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Archive for the ‘hottubworks.com’ Category

Spa Steps and Hot Tub Handrails

May 23rd, 2016 by

smart-step-with-planters

The number one spa accessory has to be a spa cover, but after that, the most important spa and hot tub accessories are spa steps and hand rails.

Like a spa cover, steps and handrails are an important safety feature for any spa owner. It’s awkward and unsafe to enter or exit a hot tub without assistance from spa steps and handrails.

Today’s post then, is a buyer’s guide for spa steps and handrails.

Spa and Hot Tub Steps

Spa and hot tub steps have snap-together, no-tools required assembly. We offer many different spa step styles, the main difference is in height, and weight capacity. Added spa step features include internal storage, non-skid surfaces, and built-in or available hand rails.

Dura Step II

  • Large slip resistant treadsdura-step-II
  • Locks together in seconds, no tools
  • Strong, stable, & attractive
  • Reversible tread fits round or square spas
  • Supports up to 700 lbs
  • Measures 15″ tall x 27″ wide x 26″ deep
  • 2 colors, Grey and Redwood

 

Handi Step

  • Snaps together, no hardware or tools neededhandi-step-2
  • Fits both straight and curved spas
  • Supports up to 300lbs
  • Extremely durable blow molded plastic
  • Multi-purpose; garage, home and camping
  • Dimensions per step: 29″ wide x 23″ deep x 14″ tall
  • Available in 12 colors

 

Signature Step

  • Dual handrails and 3 Stepssignature-spa-step-3
  • Drink holder/towel bar
  • Strong, sturdy construction
  • Easy, quick assembly
  • 36″W X 24″H X 38″D
  • Available in 5 colors
  • Our tallest spa step

 

Smart Step

  • Slip-resistant rubber tread is soft on feetsmart-step-II
  • Locks together in seconds with no tools
  • Smooth dark colors resist dirt and stains
  • Reversible top tread fits round or square spas
  • Holds up to 700 lbs
  • 36″W x 16-1/4″H x 28″D
  • Available in Redwood or Coastal Grey

 

Step n Stow

  • 3 Styles, Rectangular, Cake or Roundedstep-and-stow-cake
  • Quick, easy assembly with no tools
  • Steps have hidden, lockable storage area
  • 100 % impregnated color
  • Removable drain plug
  • Planters available (sold separately)
  • 5 cool colors available

 

Universal Spa Step

  • universal-spa-stepReversible top step fits round or square tubs
  • Maintenance free, heavy thermoplastic
  • Attractive styling complements your spa decor
  • UV Treated for long lasting sun protection
  • Anti-slip tread for added safety
  • Supports over 800 lbs.
  • 16″H x 32″W x 24″D
  • Grey, Java or Redwood colors

 

 

Spa and Hot Tub Hand Rails

Spa and hot tub rails are important to help make a safe transition from the spa to the spa step. Hand rails either screw to the supports on your spa cabinet, or are secured by a flat plate that slides under the spa.

 

Spa Handrail

spa-side-handrails-animGet a grip with the Spa Side Handrail - a durable, zinc-plated & powder coated 2-piece design with a flat steel plate that slips under your spa cabinet (6 1/2″). No hardware or assembly are required, and no drilling into your spa cabinet.

The Spa Handrail can also be used as an umbrella stand for our spa umbrella. Fits on spas up to 40″ in height from the ground. Handrail is 57″ tall, overall. Includes LED light in handle for visibility and added beauty.

 

 

Safe-T-Railcovermate-safe-t-rail

The Safe-T-Rail by Covermate is for free-standing spas and makes spa entry and exit safe and easy. Features rugged construction, 5 minute installation. Black powder coated aluminum or polished stainless steel finish available.

Ultra-sturdy, rust-free construction has two composite mounting brackets and 16 SS screws. 49″ tall, Fits all above ground spas, no matter the shape or height. Classic figure 4 design with long lasting rubber grip.

 

 

SmartRail Spa Railingsmartrail-spa-railing

The SmartRail features a rotating bracket that works on virtually any spa configuration, and attaches to freestanding as well as spas with a wrap around deck.

Rust-proof powder coated aluminum, and a single corrosion-free bracket with 12 screws. Foam hand grip and ergonomic figure-4 design make the Smart Rail spa handrail a feature packed winner!

 

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Hot Tub Tips for Rental Homes

April 4th, 2016 by

Home Rental Hot Tubs The vacation rental and short term housing rental market is booming. One amenity that can help grow a rental home’s popularity as well as fetch a higher rental price is a hot tub.

Hot tubs are fairly self-regulating, and require only minimal care in between tenants, but there are a few things to keep in mind, if you currently offer a hot tub or are thinking about adding a hot tub to your rental home.

Here are 5 Tips for owners/managers of vacation rentals with hot tubs.

