Free Shipping on all Spa Covers and orders over $100
1-800-770-0292
Sunday - Saturday
7am - 7pm CST

Archive for the ‘Consumer Research for Best Hot Tub’ Category

110V vs. 220V Hot Tubs – Which is Best?

December 26th, 2016 by

110v-vs-220v-hot-tubs-istk
When shopping for a hot tub, you’re faced with dozens of decisions, and one of the largest purchase decisions is whether to buy a 110V hot tub or a 220V hot tub.

110V (115V or 120V) hot tubs are often called “Plug and Play”, because most can be plugged into a standard 15 amp electrical outlet. 220V (230V or 240V) tubs are hard-wired from the home main circuit breaker box, to a safety cut-off box located near the hot tub, and then directly into the spa control box.

110V hot tubs and 220V hot tubs both have their own pros and cons – what’s right for you?

110v-hot-tubs-advantages

  • LOWER COST: The lower cost of ‘Plug & Play’ hot tubs has created opportunity for spa builders and for people who want to pay less for a hot tub. They are cheaper because they are smaller, with a fewer spa jets, less powerful pumps and heaters, and overall fewer ‘bells and whistles’.
  • EASY INSTALLATION: Place on a suitable location that can support the weight of the tub when full, fill it full of water and plug it in. What can be easier than that? 110V hot tubs can be plugged into most outlets, however depending on the model, you may need to unplug other electrical loads on the circuit, or plug into a 20 amp outlet.
  • MORE PORTABLE: Because 110V hot tubs are smaller and less full-featured, they often weigh less than 220V hot tubs. This is especially true for inflatable and rotomolded hot tubs, however some plug and play models can weigh 500 lbs, when empty.

220v-hot-tubs-advantages

  • LARGER TUBS: If you want a larger tub that 5 or 6 people can enjoy at the same time, look at a 220V hot tub. A larger body of water,  with a larger filter is easier to keep clean than a smaller hot tub. Smaller tubs (under 300 gals), can sometimes overflow when 2 or 3 people climb in the tub.
  • LARGER HEATER: 220 volts can power larger electric elements, 4kW or 5.5kW. 110V heaters usually max out at just 1.0kW, which can take a long time to heat, or reheat the spa, and lose heat quickly when the cover is off. For poorly insulated spas, a 1kW heater may not be able to stay hot in very cold weather.
  • LARGER PUMPS: Although 110V spa pumps have plenty of ‘oomph, they have to split it between fewer jets, and many cannot operate the jet pump and the spa heater at the same time. 220V spas can have 4 or 5 horsepower pumps, and can power pumps, heater, lights, stereo and more, all at the same time.

Convertible 110V/220V Hot Tubs

You can buy 110V only and 220V only, or you can buy convertible voltage hot tubs, which will accept either voltage. When connected to 110V, convertible spas heater elements will switch to 1.0 Kw, and make other sacrifices to split up the available power accordingly, such as pumping at low speed only, while the heater is operating.

Cost to Wire a Hot Tub with 220V

The cost to wire a 220V hot tub will vary, but depends mainly on how close the hot tub is to the house main breaker box panel. Barriers, terrain changes or other complications could raise the price. Another budget killer is a home whose breaker box panel is completely filled, without room (available amperage) to add another 50 amp breaker. In most cases however, wiring a hot tub with 220V usually costs about $500, although the price can easily double with distance or other difficulties.

What’s Best? 110V or 220V hot tubs?

pros-and-cons-saltwater-hot-tubIf you have the budget available, 220V hot tubs are the best choice, in my opinion. However, if you want only a small hot tub for 1 or 2 people, and your climate is mild during the winter, and the cost to buy and wire a 220V hot tub is prohibitive – a 110V hot tub may be the best choice.

As stated above, Plug & Play hot tubs do have certain advantages, and they offer all the benefits of higher priced hot tubs, at a lower price point. Many manufacturers position their 110V spas as an ‘entry-level’ hot tub, with the hopes that their 220V models will fit the bill for an eventual upgrade. Sort of like an auto dealer that sells both Chevrolet and Cadillac.

Let your budget and your conscience by your guide. Although my own hot tub is 220V, and very full featured – Hot water is Hot water!

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

 

Acrylic Spas vs. Rotomolded Spas

November 22nd, 2016 by

ACRYLIC-VS-ROTO-HOT-TUBS
In the old frontier days, all hot tubs were made of wood, then came fiberglass, and then Acrylic became the spa shell of choice. Acrylic spas are injection molded or blow molded into the spa shell, which is backed with many layers and set into a wood or composite material cabinet.

