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Archive for the ‘hottubworks.com’ Category

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

spa-cover-lifter

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

universal-spa-pillow

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

flat-skimmer-net

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

duck-thermometr

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!).

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

 

Hot Air Balloon Hot Tubs

March 30th, 2015 by

hot-air-balloon-hot-tubThis blog has reported on spas in some very strange places – suspended from a bridge, on top of a mountain, built inside of a cave or sunk into a glacier.

But a hot air balloon hot tub? Where would a off-beat start-up launch such a creative endeavor? Where else but in California?

In Napa Valley, they take Hot Tubbing to the extreme with Hot Air Balloon rides – in an 8 person hot tub, heated to 105°!

Hot Air Hot Tubs is the brainchild of Sergei Enganar, who with partner Pablo Payoso, dreamed up the idea while taking tourists aloft over the scenic northern California vineyards.

As Sergei tells it, “Several people had commented to us during our first few years, how cold it is up in the balloon, and that we should install a hot tub” After a few months of tinkering in a garage with fitting a hot tub shell into a hot air balloon basket, they were ready for the first test flight.

“We lost about 50 gallons [of water] on that first flight” says Sergei. Pablo chimes in to explain that they learned to fill the tub only about 3/4 of the way full, to avoid water loss when the basket swayed.

Asked how the pumps and heater operated, I was surprised at their ingenuity. The circulation pump is powered by a car battery, “Our pumps we had made to be able to run on 12V” says Sergei. “We tried to do the same for the heater, but it wouldn’t heat the water hot enough – so, we switched to gas!” Pablo says with an excited look in his eye.

hot-tub-hot-air-balloonA splitter manifold delivers gas to a small burner beneath a heat exchanger located on the side of the basket. When asked about heating water at high altitudes, they both agreed that it’s much faster, but Sergei added, “we have to monitor the temperature constantly as we ascend and descend, to avoid over or under heating the water”.

Heating challenges aside, how about all of that extra water weight? “Yes, it’s very heavy, we had to install twin burners on this balloon, to add enough lift to counter balance the weight of an extra 1.5 tons of water”.

Hot Tub Rules? I asked. No alcohol. No babies. No splashing. Clothing Optional? I asked. “We request normal swim suit attire”, says Pablo, with a sly grin.

Interesting… Hot water at 5000 feet! Now, I’ve seen it all!

If you want to take a ride in the Hot Air Balloon Hot Tub, you might have to wait awhile – and if you believe this malarkey, you just fell for our April Fool’s Joke!

You can’t put a hot tub in a hot air balloon! :-)

 

Ha-Ha Happy Hot Tubbin’!
Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

 

Children in Hot Tubs

March 12th, 2015 by

hot-tub-kids

Children in hot tubs – is it dangerous?

When my children were young, many years ago, I can remember telling my husband; “they’re not just little adults, you know…”.

Especially for children under 5 years old, with bodies still growing, a hot tub could be unhealthy or possibly dangerous.

The first problem with children using hot tubs involves their ability to regulate temperature and the possibility for hyperthermia, or overheating very quickly, in a spa that is heated to over 100°.

The second issue with kids in a hot tub are concerns of bacterial infection, by absorbing pathogens through the skin, ears, eye, mouth and airways.

And third, the most important reason – is that unsupervised access by children under 5 has resulted in hundreds of drowning incidents by children under 5 years old.

Let’s take a look to see what health experts have to say about children in hot tubs.

  • CDC says: “Exclude children less than 5 years of age from using hot tubs.”
  • Red Cross says: “Children under 5 should not use a hot tub.”
  • APSP says: “No young child should be allowed in a hot tub until they can stand on the bottom and have their head remain completely out of the water.”
  • AAP says: Use a rigid, lockable cover on a hot tub, spa, or whirlpool, or fence in all 4 sides as you would for a swimming pool”
  • Mayo Clinic says: “Young children can quickly become overheated in a hot tub or spa.”
  • CPSC says: “Hot tubs pose a drowning risk to children and an overheating risk for young children.”
  • MHP says: “Hot tubs are too hot for young children, may have high bacteria, and the drain in the tub can trap children.”