 

Get it in Writing

pool-guy-contractFor homes that are rented with a hot tub, we recommend a separate agreement be signed by the tenant, in addition to the usual agreement covering the home and other appliances. Having a separate agreement will help to reinforce important safety requirements, and help to protect your investment. After all, it may be the most expensive appliance in the home.

Though not an all-inclusive list of potential problems (check with your legal adviser), however, any good spa and hot tub addendum should include:

  • Minimum age for unsupervised use of the hot tub. (typically 14-18 yrs)
  • Minimum age for supervised use of the hot tub. (typically 5 yrs)
  • Maximum number of persons in spa (capacity).
  • Maximum safe spa temperature is 102° or less.
  • …must replace spa cover and latch cover clips after use.
  • …must add water if level drops below indicator on skimmer.
  • …must shower or bathe before use.
  • …no pets allowed at any time.
  • …no eating, no smoking, and only drink water from plastic cups only
  • …do not use spa if pregnant or hypertensive (high blood pressure)
  • …do not use spa if under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • …do not use spa if water looks poor, smells bad, or without pump running
  • Notify management of any equipment failure or water problems
  • Use at your own risk. Tenant agrees to hold owner harmless for any injuries…
  • Responsibility for any damage to equipment, spa cover or spa surfaces…

 

Put it in Writing

The more instructions you give to your renter, the better. I’m often frustrated at rentals that don’t have a master ‘Operations Manual’, where one can find answers to just about anything, including the spa and hot tub.

HOT-TUB-GUIDEHot Tub Guide: A 3-ring binder, with plastic inserts to display spa operation modes (jets, heating, filter), and basic functions. A sheet detailing safety and health requirements, and information on basic spa care tasks like adding water, shocking the spa, or refilling the bromine floater. A page on how to safely remove and reinstall the spa cover can help prevent spa cover damage. Finally, insert the spa owners manual for those that want to really delve into spa functions.

Service Log Book: Even if you do all of the maintenance on the spa yourself, keeping detailed records of spa chemical readings, filter cleanings, equipment replacement, etc, could be required in your area. And even if it’s not required, you may be called upon to defend your spa maintenance practices, if a renter developed a rash or suffered physical injury in your hot tub. If you have a service company maintain the spa, require that they fill out the log book on each visit. Keep it in a dry location with the other supplies.

spa-safety-sign-smHot Tub Signs: I’m a big fan of signs, and in my mind it’s well worth it to pay for professional and durable printed signs that help to protect spa users and also your spa. The obligatory Spa Rules sign can be used, but you can also find premade signs for No Food/Drink, No Smoking or No Glass. Ideas for custom signs may include age limits, temperature limits, time in tub limits, or reminders to check water level, replace the spa cover, or turn down the temperature on check-out.

Get Hot Tub Help

If you live nearby and generally manage the entire guest experience, you may want to manage the spa/hot tub as well. Or you can sub-contract spa care to a local spa company or rental assistance company that caters to the rental industry. Depending on your location, weekly hot tub service calls cost $60-$90.

You can also ask your guests to help maintain the spa. Asking them to balance the water, vacuum the spa and clean the cartridge may be a bit much, but you may want to consider asking for help with:

  • Shock the spa after each use (with specific directions).please-help-with-the-spa
  • Add water to spa if below the mid-skimmer mark.
  • Keep the spa cover installed and latched when not using spa.
  • Shower or bathe before using spa, for everyone’s health.
  • Notify management of any hot tub problems.

 

Water Changes

cloudy-spa-waterIt’s common practice among some rental homes with hot tubs to drain the water after each renter, after check-out. However, this can be difficult to do in one day, and have it hot again by check-in time; and it may not always be necessary.

A good look at the water quality, along with testing water balance and bromine or chlorine levels, can quickly tell you if the water needs to be changed. An option to a complete water change is a partial water change with complete balancing, shocking and cleaning the spa filter cartridge.

Most spas in a rental environment can go as long as 4-8 weeks between complete water changes, as long as filter cycles are lengthy and effective, and water balance and sanitizer levels are maintained properly. Other things can also help lengthen water life, see below.

 

Water Problems

Notwithstanding the above statements, if your tenants leave the spa or hot tub water in a cloudy, gray condition, it may be best to drain the tub. If you find that you have regular problems with water quality in your rental spa, or want to increase the length of time between water changes, here’s some things to do:

  • Add a Second Filter. Many spas have enough vertical space to install a second Spa Filter cartridge to double the filtration.
  • Add a Purifier. In addition to bromine or chlorine, use Minerals or Ozone to help prevent water problems or health issues.
  • Shock after Use. Keep a bottle of labeled MPS or Spa Shock, and ask tenant to add a specific amount after use.
  • Use a Clarifier. Pods, tablets or liquid clarifier to assist your filter in trapping microscopic debris.
  • Replace the Cartridge. Every 6-12 months, replace your spa filter with new.

 

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

New! Hot Tub Tanning Liquid

March 31st, 2016 by

instant-hot-tub-tan

New – from the Fake Bake people comes Spa & Hot Tub Tanning Liquid. A proprietary formula that’s specially formulated for use in spas and hot tubs.