In the late 90’s, a few small manufacturers like Strong, Freeflow and DreamMaker began to produce spas with a radical new concept – rotational molding. Building a spa out of a single polymer plastic shell, reduces the cost and time of spa construction tremendously.

At first, major spa manufacturers poo-pooed the idea that John Q. Public wants to soak in a gray or brown plastic tub, but as sales and demand for the much less expensive hot tubs increased, they began to take notice.

Nowadays, most major players like Watkins, Cal Spas, Baja and Coleman are offering “Entry Level” rotomolded hot tubs, but still feature Acrylic models to offer a “Trade-up” product in their line of acrylic hot tubs. Sort of like a car dealer that sells both Chevrolet and Cadillac models.

ROTOMOLDED SPAS

rotomolded-hot-tubPROS: First of all, rotomold spas are 30-50% less expensive than similar sizes of acrylic spas. They are many rotomold models that are ‘plug and play’, and don’t require an electrician, just fill with water and plug it in. Finally, rotomolded hot tubs are extremely durable, and most have a lifetime spa shell warranty.

CONS: The appearance of the spa internal surface is not as beautiful as the lustrous colors and shine of acrylic hot tubs. The plug and play models don’t withstand very cold temperatures, and don’t have many jets, and often can’t run the spa heater at the same time as the spa jet pump.

ACRYLIC SPAS

acrylic-hot-tubPROS: That deep lustrous shine is a definite plus, you just can’t get that with a rotomolded tub. Wood panel cabinets are another nice feature of acrylic tubs. Acrylic hot tubs are often more full featured with many standard options, dozens of fancy jets, and large pumps, filters and heaters.

CONS: First of all, acrylic spas can cost $8-12K, or more, nearly twice the cost of rotomolded tubs. They are much heavier, bulkier and harder to move around easily. Most acrylic models require a full 230V electrical service, which usually involves an electrician.


 

At Hot Tub Works, we sell both Acrylic and Rotomolded Spas, to appeal to every budget. So, it comes down to what you want, a Chevy or a Cadillac? Major spa manufacturers agree, there seems to be room in this frontier town for both Acrylic and Rotomolded spas and hot tubs.

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

15 Hot Tub Deck Surround Ideas

August 22nd, 2016 by

cool-hot-tub-surrounds
Spas and hot tubs by themselves are wonderful, but when they are just plopped onto the back patio, they can look kinda plain.

For designers, the spa or hot tub is a focal point, and hot tub surrounds are used to dress it up and provide conveniences and privacy.

Today we look at some elegant ways to add a hot tub surround, or custom hot tub decks to ‘frame and set’ your spa or hot tub.

1. Marquis Spas accessory package paired with some big pots makes this spa blend well with the surrounding open patio.

Marquis Spa Hot Tub Surround Kit

2. Attractively designed wood spa surround wrapped in sturdy foliage that adds color and comfort all year long.

Hot Spring Spa with wood deck surround

3. Stone hot tub surround with a cinder block foundation, wrapped in faux stacked stone and topped with flagstone.

hot-tub-surrounds-3

4. Hot tub surround is capped with a cabana and wrapped with a wet bar and wood step and box planter.

Caldera hot tub surround

5. Jacuzzi wrapped in rocks is set 2 ft lower and hidden with large boulders and colorful plants.

Baja Spa with rock surround

6. This lighted Pergola roof with lattice privacy wall is extended to include a side table, or with large pillow, a lounge.

Jacuzzi spa with wood pergola and lattice

7. Wrap the spa in stained planks and add a stack of steps with down lighting. Add a custom fence and bamboo planters.

wood cabinet and steps plans for spa shell

8. When your neighbors are this close, a proper privacy fence can help you enjoy your spa more.

wood hot-tub-surround and deck with seating and privacy wall

9. And for privacy at home, use large hedges, vine trellises, ornamental grass or bamboo around the hot tub.

hot tub surrounded by tall hedge, grasses, bamboo

10. Two more examples of a 4-post structure to mount lattice walls and side tables around a hot tub.

Hot tub with Pergola and Cabana

11. Close slat fence is capped with a vine trellis. Separate seating area, just off the Master bedroom. Sweet!

hot tub deck wood surround, off master bedroom

12. Inground tile spa kit by Signature with a beautiful hot tub surround and seating area. Tiki torch!

Inground tile hot tub wrapped in wood

13. If you have a real hot tub, wooden barrel type, wrap around wood stairs are popular.

classic wood hot tub step and wrap around

14. Japanese inspired spa gazebo surrounds the spa with sliding window panels and roll screens for a quiet retreat.

Hot tub gazebo, classic Japanese Hot House style

15. Hand Carved Concrete by Artiststone, created this impressive hot tub surround to blend with the natural surroundings.

hand carved concrete spa steps, faux stone

 

I hope these ideas on how to surround your hot tub was what you were looking for! If you’ve grown tired of your current hot tub surroundings, dress it up with wood and stone, and wrap it in plants to soften the surround.