The Problems with Children in Hot Tubs

HIGH TEMPERATURES: Young children have skinny little bodies with thin skin. They absorb heat much more rapidly than adults, and can become overheated in just minutes in a spa at 104°, which can lead to dizziness, nausea or even unconsciousness. Children under the age of five heat up four times faster than adults, and also struggle to breathe the very hot and humid (steamy) air coming off of the water. Children older than five should limit exposure to hot water, both by reducing spa temperatures to 100° or less, and limiting soaking time to under 10 minutes.

EXPOSURE TO BACTERIA: In a public spa or hot tub, you never know if the water is sanitary, and if the spa is heavily used – its’ probably not. My advice is to never allow children to use a public spa, where they can be exposed to mycobacteria and pseudomonas or the parasite cryptosporidium. Skin infections, ear infections, or even respiratory infections are possible with adults and children, but children are more susceptible to attack. In a private hot tub or spa – assuming that your spa is not overused and is carefully maintained, and everyone showers fully before using the hot tub – the risk of bacteria exposure may be less. However, sickness can still occur if too many people are in the spa, or if the child stays in too long, or goes underwater, allowing exposure through nose, ear, eyes and mouth. Using the air blower in a spa can produce more aerosol bacteria, released as the bubbles reach the surface.

DROWNING / NEAR DROWNING: A spa or hot tub should always be secured by a locking spa cover, which will make it unlikely that a young child can gain access. Children older than five, working as a team, can manage to remove a spa cover – I can tell you from experience! A hot tub in the home or backyard can be every bit as dangerous as a swimming pool, and should be regarded as such. Drowning can occur from a bump on the head, overheating or from becoming entrapped or suctioned to the spa drain outlet. Teach your children to never use a spa or hot tub without constant adult supervision.

If you MUST allow your Children in a Hot Tub

The hard part is – kids LOVE hot tubs, and it’s a magnet for them. They are drawn to it because it’s close to their size, like a mini-pool, and for kids like mine, if you don’t let them do it while you are watching, they’re going to do it while you are not watching. If you really want to allow children older than 5 to use your private / home hot tub, here are some sensible rules to make it safer.

  1. Everyone Shower before using spa
  2. Turn down temperature below 100°children-in-hot-tub
  3. Limit soaking time to under 10 minutes
  4. Keep heads above water at all times
  5. No more than 3-4 kids at a time
  6. Constant adult spa-side supervision
  7. Have warm towels and cool drinks ready

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

How to Clean a Hot Tub without Draining

March 10th, 2015 by

green-hot-tubFirst off… I have to say that draining the spa is usually recommended every 3-4 months, to replace with fresh water that contains far fewer dissolved solids, wastes and disinfectant byproducts. Fresh water is easier to filter, sanitize and is healthier for bathers.

But… I understand that there are times and places where draining the spa is not appropriate. Like when refill water is limited or unavailable, or when your city or county has water restrictions in place, prohibiting the draining of swimming pools, and hot tubs.

So… if you can’t drain the spa as often as you should here are several ways to clean a hot tub without draining it completely, or ways to reduce draining.

1. RECYCLE THE HOT TUB INTO THE POOL

lil-giant-water-wizard-pool-cover-pumpThis option only works if you also have a swimming pool, or can borrow a neighbor’s pool. With a small submersible pump, empty the spa into the pool, and after wiping down the spa interior, and cleaning with our Spa Cleaner chemical, and for a finishing touch, polishing with Fast Gloss spa polish.