Just pour the Instant Self-Tanning Liquid into the hot tub and soak for just 15 minutes, and emerge with a glowing tan.

The topic of tanning is right up my alley. I’ve been fake baking for years, using tanning booths or spray tan during winter, to keep my tan all year long!

In the past, spray tanning and hot tubs didn’t play nicely together. Go Hot Tubbing after getting a fresh spray tan, and you can lose about half of your hard-earned color!

And, spray tan solutions used in most tanning places are not friendly to your water balance, and can gum up your spa filter, leading to premature filter failure.

Hot Tub Tanning Liquid is so easy to use! Add 1-2 ounces for a light tan, 2-3 for medium, or 4-5 oz for the full on George Hamilton effect! The brown liquid instantly begins to coat your skin, transforming your pale skin to a darker, more lustrous you!

fake-bake-tan-in-tubInstant Self-Tanning Liquid absorbs into your skin while you soak. No residue left behind on the tub, and the microscopic particles easily pass through your filter. It even passes through your swimsuit (if you choose to wear one, that is!). Guaranteed to tan only you, and nothing else!

Try New Spa & Hot Tub Instant Self-Tanning Liquid from FakeBake – you’ll agree it’s the easiest and most convenient way to enhance your color, and dare I say, popularity!

Get it while you can! If you have trouble locating Self-Tanning Liquid, that’s because it doesn’t exist! This is just our little joke, see…

Happy April Fools Day!

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

 

 

Hot Tub Filter Leak Repair

March 23rd, 2016 by

leaking-spa-and-hot-tub-filtersHot Tub filters need some repair from time to time, besides replacing the cartridge. Today’s post is about common spa hot tub filter leaks that you can do yourself.

Common hot tub filter leaks can include cracked filter housings, leaking o-rings or gaskets, or pipe fittings that have shrunken or otherwise lost their seal where the pipes connect.

There are essentially three types of spa cartridge filters; the Skim filter, the Inline filter and the Top Load filter…

 

Skimmer Filter Leaks

waterway-skim-filter-at-htwThe usual problem with a skimmer filter is leaking around the filter housing. If the spa skimmer is leaking where the skimmer connects to the backside of the spa shell, you can seal it up with silicone or replace the square gasket that fits between the skim-filter and the spa shell. In either case, lower the water level below the skimmer by draining. A new spa skimmer gasket will be the best leak repair option, just remove the front cover plate to access the screws. Use a large #3 Phillips head to get the screws really tight, without damaging the heads.

Skimmer filters that have cracks in the filter housing or cartridge canister have a different problem. This is usually caused by freeze damage, from water freezing inside of the hot tub filter housing. Small cracks on skim-filters can be successfully repaired with a two-part epoxy sealant, or heavy duty silicone – if the crack is small enough. If the entire bottom of the filter canister cracked, it may be wise to repair the entire skim filter assembly, or at least the canister portion of the skim-filter.

Skimmer filters for spas also have a few other parts to keep them in working order. Over time you may need to replace the skimmer basket or weir (the flapper door thingy). Some spa skimmers have a floating weir, or may have small clips and seals or adapters that need to be in place for proper operation.

boss-siliconeLeaking Pipes? The piece that connects to the bottom of your skimmer filter may be a threaded fitting (aka spigot or MPT), or it may be smooth pipe (aka socket or slip). If either begin to leak water, you can repair it two ways. First, lower the spa water to a point below the skimmer bottom. If you can access the inside of the skimmer with a small tube of high temp silicone, you can place a thick bead on the inside, where the fitting connects to the port. If you can’t reach it, you can try sealing the outside of the fitting, while running the pump, to suck the sealant into the void. Not always a permanent repair however.

 

Inline Filter Leaks

inline-spa-filters-at-htwAn inline filter is one that is not a combination skim-filter, but a separate filter assembly that is plumbed ‘in-line’, or attached to the pipe. In some cases, the inline spa filter is plumbed in place before the pump, although in most cases it is connected after the pump (and before the heater).

For a spa filter that is attached before the pump, cracks or loose filter parts can cause the pump to pull air into the system. When installed after the pump, the filter housing is under pressure and any crack or loose parts (like the lock-ring) will cause the pressurized filter body to leak water when the pump is on. In either case, the filter will leak water while the pump is off, since it’s installed below the water level.

A leaking spa filter housing (aka canister or body) cannot usually be successfully repaired for pressurized spa filters. The best repair is to replace the filter housing body or replace the entire filter assembly, which includes a new cartridge. A new complete spa filter will also include a new top assembly and bypass valve, to allow water to bypass the filter when the pump is running on high speed.