 

XOXO;

 

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

Off Season Hot Tub Maintenance Tips

June 20th, 2016 by

spa-closed-for-season
For seasonal users of hot tubs, some adjustment to your maintenance routines can be made, during times of non-use or very low use.

But that doesn’t mean you can ignore the spa sanitation and filtration altogether! Leave a spa to it’s own devices, without intervention, for too long and you’ll have bacteria buildup, damaged filters or at least a very smelly hot tub.

If you tend to use the spa less during warmer weather (or less during colder weather), here’s some tips on protecting your investment and avoiding costly clean-up of a spa gone too long without care.

 

DRAIN & REFILL THE SPA

draining-a-hot-tubIt’s tempting to leave the water in the hot tub or spa after the season, and drain it before using it again, but depending on how old the water is, and how long the tub will sit (all summer?), you may want to drain it now, as a step to ‘summerizing’ the spa. If your spa water is over 90 days old, and has been used semi-regularly, I would advise draining and refilling with water from a Pre-Filter. After refilling, balance the pH, alkalinity and calcium hardness, and shock the spa water with MPS.

 

TURN THE HEATER DOWN TO MINIMUM

A covered spa that is not heated will drop and stabilize to a temperature that is a bit lower than the outside air temperature. During freezing weather, it’s important to keep the spa pump running, to avoid freeze damage. During hot summer weather, even with the heater off and spa covered, water temps can rise into the 80’s. It’s important to keep the spa pump running, to avoid algae and bacteria from growing during hot summer months.

 

BALANCE THE CHEMISTRY MONTHLY

spa-water-testsEven though no one is using the spa, protect your shiny surfaces, cover, filter and rubber bits by checking the pH, alkalinity and calcium hardness levels on a monthly basis. After you balance the water, add a full dose of spa shock, to disinfect and oxidize the spa water, destroying any germs in the hot tub. Keep the hot tub cover open for about an hour after shocking, to allow the water to gas-off. If the water was cloudy during the monthly inspection, increase filter run time and/or sanitizer levels and consider using a clarifier to help the filter.

 

SANITIZING THE OFF-SEASON SPA

Because you aren’t using the spa, you may not need to run a 3-5 ppm level of bromine, because the contaminants introduced to the water are very low. However, you will still need to keep some type of constant sanitizer in the water, to kill bacteria, viruses, algae. A spa Mineral Stick is a good idea to manage daily disinfection, with a monthly balancing and shocking of the spa. An ozonator can also accomplish the majority of the daily sanitation needs for the un-used hot tub, coupled with regular spa shocking. Bromine tubs can also just use fewer tablets in the floater or feeder, just 1 or 2 bromine tabs, to keep a low-range 1-2 ppm of bromine in the water. If you fill a spa floater with 9 tabs and close it the vents all the way, you should be able to deliver about 1ppm of bromine to the spa, constantly. Avoid allowing the spa water to filter only, without bromine, ozone, minerals or shock, it won’t last long without some form of daily sanitation.

 

SECURE THE SPA COVER

spa-is-closed-signA tight fitting spa cover is important not only for spa safety, but also to keep out debris and sunlight. Be sure to clamp all of the cover clips around the spa cover. For protection from summer storms and high winds, use spa cover wind straps, and cover the spa cover with the Spa Cover Cap, to protect the cover from summer sun and rain, and also to make the spa more inaccessible or off-limits. If you want to be more explicit, post a Spa Closed sign, especially for rental properties or commercial spas that aren’t of the single-family type.

 

RUN THE FILTER PUMP DAILY

Just as you need daily sanitation for the off-season spa, you also need daily circulation and filtration of the water. And just as you need less sanitation for an unused spa, you can get by with less filtration for a spa that is sanitized and un-used. Program your circulation pump to run on low speed for 3-6 hours daily, with a daily high speed run of about an hour. With summer weather comes greater possibility of power outages which can affect your pump timer programming or leave the spa in an OFF mode. Keep an eye and an ear towards the spa to be sure that the filter is running like it should.

