility light on the inside to provide heat during the winter.


So, you see there are many options for recycling or re-purposing an old spa or hot tub. The easiest thing to do is to just pick up the phone and call a junk removal service, but remember, the easiest way is also the least green way of dealing with an old, unwanted spa or hot tub.



Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works



10 Items that Every Hot Tub Owner Needs

April 16th, 2015 by

spa-accessory-umbrellaWhen I bought my first hot tub (not so long ago), I was expecting a complete package, but soon found out that I needed much more than just the tub itself! Sure, I got a starter chemical kit, but that was about it.

Over the next few months, I began to shop for the necessary hot tub accessories to be able to use my spa properly. Over the next few years, I acquired more toys, tools and conveniences.

Since I’ve come to Hot Tub Works, my employee discount has been put to good use, replacing many of the earlier spa products or add-ons that I bought.

Here’s my list of the 10 best spa products that every hot tub owner needs, or – if I were stranded on a desert island, with just my hot tub, these are the 10 things I would require. :-)

Hot Tub Covers

A spa cover is the first thing you buy, if it’s not included in the hot tub price, and if it is – it’s probably a piece of junk that won’t last but a few years. Operating without a hot tub cover is like having a refrigerator with no door on it, or a heated house with no roof! Absolutely necessary – and about every five years you’ll need to buy a new one. When your spa cover becomes broken, waterlogged or begins to sag into the spa, take a look at why we are America’s #1 choice for spa covers!

Hot Tub Cover Lifters


A lifter may be the second thing you buy. I thought I could get along without one, and did for several years. Then one night, my cover broke while we were moving it off the spa. We both blamed each other, but the reality is – it’s hard Not to break a spa cover, when you don’t use a cover lifter. I hear a lot of stories about people falling into the cover, or the wind picking it up and blowing it across the yard. A cover lifter prevents both of those from happening too!

Spa Steps

Definitely didn’t see this one coming, but of course you need a way to get in and out of the spa, without making a complete, and unladylike fool of yourself! My 6’2″ boyfriend can just lean on the side and spin himself into the spa, but not little ol’ me – I needed a step. Spa steps are available in colors to match your spa cabinet, and can be plastic or redwood. You could make your own steps, if you fancy yourself a woodworker. If you do that, you may as well create some under-step storage and add a pair of attached planters!

Spa Rail

spa-rail-for-hot-tubsAs a companion to a spa step, a spa rail slides under the spa and gives a safe hand hold for climbing in and out of the spa. Especially coming out of the spa, standing up suddenly can be dizzying, and with slippery wet surfaces, it’s easy to slip and fall when coming out of a hot tub. I put a spa rail on my spa just last year, more for our “older” hot tub friends – haha, not for me! It also makes a nice towel holder.

Spa Tables

For towels, drinks, snacks, keys or phones, etc…, a spa side table can be used for so many things. You can buy resin tables that install into the side panels of the cabinet, or use a freestanding type of Console table. I have several (three!) tables that were made from rough hewn wood, kind of shabby chic, surrounding my hot tub. One of them is completely filled with plants, on the sunny side of the spa. You don’t need 3, but some kind of table within arm’s reach is a nice touch.

Spa Pillows


Here’s another item that you would think came with the spa, but I had to pay like $99 extra for my first set of spa pillows. They don’t last as long as you thing, after about 5 years, the foam was all cracked and dried out. Spa pillows are more necessary than you may think, and not so optional; have you ever tried to find a comfortable position with your neck on the edge of spa? You can feel every vibration of the equipment, but not in a massaging the neck kind of way – more like teeth chattering!

Chemical Storage

As Carolyn pointed out in her recent blog post about spa chemical storage ideas, having a safe place to store spa chemicals is an important accessory. It should be lockable, to keep it out of reach of children, and for the longest shelf life, store chemicals indoors, with consistent humidity and temperature levels. I use a Rubbermaid type of container – not lockable, but then we rarely have kids in our house.

Cleaning Tools


There are a number of cleaning tools out there, but you don’t need most of them. What you really DO need, however – is a flat skimmer net, to fish out leaves or food, or anything floating on the water. And, you also need a Grit Getter or some type of vacuum to clean the floor and seats of the spa. Other than that, you don’t need any other specific cleaning tools, except maybe a bottle brush, which is good for cleaning out the spa jets when you drain the tub.

Baseball Caps

Keep some baseball caps or knit caps near the tub for women or men with long-er hair, to put their hair up. This keeps their gunky hair products out of the spa, and keeps that bromine smell out of their hair! On cold nights, use the knit caps to hold-in that head heat, and keep your guests hot!