Small cracks on a hot tub filter housing that is installed before the pump (under suction) may be successfully repaired with an effective two-part resin-hardener type of epoxy sealant. For large cracks however, the best repair is to replace the spa filter housing or canister, or the complete filter.

spa-and-hot-tub-lubeMany times however, an inline spa filter may not be cracked, but leaks where the filter body attaches to the filter lid, via the round lock ring. A cracked lock-ring can cause this problem, as can a loose lock ring. Before you go hammering on the lock ring however, they are designed to require only hand-tightening. Over-tightening the spa filter lock ring can cause it to crack, so proceed carefully. In most cases, replacing the filter canister o-ring, and lubricating it with a proper o-ring lube will solve this problem.

 

Top Load Filter Leaks

waterway-top-load-spa-filterTop Load filters are accessed while in the spa, or standing outside the spa – no need to climb into the equipment bay to check the filter, although they can also be installed underneath, inside the cabinet. Top Load filters have the plumbing connections at the bottom of the filter housing or body, while the inline filters (shown above) have the pipe or hose connecting through the lid, at the top of the filter assembly.

If a Top Load filter is leaking from the lid, a new o-ring is the usual solution, properly lubed with a lubricant specifically designed for o-rings. Of course be sure that the lid is tight and threaded on correctly, but be careful not to over-tighten the lid.

If your spa filter canister is cracked and leaking water, the best repair is to replace the canister / housing with new. For spa filters that are installed before the pump, small cracks might be successfully repaired with a strong epoxy repair product, but for pressure filters, I would recommend replacing the filter body, or the entire filter assembly.

Hot tub filters leak also at the drain plug or air bleeder knob, if loose or without thread sealant like Teflon tape. Some filter plugs also have a tiny rubber gasket or o-ring that will need replacement after many years.

For spa filter pipe leaks, determine if you have threaded fittings or the more common slip fittings, connecting at the bottom inlet/outlet ports. If a slip (glued) fitting is leaking, you’ll need to replace the filter housing (or complete spa filter). For threaded fittings, screwed into the inlet/outlet port, you can cut the pipe and remove the fitting with large pliers. Replace with new, first smearing hi-temp sealant, followed by several wraps of Teflon tape (in a clockwise direction). Reconnect the pipes with a coupling or union.

spa-unionsIf the union is leaking, unions on either side of the filter inlet/outlet – first try to tighten the union nut gently to seal up the leak. Use large channel type pliers if needed, if hand tightening alone doesn’t seal up a leaking union. If pliers won’t work, close the spa valves and open the union (water will spill), and replace the internal o-ring with lube.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Natural Hot Tub Maintenance

March 3rd, 2016 by

my-natural-hot-tub-istkMy hot tub is not 100% natural, but it’s close. I use very few bottled spa products, either for cleaning the water, or for cleaning the hot tub.

Having a “Natural” hot tub or spa is more than just adding a mineral purifier or ozonator, or using enzymes – all of which I use.

If you really want to reduce reliance on spa chemicals, you have to take some action to replace the work done by spa sanitizers, clarifiers, algaecides, defoamers, etc..

Here is my short list of things that I do to maintain my Natural hot tub:

RUN THE PUMP LONGER

  • I know, not very “green”, to run the pump longer each day, but stagnant water starts to get funky quick without strong sanitizers in the water. For this reason, I run my circulation 3x as much as most people. I also run the pump on high speed almost every day to loosen any filmy or crusty deposits, opening the air intakes (or you can turn on a blower), to aerate the water. And when we use the spa, I add MPS afterwards and leave the spa running for about an hour, with the cover open.

SHOWER BEFORE USING

  • This is really necessary to maintaining a natural hot tub. If you don’t want to run a high bromine level, or have to shock the spa after every use, take a serious shower before getting in the hot tub. And ladies, don’t forget to put your hair up (or wear a cap) and remove make-up before getting in the tub. If your natural tub is not au-naturel (you wear something), be sure not to use swim suits, shorts or shirts that have been washed with soap. If so, wash them again on a long cycle without soap.

NEW SPA FILTER EVERY YEAR

  • A natural spa – one without bromine or peroxide sanitizers, has to replace the spa filter cartridges more often. Simply more stuff needs to filter out of the water, so your spa filter has to work harder. Spas that aren’t trying to be “Natural” may get up to two years out of a spa filter, but I always change mine every December.

CLEAN YOUR SPA NATURALLY

  • clean-your-spa-with-a-lemon-istk istockCleaning your cartridge in a 50/50 vinegar solution is a natural way for those with very high calcium levels, or hard water, to keep their filters and jets from tiny crystalline deposits. Use baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) on a wet scrubber sponge as a way to clean and scour very dirty surfaces. Natural citrus based cleaners can also be used, in fact you can cut a lemon in half and use it as a tub scrubber!

KEEP WATER BALANCED

  • Another very important part of natural hot tub care, is keeping the water balanced. If the pH or Alkalinity get too high, it makes a perfect environment for all sorts of things to grow. I keep mine between 7.2 – 7.4, and always check it before I get in the water. If there are 2 or more people using the spa, I check it again afterwards, it’s almost always higher. Add calcium hardness increaser if your level is below 150 ppm, and alkalinity increaser if below 80 ppm.

