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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!” :-)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works



Hot Tub Water Conservation

July 21st, 2015 by


Are hot tubs and spas water wasters? The mayor of San Jose thinks so – in May, the San Jose city council voted to prohibit filling pools and hot tubs. And in Santa Clara, California, hot tub owners are allowed to replace hot tub water, but only after agreeing to take fewer showers.

Santa Clara also has required “Water School” for the edification of water restriction violators. What’s this world coming to? It is the new reality of life in California and other water poor states. Until the drought subsides, or new water harvesting technologies are installed, we will have to comply.

So then, for the hot tub owner who wants to keep their hot tub bubblin’, here are some ways to conserve hot tub water.

How to Extend the Life of Hot Tub Water

It’s a commonly accepted practice to drain and refill a spa after 3-4 months of use. This is due to a build-up of dissolved solids and and oily substances that can begin to “choke” the water over time, which can make water balance and complete sanitation more difficult. However, there are ways to extend the life of your spa or hot tub water…

Beginner Tips:

  • Check and balance the water 2-3 times per week, to keep levels optimum.
  • Replace your Spa Filter every 6-12 months, to keep filtration optimum.
  • Use a Spa Ozonator or Mineral Purifier, as a supplement to bromine.
  • Use Spa Enzymes to dissolve oils and organics.
  • Use Spa Clarifier to improve filter effectiveness.

Pro Tips:

  • Install a secondary in-line spa filter, to improve filtration.
  • Use a Pre-Filter to clean hot tub fill water (excuse my French!).
  • Use a floating foam blanket and a good spa cover to reduce evaporation.
  • Use a Rain Barrel to capture hot tub water (I know, what Rain?).
  • Limit hot tub use, if needed, to reduce solids build-up.

Eventually, you will need to change the water, but if a spa is maintained very well and not overloaded to capacity with users, it is possible to extend the time between water changes for a year, or even longer in some cases.

To protect your hot tub health however, you must always maintain the water balance and sanitation, and over-filter the water by running the filter pump for a sufficient amount of time each day. Periodic shock treatment is also necessary, in addition to keeping a constant bromine residual in the water.

A solid spa cover in good condition is important, to prevent water loss from evaporation. Drag off and splash out can also be controlled, and be sure to fix leaks in the plumbing or around the spa equipment.

The Future of Hot Tub Water

water_faucet_drop_400_wht_11410Some water watchers warn that we are only at the forefront of the current crisis in America and that rationing and cut-backs are sure to continue and escalate in many areas. If your town is under a water use restriction, you probably know about it.

To find out if there are any spa or hot tub restrictions (and not just swimming pool water restrictions), you can do an online search for “City/Town/County water use restrictions”, or visit your local government website and search therein.


- Jack



Spas and Hot Tubs in the News

June 15th, 2015 by

SPAS-IN-THE-NEWSOnce again, it’s time for our twice annual round-up of news articles surrounding spas and hot tubs. It’s always a treat to see how the world responds to hot tubs, and these stories never disappoint.

We have a good group of stories this time – never a dull moment when we turn the camera lens on “Spas and Hot Tubs in the News”…

San Jose Bans filling Hot Tubs

By Len Ramirez May 11, 2015 CBS San Francisco

sam-liccardo-mayor-of-san-joseSan Jose is going cold – banning filling hot tubs. “From the day the drought was declared, and the city council announced its restrictions on filling of hot tubs, it’s closed our doors,” Hot Spring Spas sales manager Chet Lockwood said. “If you’re building a pool today, you can fill it with recycled water or have your kids skateboard in it but you can’t fill it with potable drinking water,” Mayor Sam Liccardo said. Lockwood says that spas have health benefits, and can actually help residents save water. “This is a very small amount of water that we can reuse, and reuse, and reuse,” Lockwood said. Full Story.

