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Archive for the ‘hottubworks.com’ Category

How to Find a Good Hot Tub Repair Service

October 13th, 2014 by

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At Hot Tub Works, we like to think of ourselves as a friend to the DIY spa or hot tub owner – which is why we write so many posts about troubleshooting spa equipment, identifying spa parts, and making DIY spa repairs.

However, there comes a time when an experienced spa tech can be invaluable. Locating electrical faults precisely and quickly, isolating a bad component is one strength of a  good spa tech. Regular maintenance services, to clean and maintain spas and hot tubs can also fill part of most spa technician’s day.

Leaking spas can trigger a spa service call. Spa heater problems are about half of all spa repair calls for a typical spa technician. People want a hot spa, what can you do? In many cases, there are no failed components, just a dirty filter, closed valve, tripped breaker – something easy to fix.

Hiring a spa service repair technician isn’t cheap – hourly rates range from $95-$150 per hour, depending on region. The rate is proportional to the number of spas and hot tubs in your areas. In regions where spas and hot tubs are plentiful, and there is local competition, repair rates will be cheaper.

To keep spa repair costs as low as possible, check these things below, before you call…

BEFORE YOU CALL FOR SERVICE:

  • Is the GFCI test button on the electrical outlet tripped?
  • Dirty filter, clogged lines, or closed valves?
  • Water level is high enough?
  • Spa is clean and sanitized?
  • Spa cover is being used?

 

How to Find a Local Hot Tub Repair Company

1. GOOGLE

Use a search query like “Spa and Hot Tub Repair” or even more specific “Hot tub heater repair“. You can add the negative operator -pool after your search string, to omit results that are primarily swimming pool related. You can also add your city or region to the search, i.e., “Hot tub repair in Syracuse“.

2. YELLOW PAGES

Although you can also refer to your local printed Yellow directory book, under the heading of Pool & Spa to find local spa repair companies, I’m speaking of using yellowpages.com. It has a clean layout and lots of good results in their Spas Hot Tubs Repair Services category, along with a map, and reviews.

3. APSP MEMBERS

APSP, the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals, is the main trade association for pool and spa technicians. It is not guaranteed that a member business will be any better or faster than a non-member – but it’s a good place to find a certified professional. Enter your zipcode and select a radius to see APSP members near you.

4. BBB

The Better Business Bureau has information on just about every business in the country, if they’ve been around long enough. If a consumer places a complaint against a company with the BBB, they contact the company and try to help create a mutually agreeable solution. You can search the BBB database by keyword, to find local spa techs, and see if there have been any complaints made.

5. SPA MANUFACTURER

Your spa manufacturer (Hot Spring, Jacuzzi, Sundance…) likely maintains a list of their spa dealers, with a locator utility on the main website. Just search online with a phrase like “Jacuzzi hot tubs dealer locator” – or find the manufacturers website, and if they have a dealer search function, you should be able to find it easily in the top level navigation of the home page.

 

When You Have Many Choices:

too-many-choices---pmmediaDo some research on the best spa service companies in your area – if you have many choices of local spa repair companies, drill down to individual searches on them, to find out more information like:

  1. How long have they been in business?
  2. Are they spa and hot tub specific, or is it a sideline business?
  3. Are there any reviews posted online about the company?
  4. Any local or community news about the company?
  5. Do they have a local brick and mortar office, or store?

 

When you Have Few Choices:

1. Pool Service Company – many pool service companies are also spa service companies, but they may not employ a full time spa tech. If they advertise for spa and hot tub repair, then you can call or email to ask if they will do a service call to your spa or hot tub, for your particular problem.

2. Jetted Tub – Whirlpool – large local companies that refurbish bathrooms, often have a person knowledgeable in jetted tubs or whirlpools, which are quite similar to a portable spas or hot tubs. Even if they have not worked with your particular model spa before, a good bath water tech could figure out your issue.

3. Home Appliance Repair – a spa or hot tub is really just another home appliance, and those familiar with working on dishwashers or clothes washers or other small home appliances may be able to also work on spas and hot tubs. It can become complicated quick, however on many spas.repairman

 

And one more thing – don’t be afraid to give the little guy a call – the new guy, the young guy starting a small business. Sometimes they try harder than the large established firms.

