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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.

turn-down-the-heatTurning 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

 

How to Sell a Used Hot Tub

November 19th, 2015 by

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

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

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

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

 

How To Sell a Used Spa

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

How to Price a Used Spa

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

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

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

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

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

ugly-spa-contest

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

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

nice-spa-for-3000

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

 

- Jack

 

 

 

Amazing Inground Hot Tubs

September 3rd, 2015 by

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

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

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

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

“Honey…? I like this one, come look!” :-)

tapiture-image-of-spa

Image Credit: Tapiture.com

 

zillow-spa

Image Credit: Zillow.com

 

zillow-spa-2

Image Credit: Zillow.com

 

zillow-spa-3

Image Credit: Zillow.com

houzz-spa

Image Credit: Houzz.com

 

houzz-spa-2

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

 

realtorcom-crmls

Image Credit: Realtor.com

 

realtorcom-img2

Image Credit: Realtor.com

 

houzz-spa-3

Image Credit: Houzz.com

 

houzz-spa-4

Image Credit: Houzz.com

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

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

 

FAQ About Spas and Hot Tubs

August 17th, 2015 by

spa-hot-tub-careBefore I came to Hot Tub Works, I worked in a spa retail store for ten years, selling spas. So when it comes to questions about hot tubs and spas, we must have heard them all.

There’s a lot to consider when buying a spa or hot tub, so many features, styles and options. Nothing overly complicated, but for someone who has never owned a spa before, it seems very confusing.

Today’s FAQ or Frequently Asked Questions, answers questions about Buying a Spa or Hot Tub. Next time, I’ll cover questions about spa safety and ongoing spa maintenance.

Q: How often do you need to Change the Water?
A: That depends on how much you use the spa or hot tub, and how clean your bathers are (see above), but generally speaking, most residential spas are drained every 3-4 months. For spas and hot tubs that are mandated to conserve water, there are ways to extend your time between changes for up to a year if needed. 

Q: How does a Spa Filter work?
A: Spas and hot tubs are filtered by pleated polyester cartridges. A filter pump pulls the water through the material, which traps dirt and particles down to a very small size. As the dirt loads up in the cartridge, it will need cleaning with a garden hose, once or twice per month. After 12-15 cleanings, it’s time to replace the spa filter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

 

Hot Tub Water Conservation

July 21st, 2015 by

do-not-wash-saving-water-for-my-hot-tub

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

BY   May 22, 2015 NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

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