Fans Flip when Beyoncé pours 20K Bottle into Hot Tub


beyonce-pouring-20K-champagne-into-a-hot-tubFans are outraged after Queen Bey poured what is rumored to be a $20,000 of champagne into a hot tub in her new music video for “Feeling Myself.” The video, a collaboration with Nicki Minaj, shows Beyoncé smirking as she dumps a golden bottle of Armand de Brignac, into hot tub. Twitter exploded with comments like this: “The picture of Beyoncé pouring a bottle of $20,000 champers in a pool made my blood boil… people are starving and homeless…so selfish!” Full Story.

Boy falls from Third-Floor, lands on Hot Tub cover

By Peter Burke, May 29, 2015 Local10

boy-falls-onto-hot-tub-coverA 3-year-old boy was taken to a hospital after falling from a third-floor balcony, a Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue spokesman said. The boy fell off the balcony Friday morning at a home on North Dixie Highway, Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Division Chief Timothy Heiser said. Heiser said the boy landed on a hot tub cover, got up and walked back to the second floor to tell his grandfather what happened. Paramedics arrived and took the boy to Broward Health Medical Center as a precaution. Full Story.

A bachelor Playboy hangs up his Hot Tub 

By John Kelly Washington Post June 9, 2015

mike-oharroLet us remove our hats, bow our heads and observe a moment of silence for the passing of a great Washington institution: Mike O’Harro’s hot tub. It died last weekend at the age of 38. It should come as no surprise that Mike O’Harro had a hot tub. The nightlife king —­ ­co-owner of the now-defunct Tramp’s Discotheque and creator of Champions Sports Bar — was the closest that Washington came to Hugh Hefner. He was a bachelor playboy and had everything that went with that lifestyle: the bearskin rug, the Ferrari, the Members Only jacket – the hot tub. Full Story.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick really likes Hot Tubs. A lot.

By Business Insider June 11, 2015

travis-kalanickUber CEO Travis Kalanick really likes hot tubs. He likes them so much, in fact, that he stays in them for hours at a time, according to venture capitalist and early Uber investor Chris Sacca. He says Travis Kalanick used to spend “eight to ten hours” there at a time. “I’ve never seen a human with that kind of staying power in a hot tub,” he said. Sacca also talked about how he and his wife make founders dinner and take them hot-tubbing in an attempt to evaluate potential founders for his firm’s portfolio.

Neighbor’s Surveillance Camera Pointed At Hot Tub

By Denise Wong June 14, 2015 CBS13

camera-over-a-hot-tubResidents at a Citrus Heights apartment complex want something done about a prying eye pointed towards their hot tub from behind a neighbor’s fence. Is it legal to point a surveillance camera over the fence into a neighboring yard? It may not be a crime since the camera is not hidden. However, it makes residents uncomfortable. “There is a creepy camera right there pointing at the hot tub,” said Andrea Bryant, a resident. Full Story.



 >>> so, there you have it, all the spa and hot tub news that’s fit to (re) print! Much thanks to the fine authors and news organizations that originally published these very entertaining stories about hot tubs in the news; Please click the links to view the entire story, and view pics and video.

- Jack

Heavy Hot Tub Covers

May 11th, 2015 by

spa-hot-tub-careOur hot tub covers are made with the highest quality, 100% virgin EPS closed cell foam, vacuum wrapped and heat sealed inside of a 6 mil protective barrier. But even our top quality 2 lb foam core panels can absorb water.

Why? Why do spa and hot tub covers absorb water? Many people will say that closed cell foam cannot absorb water, and they point to studies where a piece of foam has been sitting in a jar of water for 20 years in some laboratory. And this is correct. Even submerged in water, at room temperature, most quality closed cell foam will not absorb water.

However! In a hot tub environment, there is a large temperature difference between the top of the cover and the bottom of the cover, in some cases it can be more than 50 degree difference. This creates an imbalance, and makes the warm moist air of the spa condensate on the bottom of the cover, and become aggressive in trying to escape.

Add to this the fact that most spas are treated with chlorine or bromine, or ozone – which can break down the vapor barrier, the closed cell foam, or both.

What’s wrong with a heavy spa cover?