BONUS TIP: Before putting the spa to bed, remove and clean the cartridge filter, or replace the spa filter if it’s close to 24 months old.

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

Save

Save

Save

Spas and Hot Tubs in the News

June 6th, 2016 by

SPAS-IN-THE-NEWS

I’m so excited to report on spas and hot tubs in the news this time! Normally Jack finds these nuggets around the web, he’s always sending funny stories around the office.

Today’s News of the Weird stories about spas and hot tubs is a collection of actual events that I’ve been collecting for the last six months. I hope you enjoy them!

 

CAMERA CATCHES TRESPASSER’S HOT TUB SEX ROMP

By CTVNews.ca Staff , May 28, 2016

hot-tub-romp-in-BC - image by CTVNews.caMounties in British Columbia are searching for two trespassers who were recorded on camera allegedly committing “illegal and obscene acts” in a stranger’s hot tub. Investigators allege a teenager and a woman entered the backyard of a Kelowna home early Wednesday morning, where they drank, smoked cigarettes and had sex before leaving the property. Police say the suspects also looked into the windows and may have been attempting to steal a television. The homeowner, who was not home at the time of the incident, has asked to remain anonymous, but told CTV Vancouver that he is planning to invest in a lock for his hot tub. “We have something called a smart top, which is a more heavy-duty hot tub that has a cable locking mechanism,” said Robynn Robertson of Interior Pool and Spa. Full Story.

 

9 CHEAP AND FREE THINGS TO DO THIS WEEK

By LA WEEKLY,May 13, 2016

hot-tub-with-kurt-&-Kristen

[love these guys!] Laughing together onstage since 2003, comedians Kurt Braunohler and Kristen Schaal implore you to take a dip with them in their Hot Tub, their weekly wet jubilee of a variety show that’s all about comic warmth, with only a fraction of the mold. Square-jawed, nattily attired Braunohler and adorably dippy Schaal take self-deprecation and reference beyond the limits of ordinary comedy, working out new bits each week by themselves and with guests. Everyone from chortlesome cellist Nina Daniels to the incisively insightful Candy Lawrence has dropped by, marinating you in the egg drop soup that is this stand-up spa tub. The Virgil, 4519 Santa Monica Blvd., East Hollywood; Mon., May 16, 7:30 p.m.; $5. Full Story.

 

JACUZZI CELEBRATES 60 YEARS OF HYDROTHERAPY

Chino Hills, Ca, PRWeb, May 25, 2016

jacuzzi-celebrates-60-yearsJacuzzi Group Worldwide (http://www.jacuzzi.com), the pioneers of the first home whirlpool hydrotherapy pump, announces the 60th anniversary of the Jacuzzi® Brand. With a rich history of innovation and design, the Jacuzzi® Brand continues to lead in both indoor and outdoor hydromassage. The Jacuzzi brothers revolutionized the pump industry by developing a pump that drew water out of the ground more efficiently than ever before, earning them a Gold Medal Award at the California State Fair in 1930. Then in 1956, Candido Jacuzzi responded to his toddler Ken’s need for pain relief and created the J-300™ hydromassage pump. The portable hydrotherapy pump turned any normal bathtub into a relaxing and rejuvenating hydro-therapeutic spa and changed the lives of people around the world. Full Story.

 

THIS SPA GUY IS AN INTERNET SUPERSTAR

By Nate Taylor, Pool & Spa News, April 27, 2016

chris-wheatley,-hot-tub-universeThe owner of Hot Tub Universe, serving eastern Canada, became an Internet sensation after posting an impromptu video of himself giving a scathing review of a Costco 2015 Evolution, a model he considered insufficient in so many ways that he felt compelled to warn consumers. “It was just a knee-jerk response,” said Wheatley, who began his career in the 1980s selling hot tubs at a waterbed store. In the video, he details how shoddy insulation and chintzy plumbing are all indicators of a cheaply made hot tub. He particularly took issue with polystyrene foam pillars supporting the thin shell. The video wound up on the popular online message board Reddit under the headline, “Holy [expletive] this guy knows a lot about hot tubs.” It racked up more than 300 comments. A write-up on the website BuzzFeed soon followed. Full Story.