ADD ONLY GOOD FILL WATER

  • Your tap water may not be the best water for your spa, with chloramines, metals, minerals and other invisible gunk. Just like we filter our drinking water, we filter it before I put it into the hot tub! Just use the Pre-Filter on the end of your garden hose when filling the tub. I can’t over-emphasize how important this is to maintaining a natural hot tub! Start off with bad water, and it quickly becomes hard to maintain it naturally.

MAINTAIN PURIFIERS

  • I have a Del Ozonator and I use the Nature2 mineral stick. Because I don’t also use bromine tablets or chlorine granules in my hot tub – I have to make sure these units are working properly, and replace them as needed. Every 4 months for the skimmer stick (my calendar alert pops up), and I just replaced my ozonator with the Next Gen model that lasts up to 5 years. I also add a small amount of spa enzymes to my spa weekly, natural proteins that consume microbes. And I use only as much shock as needed.

MPS SHOCK AS NEEDED

  • I use MPS shock, or non-chlorine shock, about every other time I use the spa, or about once per week. If that seems fairly often, it’s because I’m not using any bromine or chlorine in my hot tub. If I don’t use the MPS shock at least 1-2x per month, my water begins to look gray and dull, and I begin to ‘question its sanitary’, so I add just two tablespoons of MPS every week or so.

DRAIN / REFILL MORE OFTEN

Also not green, or environmentally friendly, and possible illegal in your area – but there comes a point when the water is literally choked with solids and needs to be changed. The water gets so crowded, that  some of it gets thrown out of solution and becomes visible. First as a dull appearance, followed by a slight haze, progressing to cloudy water. When spa water becomes ‘old’, it becomes harder to keep clean and clear and harder to keep sanitary. For most natural hot tubs and spas, including my own, a drain and refill is done every 90-100 days.

 

ecofriendly-natural-hot-tub-istkNatural Spa maintenance doesn’t need to involve so-called ‘natural’ hot tub treatments, or systems that claim to do everything with one monthly treatment. It’s not easier than a bromine/chlorine spa – it is more work and more multi-layered than many would have you believe.

But it is quite possible, to maintain a spa or hot tub with very few spa chemicals – my tub is nearly all-natural, and my hubby and I love it that way!

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

 

 

Romantic Hot Tubbing with your Valentine

February 8th, 2016 by

happy-valentines-dayHello folks; I don’t usually get the fluffy blog topics – but here goes, a man’s guide for hot tub romance this Valentine’s day.

I’m not sure how qualified I am to speak on the subject, but there are a few tips I’ve learned on how to create a romantic mood, and I do know about hot tubs!

Nothing new here, but be warned, these soft tips below are powerfully romantic!

 

 

SOFT MUSIC

Pick something soothing and mellow, think Sade or Michael Buble, maybe some Bossa Nova. Whatever she likes, and if you don’t know what she likes, ask her! If your spa area is not already wired, you can relocate a house speaker, use a boom box, or connect your phone or tablet to Pandora and connecting it to small speakers.

SOFT LIGHTING

Colored lighting is even better. You can find a red bulb for the patio light at the hardware store, or use colored plastic or glass filters around lamps. You may be able to do the same for your underwater spa light, with color changing LED spa bulbs or a cool colored snap on lens. Or, go with candles in glasses or vases that will block the wind.

SOFT GIFT

Take the spa experience to a whole new romantic level! Buy her a really nice robe and slippers (soft or sexy), and have the store wrap it with bows and ribbons, real nice. Present it to her or leave it for her upstairs, with a hand written invitation to join you downstairs, in the spa ~

SOFT DRINKS

Ladies like a fancy drink, so skip the Budweiser and create a smoothie tropical like a Pina Colada or Daiquiri – or go traditional with a bottle of champagne on ice. You can get plastic daiquiri glasses and little umbrellas or plastic champagne flutes at the party store. Something soft and cool, or go the other way to soft and warm, with rich hot cocoa or coffee drinks.

SOFT SCENTS

Adding some Spa Crystals will be a great touch, and one that she’s sure to notice. Pour in just before you come outside, or place the crystals (or beads/elixir) in a fancy jar or bowl next to the spa, and with a small spoon, sprinkle the water just before getting in (with great dramatic flair, of course).

CHOCOLATES

Better than a heart shaped box of candies, is a nice box of Godiva chocolates from the mall. Or chocolate dipped strawberries, or other easy-to-eat-in-a-hot-tub foods like small finger-food or appetizers that aren’t greasy, crumbly or hard to handle. A Spa Caddy (shown above) makes a nice table for food and drink.

FLOWERS

Pick up a few dozen red carnations and a few dozen red roses at the grocery store and place several vases around the hot tub. Pick a few roses, pluck the petals and put them in a box, so you can float them on the surface, and sprinkle petals along the pathway to the spa.

