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Gina Galvin's Posts

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.


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.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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.



Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works


Hot Tub Pioneers – Baja Spas

December 18th, 2014 by

baja-spas-early-logoA booth at the 1971 NSPI show and the opening of the Dallas-Forth Worth Airport led to the creation of the world’s first acrylic spa.

Baja Spas, based in Tucson, Arizona, founded by Bernie Burba and Ed Price, began as pool builders in Naperville, Illinois, in 1960. Ed Price founded West Suburban Pools, a high-end concrete swimming pool builder, and Burba joined him in 1962.

When the pool builders finally had money in the bank, they expanded into other areas. In 1965 they formed Aqua-Gon, one of the nation’s first pool product distributors, then they opened several pool stores in the area.

In 1971, Baja began producing fiberglass and acrylic diving board stands. They were the first to use these two materials together in the pool business, and patented the process of vacuum forming fiberglass and acrylic. Burba and Price chose the name Baja because it was short and didn’t pigeon hole them into one product line. Also, it was one of their favorite areas to visit in Mexico.

Sales of diving boards jumped, and by 1972, Burba and Price sold their business ventures in Illinois. Burba moved to Tucson to dive into the diving board business. The same year they were joined by Randy Price, currently the President of Baja Spas.

The 1971 NSPI Show

Life changed forever after the 1971 NSPI annual show. Baja Products, displaying its diving boards, found itself next to a booth held by Riviera Spas. Few people stopped by to look at the new diving board design, but the Riviera Spa booth was packed. The two realized that spas represented a timely business venture.

They researched spas and discovered weaknesses in current design and manufacturing of spas and hot tubs. At the time, spas were made of fiberglass covered by gelcoat, similar to boats and pool slides. However, gelcoated fiberglass couldn’t stand the intense heat of spa water, the chemicals used for sanitation and water balance, or bright sunlight. “The gelcoat caused a lot of problems,” Randy Price says. Blistering and cracking were the main problems, in addition to delamination of the two materials, and fading from UV rays.

An Acrylic Spa is Born

Baja however, was already manufacturing an acrylic-fiberglass stand for its aluminum diving boards. “We believed in our acrylic. So we decided to manufacture a spa made of acrylic. Our competitors said it wouldn’t work,” Ed Price says.


The company could not find a sheet of acrylic big enough for a spa. “Manufacturers at the time just weren’t making sheets that size,” sighs Burba. “Finally, we found the only one in the world” that could help them. It was Swedcast Acrylics (now Aristech) in California.  Swedcast had large sheets of acrylic on hand because it was making sheets for the monorail cars at the new Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. Swedcast sold Baja some of these same acrylic sheets, large enough (9′ square), to produce a vacuum formed spa shell.

Baja manufactured it first spas with three employees, and tested them by setting up a few spas in the intense Arizona sun. They also shipped their new acrylic spas to Illinois to test it out in a winter climate. “Those spas today still look like new,” Burba says proudly.

Selling Acrylic Spas

One of their first customers was Phil Horvath, president of Aqua-Gon, the distributor that Burba and Price had founded. Horvath says when he saw Baja’s first spa, it took his breath away. “It was gorgeous” he says. But it took some convincing to sell people on the idea of an acrylic spa.

Horvath held seminars for potential customers to sample the new acrylic spa. “We told them the acrylic was indestructible. We wanted to show them how strong the material was, so we hit it with a 2 x 4. It worked!” Horvath recalls.

Expansion in the 80′s

In 1981, Randy Price opened a new production plant in North Carolina for the company. “We can reach 70 percent of the U.S. population in a few days by truck from that location,” says Price. In 2005 they stopped manufacturing in Tucson, AZ but kept their corporate office and service department. Even now, they continue to ship from both locations keeping transit time for their hot tubs to a minimum. Sales are worldwide.baja-luv-tub

Baja is perhaps best known for a specialty item, a heart shaped spa called the Luv Tub. The company decided to develop this tub in 1974 after Ed Price was looking through a brochure for the Mt. Airy Lodge, a honeymoon resort in the Poconos. One of the suites had a heart shaped red bathtub made of concrete and tile. “Ed Price looked at the photo and said, ‘We can make that in acrylic,’” recalls Bernie. Soon after, the Luv Tub was in production.