For one thing, the R-value of the spa cover drops dramatically as water is a very poor insulator. Hot tub cover heat loss becomes a real concern when it becomes waterlogged. Secondly, the weight of the water can actually bend the steel reinforcement bar (not on our spa covers, made with 20 ga. steel bars).

It also just becomes a real pain in the butt – if you have to call a second person to help lift the spa cover on and off of the tub. Full of water, a spa cover can weigh several hundred pounds, which can cause injury, trying to move such a large heavy object. It can also damage or break your spa cover lifter.

Causes of a Waterlogged Hot Tub Cover

  • Torn foam panel protective barrier
  • Deteriorated foam panel protective barrier

That’s it! The 6 mil plastic sheeting that is used to wrap the foam core panels is the main protection against a waterlogged spa cover. Sure, other factors contribute to the problem, like chemistry or broken foam panels, but the fact is – if the vapor barrier is sealed tightly without any gaps or holes, the foam core panels stay nice and dry. Taking care to prevent punctures or tears and chemical deterioration is the best way to keep your spa cover dry and lightweight.

In addition to vacuum shrinking and heat sealed seams (not something all other spa cover makers do), Hot Tub Works spa covers offer a double-wrapped foam core, standard on our “Works” spa cover, and as an option for other covers. Could be the best $30 you ever spent!

How to Avoid a Heavy Hot Tub Cover

  • Remove the spa top twice weekly for 2 hours, to allow the cover to breathe.
  • Avoid unzipping a spa cover or removing panels; creates voids for moisture to enter.
  • Maintain proper water chemistry, and keep sanitizer at a minimum level.
  • Always remove the cover for several hours after shocking the spa water.
  • Patch any holes or punctures in the vinyl cover or foam barrier immediately.
  • Clean and condition the exterior vinyl on your spa cover once or twice per year.
  • Protect your spa cover from damage by keeping it locked, or use Hurricane straps.

In addition, buying a quality spa cover from a company you can trust, will prevent many problems with waterlogged spa covers. The “Other Guys” don’t vacuum wrap and heat seal the foam panels, and don’t use heavy duty polyester scrim and zipper.

Most importantly, hot tub covers from Hot Tub Works are warranted for 5 years against moisture in the foam core. How can we do that? Truth is, our warranty claim rate is very low, and less than 0.65% of our hot tub covers need warranty assistance.

How to Dry out a waterlogged spa cover

bailing_water_all_of_the_work_300_wht_15637Once your vapor barrier has been compromised, there is not much chance of drying out the foam panel completely, but you can take it off the spa and lean it up against a wall, so that excess water drains out. There is no reason to unzip the cover and pull out the panels, since they are encased in plastic and won’t dry out anyway. Even if you remove the foam panels from their vapor barrier, very little drying of the foam will occur, even after days of drying time.

There is very little you can do once a spa cover has taken on water, except to try to find the rip, tear or puncture and make a repair, but by then it may be too late. The best thing for a waterlogged hot tub lid is to set aside $300-500, and buy a new spa cover. This time you may opt for a spa cover with denser and thicker foam or more importantly, a double-wrapped foam core.


Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works



Hot Tub Recycling or Hot Tub Graveyard?

May 7th, 2015 by

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

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

Trade-in your Hot Tub

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


Sell your used Hot Tub

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

Strip it Down and Recycle what you can

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

Turn it into a Backyard Pond or Water Feature


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


Turn it into a Gardenhot-tub-garden

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

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


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

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

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


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



Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works



Spa and Hot Tub Water Color Problems

April 30th, 2015 by

color-wheelWe’ve all been there before, when you lift the spa cover to discover a color other than clear blue. Hot tub water can be all colors of the rainbow when conditions aren’t right. Yellow, brown, green, white, and any shade in between.

Today’s topic is how to identify and troubleshoot colored spa water, to restore your beautiful blue spa water. It doesn’t matter what type of spa or hot tub you have, or even if your tub is as big as a pool, you can use these tips to fix colored hot tub water.