2. RECYCLE THE HOT TUB INTO THE BATHTUB

This option only works if you have a bathtub within garden hose distance of the hot tub, and spa water that’s not gross. Using a small submersible pump, empty 50-60 gallons into the tub, and use it for bathing. Do this for a whole week and you can empty the entire spa.

3. FILTER SPA WATER THROUGH EXTERNAL POOL FILTER

This option only works if you have access to a pool pump and filter, like an aboveground system that mounts on a skid, with a plug in cord for the pump. Hook up a pool-size filter and pump and you can turnover filter all of the water through a large filter in just a few hours. Rinse, Repeat.

4. FILTER SPA WATER WITH REVERSE OSMOSIS

This one only works in the driest parts of the country, where a new type of service company has sprung up. Mobile water recycling trucks can visit your home and pump out the pool or spa water, run it through the super effective truck mounted filters, and return it to the spa in minutes, perfectly clean and clear.

5. Balance the Spa Water and Shock

This one you probably know all ready – test and balance the pH, Alkalinity and Calcium levels, and then shock the spa with a granular chlorine shock. Read the label for dosage instructions, and then double or triple the amount, if your hot tub water is in really bad shape.

6. SCRUB THE SPA

Use a soft brush to scrub off any film and dirt, then use skim net and a spa vacuum to remove the debris, which will clog the spa filter quickly. A large hose can also be used as a siphon vacuum, by filling the hose with water, capping one end, and pulling it down to a point lower than the other end.

7. SCRUB THE PIPES

ahh-some-biocleaner

How do you scrub the pipes you say? Using a spa purge chemical to dissolve built-up bio-film lining the pipes and jets. A toothbrush can be used around the jet openings, but to clean a spa that has been sitting – it’s necessary to remove the bacterial films inside the pipes and equipment. Problem is – after using Jet Clean, or other spa pipe cleaner like Ahh-Some, you’ll need  to drain the spa! You may want to do this step earlier….

 

>>> It’s best to drain the spa every 3-4 months - if you can. If you are unable to refill the spa, try one of the other solutions above, or call for trucked in pool water – you’ll need about 1/10th of a load – they’ll probably still charge you full price… ah, water.

 

- Jack

 

 

How to Buy a Hot Tub

March 5th, 2015 by

spa-cover-careThinking about buying a hot tub? You’ve come to the right place honey, I’ve purchased a few hot tubs in my day, but helped more people buy theirs. For many years I was a Top-Selling Spa Salesperson. That’s right, two-time Salesperson of the Year, as a matter of fact.

Since my spa store days, I have helped lots of friends and family members become spa owners, by assisting them with a purchase, guiding them through models, the value of features, and helping to select a local dealer, buy through Costco, or buy a hot tub online.

Today’s post is a Buyer’s Guide for Hot Tubs, but not in the normal sense of “here’s all the spas we sell, aren’t they pretty“, but rather a checklist of items to consider before purchase. So relax, friend – I’m going to help you determine how to buy a hot tub – and not get soaked!

WHAT’S YOUR BUDGET?

Hot Tub prices are all over the place, from $2500 to $7500, or more. The lower end tubs have smaller pumps, fewer jets and no bells and whistles. On the opposite end are full featured spas with over 100 jets, super-sized pumps and heater, 10 points of lights, water features, sound system, you name it.

The neck jets and mood lighting are very nice features that I enjoy on my current spa, but I don’t think you need a built-in sound system, but that’s just me. Consider size too, if it’s only going to be 1-2 people 90% of the time, look for a smaller tub, which will be cheaper to operate and easier to care for.

Don’t forget about the “extras” of buying a hot tub. Some spas will include a locking spa cover, and others may not. Spa steps or hand rails for safe entry and exit and normally are not included. Spa chemicals and cleaning tools. Finally, there is delivery and set-up, and – most spas will need a dedicated electrical service. Count on about $400 for an electrician to wire it up.

Where will you Put it?