After some of their spas were in place for 10 years now, some of the same trouble of blistering and delamination that had plagued fiberglass spas, now began to appear in the acrylic spa shells. Working with the boating industry, a solution was soon found by switching from polyester resins to ester resins. No more gas blisters!

Award Winners

Randy Price and Bernie Burba have received two prestigious awards in the spa industry. In 1992, Randy was honored with the John Silver Award recognizing his technical contribution to the industry in the development of vacuum formed spas. In 1987, Bernie was given the Eagle Award by the Spa and Tub Council of NSPI (now APSP) for his contribution and leadership in the industry.

Today and Tomorrow

Bernie Burba and Ed Price are now retired, but Baja Spas continues operations and a legacy of innovation. Credited with the first acrylic spas in production, they were ahead of their time (by about 10 years), and way ahead of competitors like Cal Spas and other copycat manufacturers. The cost of vacuum forming equipment, and a lack of knowledge, gave many trouble migrating to acrylic production.

Baja Spas continues to lead the field, not only with quality products, but with solid, feel good marketing. At Hot Tub Works, we wish them well in their bright future!




Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works


Hot Tub Pioneers – Len Gordon

November 17th, 2014 by

Our story begins here in southern California, in the late 60′s. Pool builders like Len Gordon (1925-1997) were adding attached spas to the gunite pools they were building.

spa-shell-patent-application-US-4142337-A--Interested in how he could simplify spa construction, and avoid the structural problems of adding a separate body of water – he and fellow builder Jack Stangle dreamed up drop-in fiberglass spa shells, similar to the hydrotherapy tanks that Jacuzzi was making.

Len Gordon saw potential in the inground spa market, and set up a manufacturing facility in a rented gas station; soon making several spa shells per day.

Len Gordon’s Fiberglass Spa Shells

The innovation and mass production of a drop-in fiberglass spa shell is often credited to Len Gordon Co., and soon after many other small manufacturers joined in, revolutionizing (or creating) the market for inground hot tubs. As Len told Spa and Sauna magazine in 1986, “The fiberglass shell was a contractor’s dream, all you had to do was dig a hole in the ground and you were just about finished. It cut the costs dramatically over gunite.”

Suddenly, an inground spa was within reach of nearly everyone, being that it was now much cheaper to buy and much simpler to install. Not too many years later, innovative manufacturers like Jacuzzi and Watkins began to create complete aboveground spas, which didn’t require digging a hole in the ground, or hiring lots of contractors.

Len Gordon’s Air Switches

I’m not old enough to remember, but in days gone by, the spa equipment was separate from the hot tub, and you had to climb out of the warm water to activate functions like jets, lights, heater, blower. There was no safe way to control this with electrical switches that were activated from inside the spa.

len-gordon-spa-controlUntil one day in 1974, while driving his truck to a job site; Len Gordon came up with the idea of an air switch, which could be operated from inside the tub. From a Len Gordon patent application:

“These air switches incorporate bellows which are compressed when the switch button is depressed thereby forcing air through a pneumatic tube to activate an electrical switch”

Len Gordon’s Legacy

Len Gordon company received other patents, one for an insulated high voltage switch which could be safely used from inside the spa, and in 1983 a top side control panel that integrated many air controls onto a single panel. The Len Gordon company discontinued spa manufacturing by 1980 and focused on their core products of spa switches and controls. They continued to operate for over 25 years, until Len’s passing in 1997.

len-gordon-ss2After Len’s death, the business carried on, buying a manufacturer of spa packs and controls, Brett Aqualine, in 1998. The Len Gordon company was sold by Len’s descendants in 2001 to Allied Innovations, where the business has carried on to this day.

One of the great “Hot Tub Pioneers”, Len Gordon was also a great guy to know or do business with – and is remembered fondly here in southern California, by many of the founders and friends of Hot Tub Works.



Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works


Hot Tub Before Massage – or After?