 

- Jack

 

 

Tips for Relaxation in a Spa or Hot Tub

October 1st, 2014 by

spa-readyA spa or hot tub is a great place to relax – if you can get it all to yourself, with a little peace and quiet, and privacy.

But even when it is – public and loud – you can still not only enjoy the soothing effect of the hot water, but take away a feeling of peacefulness – otherwise known as relaxation.

Here’s my Top 5 Tips for Tranquility in your spa or hot tub!

 

Meditate!

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My number one way to relax in the hot tub is to meditate. I wrote an entire post on hot tub meditation, so I guess I’m something of an expert – not! Meditation is a practice, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. You can meditate on a specific water location, or just focus on your breathing and sweeping your thoughts away. Music, a part of everyone’s list of relaxation tips, can also be used to help you ease into a meditative state more easily. Choose soft music, without lyrics, and keep the volume level low, sort of as background tones.

Decorate!

If you are lucky, you have a spa with a beautiful view, overlooking a valley or the ocean. If not, then decorate your space to provide something pleasant to look at, while at the same time adding privacy. Hedges or Trellis ivy provides both privacy and a softer view. Many people have their spa on the back porch or patio. Surround two sides with some tall plants, and maybe a large lithograph for the wall. An overhead fan is nice if your spa is in a covered area. And plants, lots of plants!

Smile!

smile-to-relax

It’s hard not to relax when your smiling. I know for me, I can improve my mood just by forcing myself to smile, or enjoy myself more. I’m not talking about a big Joker grin while you’re in the spa, just a subtle, soft upturn. Try it now, right now! I promise you you’ll feel better. And it’s the same for your hot tub, or traffic, or writing blog posts…everything’s better with a smile!

Breathe!

Deep breathing is another quick way to calm the body down, whether for meditation, sleep or relaxation. For me, after the spine tingling rush of getting in the hot tub is over, I take several deep breaths into my stomach. Then I take several full Yogi breaths, expanding my rib cage sideways, and filling my upper chest with air. Breathing is important for any activity – obviously, but for the most complete spa or hot tub relaxation, don’t forget to breathe!

Get Comfy!

spa-booster-seatSome spas have molded seats and pillows, and if there’s no one else in the spa, I can usually find one that’s just right for me – not too big and not too small. But, that’s not always the case. If your spa or hot tub seats are less than comfortable, do something about it! We have a padded spa booster seat and spa pillows that you can use – much better than trying to use a towel!

 

Enjoy your spa or hot tub!

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

Restless Legs Syndrome – Relief in a Hot Tub!

September 22nd, 2014 by

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Tomorrow (September 23) is the international day of awareness for Restless Legs Syndrome, otherwise known as RLS.

RLS is a neurological condition that gives sufferers uncontrollable leg movements, or urge to move the legs – a restlessness – especially while lying still, or trying to sleep. Symptoms are more pronounced at the end of the day, which also makes RLS a sleep disorder.

It has recently come to the forefront with millions of sufferers, even celebrities such as Keith Olbermann, former MSNBC talk show host who has been given a diagnosis of RLS. But, this is not a new condition, having been first identified 70 years ago, in 1945.

Symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome

  • A strong impulse to move the legs, especially when sitting or laying in a prone position.
  • Moving the legs or feet brings temporary relief.
  • Legs have feelings of tremors or pulling, itching or like bugs under the skin.
  • Involuntary jerking of the legs during the daytime, or kicking at night.
  • Insomnia, or poor sleep patterns, as a result of leg tremors.

Diagnosis of Restless Legs Syndrome

Your doctor can determine if RLS exists, although you may already have a good idea. Symptoms such as those above can assist in a diagnosis, however, there are no specific tests that can be used to make a definite diagnosis. Like other ‘experiential’ conditions, RLS is primarily diagnosed symptomatically – by how you describe your troubles to your doctor. Cramping and twitching of the legs, which worsens when the body is at rest, and tending to increase at the end of an active day, are typical complaints of a person suffering from RLS.

Relief for Restless Legs Syndrome

There are many contributors to RLS, such as diet, activity and lifestyle. Making certain changes can help alleviate symptoms, and there are many treatments available, including many Parkinson’s Disease medications that can help. Before seeking a medication solution, which can have side effects, it is recommended to try other self-help methods of relief.