A very good question. Spas, when full of water weigh thousands of pounds! The spa has to sit on a solid concrete foundation or slab, you can’t put it on a wood deck, or on a balcony. If you plan to put it indoors, you need to consider splash-out and humidity. If outdoors, consider some protection from the sun and rain. No matter where you plan to put it, measure the gates and doors, to be sure you can get it there!

Any location should be fairly close to the home breaker panel, where the power to operate the spa will come from (only very small spas can be plugged into a 115V outlet). And you’ll also need access to a water spigot and hose, to add fill water to the spa.

Finally, consider safety whether installed indoors or outdoors, the spa should be enclosed by a sturdy fence or locked doors, in addition to a locking spa cover.

WHAT FEATURES DO YOU WANT?

A spa or hot tub, like a car, has some standard options – these include a pump, heater, underwater light and a spa-side control panel. Options are plentiful; here’s a list of some popular upgrades that you can add to your spa purchase.

  • More pump horsepower, up to 5 hpchecklist---
  • Two pumps – circulation and jet pump
  • High capacity heater – 5.5 kw or 11 kw
  • Air blowers – to add bubbles!
  • 18 points of light, inside, outside, etc
  • Water Features – neck rollover jets, laminar jets
  • Ozone or UV purification systems
  • Audio or Video systems
  • Upgraded insulation, for cold areas

Where to buy a hot tub?

There are several places to buy a hot tub – online, local spa retailer, big box retailer, carnivals or fairs. The last one, carnivals and fairs – should not be the place to buy a spa, but it could be a good place to test out a spa, yeah right.

Online: Prices online can save you a lot of money on a new spa. Savings of up to $2000, over buying locally, but – you have to expect limited service, and delivery to your driveway by a burly and surly trucker. Empty spas can weigh 500-900 lbs, and can be very unwieldy to move from the driveway into position. But, if you have some large furniture moving equipment and several burly friends to help you move it. If you buy a hot tub online from a well known website (like HotTubWorks.com), you can be confident that there is some technical support and help by phone and email, if you need.

Spa Store: If you want as little risk as possible, and don’t mind spending a premium to have all the details taken care of, visit your local spa store – one that’s been a business for many years. Having a hot tub installed by professionals is really the way to go, if you can swing the added cost. You also will have the advantage of an easy warranty service or repair, if that becomes necessary. And because you spent 8-10 grand, you become something of a VIP client, for awhile anyway.

Costco: Prices at Costco are another way to save a few thousand dollars, and they have an installation service available, in addition to regular driveway delivery. The models at Costco are usually major brand with Balboa components, but double check to be sure you aren’t buying a ‘no-name’ spa pak or knock-off brand. There’s not much service after the sale from the big box stores, they don’t have any spa experts that you can call, although if there is a warranty issue, the local rep can usually be called in to assist.

Buy Name Brand Spas

Be sure to buy a Name Brand spa and spa pack, and not something imported, or built in a garage. The reason is, you want tested equipment and components, not imitation generics that are not made to the same standards. You also want a network of service centers, and parts availability for future repairs.

Do some online searching of the spa make and model and the spa pack (pump/filter/heater/controls), to be sure it’s made by a respected brand that has been around for some time.

Oh – and don’t buy a used spa, the useful life is probably near the end, so even a good deal won’t seem so good if you are plagued with problems. Most used tubs have been neglected and abused by the time they are sold as “slightly used”.