October 20th, 2014 by

eskaya-beach-resort-spaIf you’re like me, you enjoy a good, professional massage. Preferably outdoors on a warm beach, beneath a shaded canopy. If that’s not possible, a local massage practitioner is the next best thing. Even better, some masseuses travel with a folding massage table and still make house calls!

Perhaps you’ve just booked your spa at a fancy spa resort, and well, of course they have a large, bubbling hot spa! So now you wonder, what’s better – a hot tub soak before getting a massage? Or enjoying the hot tub or spa after the massage?

Soaking for 15 minutes in hot water, at 100-105° F, relaxes the muscles, drawing out lactic acid. This loosens tight areas, deep in muscles and connective tissue surrounding joints. It reduces inflammation of joints, reduces blood pressure and increases oxygen flow to painful areas.

So, the answer to the question – “Hot Tub Before Massage?” is a resounding “Yes!” – you should slip into the hot water before your massage, whether your massage is local, or if you are at a spa resort. Just 15 minutes in a hot tub, right before your massage appointment, will make your massage more enjoyable and effective, and easier for your therapist.

patient_getting_massage_6895If you are at a fancy spa, don’t show up to your massage appointment dripping wet. Dry off beforehand, perhaps taking a cool shower rinse, to close up skin pores (you don’t want to absorb too much massage oil!). Your muscles will retain the heat from the spa for up to an hour.

After your massage, if you want to return to the spa for 15 mins – take a soapy shower to remove any massage oils (your spa operator will appreciate this), and another soak in the tub will do aching muscles and joints good, and give your pores another tall drink of water.

Be sure to drink lots of water after your massage, and also with each hot tub soak – both massage and hot tubbing use a lot of your body’s water, so replenish with water – or cucumber-melon infused water, if you’re at a fancy spa! If you’re at home, you could enjoy massage while in the hot tub, with these hot tub massage tips.

Either way ~ I’m so jealous!



Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works



Tips for Relaxation in a Spa or Hot Tub

October 1st, 2014 by

spa-readyA spa or hot tub is a great place to relax – if you can get it all to yourself, with a little peace and quiet, and privacy.

But even when it is – public and loud – you can still not only enjoy the soothing effect of the hot water, but take away a feeling of peacefulness – otherwise known as relaxation.

Here’s my Top 5 Tips for Tranquility in your spa or hot tub!




My number one way to relax in the hot tub is to meditate. I wrote an entire post on hot tub meditation, so I guess I’m something of an expert – not! Meditation is a practice, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. You can meditate on a specific water location, or just focus on your breathing and sweeping your thoughts away. Music, a part of everyone’s list of relaxation tips, can also be used to help you ease into a meditative state more easily. Choose soft music, without lyrics, and keep the volume level low, sort of as background tones.


If you are lucky, you have a spa with a beautiful view, overlooking a valley or the ocean. If not, then decorate your space to provide something pleasant to look at, while at the same time adding privacy. Hedges or Trellis ivy provides both privacy and a softer view. Many people have their spa on the back porch or patio. Surround two sides with some tall plants, and maybe a large lithograph for the wall. An overhead fan is nice if your spa is in a covered area. And plants, lots of plants!



It’s hard not to relax when your smiling. I know for me, I can improve my mood just by forcing myself to smile, or enjoy myself more. I’m not talking about a big Joker grin while you’re in the spa, just a subtle, soft upturn. Try it now, right now! I promise you you’ll feel better. And it’s the same for your hot tub, or traffic, or writing blog posts…everything’s better with a smile!


Deep breathing is another quick way to calm the body down, whether for meditation, sleep or relaxation. For me, after the spine tingling rush of getting in the hot tub is over, I take several deep breaths into my stomach. Then I take several full Yogi breaths, expanding my rib cage sideways, and filling my upper chest with air. Breathing is important for any activity – obviously, but for the most complete spa or hot tub relaxation, don’t forget to breathe!

Get Comfy!

spa-booster-seatSome spas have molded seats and pillows, and if there’s no one else in the spa, I can usually find one that’s just right for me – not too big and not too small. But, that’s not always the case. If your spa or hot tub seats are less than comfortable, do something about it! We have a padded spa booster seat and spa pillows that you can use – much better than trying to use a towel!


Enjoy your spa or hot tub!



Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works


Refinishing your Spa Cabinet

September 18th, 2014 by


A spa cabinet, or the outside staves of a hot tub, begin to fade and splinter after some time in the good ‘ol outdoors. Even manufactured wood spa cabinets begin to show their age after a while. You should avoid staining and sealing the inside of a hot tub, but the outside, or steps and cabinets around a tub or spa is an easy way to rejuvenate your spa or hot tub!

At some point, your spa cabinet will lose the luster it once had, and you will decide to do something about it. This post is about how to rehab your cabinets around a spa or hot tub – and protecting it, before winter sets in.


Keeping your Spa Cabinet Clean

To keep your spa cabinet clean, you have to think about the area surrounding the spa.

  1. Shield from sprinklers or roof runoff water.
  2. Shield from direct sun if longer than a few hours.
  3. Spray any weeds, keep plants 6″ away from cabinet.
  4. Cover bare ground around spa with gravel, mats or decking.
  5. Don’t let your spa overflow, or allow heavy splashout from the spa.

Refinishing Spa Cabinets

Spa cabinets can be made of wood, typically cedar or redwood varieties, but common nowadays are composite plastic materials, in colors, with grained or patterned finishes. These finishes don’t require re-finishing, usually a cleaning with a stiff brush and a bucket of soapy water is all they need. If you do want to spiff up your non-wood cabinet, you can use spa cover conditioner to restore a darker, glossy finish, and remove minor scuffs.

Wood cabinets can become faded, chipped and over time, begin to rot. Even cedar and redwood cabinets, more resistant to insect and bacteria damage (rot), will eventually begin to deteriorate. Regularly cleaning and sealing your cabinet, and taking care of those 5 things listed above, will keep any wood spa cabinet looking good for a lifetime.


Cleaning a wood spa cabinet with a stiff brush is the first step. If you don’t have a heavy, short handled brush, you can use a toilet brush (lol), or unscrew the handle from a push broom, or floor scrubber. Fill a small bucket with a gallon of water and some dish soap. Then, just like cleaning a car, go around the cabinet and give it a good scrubbing, top to bottom.

Notice how the water drains off, and if it pools in any spots on the cabinet or below the cabinet. Lightly hose off the surface with a hose spray nozzle, or wipe clean with a wet sponge, going with the grain as you wipe. Let your cabinet dry for a good 24 hours before the next step.

step two: repair it

You may be able to skip this step, I hope. But if your wood spa cabinet has some areas of wood rot, with hollow loose areas that you can practically poke your finger into… Look for any loose nails or screws, or any bowed sections, anything unusual.

Chipped, rotted or decayed sections can be cut out with a razor knife, and filled in with wood filler or any exterior wall repair patch. This will slow the deterioration of the wood. Just lay it in there with a putty knife and allow it to dry.

Rough areas, or splintering wood cabinets can be lightly sanded with a medium grit sandpaper. Wrap it around a dry sponge to make a sanding block.

step three: stain it

If your wood has visible damage, or severe fading, a solid cover stain will hide more imperfections than a transparent or semi-transparent stain. If it is in very bad condition, with advanced fading and color differences, you can use an exterior paint, but this will hide the natural tone of the wood, and could require frequent repainting.

Take a picture of your spa color as you go to your local hardware supply to try and match the stain color as close as possible. When in doubt, always select a lighter colored stain than what you think you have. The smallest jar of stain (4 oz) is often enough for a spa cabinet. Tear off the can label after use, and tape or staple it somewhere inside your spa cabinet, so you can remember the stain color 5 years from now.

Despite some other spa bloggers that suggest that you use Linseed Oil (blogger war!), I would stay away from this unless you have a very dark colored cabinet. It can be hard to control the mix and application, and you could end up with a black spa cabinet. Other than a problem with darkening, Linseed Oil does make a nice wood preservative.

For best results in staining, use a clean, textured kitchen sponge, strained of excess stain. Be sure to use a drop cloth, wear rubber gloves, and keep a rag handy to wipe up any pooling.

step four: seal it

Sealing the stained wood is a most important step for protecting your restored finish. While your browsing stains and sealers, you’ll notice that there are many products that are stain-and-sealer in one (!). These are fine to use – I like to use the Mixwax PolyShades line of all-in-one, but there are others.