 

~ Well there you have it, tried and true methods to turn a regular old soak in the hot tub, into something really special and memorable.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

- Jack

 

 

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 Clean a Hot Tub

January 4th, 2016 by

deep-clean-your-spaSpas and hot tubs are fairly self-regulating; and don’t require a major time investment to maintain. However, to keep your spa in top condition and looking good, you do need to do some spring cleaning from time to time.

My technique is to drain half the spa water and refill every 4 months, with a deep cleaning every third interval, or once per year. Here’s the method that I use annually, to really deep clean my hot tub.

 

Step One: Flush the Pipes

Everyone knows how a toilet will grow a gross film if it’s not used (flushed) often; and the same for spas and hot tubs. The inside of pipes can become coated with a slick film that builds up along edges of pipe and air fittings. Low flow circulation pumps often don’t provide enough force to prevent bacteria build-up inside of pipes, filters and fittings.biofilm

Causes of biofilm in spas include those that have had mechanical down time or extended power outages, or temporary draining and standing empty. Poor water balance or sanitation slip-ups also allow bacteria to create clumpy communities, which protect themselves with a slick, slimy surface.

Biofilm is hard to prevent, even in well maintained spas and hot tubs. The best way to handle it is to use a spa flush product regularly. Chlorine or bromine can’t get past the greasy layer that protects biofilm. Use a product like System Flush, Jet Clean or Swirl Away to remove oils, organics, dirt and minerals, where biofilm bacteria makes a home.

This is the first step, because it’s done before draining the spa. Recommended once per year, or before draining a stagnant spa – one that has not been filtered for several days or longer. Add the solution and allow to circulate overnight, following label directions closely.

Step Two: Drain the Spa

After a flush, it’s time to drain out the water in the tub. A small sump pump can do it in about 20 minutes, or you can let gravity do the work by attaching a hose to the drain spigot on the spa. Spa water is fine water for the lawn or plants, as long as sanitizer or algaecide levels are not high. To be safe, move the drain hose often, or run it to a storm drain.

shop-vacFor stagnant spas, or tubs that have sat unfiltered and untreated, use the Shop Vac® to blow out the pipes with forced air (switch the hose to convert from vacuum to blower). This can dislodge any remaining gunk that is still in the pipes. Place the hose over returns, skimmer and drain ports, to force air in many directions.

If your spa has a forced air blower, turn it on to force remaining water out of the pipes. For seat or floor air jets, lay towels over the seat/floor before turning on the blower, to soak up the water. Getting out the last bit of water can be tricky, a wet/dry vac comes in handy, or a large sponge and a bucket.

Step Three: Clean the Spa

To retain the luster and protect the spa surface from UV rays and chemical problems, it’s recommended by spa manufacturers to clean the spa interior surfaces after draining. Be very careful not to use household cleaners, which can harm spa surfaces and contaminate spa water.

Harsh spray cleaners or cream cleansers can seep into air holes and cause a lot of problems. Use only natural spa cleaners like Citra-Bright to clean acrylic spas. To water-proof your spa, go the extra mile after cleaning and spray on Fast Gloss to protect your spa with a thin layer of silicone.spacover-cleaner-and-conditioner

Spa Cover cleaning is also recommended, to extend the lifespan of a spa cover. The underside is usually not treated, but if your cover is smelly, a 10% bleach solution can be sprayed on the underside, to combat a mildew odor. The top a spa cover however, needs regular care to keep the vinyl supple and strong. Use a spa cover cleaner, followed by a vinyl conditioner, at least once per year to stop damage from sun, snow and rain.

Spa Pillows should also be removed and cleaned with mild soap and water. Manufacturers recommend that spa pillows be removed and stored if the spa is not used regularly, because of the high temperatures and chemical effects. You can protect spa pillows with a Fast Gloss treatment.

Spa Filters are cleaned with a garden hose, from top to bottom, to rinse out dirt and debris. However, even strong pressure won’t remove mineral deposits or oily grime. To really clean a spa filter, soak the cartridge overnight in a spa filter cleaner to remove oils, grime (dirt+oil), and mineral deposits from hard water. Or, it may be better to replace spa cartridges that are near the end of a useful life (18-24 months).

Step Four: Refill and Balance

spa-cleaning-toolsManufacturers recommend that you place the fill hose into the skimmer hole or filter hole, which is a way to avoid an air lock after filling the spa. An air lock occurs when air is trapped in the pipes, especially in front of the pump.

If your fill water comes from an untreated source, or contains high levels of metals and minerals, or has a bad smell or color – use a pre-filter on the end of the garden hose to trap contaminants and impurities.aquachek-spa-test-strips

When the spa is full (don’t overfill it!) – test the water pH, Alkalinity, Calcium Hardness levels and adjust if needed. Add a shock treatment to the spa, using MPS or chlorine granules, just to be sure the water is sanitary.

For bromine users like me, draining the spa depletes the “bromine bank”, so you’ll need to add a few ounces of Brom Booster, or bromide ions, to react with the bromine tablets. Until the bromine bank is recharged, the bromine cannot effectively disinfect the spa water.