 

i-love-my-hot-tub

 ~~~ That’s all Folks! I hope your spa buying experience is a good one – and that I taught you at least one thing about how to buy a hot tub. If you have specific questions, leave a comment below, or send an email to us!

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

How To Clean a Hot Tub that has been Sitting

February 24th, 2015 by

how-to-clean-a-spa-that-has-been-sittingIt doesn’t take long for spa water to go south when the hot tub has been sitting for days or weeks without being filtered or sanitized. How long? In moderate temperatures, spa water can stay fresh for up to two weeks, if covered tightly.

Spa water that sits longer than a week or two will begin to grow algae and bacteria, even without light, under a dark spa cover. Spas that sit untended will begin to grow biofilm or bacterial colonies – the kind of scum you see in a toilet that hasn’t been used or cleaned in awhile (sorry for that analogy!).

For spas and hot tubs that have been sitting, unused and unmaintained, for a period of longer than a few weeks – here’s the process to bring it back online.

TEST FILTER SYSTEM

Before you do a lot of work cleaning the hot tub, make sure that the spa pump and filter are operational. Add water if needed to bring the level up to mid-skimmer, covering the spa filter, which may need to be replaced with a new filter cartridge.

Turn on power at the circuit breaker, then open up the spa cabinet to find the spa equipment. Reset any popped GFCI outlets, and power up the spa pack. Check that all valves are open, before and after the pump, and take a good look for any leaking water under the spa.

Using the spa side control, run the spa pump on low speed and high speed briefly, which will help dislodge gunk in the pipes. Some spas have two pumps, a circulation pump and a jet pump; test them both to be sure that they will be operational after you drain & clean the hot tub.

DRAIN & CLEAN

Draining the spa is the best way to clean a hot tub that has been sitting for awhile. If your water is in fair condition, hazy but without visible algae or biofilm growth, skip ahead to the next step and purge the plumbing, to clean a hot tub without draining.

draining-a-hot-tubTo drain a spa or hot tub, look for the drainage port or hose. Some spas have a small access port at the base of the cabinet to drain water. If not you will usually find a short hose or a hose connection at the lowest point of the spa. Pull out the hose, or connect a hose, and let the water drain by gravity. You can also use a submersible pump to drain a spa. Be sure that the power to the spa is OFF before draining.

As the spa is draining, if the water condition is really bad, use a garden hose to spray off the spa surfaces. You can also spray into the skimmer, or spray water directly into the spa jets, to help loosen slimy gunk. Just be careful not to spray the spa pack, or spa equipment (pump, filter, heater).

REFILL & PURGE

Now that you’ve removed the funky, gunky water from the hot tub (or if you want to clean a hot tub without draining), the next step is to purge the spa, which means to add a chemical that will remove the slimy biofilm that lines the inside of the pipes, and has made a home in various nooks and crannies in the spa air and water plumbing.biofilm-in-spas-and-hot-tub

You can use Natural Chemistry’s Spa Purge, or Leisure Time’s Jet Clean. Follow label directions, adding it to the spa with the pump system running. In a very short time, you will notice the funk and gunk rising to the surface, as a brown foam. Turn on the jet pump and blower to help dislodge any remaining bacterial colonies.

DRAIN & REFILL

Drain the spa again, using a hose or rag to remove the scum around the top of the spa, cleaning as the water level drops. When completely empty, use sponges or a wet/dry vac to suck up the last bits of water.

One more time to the well! Refill your spa with fresh water. When full, test the water chemistry and add adjustment chemicals if needed to balance the pH, alkalinity and calcium hardness. Add a bromine booster (if you use bromine tabs), and then shock the hot tub with 1-3 tablespoons of spa shock, following label instructions.

A new spa filter may also be in order, to keep the hot tub water clean and clear. Replace your spa filters every 18 months, or every 12 cleanings, whichever comes first.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

 

 

 

Spa & Hot Tub Maintenance

February 20th, 2015 by

image from ThermospasWell hello again, my dear readers; I would have thought this topic would go to one of our more technical writers, but my hot tub was voted as the most well-maintained, and they asked to know my secret! :-)