If you don’t use a combination stain and sealer, you can find several polyurethane sealers or waterproofing products. Look for a product that won’t need reapplication twice per year, but something that is more permanent. Choose your finish – matte, satin or glossy. After your stain dries, you can apply the sealer, with a sprayer, rag or sponge.

>>> Most spa cabinets will need a refinishing every 5 years or so. So, what are you waiting for? Clean it, Stain it & Seal it!



Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works




Food & Drink Disasters at a Hot Tub Party

September 8th, 2014 by

food-in-hot-tubsHot Tub parties are a part of owning a spa – at least the occasional small, intimate affair with a few close friends. Or even if you are just enjoying your spa with that special someone, you may want to enjoy some wine and cheese, or other appetizers in the tub.

Now, you should always limit your soaks in water above 100° to no more than 20 minutes at a time, although after a 10 minute cool down, most people can take another session. And, although alcohol drinks in a hot tub are commonly enjoyed, our legal team would like me to remind you that using a hot tub while intoxicated can be dangerous.

With these disclaimers dispensed, let’s get to the worst food and drink of all time, for a hot tub party.


The problem with certain drinks is that they contain sugars and starches, which is a tasty food for algae and bacteria. Alcohol is particularly troublesome for sanitation, and it also sports a very low pH. Soft drinks are also low in pH. And some drinks are thick with creamy dairy products or stuffed with fruit.

  • Soda Drinks – coke, sprite, root beer
  • Smoothies – imagine that floating on the surface
  • Daiquiris – mostly ice, but also lots of fruit, alcohol and sugar
  • Beer – foams the minute it hits the water
  • Wine – too many ingredients to list
  • Energy drinks – could make your spa hyper


You can imagine the kind of foods that you wouldn’t want around your hot tub, don’t serve anything crumbly, powdery, crunchy or juicy. Food is not only messy in a hot tub, but like drinks that spill into your tub, food contains all sorts of junk that messes with your water balance, blocking sanitation while feeding the enemy (algae and bacteria).


  • Crackers, Chips, Cheetos
  • Fruit – unless served as Fruit Kabobs
  • Olives – oil slick on the surface
  • Cheese – unless served cubed and toothpicked
  • Hot Dogs and Hamburgers
  • BBQ Chicken or Pizza
  • Candy or Cake


If you noticed, my lists above leave very little party food to choose from! If you’re having a large party, it may be best to have a No Food or Drink sign posted, and place your food table far away from the hot tub.

hot-tub-signHowever, you don’t want your hot tub guests to become dehydrated, so in addition to limiting session time, place a large pitcher of water with a stack of plastic cups - no glass around the tub, within reach of the tub. Be sure to keep it full throughout the evening, to keep your hot tubbers wet on the inside. Water is the best drink to imbibe while in the hot tub – there’s going to be no problem if a cup of water spills over into the tub.

The best food to enjoy in the spa? Small food, which can be cubed and toothpicked. Avoid finger food, or food touched with hands, which then go down into the water. Avoid eating whole fruit, with the exception of grapes, which are one of my favorite spa foods to serve, or just eat myself. Frozen grapes are a special treat, just pop ‘em in the freezer for about an hour. If you want to snack, try grapes, strawberries, or baby carrots – keep foods on a side table and not balanced on the edge of your spa!


Drain the hot tub? Maybe, if enough food or drink got in. If it’s just one drink, or a single potato chip, don’t worry about it. But if it’s the entire bowl of chips, or a plate full of rice and beans, you may want to drain the tub.

Alternatively, you could clean up any debris with a skimmer net (quickly!), balance the pH and then shock the spa. Chances are you’ll need to shock the spa anyway, so just give it a little extra this time. If you suspect or find broken glass in the tub (!), definitely drain it, or vacuum it very closely.

The best way to prevent a hot tub food or drink disaster is to stick to water, in plastic cups.


I asked this question via chat, around our office, and got some funny responses from the dozens of spa owners here at HotTubWorks. Here’s their best answers (warnings). Ugh!