 

HOUZZ STUDY: HOMEOWNERS WANT POOLS, HOT TUBS

By Linda G. Green, Pool & Spa News, April 26, 2016

houzz-study-homeowners-want-pools,-hot-tubs-water-featuresHouzz cited the top four reasons for upgrades: The outdoor space needed repairs; the homeowners had wanted to do it and finally gained the means; they’d wanted to do it and finally have the time; or they want to customize a recently bought home. What sort of outdoor projects were undertaken? Patio or terrace upgrades top the list, followed by gazebos and pergolas; then decks, sheds/workshops, hot tubs, swimming pools, and greenhouses. “Comfort-enhancing outdoor products,” as the survey called them, were popular as well, including outdoor furniture (52 percent), fire pits (36 percent), grills (24 percent), patio heaters (12 percent). Also mentioned were various outdoor kitchen upgrades, such as pizza ovens, wine coolers, new sinks and fridges. Full Story.

 

RAPPER SUES SPA CASTLE FOR JACUZZI BURNS

The Gothamist, April 17, 2016

MISFIT-DIORThe Post reports that Laeticia Harrison-Roberts—who is also an aspiring rapper with the MC name Misfit Dior—filed her lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court last week, alleging that Spa Castle “failed to make sure the temperature and chemicals at its East 57th Street location were at safe levels.” The new lawsuit is the latest in a long chronicle of legal trouble for Spa Castle. In addition to the rampant underwater sex allegations against its Queens location, a dead man was discovered floating face down in one of the spa’s hot tubs in 2014. In February, a 6-year-old girl nearly drowned when her hair was caught in a Spa Castle pool vent. Spa Castle called the allegations “utterly frivolous” and said they have automatic systems in place to check temperature and chemical levels.  Full Story.

 

I’ll keep my ear to the ground, to find more spa stories in the news, and see you back here in 6 month for another bi-annual segment of Spas & Hot Tubs in the News!

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

Buy a Used Hot Tub? Don’t Get Soaked!

January 25th, 2016 by

spa-for-sale-by-ownerHow to buy a used hot tub is “hot topic” these days, with showroom prices over $10,000 it’s natural that many people consider buying a “Gently Used Hot Tub”.

For many, a used hot tub is not something they would consider, especially given that online portable spas can be purchased for less than $5,000.

Regardless, if you have your eye on a “pre-loved” spa or hot tub, here’s some tips on making a smart purchase.

 

Will it Fit Your Space and Budget?

Setting a firm budget up front is smart – you don’t want to pay more than you can afford and, you don’t really want to pay less than you should. A hot tub in good condition, fully operational, will cost around $2500, in most cases. You can find a lot of used hot tubs for under $1000, but most are empty, non-working spa shells, that need a lot of reconditioning – new spa pack (heater and controls), pumps and perhaps plumbing.

Secondly, where are you going to put your new (used) hot tub? When full, they can weigh a ton (literally!), so it needs to be set on a solid base of reinforced concrete. Never set a spa directly on the ground, or on a wood deck, and absolutely never on a second story balcony or elevated deck. Spas should also not be placed indoors, unless you have plastic or tiled walls and ceilings, floor drains and a suitable dehumidification system.

Thirdly, will it fit? You will need room to access the equipment underneath the spa, and for other reasons, you may need to access the underside of the spa from a side other than where the spa equipment is located. Spa covers are big and bulky, and should be used with spa cover lifters, to protect the cover (and your back!). These require anywhere from 6″ to 36″ of clearance, depending on the model, and some cover lifts need room vertically (above the spa), for upright spa cover storage.

Fourth, choose a location that is out of direct sunlight if possible, and avoid lawn sprinklers, or placement under a roof eave that will allow rain water to fall onto the spa. The best location will protect the hot tub from sun, rain and snow.

Fifth, consider privacy if you have close neighbors. You can construct a privacy screen or a gazebo of sorts to block prying eyes and prevailing winds while hopefully preserving the best view to take in while soaking in the spa.

Ask the Right Questions – in the Right Way

Studies show that the way you ask a question about maintenance issues or problems affects the probability of an honest response. Framing your questions with negative assumptions elicits more honest responses. I know you want to be nice, but the get the best information you have to be almost accusatory.

questions-about-spasFor example, asking “What mechanical issues have you had with the spa” will produce a better answer than “There aren’t any problems with the spa, are there?” Other questions to ask include: “Tell me what repairs you have made to the spa”, and “What repairs will I need to do soon?”, in addition to asking to see service records, or repair invoices.

When you want the unvarnished truth, you have to ask for it – don’t throw soft balls, or you’ll get soft answers. Ask pointedly negative questions to get the best negative answers, or the most believable responses.