Flattery will get you everywhere I suppose,  so here I am with some basic spa and hot tub maintenance information. What do you need to know to take care of a spa or hot tub? Read on, dear reader.

 

Care = Prevention

When we talk about spa care and hot tub maintenance, you really are practicing problem prevention.  There are a number of things that are done on a regular basis, regular hot tub maintenance tasks, and then there are those best practices or methods that are used to keep your spa running well, while being energy friendly and safe for pets and children.

 

Spa & Hot Tub Chemical Maintenance

  • Test spa water for pH, chlorine/bromine, alkalinity and calcium levels 2-3x per week.
  • Adjust pH, alkalinity and calcium as needed. Maintain a constant chlorine/bromine level.
  • Clean the spa cartridge filter when the pressure gauge rises 7-8lbs, or 1-3x per month.
  • Set the 24 hr pump timer to run on low speed for a total of 12-18 hours daily.
  • Drain the spa every 3 months to prevent buildup of dissolved solids.
  • Refill the spa using a pre-filter that screws onto a garden hose.
  • Shower before using the spa, and Shock after using the spa.

 

Spa & Hot Tub Equipment Maintenance

  • Spa Covers: Use a spa cover lift, air-out the spa cover 2x per week, clean & condition spa cover 3x per year.
  • Spa Filters: After cleaning allow it to dry fully before reinstalling. Use filter cleaner 2x per year, replace filter every 1-2 years.
  • Spa Pumps: Run on high speed only during use or adding chemicals. Don’t allow pumps to run dry, or with an air-lock, or low water level.
  • Spa Heater: Maintain proper water chemistry and keep a clean cartridge filter to protect your heater element.
  • Spa Cabinet: Protect from direct sun, lawn sprinklers or rain splash around edges. Stain and or seal the surfaces as needed.
  • Spa Shell: Acrylic or plastic spas should be polished when emptied, wood hot tubs require cleaning without chemicals.

 

Saving Money & Energy

  • For daily use, keep the temp at 98°, or 94° if you only use it every 3-4 days.
  • Bump up the temperature to 101° – 104°, and then shower before using spa.
  • Keep your spa cover tightly fitted, and for extra insulation, use a floating foam blanket.
  • For colder areas, add R-30 insulation to poorly insulated spa cabinets.
  • Set the spa timer to operate mostly outside of peak daylight energy use hours.

 

Spa Safety

  • Covered: Don’t forget to always keep the spa tightly covered, with safety clips attached.
  • Locked: Indoor spas should be in locked rooms; lock doors and fences to outside spas.
  • Secure: Be sure that spa drain covers are safe and secure.
  • Spa Rules: Use safety signs and teach children the spa is only used with adult supervision.

dont-forget-2

 

Make a list or set a reminder in your calendar to not forget these important hot tub maintenance tasks. And if you have someone else in your family doing it as a chore, believe me, you better follow up behind them!

I hope I was able to answer all of your questions about taking care of a spa! Leave a comment if you have any other ?’s about hot tub maintenance, or you want more information on any of my tips above!

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

 

Hot Tub Pioneers – Brett Aqualine

February 16th, 2015 by

brett spa pack em-100Hot Tubs took a giant leap forward when in 1977, when Jim Brett cobbled together the first spa pack, a single system that united the pump, heater, blower and controls onto one skid.

At the time, spas were being heated and treated with swimming pool equipment, which was oversized and overpriced. Another problem was that a portable spa market was being born, and to be truly portable, it needed a small, compact and portable, filtration and heating system.

“The problem with the first portable [spas] was that they were sold as a true portable that could be plugged into a 20-amp circuit,” said Jim Brett, president of Brett Aqualine.  However,  when you used the jets, the heater had to be turned off or the breaker would trip, and the spa temperature cooled rapidly without the heater, especially if you use an air blower or venture air intakes.

Brett designed a system capable of balancing high amperage loads with a controller, coupled with a spa side panel and a very compact spa package. The “Spa Pack” was born, in the late seventies, and Brett Aqualine dominated the business for many years.

There are still spas and hot tubs that are not capable of running the blower and the heater at the same time, any spa that you just plug into an outlet. Full featured spas require a larger dedicated circuit, hard-wired to the main panel, to power all of the modern span components.