Spa Thermometer


Your spa probably has a digital readout of the spa temperature, so why would you need another one? For one, to double-check that your temp sensor is right, and the spa is as warm as it says it is, and secondly because it’s fun! Everyone who gets in will have to check the thermometer, especially if you get one of our cute spa thermometers.


~~~So, that’s it, that’s my ‘desert island list’ of my favorite hot tub gear. Is there a spa accessory item I didn’t list that you can’t do without? For Carolyn, it’s her Towel Warmer (she made me put that in!).



Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works



Hot Tub Pioneers – Spa Cover Inventors

March 17th, 2015 by

spa-cover-design-5745932The hot tub cover or spa top, is one of the most necessary accessory items for a spa or hot tub. But it wasn’t always so – in the early days, hot tubs were not kept hot all the time, but heated up as needed. Then, the energy crunch of ’73 hit, and inventors starting tinkering…

The early spa cover inventions were modeled after pool covers, but spa covers could offer more than pool covers; with insulation and hinged folding panels. Most early spa covers, in the 70′s were hand-made of plywood, but remember, portable spas as we know them today, hadn’t been invented yet!

Inventors rolled up their sleeves to design new spa covers that would save energy, and be easy to work with. Here’s a short collection, in chronological order, of some interesting patents for spa covers.

Spa cover US 4236259 A – Gary R. Wendt


A rigid piece of insulative foam, fashioned with hinged cut out sections for users to enjoy a dip in the tub, without experiencing the unfortunate effects of heat loss.

Closed cell foam is soft to the touch, and has a moderate durability against spa chemicals. Easy to remove and store.

The underside of the flip over sections includes cup holders! Obviously, this design was way ahead of it’s time for 1980.


Convert Spa to Wading Pool US 5390377 A – Mark W. Blough


Not really a spa cover, but this device has a curious use – lay it over the bench seats in your hot tub to decrease the depth of the tub to a fun baby pool!

This device was sketched in many shapes and sizes for the most common types of spa shells being produced at the time. Holes in the center allow for water to bubble up through the clear sheet, and hand holds near the edge allow for placement and removal.

The sheet is made of a Lexan or durable ABS plastic for years of use with minimal care!


Hot tub cover US 4246663 A – Anthony J. Aragona

anthony-argona-spa-topI love this one! A spherical dome structure, looks so steampunk!

“A generally hemispherical dome designed to cover a hot tub comprised of two nested spherical shells, which pivot on a a vertical pin running through the superimposed apexes of the two shells. A deck surrounding the perimeter of the hot tub provides basal support to the shells as well as a bearing surface for roller wheels attached along the base of the smaller shell.”

The larger shell is fixed to the deck and the smaller shell is rotated about the pin member through a range of superajacent positions relative to the fixed shell.


Thermal Spa Cover US 4270232 A – Ray D. Ballew


A thermally effective cover designed to entrap and magnify atmospheric heat and pass the same into the water and retain it – the first spa solar cover?

Originally designed for pools in 1979 to be the first type of interlocking, floating solar panels, they also found a use for spas by creating a heat trapping dome over a hot tub or spa, of the right size.

Designs show this floating spa cover (buoyant) being manufactured in different shapes and sizes, 3-corner, 4-corner and 6-corner sections can be used to keep your spa clean and retain heat.


Tub cover US 4234973 A – Craig A. Vetter


You may have seen this one before, a roll up spa cover made of wooden slats – popularized by California Cooperage, who had an exclusive on the design, for a short time.

“This cover for a hot tub has wooden or other rigid ribs secured to a flexible, resilient foamed plastic sheet. One rib is secured at an edge of the tub to anchor the cover. The cover can be rolled between an extended position overlying the tub and a rolled retracted position adjacent the tub. A pair of brackets secured to the tub each have a depression in the top surface in which the retracted rolled cover rests.”
If you have a wooden hot tub, this looks pretty smart, but it’s not a very insulative spa cover.  Use it with a floating foam spa blanket for help keep more heat in the tub.


Spa or hot tub cover US 4422192 A – Terry Jacobs

spa-cover-patentThis design is closest to the spa and hot tub covers that we know today, an insulative cover made from two closed cell foam panels, hinged with a center channel, and covered in waterproof material.

“An insulative hot tub or spa cover appearing in two symmetrical halves, each half comprising an inner foam core capped on a peripheral edge by a C-shaped channel and covered on an upper and lower surface by a softer upholstery foam then entirely enveloped by a heat sealed vapor barrier and ultimately with a vinyl outer cover riveted to the channel by a trim strip. The entire spa cover being designed to come in sealed registry and rest upon the rim of a hot tub, spa or the like.”

Pretty inventive stuff for 1982! Terry Jacobs spa or hot tub cover design has been scarcely improved upon in over 30 years. At Hot Tub Works, we have only improved the design with modern materials and a computer controlled manufacturing process to ensure a consistent product.


We salute all of those brave pioneers who invented and reinvented spa and hot tub covers. Spa covers have come a long way – in over 40 years we’ve seen quite a few designs come and go, thanks to tireless efforts from entrepreneurial inventors.

We are proud to be America’s #1 choice for spa and hot tub covers! Take a look at our affordable and well made spa covers from Hot Tub Works!