  • Moderate exercise for the lower body, such as swimming, walking or biking.
  • Avoid sitting or standing in one position for long periods of time.
  • Stretches for the legs and lower back. Yoga and Pilates can be especially helpful.
  • Pressure massage can be very helpful, from a sympathetic partner or with a lower leg massage machine.
  • Swaddling the legs, or wearing compression socks is helpful for many sufferers.
  • Sleeping with a large pillow between the legs can also bring relief.
  • Steady sleep schedules can help reduce fatigue, which tends to worsen symptoms.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol and tobacco, which can also make symptoms worse.
  • Dietary supplements, especially Iron and Magnesium can eliminate symptoms.
  • Avoid stress, take it easy. Mental stress can aggravate symptoms.
  • If you are overweight, reducing caloric intake can reduce leg stress.
  • Avoid OTC sleeping pills, anti-nausea medications and antihistamines.

Finally, a warm bath before bedtime, or a short session in a hot tub, can bring fast relief, especially when combined with light stretching of the calves, hips and thighs. If you suffer from lower back pain, symptoms of RLS are frequently associated with tension that begins in the lumbar or coccyx region, and radiates down the back of the thighs.relief-for-RLS

Hot tubs and Spas bring relief to millions of people suffering from a variety of conditions. Restless legs syndrome is just one more. Give it a try! If you don’t own a hot tub, don’t rush right out and buy one, but first try a week of 20 minute soaks in a hot bathtub, with some light leg stretches. Point and pull the toes, pull the knee up toward the chest.

Immediately after leaving the bathtub or hot tub, try a kneeling position, with a straight back, buttocks resting on your heels. Standing up, stretch the calves by placing both hands on the wall and leaning in slowly. Stretch the thighs by lifting up your leg behind you, and pulling your ankle toward the buttocks.

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

Refinishing your Spa Cabinet

September 18th, 2014 by

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A spa cabinet, or the outside staves of a hot tub, begin to fade and splinter after some time in the good ‘ol outdoors. Even manufactured wood spa cabinets begin to show their age after a while. You should avoid staining and sealing the inside of a hot tub, but the outside, or steps and cabinets around a tub or spa is an easy way to rejuvenate your spa or hot tub!

At some point, your spa cabinet will lose the luster it once had, and you will decide to do something about it. This post is about how to rehab your cabinets around a spa or hot tub – and protecting it, before winter sets in.

 

Keeping your Spa Cabinet Clean

To keep your spa cabinet clean, you have to think about the area surrounding the spa.

  1. Shield from sprinklers or roof runoff water.
  2. Shield from direct sun if longer than a few hours.
  3. Spray any weeds, keep plants 6″ away from cabinet.
  4. Cover bare ground around spa with gravel, mats or decking.
  5. Don’t let your spa overflow, or allow heavy splashout from the spa.

Refinishing Spa Cabinets

Spa cabinets can be made of wood, typically cedar or redwood varieties, but common nowadays are composite plastic materials, in colors, with grained or patterned finishes. These finishes don’t require re-finishing, usually a cleaning with a stiff brush and a bucket of soapy water is all they need. If you do want to spiff up your non-wood cabinet, you can use spa cover conditioner to restore a darker, glossy finish, and remove minor scuffs.

Wood cabinets can become faded, chipped and over time, begin to rot. Even cedar and redwood cabinets, more resistant to insect and bacteria damage (rot), will eventually begin to deteriorate. Regularly cleaning and sealing your cabinet, and taking care of those 5 things listed above, will keep any wood spa cabinet looking good for a lifetime.

STEP ONE: CLEAN IT

Cleaning a wood spa cabinet with a stiff brush is the first step. If you don’t have a heavy, short handled brush, you can use a toilet brush (lol), or unscrew the handle from a push broom, or floor scrubber. Fill a small bucket with a gallon of water and some dish soap. Then, just like cleaning a car, go around the cabinet and give it a good scrubbing, top to bottom.

Notice how the water drains off, and if it pools in any spots on the cabinet or below the cabinet. Lightly hose off the surface with a hose spray nozzle, or wipe clean with a wet sponge, going with the grain as you wipe. Let your cabinet dry for a good 24 hours before the next step.

step two: repair it

You may be able to skip this step, I hope. But if your wood spa cabinet has some areas of wood rot, with hollow loose areas that you can practically poke your finger into… Look for any loose nails or screws, or any bowed sections, anything unusual.