  • Cheetos bowl flipped over into the tub
  • Bobbing for apples on Halloween
  • Pitcher of margaritas falling into the tub
  • Tray of Jello shots, which instantly dissolved
  • Pepperoni pizza found the next morning



Gina Galvin


Hot Tub Water Meditation Techniques

August 28th, 2014 by


A hot tub is a perfect place for meditation, if you can get it all to yourself that is! I’m fortunate to have one evening per week when I’m alone with my tub, and take the time to practice short mindful meditations.

Emphasis on the word ‘practice’, because meditation is something that gets better each time you do it, and becomes easier – the more you practice.

If you’ve never tried to meditate, or have given it only a few sporadic efforts, you are missing out on one of the best ways to relieve stress, pain and fatigue. There are too many benefits to list; trust me – meditation is good stuff!

Meditate in your own spa or hot tub!


Set the Mood

Turn down the lights, turn down the heat, and turn off the pumps and air blower. You can light a scented candle, or add aromatherapy salts to your hot tub. Put the heat at whatever temperature you like, I tend to prefer 100°, but it depends on the outside air temperature. 104° is really too hot for quiet meditation, but something between 90-100 degrees (32-38° C) seems to work for most people.

You don’t necessarily need to be alone to meditate, but it helps if others also remain still and quiet, preferably meditating as well. If you like,  you can add some soft music, without lyrics. Yoga music or meditation music works well. I prefer the still sounds of the night, but then my neighborhood is fairly quiet. If you have more urban sounds, or cacophony of crickets, meditation music can be helpful – to set the mood.

focus on the body

The first step to hot tub meditation is to focus briefly on the body for a quick minute. Find a comfortable kneeling or seated position, cross legged or not, and sit up straight. Now begin to slowly check the sensations in each body area, and allow yourself to relax, bit by bit. Start at the toes, and move up the body to the top of your head. Focus your attention on your bones, muscles and joints, and allow the buoyancy of the water to take over. Pause along the each section of the spine, and you move up the body. Allow your arms to float freely in the water, limp at the wrist. Finally, relax any tension in the neck, face and scalp, and allow your body to become buoyant.

focus on the breath

The Yogi Complete Breath, from the book Science of Breath, written by a Yogi over 100 years ago, is a long and slow breath, combining low breathing, mid breathing and high breathing techniques. It takes time to master fully, but most people lock onto it after a dozen or so attempts. Once you have a comfortable seating position, sit up straight and start by ‘belly-breathing’, pushing out your stomach, as you breath deep into your stomach for a count of 2. On count 3 and 4, allow your side ribs to open up, and fill up your lower diaphragm. On count 5 and 6 fill up the upper diaphragm as your upper sternum rises toward your chin. Hold for a two count, and then slowly exhale for a 6 count, in the reverse order of inhalation. Chest down, ribs inward, stomach deflates. After much practice you can increase the time, until a complete breath takes a full minute!  Advanced breathing can add-in elements of Pranayama, by breathing-in through one nostril and exhaling through the other.

Breathing is the ladder to the next step in meditation, it is used to quiet the mind as you focus on the simple mechanics of inhaling and exhaling. Counting the breaths in your mind, with a 1-1 thousand, 2-1 thousand (or Mississippi if you prefer) can also help to drown out other thoughts and help you to remain focused on the breath.

focus on the mind

When we breathe deeply, the increased oxygen wakes up many dormant cells, and the mind can wander easily. Try to stay in the present moment, and don’t allow your mind to play tapes of the past or predictions of the future, just be here, now, in the present.

When thoughts come into my mind, this sounds silly but, I like to imagine them coming in near my ears, and a broom in the middle of my head sweeps them out the other side. The key is to catch yourself drifting into a thought, and let it go, sweep the thought away, or just let it go, and return to focus on the breathing.

Don’t chastise yourself, or wince at catching yourself thinking again, just make the neutral observation, let it go, and return your focus to the breath and body. What I do is – I relax my body and breathe deeply, and bring my attention to a spot behind my forehead, which some call the third eye, or the 6th chakra, and my thoughts diminish.