Inspecting a Used Hot Tub

When buying a used hot tub, make sure that it’s full of water and hot, as measured by a floating thermometer. Bringing your own thermometer is a good idea, because you can’t always trust the temperature display. 104° is the maximum safe temperature, and for most people, an ideal hot tub water temp. If it only reads 100°, it could be any number of problems, or it just could be set too low. Turning up the thermostat should raise the water temperature fast, around 5° for every 10 minutes.

An owner’s manual can be incredibly useful for running the spa through it’s paces, to test out all features and to diagnose any error codes, if presented. If the spa owner doesn’t have an owner’s manual handy, you may be able to find it online and view it on your smartphone or tablet.

flashlight-for-spa-inspectionBe sure to bring a flashlight, so you can get a good look underneath the spa, looking for any drips or leaks, although on cold days some condensation water can be normal. Look closely at the pipes, fittings, pumps, blower and other equipment to check for leaks and also to check for smooth operation. Pump and Blower motors aren’t quiet, but they shouldn’t be loud, or screeching, which indicates near failure (most spa pumps last about 7-8 years).

Look and Listen when inspecting a hot tub. Be sure to also inspect the spa cabinet for signs of wood rot or decay, which can literally fall apart during removal, transport or set-up at the new location. Spa cabinets can be replaced, but not without significant cost and effort. The spa cover should not be heavy, or waterlogged, and the foam panels inside should not be cracked. Most spa covers last about 5 years before needing to be replaced, at an average cost of $400.

Alternatively, you can hire a local spa service company to inspect the spa for you for about $150, which could be the best way to go. I’d recommend using a spa repair service, rather than a local spa store, who may use the opportunity to downgrade the spa in the hopes of selling you a new one instead.

Transport & Installation

This is often the biggest hurdle to buying a used spa; getting it to the new location. Empty spas can weigh 750 lbs, and are quite cumbersome to move. In California and other “spa happy” states, you can find companies that specialize in moving spas, for a price of around $400. Most spa stores and spa repair companies can offer this specialized service. If not, you can hire a tow company with a Jerr-Dan type truck, or rent a flatbed truck to transport the spa to the new location.spa-moving

But, transporting the spa is only half the job – you still have to get the spa on and off the truck, and move it through fence gates, or down hillsides or across rough terrain. Spa movers use oversized dollies, with large wheels and lots of straps to keep the spa from falling off the dolly. You could also use 4 burly guys to carry the spa by hand, but even so, that’s 200 lbs per person, which could be dangerous to consider.

Once you get the spa to the new location, there will likely be electrical upgrades needed. Spas require a dedicated 220V service, with a breaker of 50-60 amps, and a cut-off box located near the spa. An electrician should be hired to perform these tasks, at a cost of $400-$800, depending on how far the main circuit panel is from the spa location. It could cost more than that if the main panel is already maxed out, and there is not enough amperage available for the additional breaker.

Deep Cleaning before Use

When you get your new (used) hot tub situated and filled with water, before you use it – I recommend using a chemical like Jet Clean or Spa Purge to strip the pipes of any biofilm. You’ll also want to clean and condition the spa cover, spa cabinet and inside surfaces to remove any dirt or films, and replace the spa filter cartridge. See Gina’s post on Deep Cleaning a Hot tub, and then check out our other posts on spa and hot tub care – you’ll be an expert in no time!

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

How to Sell a Used Hot Tub

November 19th, 2015 by

see-my-used-spa-1Buying a new hot tub and not sure what to do with your old tub? Selling a used hot tub is not much different than selling a used car, in many ways.

The reason that an automotive analogy works so well with spas is because they are so similar; with shiny surfaces, bucket seats, an engine, filter, heater, and lights. And like cars, some spa models have more features, or a more inspired design, or a bigger engine and more jets.

If your hot tub is an old clunker, chugging along with some fluid leaks and a few features that no longer work, there’s not much value left. If your spa or tub has been sitting empty, and has major equipment or cosmetic problems, it has almost no value.

Continuing the used car analogy, let’s assume that your lovingly-cared-for spa has not been sitting empty, but has been maintained continuously. It may have a scratch or two, but it heats up fully and the spa equipment all works (pumps, blower, light, heater, controls). Now you have some value, you have something to sell.

 

How To Sell a Used Spa

1. Trade it into a Spa Dealer: Like the trade-in value of a car, you’ll get much less than if you sold it on your own. But for those looking for a turnkey solution, having them pluck out the old and slap a new one in place all in one day, is nice. Average trade in value for a 10 year old spa is $1000, and maybe only $500. Sometimes it’s just Free removal, with no trade-in value, so be sure to check for all the details.

junk-spa-covers-sm2. Sell it to Friends or Family: This can be a fast way to sell a tub, especially for friends or family that have enjoyed your tub in the past. However, you’ll want to be nice on the price, won’t you? The neighbor that’s always commenting on the hot tub, he or she could be a good candidate. Pick 2 or 3 targets and approach them with an offer to join you and millions of other Hot Tub enthusiasts!