After you’ve spent several months (or years!) taking care of your spa – your trained eye can tell right away when something’s not right. A bit less sparkly and translucent, dull and dirty looking. Or one of these strange spa water colors ~


green-hot-tub-waterWhen your spa has a shade of green, one may immediately think of algae, and if your sanitizer has been low, or your filter cartridge dirty, it very well could be algae. Touch the sides of the spa, and if it feels slimy, you can bet you have a small algae bloom on your hands. Algae can grow even under a spa cover, in the dark, and in hot water. To treat a hot tub for algae, check and balance the pH and alkalinity, and add a shock treatment. After filtering out dead algae, it’s always recommended to replace the spa cartridge with new.

Green hot tub water can also be from a mineral we know as copper. It can enter the water from copper pipes carrying fill water, or from natural well water. It can also come from copper heat exchangers used in gas fired heaters, or could come from using copper pool algaecide in a spa (not recommended). This is the same copper that can turn a swimmer’s hair green – but the water can be clear and bright green, without slime on the surfaces. Remove copper from hot tub water with CuLator.


yellow-hot-tub-waterYellow algae is a particularly resistant type of algae that can exist in a dark heated hot tub, even in the presence of normal bromine or chlorine levels. It seeks out small out of the way crevices, and when in full bloom, will deposit itself as sheets across the spa surfaces. Treatment for yellow algae is to use a very high level of chlorine spa shock. Balance the water first, and turn off the heater before shocking the spa. Allow the water to circulate for several hours, with the cover removed. If the level drops to zero within 24 hours, shock the spa again, until it holds the chlorine level. After this shock treatment, drain and scrub the spa, bleach wash the spa cover and replace the spa filter with a new cartridge.

Yellow hot tub water can also come from an excess of Pollen in the springtime, especially if you have left the spa cover for some time, or iron oxides in well water can impart a yellowish color to the water, especially if the spa turned yellow after shocking. If you are on well water, use a pre-filter to remove all minerals from your fill water. Finally, if your bromine level is extremely high, the water can take on a yellow-red color, especially in the presence of low pH. Don’t enter a spa if the bromine residual is over 5 ppm.


brown-hot-tub-waterBrown water is not the most appetizing hot tub water color, and if your spa suddenly turned brown – the color of tea, you can once again usually find the problem to be high levels of minerals, namely iron oxide. This may occur within hours after shocking the spa, or making big pH adjustments. The filter cartridge should remove some of it, but to clear it up faster, you can force it back into solution with a sequestering agent like Metal Gon.

Brown spa water also occurs from contaminated fill water, and during dry hot periods, some municipal water supplies begin scraping the bottom of the barrel, which adds a lot of particulate matter to the water supply. You can combat this by using a Pre-Filter on your hose when you fill the spa, to remove even microscopic particles from your fill water.


white-hot-tub-waterMilky hot tub water, so cloudy that the water appears white can come from many causes. High calcium or alkalinity, or ineffective filtering or pumping, or air in the system causing micro-bubbles – all can make hot tub water turn white-ish. Contaminants from body lotions, cosmetics and hair products can also change the water color from blue to white. If your spa has cloudy water, here’s a blog post with 10 reasons why.

White hot tub water can also be infected with white mold, a type of bacteria that grows in small clumps and clusters. In spas that have not been maintained properly, this type of slime can be difficult to remove, but can be treated effectively with raising chlorine level to 30 ppm, running the spa for several hours and then draining. Replace the spa filter, and rinse all removable items like spa pillows, nets, baskets and thermometer in a strong bleach solution. Use a biofilm remover like Jet Clean to clean out the pipes.


pink-hot-tub-waterPink algae is a close cousin of white water mold discussed above. Not actually an algae, it’s a form of bacteria, although it displays characteristics of an algae.  Pink spa water is not a very common color for spa water, and pink algae won’t actually color the spa water pink, except in very mature colonies. Treatment for pink algae is similar to white mold above. It’s not easy to eradicate, as it is able to tuck away cells that are difficult to reach – but it can be eradicated, by hitting it hard with shock (over 30 ppm), and using a purge product to clean the lines and crevices. Also be sure to replace your spa filter, and soak all spa items in a strong bleach solution before refilling the spa.