Chipped, rotted or decayed sections can be cut out with a razor knife, and filled in with wood filler or any exterior wall repair patch. This will slow the deterioration of the wood. Just lay it in there with a putty knife and allow it to dry.

Rough areas, or splintering wood cabinets can be lightly sanded with a medium grit sandpaper. Wrap it around a dry sponge to make a sanding block.

step three: stain it

If your wood has visible damage, or severe fading, a solid cover stain will hide more imperfections than a transparent or semi-transparent stain. If it is in very bad condition, with advanced fading and color differences, you can use an exterior paint, but this will hide the natural tone of the wood, and could require frequent repainting.

Take a picture of your spa color as you go to your local hardware supply to try and match the stain color as close as possible. When in doubt, always select a lighter colored stain than what you think you have. The smallest jar of stain (4 oz) is often enough for a spa cabinet. Tear off the can label after use, and tape or staple it somewhere inside your spa cabinet, so you can remember the stain color 5 years from now.

Despite some other spa bloggers that suggest that you use Linseed Oil (blogger war!), I would stay away from this unless you have a very dark colored cabinet. It can be hard to control the mix and application, and you could end up with a black spa cabinet. Other than a problem with darkening, Linseed Oil does make a nice wood preservative.

For best results in staining, use a clean, textured kitchen sponge, strained of excess stain. Be sure to use a drop cloth, wear rubber gloves, and keep a rag handy to wipe up any pooling.

step four: seal it

Sealing the stained wood is a most important step for protecting your restored finish. While your browsing stains and sealers, you’ll notice that there are many products that are stain-and-sealer in one (!). These are fine to use – I like to use the Mixwax PolyShades line of all-in-one, but there are others.

If you don’t use a combination stain and sealer, you can find several polyurethane sealers or waterproofing products. Look for a product that won’t need reapplication twice per year, but something that is more permanent. Choose your finish – matte, satin or glossy. After your stain dries, you can apply the sealer, with a sprayer, rag or sponge.

>>> Most spa cabinets will need a refinishing every 5 years or so. So, what are you waiting for? Clean it, Stain it & Seal it!

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

 

 

Advanced Hot Water Chemistry

September 15th, 2014 by

advanced-hot-tub-chemistry---PM

Beyond pH and Bromine levels, beyond alkalinity and calcium hardness – what else is there?

Maintaining a healthy hot tub is crucial not only for the users of the spa, to avoid sickness, but also for the integrity of your hot tub spa.

The following article on hot tub water chemistry will focus on 3 important tenets:

1. A Hot Tub is Not a Small Pool.

2. Chemicals behave differently in Hot Water.

3. Spa filters are important to chemistry.

 

1. HOT TUBS ARE NOT SMALL SWIMMING POOLS

Although many spa owners treat their spas and swimming pools the same, using the same test kits and even the same chemical treatments, there is a world of difference between the two. The largest difference is in volume. Easy enough to understand, a spa of 400 gallons is quite a bit smaller than a pool containing 20000 gallons.

The main distinction here is in gallons per bather. When 4 persons slip into a 400 gallon spa, that’s the equivalent of 200 swimmers in a 20000 gallon pool. A radical change in water chemistry occurs when people enter a hot tub. The pH tends to jump up dramatically, and the sanitizer is pummeled. The small cartridge filter, adequately sized for an unused spa, becomes immediately overwhelmed.

Bromine tends to respond better than chlorine in this situation, maintaining more efficacy at higher pH levels than chlorine, but even a high level of bromine is rapidly depleted in the presence of several spa users. This leaves your bathers unprotected from pathogenic microorganisms.

This is why a Hot Tub needs to have additional sanitation methods. Using an Ozonator and a mineral purifier together (in addition to bromine), is the best way to ensure extra protection for a hot tub or spa used by several persons at the same time.