Gina Galvin


How to Buy a Hot Tub

March 5th, 2015 by

spa-cover-careThinking about buying a hot tub? You’ve come to the right place honey, I’ve purchased a few hot tubs in my day, but helped more people buy theirs. For many years I was a Top-Selling Spa Salesperson. That’s right, two-time Salesperson of the Year, as a matter of fact.

Since my spa store days, I have helped lots of friends and family members become spa owners, by assisting them with a purchase, guiding them through models, the value of features, and helping to select a local dealer, buy through Costco, or buy a hot tub online.

Today’s post is a Buyer’s Guide for Hot Tubs, but not in the normal sense of “here’s all the spas we sell, aren’t they pretty“, but rather a checklist of items to consider before purchase. So relax, friend – I’m going to help you determine how to buy a hot tub – and not get soaked!


Hot Tub prices are all over the place, from $2500 to $7500, or more. The lower end tubs have smaller pumps, fewer jets and no bells and whistles. On the opposite end are full featured spas with over 100 jets, super-sized pumps and heater, 10 points of lights, water features, sound system, you name it.

The neck jets and mood lighting are very nice features that I enjoy on my current spa, but I don’t think you need a built-in sound system, but that’s just me. Consider size too, if it’s only going to be 1-2 people 90% of the time, look for a smaller tub, which will be cheaper to operate and easier to care for.

Don’t forget about the “extras” of buying a hot tub. Some spas will include a locking spa cover, and others may not. Spa steps or hand rails for safe entry and exit and normally are not included. Spa chemicals and cleaning tools. Finally, there is delivery and set-up, and – most spas will need a dedicated electrical service. Count on about $400 for an electrician to wire it up.

Where will you Put it?

A very good question. Spas, when full of water weigh thousands of pounds! The spa has to sit on a solid concrete foundation or slab, you can’t put it on a wood deck, or on a balcony. If you plan to put it indoors, you need to consider splash-out and humidity. If outdoors, consider some protection from the sun and rain. No matter where you plan to put it, measure the gates and doors, to be sure you can get it there!

Any location should be fairly close to the home breaker panel, where the power to operate the spa will come from (only very small spas can be plugged into a 115V outlet). And you’ll also need access to a water spigot and hose, to add fill water to the spa.

Finally, consider safety whether installed indoors or outdoors, the spa should be enclosed by a sturdy fence or locked doors, in addition to a locking spa cover.


A spa or hot tub, like a car, has some standard options – these include a pump, heater, underwater light and a spa-side control panel. Options are plentiful; here’s a list of some popular upgrades that you can add to your spa purchase.

  • More pump horsepower, up to 5 hpchecklist---
  • Two pumps – circulation and jet pump
  • High capacity heater – 5.5 kw or 11 kw
  • Air blowers – to add bubbles!
  • 18 points of light, inside, outside, etc
  • Water Features – neck rollover jets, laminar jets
  • Ozone or UV purification systems
  • Audio or Video systems
  • Upgraded insulation, for cold areas

Where to buy a hot tub?

There are several places to buy a hot tub – online, local spa retailer, big box retailer, carnivals or fairs. The last one, carnivals and fairs – should not be the place to buy a spa, but it could be a good place to test out a spa, yeah right.

Online: Prices online can save you a lot of money on a new spa. Savings of up to $2000, over buying locally, but – you have to expect limited service, and delivery to your driveway by a burly and surly trucker. Empty spas can weigh 500-900 lbs, and can be very unwieldy to move from the driveway into position. But, if you have some large furniture moving equipment and several burly friends to help you move it. If you buy a hot tub online from a well known website (like, you can be confident that there is some technical support and help by phone and email, if you need.

Spa Store: If you want as little risk as possible, and don’t mind spending a premium to have all the details taken care of, visit your local spa store – one that’s been a business for many years. Having a hot tub installed by professionals is really the way to go, if you can swing the added cost. You also will have the advantage of an easy warranty service or repair, if that becomes necessary. And because you spent 8-10 grand, you become something of a VIP client, for awhile anyway.

Costco: Prices at Costco are another way to save a few thousand dollars, and they have an installation service available, in addition to regular driveway delivery. The models at Costco are usually major brand with Balboa components, but double check to be sure you aren’t buying a ‘no-name’ spa pak or knock-off brand. There’s not much service after the sale from the big box stores, they don’t have any spa experts that you can call, although if there is a warranty issue, the local rep can usually be called in to assist.

Buy Name Brand Spas

Be sure to buy a Name Brand spa and spa pack, and not something imported, or built in a garage. The reason is, you want tested equipment and components, not imitation generics that are not made to the same standards. You also want a network of service centers, and parts availability for future repairs.

Do some online searching of the spa make and model and the spa pack (pump/filter/heater/controls), to be sure it’s made by a respected brand that has been around for some time.

Oh – and don’t buy a used spa, the useful life is probably near the end, so even a good deal won’t seem so good if you are plagued with problems. Most used tubs have been neglected and abused by the time they are sold as “slightly used”.