Don’t let colored hot tub water get you down! There’s always a solution….


Carolyn MosbyHot Tub Works


Inflatable Hot Tubs: the Good, the Bad & the Ugly

April 24th, 2015 by


The Inflatable Hot Tub is a relatively new product on the market, and it has a surprising amount of internet activity or “buzz” happening.

They’ve not only caught on in the U.S., but are also quite popular in the U.K. and Australia, according to my little keyword tool.

Why so popular? Also known as portable spas, inflatable hot tubs can set-up nearly anywhere, which is a huge part of it’s appeal, and it’s low cost makes it a perfect entry level spa – to get your feet wet, so to speak.


But there is also a dark side, some less appealing traits to inflatable spas. If you’re considering a small investment in one of these – here’s a few Good, Bad and Ugly considerations to make before you buy an inflatable hot tub.



  1. Entirely portable, comes in a box not much bigger than a microwave oven. Comes with a carry bag to pack it off to sporting events, camping or fishing trips or to the beach.cute-british-girl-showing-off-bestway-inflatable-hot-tub
  2. Quick set-up. The spa has an air blower of course, and this is used to quickly inflate the chambers. After inflation, drop a hose in the tub and it fills in under an hour. Plug into any grounded outlet. Put on the cover and turn up the heater.
  3. Sturdy and durable. Vertical ‘I-beam’ construction gives the walls rigidity. Reinforced vinyl material ranges in thickness from 30-50 mil; which is not puncture-proof, but is resistant to scrapes and punctures.
  4. Easy to operate. Self contained pump, filter, heater and blower unit has digital controls to operate equipment and display temperature and status lights. Lock out feature prevents tampering.
  5. Locking spa cover is included to keep the spa clean and warm, and ready to use. Also comes with test strips and floating chlorinator.


  • Make sure it’s completely dry before packing for storage or transport.
  • Don’t overfill an inflatable tub, and don’t sit on the sidewalls.



  1. Not as deep as  you might imagine. Only 22-24″ maximum water depth for most models.
  2. coleman-spa-tubNot as large as the picture seems. Look at these happy campers in this “4-person” inflatable hot tub – where are their legs? I suppose it’s fine for the young and beautiful, to commingle legs with their young and beautiful friends, but for me – I prefer personal leg space.
  3. MUST be installed on a level surface, at ground level. Not suitable for balconies, rooftops or elevated floors. Full of water and people, inflatable hot tubs can weigh up to 2500 lbs.
  4. Slow to heat. The heater on these units is small, and although the water is only 200 gallons, it can take awhile to heat up. If you keep it covered, and outdoor temperature is 70-90° F, expect 2-3° increase per hour.


  • If you can fill your inflatable tub from a utility sink with hot water, you can save a lot of time in heating.
  • 2 persons is plenty-o-people for the “4-person” inflatable hot tubs.



  1. Funky water. If you do put 4 persons into a 200 gallon hot tub, let’s see – that’s 50 gallons per person, which will overwhelm the undersized spa filters. In other words, the water can get funky and germy fast, even if everyone showers first.
  2. tiny-tubNot safe for children. At only 28″ tall, a toddler may be able to climb into an open hot tub and possibly drown. The latching cover should prevent most entry, but only until about age 5, which is when my daughter learned how to operate the spa cover strap clips.
  3. Not energy efficient. You’ll find out fast that it’s costly to keep this type of spa hot, and nearly impossible in very cold outdoor temps. In fact, in temperatures of below 50°, a 1 kw heater may not get past lukewarm.
  4. Disposable. Unfortunately, many inflatable hot tubs will be neglected, abused and set out to the curb for the trash after a few years of service. They won’t all end up that way, but in general, portable spas have a short lifespan.


  • Add a capful of MPS (non-chlorine shock) before and after each use, and keep the floater filled with bromine tablets. Run the filter daily, and change the water monthly.
  • A heavy plywood sheet, carefully placed over top the spa cover may discourage some toddlers, and may improve heat retention somewhat. At least on top.
  • You can recycle a vinyl inflatable hot tub, call your local trash service for information.


intex-purespa-inflatable-hot-tubSo, that’s my rant about inflatable hot tubs – we had to join the conversation, it’s become such a popular topic online, and a story line that we needed to cover here on the hottubworks blog.