This is also why it is so important for spa users to shower thoroughly before using a hot tub. I know that it’s difficult (if not outright rude) to ask guests to shower before using a spa, but just imagine all of the gunk that is washing off their (and your) body – bacteria, dirt, fungus, feces, oils, urine – to name a few. Not to mention all those chemicals from cosmetics, lotions, hair care products, shampoo and soaps. And your skin pores, opening up in that hot water…

 

2. CHEMICALS BEHAVE DIFFERENTLY IN HOT WATER

As water temperature rises, the viscosity or density of water decreases, and molecular activity increases. Sanitizing agents become hyperactive, and quickly dissipate. Carbonates and bicarbonates, hydrogen and hydroxyl ions, and calcium minerals all ‘fly’ around the water at breakneck speed, combining and separating in bizarre ways, not seen in colder water. Molecules in cold water have a greater atomic bonding, and resist change, whereas in hot water, molecular combinations (not all good) occur much more easily in hot water.

Cold water also holds much more entrained oxygen than hot water, and sound travels faster in cold water. Not much to do with hot tub water chemistry, I just think it’s interesting, that’s all. Everything that is in your hot tub water, every speck of dust, every droplet of bodily fluid, all affect water balance, and contribute to Total Dissolved Solids in a hot tub. It’s another property of hot water that solids break down more easily than in cold water. But they don’t go away, they are simply dissolved in the water.

Pool chemicals are not suitable for spas and hot tubs. Namely because of the labeling and dosages listed. It’s very easy to overdose or under dose a hot tub. Even for those chemicals that may be identical, such as pH up or Alkalinity increaser. Although chemically the same, spa chemicals are produced in finer grades, to dissolve more rapidly.

Other pool chemicals, such as clarifiers and algaecides, are not produced for use in hot water temperatures. They break down more readily in water of higher temperatures, and combine in ways that render them useless. These reasons are why you should not use pool chemicals in your spa or hot tub.

 

3. SPA FILTERS ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOU THINK

You may wonder what the spa filter has to do with hot tub water chemistry, but as the title implies, it’s more important than you may think!

Harkening back to our opening paragraph, when 3 or 4 people jump into a hot tub, it can overwhelm a spa filter. I’m speaking of the pleated filter cartridge that serves to strain out small particles in your hot tub. In most cases, their diminutive size is adequate for a hot tub that is not hosting visitors, but place a few humans in the equation, and it can take hours for it to catch up.

In spas, as in swimming pools, there needs to be a balance of sanitation and filtration. A balance is important, if you will – imagine doing it all with only one of these. If you only had sanitation (and no filtration – stagnant water), you would need a very large amount of sanitizer to keep the water clean and clear. Or – you could do without sanitizer, if you had a filter as big as a house, or circulation of hundreds of gallons of water per minute. But this is impractical, so we rely on a balance.

It doesn’t take long for a small cartridge filter to stop pulling it’s weight around a hot tub or spa. When this happens, much more is required of your sanitizer, or more sanitizer is required, I should say. I know that some of you may be guilty of going years without changing the filter cartridge. Sure you clean it – occasionally, but when was the last time you replaced your spa filter?

For best results, replace your filter cartridge every 10-15 cleanings, or every 12-24 months, depending on how often the spa is used. A spa filter that needs replacement won’t stand up and wave it’s hand for a substitute, it quietly keeps chugging along, allowing microscopic debris to pass through unfiltered.

When your filter is doing less than what is required, your water suffers, and it could affect the health of your spa users and your spa luster. Do yourself a favor and set a calendar reminder to replace your spa filter on a regular basis. Or, do what I do, and buy them in pairs, and alternate cartridges when one is removed for cleaning. This allows me to go 24 months between purchases, and also means that I allow the cartridge to dry fully after cleaning it, which kills any contaminants buried deep inside the fibers.

 

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Exterior Design – Creating Hot Tub Décor

September 4th, 2014 by

exterior-design-hot-tubs-and-spasGood exterior design is a sum of its parts, bringing together disparate elements into one cohesive and balanced design.

Your hot tub or spa is a warm, bubbling respite away from the stress of everyday life. Shouldn’t the surroundings of your spa also create feelings of peace and serenity? I’m not talking about a Zen garden, although if that’s your theme, by all means go ahead – but rather adding design elements that engage the senses, and produce an air of tranquility. Isn’t that what your hot tub is all about?

Put into words, using adjectives – just what is it that a Hot Tub means to you. Not your current hot tub, but your ideal hot tub. What would it look like? Rustic? Elegant? Tropical? Modern? Now how does it make you feel – Chic? Adventurous? Pampered? Relaxed?