After a refill, balance and shocking, let the spa circulate and filter for several hours, or overnight – running the heater to bring the water temp back up.

 

10 Spa and Hot Tub Energy Conservation Tips

December 21st, 2015 by

bullfrog-spas-heat-map-of-full-foam-spaSome spas are built for a warm climate, while other spas are specifically designed for use in cold weather areas. A spa or hot tub that is energy efficient can use half of the energy of one that is not.

Spa insulation is the main factor, but there are many other variables that influence the amount of electricity used by your spa or hot tub. Here’s a few ways to curb your spa’s appetite for energy.

 

ADD WIND BLOCKS

hickorydickorydecksWind sweeping across the surface sure feels nice, but it also pulls a lot of heat from the surface. If your spa is not protected from the winds, consider installing small walls or plants on the side(s) with the most wind. They are usually installed on two sides, to preserve a preferred view, and can also serve as a privacy screen. Custom build it to your specifications, or you can order retractable spa wind screens online.

CLOSE THE AIR JETS

close-the-spa-air-knobAfter using the spa, remember to close the knobs that allow air to be sucked into the jets. Cold air being introduced constantly will cool the water, requiring your heater and pump to work harder to replace the heat that is lost. Heat loss is minor when using the spa for 15 minutes or so, but if you leave them open for days and days, you may notice an increase in hot tub energy use. For me, it’s the last thing we do, but I don’t usually open all of the air jet knobs, so I just close the one off before putting the cover back on. Remember to close the air jets!

TURN OFF THE BLOWER

The air blower, if your spa is equipped with one, is a real energy hog, besides being noisy and also cooling down the water with cold air injection. If you can go without forced air in the hot tub, you will absolutely reduce a hot tub’s energy usage. And when your spa blower finally bites the dust (and they all do someday), consider not replacing it.

FIND THE PUMP RUN TIME SWEET SPOT

spa-timers-can-save-moneyModern spas are somewhat self regulating with certain programmable modes, but for older spas or hot tubs, your filter pump or spa pump should use a timer, or be programmed to run in 2 or 3 shifts of about 3 or 4 hours each. When the pump is running, the filter, heater and purifiers can also operate, so it’s important to run it long enough each day (every day) to maintain water quality. Program your pump to run 2-4 times during the day, paying close attention to water quality. Some spas are fine with 4 hours per day, but others need 8 hours per day of pump run time, to both maintain water quality and water temperature.

TIP: Remember that spa pumps (and all motors) use a lot of power (amperes) just to start, so starting and stopping too often will increase spa energy consumption.

TURN DOWN THE SPA HEATER:

Turn down the heater to 90° if you won’t be using the spa for a week. For 2 weeks or longer, set it lower, but keep the spa water well above freezing – we recommend no lower than 65 degrees, to maintain some heat in the event of a winter power outage.

Turning down the heat for just the weekend, or even a week, and it can cost more to re-heat the spa than it would’ve cost to just to maintain the heat. Even so, many weekly spa users (myself included), maintain a temperature of about 95°, and bump it up to 102° an hour before using the spa.

RUN YOUR SPA DURING OFF-PEAK HOURS:

Off peak pump/heater operation, according to Energy.gov, may save you money over time. Check with your local power provider for peak times in your area, and available Time of Use rates. Generally speaking, peak rates are during weekdays, from 9-5 pm, although it varies by region and season.

USE A BETTER OR BEST SPA COVER

Notice I didn’t say a Good spa cover, or the El Cheapo spa covers; go for the Better or even the Best spa cover, if you really want to save energy by reducing heat loss. Our lower tier spa covers are only suitable for warm southern climates. If you have any kind of winter – buy a hot tub cover that can really hold in the heat.

you-need-a-new-spa-cover-1It goes without saying that a good spa cover can save money, while a bad spa cover can waste money. Spa covers that are waterlogged lose over half of their R-value, or insulation value. Hot tub covers that are warped, torn, or broken will not fit properly around the edges and leak precious heat from the sides or along the center hinge. Replacing an old spa cover before you really need to – is a surefire way to save money on heating a hot tub.

TIGHTEN UP YOUR SPA COVER

spa-cover-wind-straps-smAdjust your spa cover straps if necessary so that there is a slight downward pull on the strap, as you click the clip into place. This helps to pull-down the spa cover to snug-up against the spa top edge. Loose spa cover straps allow heat to leak out and high winds to get under the spa cover. Spa strap clips can be replaced if broken, or if your spa straps are completely torn off, you can use our heavy-duty over-the-top spa cover wind straps. A less elegant, but also effective way is to use a sheet of 1/2″ plywood, to gently hold it down and reduce heat loss from a loose or ill-fitting spa cover.