Named to the Inc. 500 list as he #9 fastest growing company in 1987, Brett Aqualine grew sales from just $100,000 in 1983, to nearly $15M by 1987, an amazing growth spurt!

In 1998, Len Gordon purchases the assets of the Brett Aqualine corporation, expanding their products and reach. Just 3 years later, the Brett Aqualine company was sold along with Len Gordon’s other business units to Spa Builders Systems Group, which then reformed the growing company into a new entity – Allied Innovations.

brett aqualine logoToday,  many of Brett Aqualine products are available as Brett Aqualine by Allied Innovations. Truly one of the Pioneers of the Hot Tub industry, Jim Brett, along with co-founder Jim McNicol, helped usher in a more consumer friendly era for home spas and hot tubs.

We salute you!

 

- Jack

 

 

 

 

When Hot Tubs lose Power – Strange but True Stories

January 29th, 2015 by

Around hereoutdoor-spa-full-of-snow-2, at Hot Tub Works, we get nearly 1000 phone calls per day. Most are sales calls to order spa covers or chemicals, but a good percentage of calls are spa tech support calls. It’s enough to keep several spa techs busy on the phones all day, so I guess it’s about 15% of our call volume.

I was talking to Drake at our holiday party recently, and it was a cold night – so cold that I made a comment about “…a lot of spas freezing up tonight”. He told me some funny stories that he had experienced over the phone with customers or had heard about.

IF YOU LOSE POWER - Strange but True Stories

  1. Do not drain the spa! Most winter power outages are resolved quickly, and most spas with any sort of insulation, and a good spa cover, can hold heat for at least 24 hours. If your spa was 90° when the power went off, it can take a long time for temperatures in the pipes and equipment to cool to near freezing, especially in a spa with a tight cabinet and good insulation.
  2. Do not put flames under the spa! Small fires (true story), or a kerosene heater, or any gas heater placed under the spa can cause a big problem with soot, carbon monoxide and melted spa parts. Keep the cover closed, and lay heavy woolen blankets over top if needed to help old spa covers.
  3. Do not pour antifreeze into the spa. Some of you are laughing, but another true story. “I don’t care if the label says non-toxic antifreeze for pools”, it’s not safe to pour into the spa, plus it wouldn’t work unless you poured in an amount equal to at least 10% of your spa water volume.
  4. Do not stuff blankets or comforters underneath the spa. When the equipment starts up, the pump and heater need the air spaces to keep themselves cool. Besides, who would want to use that blanket again? Not me!

WHAT YOU CAN DO - in an Extended Power Outage

  1. Cover the spa cover with heavy woolen blankets and plastic tarp, wrapped tightly around the edge. This can help hold heat in, especially with older covers or spa covers that don’t fit tightly, or seal up all heat loss.
  2. Check the water temperature with a floating thermometer that you can quickly access via a smartphone app, or by quickly lifting the cover just slightly. The water temperature in the pipes will have to reach a few degrees below 32° for several hours before they expand enough to cause damage. At 32°, most water will just turn slushy and not freeze hard.
  3. Add hot water to the spa. Drain half the water, and refill with hot water from a garden hose connected to a spigot in the kitchen or laundry room. You can find an adapter from kitchen sink threads to garden hose threads at most hardware stores and  home stores.
  4. Use Hot Stones, warmed for 30 minutes in a fireplace or wood burning stove. Put them in a large iron skillet and place them under the spa cabinet. 8-10 large stones can be enough to warm the cabinet spaces for the overnight.

bio-film-hot-tubsOf course, you can drain the spa, as a last resort. It may be the best option for a home that is unoccupied during winter, with no one available to maintain the spa. However, if you plan to drain the spa for longer than a day or two, follow these tips on winterizing a spa – not only to protect the spa from freezing water, but from pockets of water and moisture that can grow into a nasty biofilm.

The best thing to do during a power outage, is the same thing that you do with the refrigerator – keep the door closed, and call to let your power company know that you are without power. If it drags on for days, such as after ice storms, keep adding hot water to the spa, or bite the bullet and drain it completely, especially if you are due for a water change anyway.

 

XOXO;
Gina Galvin

 

Deck it Out – Hot Tub and Spa Decks

January 26th, 2015 by

hot-tub-deck-designsAre you tired of the same old backyard? I am – after looking at all of these beautiful pictures of spas and hot tubs wrapped in wood, built by creative and crafty homeowners (and their contractors).