Principles of Exterior Design

Balance & Contrast

Exterior Design is not so different from interior design. To make interesting spaces, designers play with balancing and contrasting elements. An element is anything tactile and visual – everything in sight is an element that can be matched or juxtaposed with surrounding surfaces and objects.

Lines: Horizontal or Vertical, diagonal or curved. The visual lines around your hot tub – fence, walls, floors, even the hot tub itself can balance each other in simple or striking ways. Lines can be used to make a space feel taller or more spacious. The type of lines used can evoke very different feelings. Thick or thin, precise or varied, bold or barely there. Wall, ceiling and floor coverings often make use of lines, to bring balance or contrast to the shape of the room, or outdoor space.

hot-tub-exterior-decorating

Symmetry: Open any book on design and there will be an early chapter on creating symmetry. It’s all around us, and being that our own bodies are symmetrical, we are naturally drawn towards symmetry. In exterior design, you’ll often find landscapes very symmetrical, and the house as well. Symmetry is as natural as bookends, end tables or night stands, but can also be seen as boring by those who prefer to avoid repetition.

Asymmetry: Asymmetrical designs can be just as pleasing, but instead of using repetition, they create balance through contrast. The difference can be with color, size, position, texture, quantity or even empty space. If you want something different, consider radial design, with elements arranged in a concentric fashion around a focal point, like your hot tub!

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Scale & Shape

One can do a lot with scale & shape – the size and form of various elements placed around the hot tub, and if space allows, focal points placed further out in the field of vision.

Size:  The outdoors allows and begs for a larger scale than what can be done indoors. A few examples of large elements around a hot tub include outdoor fireplaces, overhead pergola or open air gazebos. Large oak leaf and ivy trellises can double as privy fences, and chunky living room style lounges and daybeds, fountains or sculptures can be added to your spa resort.

Form: Shapes are all around us – even the spaces in between ‘things’ have a shape. Shapes need not be 3-dimensional, that is they don’t have to have depth, and so are often added to walls, but can also be creatively used on floors and ceilings.

exterior-design-for-hot-tubs-and-spas

Landscape: When imagining the landscape around your spa, one way to consider scale and shape is to use a mix of small, medium and large plants (or small trees) to build layers of shapes and sizes. If you love blooms, plan and plant a perennial garden, blooming from early spring to late autumn. Your landscape doesn’t have to match your style completely, but should complement a theme. For instance, hot tub landscaping can be formal or casual, desert or tropical, beach or mountains. It can be inspired by Asian, Mediterranean or Latin landscape gardens. It’s best to consider your growing zone, and choose plants that will thrive in your climate, and with available daily sun exposure. Your local garden center has experts that can help you with plant selection for scale, shape and style.

Colors & Textures

color-wheelThere is a general rule of design that 3 colors is the maximum number of hues that one should use in a space. These are sometimes referred to as the dominant, secondary and accent colors. However, if you want to use more colors, make use of analogous colors, or those that are in the same general spectrum of color, or neighbors on the color wheel. Opposites on the color wheel are often paired together, in a complementary color scheme.

When designers consider a color scheme for a room or outdoor space, they can go in several directions, depending on the primary use of the space, and the wishes of those who will inhabit the space. If you have a theme in mind, or an overall style picked out, it makes it easier to narrow the color choices. Often, certain elements or focal points in the space become the primary inspiration for the color palette. But it doesn’t have to be!

hot-tub-decorating-ideas

Textures: Everything has a texture, and will fall somewhere on a spectrum of texture from smooth to rough. There are two types of texture – actual texture and simulated texture. Actual texture will have depth and a tactile sensation of texture. Simulated texture is created by duplicating the color value and darkness of the original, but in only two dimensions. It’s best practice to use a combination of surface textures, to suit your style. Generally, the more formal a setting is, the smoother the elements become, while more rustic or outdoorsy style will utilize a great deal more texture. Texture can be overdone however, so use with care, to avoid too many or too few competing textures.

outdoor-design-for-hot-tubs-and-spas

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

Hot Tub Water Meditation Techniques

August 28th, 2014 by

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A hot tub is a perfect place for meditation, if you can get it all to yourself that is! I’m fortunate to have one evening per week when I’m alone with my tub, and take the time to practice short mindful meditations.

