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Gina Galvin's Posts

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.

titration-test-for-hot-tubs

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.

taylor-fas-dpd-k2006-titration-test-kit-for-hot-tubs-and-spas

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!

XOXO;

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.

 

XOXO;

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.

 

XOXO;

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.

spa-graveyards

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 craigslist.com, or on freecycle.org. 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

hot-tub-garden-pond

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.

 

XOXO;

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

spa-cover-lifter

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

universal-spa-pillow

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

flat-skimmer-net

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

duck-thermometr

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!).

 

XOXO;

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

spa-cover-us4236258

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

sheet-for-converting-hot-tub-to-wading-pool

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

thermal-spa-cover

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

wood-spa-cover

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!

 

XOXO;

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!

WHAT’S YOUR BUDGET?

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.

WHAT FEATURES DO YOU WANT?

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 HotTubWorks.com), 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”.

 

i-love-my-hot-tub

 ~~~ 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!

 

XOXO;

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

Set “The Mood”… with TIGER BALM & SENSUAL RIVER

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

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

 

When Hot Tubs lose Power – Strange but True Stories

January 29th, 2015 by

Around hereoutdoor-spa-full-of-snow-2, at Hot Tub Works, we get nearly 1000 phone calls per day. Most are sales calls to order spa covers or chemicals, but a good percentage of calls are spa tech support calls. It’s enough to keep several spa techs busy on the phones all day, so I guess it’s about 15% of our call volume.

I was talking to Drake at our holiday party recently, and it was a cold night – so cold that I made a comment about “…a lot of spas freezing up tonight”. He told me some funny stories that he had experienced over the phone with customers or had heard about.

IF YOU LOSE POWER - Strange but True Stories

  1. Do not drain the spa! Most winter power outages are resolved quickly, and most spas with any sort of insulation, and a good spa cover, can hold heat for at least 24 hours. If your spa was 90° when the power went off, it can take a long time for temperatures in the pipes and equipment to cool to near freezing, especially in a spa with a tight cabinet and good insulation.
  2. Do not put flames under the spa! Small fires (true story), or a kerosene heater, or any gas heater placed under the spa can cause a big problem with soot, carbon monoxide and melted spa parts. Keep the cover closed, and lay heavy woolen blankets over top if needed to help old spa covers.
  3. Do not pour antifreeze into the spa. Some of you are laughing, but another true story. “I don’t care if the label says non-toxic antifreeze for pools”, it’s not safe to pour into the spa, plus it wouldn’t work unless you poured in an amount equal to at least 10% of your spa water volume.
  4. Do not stuff blankets or comforters underneath the spa. When the equipment starts up, the pump and heater need the air spaces to keep themselves cool. Besides, who would want to use that blanket again? Not me!

WHAT YOU CAN DO - in an Extended Power Outage

  1. Cover the spa cover with heavy woolen blankets and plastic tarp, wrapped tightly around the edge. This can help hold heat in, especially with older covers or spa covers that don’t fit tightly, or seal up all heat loss.
  2. Check the water temperature with a floating thermometer that you can quickly access via a smartphone app, or by quickly lifting the cover just slightly. The water temperature in the pipes will have to reach a few degrees below 32° for several hours before they expand enough to cause damage. At 32°, most water will just turn slushy and not freeze hard.
  3. Add hot water to the spa. Drain half the water, and refill with hot water from a garden hose connected to a spigot in the kitchen or laundry room. You can find an adapter from kitchen sink threads to garden hose threads at most hardware stores and  home stores.
  4. Use Hot Stones, warmed for 30 minutes in a fireplace or wood burning stove. Put them in a large iron skillet and place them under the spa cabinet. 8-10 large stones can be enough to warm the cabinet spaces for the overnight.

bio-film-hot-tubsOf course, you can drain the spa, as a last resort. It may be the best option for a home that is unoccupied during winter, with no one available to maintain the spa. However, if you plan to drain the spa for longer than a day or two, follow these tips on winterizing a spa – not only to protect the spa from freezing water, but from pockets of water and moisture that can grow into a nasty biofilm.

The best thing to do during a power outage, is the same thing that you do with the refrigerator – keep the door closed, and call to let your power company know that you are without power. If it drags on for days, such as after ice storms, keep adding hot water to the spa, or bite the bullet and drain it completely, especially if you are due for a water change anyway.

 

XOXO;
Gina Galvin

 

12 Inground Spas and Hot Tubs that I Love

January 19th, 2015 by

We spend a lot of time around here talking about portable, above-ground spas and hot tubs, blah-blah-blah. Although there are conveniences related to aboveground spas, there is nothing like stepping down into the warm water of an inground spa.

I have plans for my own inground spa one day, I have the perfect garden setting picked out. Or, I may build it indoors, when I bump-out the master bedroom to put in my dream master bath!

While I’m dreaming of inground spas, and filling up a Pinterest board with design ideas, I thought I would share some of my ideas with you. Not my ideas actually, but here are some pictures of some inground spas that I love, love, love!

1. Inground Spa with sheer waterfall features in a cool master bath design; with a sun glow day lamp, and backlit glass blocks.

inground-hot-tubs-1

2. Inground acrylic hot tub, set into a wood deck, surrounded in wood coping.

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3. Ooh la la, an inground acrylic spa with slide away floor, (roll up carpet) revealing a secret spa!

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4. Indoor inground spa on a raised platform, allows for easier spa pack equipment access, from outside.

inground-hot-tubs-10

5. Tiled outdoor inground spa with remote filter and heater. Beautiful stone decking and rocks.

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6. Outdoor inground fiberglass hot tub, surrounded in stone, displaying a Hot Tub Works spa cover!

inground-hot-tubs-8

7. Inground plaster and tile spa with 28 spa jets. Steps and seats done in bullnose brick, painted and washed.

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8. Kidney shaped inground fiberglass spa, with stacked rock waterfall. Equipment hides under wood panel.

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9. Multi-person inground spa with cascading waterfall and elaborate marble and stone decking. Palm tree!

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10. Inground 10-person spa in concrete and plaster, with automatic pool cover. And a rhinoceros!

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11. Inground fiberglass spa or plunge pool, wrapped in stone and tile. Uses a custom spa cover to retain heat.

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12. Florida room with a semi-inground acrylic hot tub set into a concrete surround, spa pack behind wall fountain.

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How Much do Inground Spas Cost?

It depends on how elaborate your design is, but in most cases, an inground spa will be more than an aboveground spa, which cost in the $5-10,000 range. Inground spas are cheaper when you use a pre-fab drop-in spa shell, of fiberglass or acrylic, and a spa pack. Concrete spas set in the ground require more work to build, from various tradesmen, which can push the cost to $20,000, or more. So then, we can ‘safely’ say that inground spas are about twice as expensive as aboveground spas, especially if you add-on water features and expensive and extensive decking around the spa.

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works