If your spa (like mine), is just sitting on the back porch, on a boring slab of concrete, here’s some inspirational photos of spas sunken into wood decks, with thanks (and image credit) to Decks.com and Houzz.com.

Further down, I have some details on spa deck construction, or considerations when designing a spa or hot tub wood deck.

1. Simple & clean spa deck design provides privacy and space for entertaining

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2. Multi-level deck design with down lights to illuminate steps without blocking stars.

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3. Cantilevered deck sections and faux rock spa skirt and privacy wall.

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4. Hot Springs spa wrap around deck design gives plenty of room for drinks and towels.

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5. This old house got a facelift in the front and back, integrated spa into the back stairs.

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6. Curved composite planks match the circular acrylic hot tub, set below Wisteria blooms.

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7. Ultra modern home with deck wrapped hot tub with lots of access to equipment.

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8. Horizontal privacy wall contrasts perfectly with the stained decking around this spa.

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9. Spa tucked nicely on the edge of the patio, integrates well with custom wall and steps.

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10. Spa appears to float in air, steps on left side lead down to spa equipment access.

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11. Luxuriously finished teak wood for large gatherings with a grand view.

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12. Positioning the spa at a jaunty angle in relation to the house creates better visual flow.

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13. Need more circular shapes in your life? Perfect contrast to a square house and backyard.

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14. Another example of asymmetrical spa placement, in relation to the house; adds more angles.

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15. Pergola! Corner posts can tie-off long drapery; top is great for Clematis or Wisteria vines.

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16. This looks like a dream. Safety fence rails are important for raised decks (and cliffs!).

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17. Wood and stone play nicely together in this spa deck and privacy wall.

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18. A Hot Springs spa deck planner idea, with two wood topped islands, wrapped in faux stone.

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Spa Deck Materials

When building a wood deck, there are usually several options of wood, from basic pressure treated yellow pine, to insect resistant redwood and cedar, to imported hardwoods like Ipe or Balau. Composite deck materials mimic the look of real wood, but can outlast real wood, without the need for future sanding and staining.

Spa Insulation

Another important consideration when building a spa in a deck is the insulation around the tub. When sinking a spa shell into a deck without a spa cabinet, some insulation should be planned for, to save on heating costs. When a wood hot tub is sunk into the deck, a heavy insulated pad can be wrapped around the tub, below deck level.

Spa Deck Structural Design

A full size spa is heavy (nearly 1000 lbs), and a spa full of water can weigh 5x more! When placing a spa in a deck, the spa itself must be resting on a 4″ slab of reinforced concrete, or other suitable base that can handle at least 100 lbs per square foot. Want to install a spa on the upstairs deck? Better call a structural engineer, and get out the checkbook – strong underpinnings are needed for any elevated spa or hot tub.

Spa Privacy

Your location may not need much privacy, but if you have close-by neighbors like I do, a slatted or lattice wall can keep out prying eyes. A low wall can be incorporated into the deck surrounding the wall, as many of pictures above show. Draperies, fabric shades and plants can also be used to add privacy to your outdoor spa or hot  tub.

Spa Safety

Every spa installation demands safety considerations. Fencing or rails around raised decking is important, but even more important is a way to block access to the spa, with fences and gates, and with locking spa covers.

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works