USE A FLOATING SPA COVER

floating-spa-blanketA secondary floating spa cover can increase your overall R-value by up to a third. Floating spa blankets are 1/4″ closed cell foam, to keep heat trapped in the water, and reduce moisture beneath the spa cover. It also prevents chemical damage to a hot tub cover, by containing the chemicals in the water. Foam spa blankets work much better than solar blanket type, which is a heavy duty bubble wrap type material – but any secondary spa cover will help, even plastic kitchen wrap!

INCREASE CABINET INSULATION

For spas that didn’t come with a lot of insulation around the cabinet, energy efficiency can be increased by strategically adding insulation underneath and around the spa or hot tub. There are several ways to do this, but remember that your pumps still need adequate air ventilation and circulation to prevent overheating. Never cover air intake vents or reduce the size of the equipment bay.

Spray Foam: There are spray foam kits that you can use to cover pipes and the back of the spa shell. Be sure to use a spray foam that has a high R-value and that you apply it according to directions. For best results, remove all cabinet panels before applying foam. A full-foam treatment may be difficult, but an inch or two on the spa shell and covering exposed pipes (outside of the equipment area) is do-able.

owens-corning-fiberglassInside Cabinet: You can also use wall or attic insulation, in soft rolls or rigid panels, to line the inside of your spa cabinet panels. Reflective bubble wrap insulation, placed on the inside of cabinet panels, can help by reflecting heat inward, back towards the spa.

Outside Cabinet: Another method is to construct an enlarged cabinet around the existing cabinet and fill the space with insulation. Or described another way, affix rigid insulation panels to the outside of your cabinet panels, and soft insulation on the corners, then build another cabinet from wood paneling, on the outside of the new insulation. Cap it with a heavy board on top of the enlarged cabinet.

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

Spas and Hot Tubs in the News

December 7th, 2015 by

SPAS-IN-THE-NEWSDecember is here already, and that means that it’s time once again for our semi-annual look at hot tubs and spas in the news.

Real stories from news sites around the globe, sometimes funny, sometimes sad, but always entertaining. Today’s round-up of news stories has a few laughs, a head shake and an Oh My!

 

Japan obsessed with French wine holiday

By  

haruko-wine-hot-tubWhile the French still produce and consume the most wine per capita, Japan is continuing to grow as one of the biggest wine markets in the world — and they’re not afraid to show their passion for the beverage. It’s one thing to drink wine, but it’s another altogether to have it poured freely into a pool, into your cupped hands, and over your head. Nonetheless, that’s just what happened at a hot-springs resort in the Japanese city of Hakone as revelers celebrated the wine-filled holiday Beaujolais Nouveau this year. Full Story.

 

California Hot Tub filling ban has owners steaming

By Nicholas Weiler May 10. 2015  San Jose Mercury News

hot-tub-water-conservationFor their part, some hot tub retailers resent that their product is being lumped in with pools. Lynda Sisk of Hot Springs Spas of San Jose, said she uses her hot tub several times a week and has to add only 10 gallons a month. Many use their spas for therapy, she said, and would otherwise take long showers or baths to ease aching muscles. In part because of Sisk’s lobbying efforts, Santa Cruz decided to remove the spa-filling restriction from this year’s drought rules. Full Story.

 

UCLA removes hot tub from QB Josh Rosen’s dorm room

By Chip Patterson  October 27, 2015 CBS Sports

josh-rosen-hot-tub Image by @azcsportsThe life of a college football quarterback is pretty sweet, especially when you are UCLA Football Quarterback Josh Rosen and a hot tub gets installed in your dorm room. But with great power comes great responsibility (or something) and once the world got a sight of Rosen enjoying the luxurious life, the school needed to take action. Ricardo Vazquez, a UCLA Dorm official, confirmed to TMZ that the hot tub had been removed from Rosen’s room. Full Story.

 

 Vanishing hot tubs are here! Vanish Spa

By Leo Lutero  October 6, 2015  PSFK.com

vanish-spaInspired by his son’s inflatable pool, Jet Capps created an inflatable spa that lets you relax Jacuzzi-style virtually anywhere. The Vanish Spa does look like a child’s pool but a step into the heated, bubbling water will prove it is a much more sophisticated affair. Also, it comes in an interesting pattern so you won’t help but be able to take it outdoors. The Realtree and Max 5 are for marshy to tropical outdoors. The AP Snow is especially stealthy for use in the snow. The Vanish Spa has a Kickstarter campaign. Full Story.

 

World’s Chillest Bear Hops from Pool into Hot Tub

By Ed Mazza  05/19/2015  The Huffington Post

bear-in-hot-tub-10A Canadian couple had a bear of a scare on Monday when a furry invader busted down their fence and decided to go for a dip in the pool. After floating in the pool for a bit, the black bear then hopped into the adjacent hot tub for some more relaxation. “It’s just amazing,” North Vancouver homeowner Tony Diering told CTV. “You see funny things on YouTube, but to have it happening in your own backyard…” Diering told the network that possibly the same bear was spotted eating birdseed a month ago. Full Story.

 

- Jack