Water Meditation


Water is a symbol of purity and a cleansing element. Our connection to water in this world is profound, it flows through our rivers and oceans, and through our bodies. Scientists recognize water as one of the most important elements on the planet, next to the sun’s energy, in allowing life to exist.

A water meditation is allowing your mind to wander into a short story. As your breathing continues, guide your mind to another place, a wet place – and since you’re already floating in your hot tub, why not !?!

Waterfall Meditation

Imagine yourself sitting in a warm, crystal clear tropical pool, surrounded by lush foliage of all types, with a soft waterfall cascading down in front of you. The waterfall fills you up, and joins the rhythm of your breathing. A clear mist fills the air around you as you move under the waterfall. The soft waters dance over your shoulders, cleansing and purifying.

Stream Meditation

In this mindful meditation, you’ll take a seat near a small babbling brook, choose the season you like, I usually use autumn. Feel the water as it rushes around you, flowing to ever larger tributaries, and eventually out to sea. Allow the river’s flow to match your rhythm of breath, while it cleanses and purifies.

Hot Springs Meditation

Same thing here, just a different location. You don’t even need to leave your spa – sometimes (Ok, this is getting embarrassing) I imagine my hot tub in different locations, and in my water meditation, my spa is transported, deep into the jungle, or to a cliff overlooking the ocean, or on a desert island somewhere. :-)


Bonus Tips for Hot Tub Meditation:

  • Start with just 10 minutes, and build up to 20 minutes over time. Set an alarm for safety.
  • Meditation Music – search on Google, and you can find long songs or videos to play on your phone.
  • Aromatherapy – Aroma really helps with water meditations, and can become the entire meditation!
  • Mantras – short words or numbers said slowly to yourself, on the exhalation.
  • Asanas – simple yoga poses or postures, seated or standing. I don’t use these myself in hot tub meditation, but you can try lotus, child, angel or diamond positions.


“Open your pores and bathe in all the tides of nature, in all her streams, and oceans, in all seasons”.

 -  Henry David Thoreau



Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works


Cut Spa Heating Costs with this One Weird Tip!

August 7th, 2014 by



OK, I don’t know if you’ve seen those adsense ads that promise Lose belly fat with this one weird tip! They seem to be following me around, but I like my belly just the way it is, thank you.

It’s become sort of a meme, this “one weird tip” idea – it makes me chuckle just a bit, so I had to use it in the title.

The problem with One Weird Tip blog posts, is that they tend to be rather short. There is, after all, only one tip.



Cut Hot Tub Heating Costs …with this one weird tip!


Insulate your Spa!

Huh? Add home insulation underneath your spa, to seal up air gaps and hold the heat in your spa!

It’s an inexpensive way to add more R-value to your spa or hot tub. And it’s so easy to install, just tack it to the inside of the cabinet, lay it on the ground, tape it to the spa shell or just stuff it in there! Just keep it away from your spa pak and other equipment.

How much you need depends on how cold your climate is. If you live in southern California, like me, very little is needed, but if your spa is up north, you’ll need more.


Home Insulation is sold at every home store and hardware so it’s easy to obtain for a good price. The selection is absolutely dizzying, sold in many different sizes, in rolls or ‘bats’, and in several R-value ratings, from R-13 (shown) up to R-38.

Even one roll of the cheapest, lowest R-value insulation will increase your spa efficiency! Most heat loss on a spa is out of the sides and bottom, while covered with a good spa cover, of course.

denim-insulationIf you buy the fiberglass insulation, it comes faced (with a paper backing) or unfaced. Unfaced can make you itch like crazy if you aren’t wearing long sleeves and gloves. You could also use rigid insulation, those pink boards, to line the inside of your spa cabinet. Or, you could buy a spray foam kit, and spray every nook and cranny with expanding foam. Some stores carry insulation made from denim, or recycled textiles, if you want to use a natural insulation product.


For those of you with a fully foamed spa, where spray foam was injected to completely encase the spa shell in foam, I suppose my one weird tip is not much use. So here’s another weird tip, just for you! Use a floating foam spa blanket, to reduce evaporation and heat loss by creating another barrier between the water and the spa cover.


Weird, huh?



Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works