Emphasis on the word ‘practice’, because meditation is something that gets better each time you do it, and becomes easier – the more you practice.

If you’ve never tried to meditate, or have given it only a few sporadic efforts, you are missing out on one of the best ways to relieve stress, pain and fatigue. There are too many benefits to list; trust me – meditation is good stuff!

Meditate in your own spa or hot tub!

 

Set the Mood

Turn down the lights, turn down the heat, and turn off the pumps and air blower. You can light a scented candle, or add aromatherapy salts to your hot tub. Put the heat at whatever temperature you like, I tend to prefer 100°, but it depends on the outside air temperature. 104° is really too hot for quiet meditation, but something between 90-100 degrees (32-38° C) seems to work for most people.

You don’t necessarily need to be alone to meditate, but it helps if others also remain still and quiet, preferably meditating as well. If you like,  you can add some soft music, without lyrics. Yoga music or meditation music works well. I prefer the still sounds of the night, but then my neighborhood is fairly quiet. If you have more urban sounds, or cacophony of crickets, meditation music can be helpful – to set the mood.

focus on the body

The first step to hot tub meditation is to focus briefly on the body for a quick minute. Find a comfortable kneeling or seated position, cross legged or not, and sit up straight. Now begin to slowly check the sensations in each body area, and allow yourself to relax, bit by bit. Start at the toes, and move up the body to the top of your head. Focus your attention on your bones, muscles and joints, and allow the buoyancy of the water to take over. Pause along the each section of the spine, and you move up the body. Allow your arms to float freely in the water, limp at the wrist. Finally, relax any tension in the neck, face and scalp, and allow your body to become buoyant.

focus on the breath

The Yogi Complete Breath, from the book Science of Breath, written by a Yogi over 100 years ago, is a long and slow breath, combining low breathing, mid breathing and high breathing techniques. It takes time to master fully, but most people lock onto it after a dozen or so attempts. Once you have a comfortable seating position, sit up straight and start by ‘belly-breathing’, pushing out your stomach, as you breath deep into your stomach for a count of 2. On count 3 and 4, allow your side ribs to open up, and fill up your lower diaphragm. On count 5 and 6 fill up the upper diaphragm as your upper sternum rises toward your chin. Hold for a two count, and then slowly exhale for a 6 count, in the reverse order of inhalation. Chest down, ribs inward, stomach deflates. After much practice you can increase the time, until a complete breath takes a full minute!  Advanced breathing can add-in elements of Pranayama, by breathing-in through one nostril and exhaling through the other.

Breathing is the ladder to the next step in meditation, it is used to quiet the mind as you focus on the simple mechanics of inhaling and exhaling. Counting the breaths in your mind, with a 1-1 thousand, 2-1 thousand (or Mississippi if you prefer) can also help to drown out other thoughts and help you to remain focused on the breath.

focus on the mind

When we breathe deeply, the increased oxygen wakes up many dormant cells, and the mind can wander easily. Try to stay in the present moment, and don’t allow your mind to play tapes of the past or predictions of the future, just be here, now, in the present.

When thoughts come into my mind, this sounds silly but, I like to imagine them coming in near my ears, and a broom in the middle of my head sweeps them out the other side. The key is to catch yourself drifting into a thought, and let it go, sweep the thought away, or just let it go, and return to focus on the breathing.

Don’t chastise yourself, or wince at catching yourself thinking again, just make the neutral observation, let it go, and return your focus to the breath and body. What I do is – I relax my body and breathe deeply, and bring my attention to a spot behind my forehead, which some call the third eye, or the 6th chakra, and my thoughts diminish.

 

Water Meditation

hot-tub-yoga-sm

Water is a symbol of purity and a cleansing element. Our connection to water in this world is profound, it flows through our rivers and oceans, and through our bodies. Scientists recognize water as one of the most important elements on the planet, next to the sun’s energy, in allowing life to exist.

A water meditation is allowing your mind to wander into a short story. As your breathing continues, guide your mind to another place, a wet place – and since you’re already floating in your hot tub, why not !?!

Waterfall Meditation

Imagine yourself sitting in a warm, crystal clear tropical pool, surrounded by lush foliage of all types, with a soft waterfall cascading down in front of you. The waterfall fills you up, and joins the rhythm of your breathing. A clear mist fills the air around you as you move under the waterfall. The soft waters dance over your shoulders, cleansing and purifying.