If I haven’t scared you away from inflatable hot tubs, and you’re looking for an easy way to join the 5.9 million Americans who own spas or hot tubs, take a look at our portable inflatable hot tubs – we carry the Intex PureSpa and the AiriSpa – 2 great entry level spas!


Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works



Hot Tub Pioneers – Watkins Brothers

April 20th, 2015 by

early-hot-spring-spaIn the seventies, as spas and hot tubs were growing from a California cottage industry, two brothers toiled away in their Escondido garage to create a whole new type of hot tub.

Following in his father’s footsteps, Jon Watkins started up a pool service business when he came home after a tour in Vietnam as an Army aviator. While servicing pools in the Escondido, Ca area, he noticed how much his customers loved the pool side spas that were all-the-rage in southern California at the time.

“I thought that I could build a better spa than what was available – a movable appliance that would be hot and ready to use all the time”. Said Jon in a 1987 interview in Flying magazine. In 1976, Jon formed a new company with his brother Jeff, and they rented an old metal building in Carlsbad, Ca to manufacture portable spas.

“The industry was already turning away from redwood and oak hot tubs into prefabricated fiberglass shells. But fiberglass had some problems in performance”. Blisters and cracking was causing a flurry of surface problems for customers.

“Secondly, fiberglass shell designs were easily reverse engineered and made by people who wanted to get into the spa business, crank out a few hundred spas, and disappear – bad for the industry”. On top of that, spa energy usage had begun to be discussed, with the 70′s energy shortage in full steam, and current spa designs were not very energy efficient.early-hot-springs-logo

Jon Watkins recognized that some of the new materials being used in the boating industry should be suitable for spas. The new material Rovel, was lighter, stronger and easier to work with than fiberglass. It also was more durable than the new acrylic spas, being manufactured by Baja.

1976 – Jon & Jeff Watkins form Watkins Manufacturing Corporation and begin to make Hot Spring Spas.

1977 – a new thermoplastic Rovel®, created by Dow, was being developed by Jon and Jeff Watkins, and molded into a one-piece spa shell and cabinet.

1978 – Watkins introduces industry marvels such as a locking insulative spa cover, top load spa filters and underwater lighting.

1986 – Watkins joins the MASCO family of home products, a Taylor, Michigan based company.

1999 – Watkins acquires Caldera, an El Cajon, California manufacturer of spas and hot tubs.

2011 – Watkins company made it’s 1 millionth spa among all brands.

2015 – Watkins acquires Endless Pools, manufacturer of Swim Spas.

Watkins has been a consistent philanthropist through the years, and not only the many Orange County, California charities that it supports such as the local Children’s Hospital and Boys and Girls Club, but national organizations such as the National Fallen Firefighter’s Foundation.

They employ over 1000 people, and sales estimates have them earning revenues in excess of 200 million for all current brands, including Hot Spring, Caldera and American Hydrotherapy, Freeflow and Fantasy spas.HotSpring-Logo-300x156

That’s a long way to go, from making 3 spas per day, to now cranking out over 300 spas per day! Watkins currently operates through more than 700 retail locations in over 70 countries and all 50 states, with manufacturing facilities in California and Mexico, and distribution centers in Belgium, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand.

We salute the Watkins brothers, Jon and Jeff, as two Hot Tub Pioneers that hold dozens of patents and pushed the industry forward at every turn. The Watkins brothers were to hot tubs what the Wright brothers were to aviation!


- Jack


10 Items that Every Hot Tub Owner Needs

April 16th, 2015 by

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

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

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

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

Hot Tub Covers

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

Hot Tub Cover Lifters


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

Spa Steps

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

Spa Rail

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

Spa Tables

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

Spa Pillows


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

Chemical Storage

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

Cleaning Tools


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

Baseball Caps

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

Spa Thermometer


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


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



Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works