 ~~~ That’s all Folks! I hope your spa buying experience is a good one – and that I taught you at least one thing about how to buy a hot tub. If you have specific questions, leave a comment below, or send an email to us!



Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works


Spa Scents & Hot Tub Aromatherapy

February 9th, 2015 by

candle-spaWith Valentine’s Day coming up, I thought we could talk about some ways to make your Spa and Hot Tub a little more Romantic!

To create a romantic ambiance around your spa or hot tub, you need soft lighting, soft music, and soft spa scents. For lighting, I recommend tea candles in small votives, nestled safely on one side of the spa. For music, well, whatever floats your boat, but for spa scents, also known as spa fragrances or spa aromatherapy, just shake or pour in a capful and it’s like “Calgon – take me away!”

The nose knows, you know – it’s very sensitive and connected to our sense of well being. Using spa scents helps you to enjoy your spa or hot tub more. Spa scents will instantly trigger certain parts of the brain to relax your body, while invigorating your senses.

It just so happens that our romantic marketing team have put our most romantic scents on sale, like our Mood Crystals Romance and Mood Crystals Passion, both expertly crafted by Spazazz. The label states “CAUTION: THIS AROMA IS SO ALLURING IT SHOULD CARRY A WARNING LABEL.” :-)

spazazz-romance-spa-crystalsStrawberries and Champagne
Set “The Mood”… with ROMANCE

Immerse into a romantic fantasy of luscious strawberries drenched in tingly champagne as the bubbles transcend ecstasy straight to the head. Become dizzy with desire. (straight off the label!) Just shake in a capful of these crystals just before you get in, and your spa instantly freshens up, and smells of sweet strawberry pie. The effervescent spa crystals give off champagne-like bubbles.

On sale now for just $9.74



passion-spa-crystalsSex on the Beach
Set “The Mood”… with PASSION

Immerse yourself in a passionate fantasy with this sexy peach schnapps and exotic nectar blend. Hot water and crystals are intertwined to ignite your passion.

This spa scent smells like the drink Sex on the Beach, with a sweet smell of peaches and citrus. A little sweet and a little sour, it may take over your senses!

On sale now for just $9.44



vanilla-musk-spa-scentWhite Musk Vanilla Jasmine

Set “The Mood”… with WHITE MUSK

Indulge yourself with this enlivening blend of sensual aromas with therapeutic benefits and moisturizing botanicals. Spazazz aroma therapy crystals set the mood, arouse emotion, and relax your state of mind. Feel the calm and natural release of aches and pains. Free the spirit with passion and emotion, as tension and stress melt away. 12 oz bottle is good for dozens of treatments.

On sale now for just $8.24



sensual-river-and-tiger-balmTiger Balm


All-Natural fragrances are formulated especially to relax and pamper you after a long day. Soothe your senses, relax your muscles with the exhilarating scents of these amazing fragrances; which stimulate the senses. Tiger Balm helps with muscular aches, sprains, and helps boost circulation, if you know what I mean. Sensual River is inspiring, helps attract and retain moisture, if you know what I mean! These are high tech aphrodisiacs, use with care!

On Sale now for just $16.12 & $16.49


So remember, if you want to set a mood in your spa or hot tub, for Valentine’s Day, or any old day – here’s how to make your spa or hot tub – a little more Romantic, if you know what  I mean!

  • Soft lighting, candles or light dimmervalentines-scents
  • Soft music, Sade or Barry White, lol
  • Hot chocolate or other warm drink
  • Soft and sensual spa scents
  • Flower Petals
  • Your Valentine



Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works