3. Sell it on Craigslist: Optimize your ad for best results. Put in spa gallons, size dimensions and equipment data, number of jets, features and accessories. Exact make and model information and Spa Pak Controller information. Age and condition of spa cover and cover lifter. Note any blemishes or leaks in the plumbing. Note any recent repairs or new equipment you’ve replaced. If you can offer delivery on a trailer for a fee, list that in the ad, otherwise tell them the spa / hot tub is Cash and Carry.

craigslist-screenshotThe more detail you put into the ad, the better response you’ll get. If you can find the manufacturer model brochure or information online, you can post their specs, details and features. Images are also very important, post 6-8 images for best results, highlighting the best features of your spa. Be sure to include pictures of the spa pak (with good lighting). Shots of the entire spa from above (on a ladder or deck) make a good picture.

Be sure to polish everything before taking photos, especially underneath in the equipment area, use a wet rag to wipe down pipes and equipment. And it must be full of water and operating, if you want to get more than $100, so be sure the pictures show it full of water, hot and steamy.

camera-iconIf you’ve never uploaded photos before, connect your camera or smartphone to your PC’s usb port. While on Craigslist, click the Add Image Button, on the second screen, which will open up your pictures folder (usually). Look left to My Computer and locate your device, listed as a Drive. Click on the link to the Camera, Phone, Tablet, and select the photo you want and click open.

 

How to Price a Used Spa

Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a KBB for spas and hot tubs.

Like automobiles, spas and hot tubs are sold to appeal to a wide demographic, so there are standard base model roadsters, and there are also luxury custom sedans. The spas at Hot Tub Works are priced like a Chevy, in the $4-$7000 range. Recognized brand names like Jacuzzi, Hot Springs, Baja and others are sold at Cadillac prices, in the $8-$12000 range.

It is best to know the original purchase price of the spa (not including delivery/installation). If you don’t have records of the amount paid for the spa (and spa cover, if in good shape), you will have to use a different formula for pricing your used spa.

After you calculate the amount you think it’s worth, cut that amount in half! Here’s where spas are not like cars. Spas and hot tubs are more of personal item, you know what I mean? People don’t want to pay a lot for a used spa.

Look on craigslist.org and search in the For Sale category for Spa or Hot Tub (click Owners to rule out for sale by Dealers), and you’ll see how people in your area are pricing the spas. You’ll see some real ugly spas out there!

ugly-spa-contest

I spent quite some time on Craigs List, searching from Coast to Coast, and found a wide variety of prices, From Free to $75, for non-working spas that needed a lot of TLC, up to $5000 for Luxury spas that are 5-10 years old. But most spas are priced in the $2500 range. Spas with some visible wear and tear, or with more mileage are selling in the $1500 range.

For most spas that I looked at (and I looked at hundreds today), I would estimate that people are asking between 25% to 33% of what they paid for the spa, if it’s in full operational condition. Here’s a nice spa for sale on Craigslist, listed for $3500.

nice-spa-for-3000

So don’t expect a lot a money, when selling a used spa. Depreciation on spas and hot tubs is much faster and cuts deeper than automobile depreciation, and that’s just the way it is.

 

– Jack

 

 

 

Swim Spa or Hot Tub?

November 9th, 2015 by

michael-phelps-swim-spaSwim Spas are like a Limousine, stretched out 2-3x longer on one side, so that you can swim, row, stretch, train or recuperate.

When it comes time to replace your spa or hot tub, or even if it’s your first tub, you’ll at least take a glance at Swim Spas.

I’ve also considered Swim Spas during a recent spa replacement a few years ago, so the considerations are still fresh in my mind. I love the idea and we came close to buying a swim spa, especially when our grand kids thought it was the coolest thing ever!

Here’s some things to be aware of when thinking about a swim spa.

 

Swimming in a Swim Spa

phelps-swimmer-costumeAre you a real strong swimmer? If you have swimming medals on display, you’ll want to look on the upper end of the scale, or at the deluxe swim spa models. Swim spas are fine for a medium-speed crawl or breast stroke, or a strong kickboard workout, but if you are a serious swimmer, you’ll literally “hit the wall”, or be able to swim faster than many of the swim jet type of swim spas. Deluxe models, with larger pumps, paddle wheels and additional jets, are more suitable, if you want to swim as fast as in a regular pool.

Secondly, it’s different than swimming in a regular pool. It’s loud first of all, very loud from the pumps that are delivering hundreds of gallons per minute. It’s also very turbulent, as you might imagine, especially in the lower priced swim jet models. Turbulence makes it hard to keep yourself aligned; you have to work at keeping your body in the center of the flow. Paddle wheel models or propeller systems with large grates can produce greater volume over a larger surface area, greatly reducing turbulence and air volume.

swim-spa-tether-systemAn alternative to swimming against the current is to use a harness / belt, called a Tether System, and swim against the resistance of the Tether cord, instead of swimming against a current. In this way, you don’t need large swim jets and pumps at all, which reduces much of the cost of purchasing and maintaining a swim spa.

Swim Spa Walking is another popular form of exercise that can be done in a swim spa, either against the current, or using an optional underwater treadmill.

 

Hot Tub vs. Swim Spa – Maintenance

In terms of chemical, cleaning and covering a spa or hot tub, keep in mind that a swim spa holds around 2000 gallons of water, roughly 5x the size of your average spa.

That does not mean 5x the amount of maintenance however! The time spent cleaning and maintaining a swim spa is not much more than a regular spa.

swim-spa-cover-ingrondA swim spa uses a double-size and double-cost 4-panel type of swim spa cover. The additional swim jet pumps or swim current system will require maintenance at some point, and prices for these super-sized pump parts can be expensive.

I should also mention that your water and electrical consumption will also be more with a swim spa, as compared to a regular spa or hot tub.

In all, you will spend more on maintenance with a swim spa, probably twice as much as a regular spa.

 

Separate Hot Water Sections

swim-spa-separate-sectionsAll manufacturers of Swim Spas offer models that have a separate spa section. This is very useful if you want to heat up the water to 104°, and don’t want to heat the entire swim spa. Many models have a separate spa area with multi-jet captain’s chairs, but don’t have a wall to divide the swim and spa areas.

Maintaining two separate temperatures, hot in spa, cool in swim area, is a typically only available in the higher end models. Otherwise, they are both at the cooler swim temperature, and when you want to heat spa only, you can have it hot in under an hour, at the push of a button, (or turning a few valves).

 

Swim Spa Prices

swim-spa-at-homeSwim Spas generally start at the high end of spas, around $15,000. They do rise in cost with size and features however, and a top of the line swim spa installation can cost (hold onto your hat), over $40,000. However, most swim spa purchases are in the $25,000 range.

Swim Spas can also be built in-ground, or placed into a deck, using a pre-fab shell, vinyl pool kit, or gunite/plaster; traditional pool materials.

Swim Spa prices are generally about 3x the cost of a regular 8-person spa.

 

~ Swim Spas are a wonderful invention, and we came very close to owning one! Before you buy, do your research and physically try out at least one model (in the water), to be sure that it’s what you expect.

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

 

 

Amazing Inground Hot Tubs

September 3rd, 2015 by

inground-spas-are-coolMy husband and I have been shopping for a new house lately – it’s so much fun, no really it is – looking at all the glitzy OC houses online.

Recently we’ve become enamored with the idea of an inground spa. That would be a first for us, now on our third spa, after getting our feet wet with wood hot tubbing, when that became fashionable, in the eighties.

Our budget is not something that can afford oceanfront property with a stunning spa and soaring pool – but one can dream, can’t she?

I did a little searching for homes with “spa or hot tub” as my main criteria – Oh, and a price range of $5M – $10M

“Honey…? I like this one, come look!” 🙂

tapiture-image-of-spa

Image Credit: Tapiture.com

 

zillow-spa

Image Credit: Zillow.com

 

zillow-spa-2

Image Credit: Zillow.com

 

zillow-spa-3

Image Credit: Zillow.com

houzz-spa

Image Credit: Houzz.com

 

houzz-spa-2

Image Credit: Houzz.com (this one needs a New Spa Cover!)

 

realtorcom-crmls

Image Credit: Realtor.com

 

realtorcom-img2

Image Credit: Realtor.com

 

houzz-spa-3

Image Credit: Houzz.com

 

houzz-spa-4

Image Credit: Houzz.com

Amazing inground hot tubs! If we don’t find a house in our price range with an inground spa, or pool/spa combo – we may just build our own! I’ll keep you posted!

 

Carolyn Mosby
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?
A:
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?
A: 
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?
A:
 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?
A:
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?
A:
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?
A: 
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?
A:
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?
A:
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!

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works