Stream Meditation

In this mindful meditation, you’ll take a seat near a small babbling brook, choose the season you like, I usually use autumn. Feel the water as it rushes around you, flowing to ever larger tributaries, and eventually out to sea. Allow the river’s flow to match your rhythm of breath, while it cleanses and purifies.

Hot Springs Meditation

Same thing here, just a different location. You don’t even need to leave your spa – sometimes (Ok, this is getting embarrassing) I imagine my hot tub in different locations, and in my water meditation, my spa is transported, deep into the jungle, or to a cliff overlooking the ocean, or on a desert island somewhere. :-)

 

Bonus Tips for Hot Tub Meditation:

  • Start with just 10 minutes, and build up to 20 minutes over time. Set an alarm for safety.
  • Meditation Music – search on Google, and you can find long songs or videos to play on your phone.
  • Aromatherapy – Aroma really helps with water meditations, and can become the entire meditation!
  • Mantras – short words or numbers said slowly to yourself, on the exhalation.
  • Asanas – simple yoga poses or postures, seated or standing. I don’t use these myself in hot tub meditation, but you can try lotus, child, angel or diamond positions.

 

“Open your pores and bathe in all the tides of nature, in all her streams, and oceans, in all seasons”.

 -  Henry David Thoreau

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

What’s the Best Hot Tub Temperature?

August 25th, 2014 by

hot-spaWhen I was younger, the target temperature for hot tubs was 105°, but that’s changed – now the CPSC recommends temperatures no higher than 104°. They also caution that one should always check the thermometer before entering a spa, and be aware that thermometers can be incorrect!

So, 104° for the regular hot tub soak – but that comes with a disclaimer. High temperatures over 100° are NOT recommended for pregnant women, hypertensive persons (with high blood pressure), or those with heart disease.

High temperatures can also irritate certain skin conditions, and temperatures of over 100° are not recommended for children, who overheat more easily than adults.

But what about all those other spa activities, besides a spine-tingling hot soak? There are other recommended temperatures, depending on the use of the spa, hot tub or whirlpool.

 

Exercise

Exercises such as Yoga, or various types of core workouts or stretching can be exhausting in a hot spa. If you use your spa for exercise, especially active exercise, you’ll find a temperature below 90° to be more comfortable. It’s also safer, to prevent overheating and hyperthermia.

Therapy

For conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia and other chronic pain diseases, warmer water increases circulation to the joints and allows for a more comfortable therapeutic exercises. Also helpful for rehabilitative movements or therapies. For most warm water therapy, a temperature below the body temperature 98.6° is desirable, something between 92-94°.

Special Conditions

Children, obese persons and those with MS can overheat easily, and should not exceed 100° in a spa or hot tub. In addition, it’s important to limit your spa session time to 15-20 minutes, and take in non-alcoholic beverages to cool the body.

Pregnant women should take care not to exceed 92 degrees in the spa or hot tub, and take in plenty of water or juice before and after hot tubbing, according to the Aquatic Therapy & Rehab Institute.

Those recovering from accidents or stroke can use a warm spa to slowly regain movements, by practicing simple flexion and extension exercises. Every patient may prefer a different temperature, but most will fall in between 88-92 degrees F.

Air Temperature

Also a factor in how hot or warm the water feels, is the air temperature outside. An air temperature of 75° may feel nice walking around outside, but can feel chilly as one sits in water that is below body temperature. 88° may be perfect when the air temperature is above 80°, but feel too cold when air temps are just above 60°.

~ So, whatever temperature you like, whichever feels most comfortable, that’s usually the ideal temperature. Just remember that the hotter the water is, the shorter the soak should be. Don’t want you overheating!

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

Hot Tubs & Spas TOC – Total Cost of Ownership

August 15th, 2014 by

total-cost-of-spa-or-hot-tub-ownership

 

I hear the question all the time – “What’s it cost to own a hot tub?” The real cost of operating a spa includes a lot more than just chemicals.

In this post, we break down all of the costs in owning a hot tub, and add them all up.

What can you do with this information? Well, if you are thinking of buying a spa, or purchasing a home with a spa, you may want to know the cost of this backyard appliance.

If you already own a spa, I’ve included several cost savings tips, or ways to reduce your hot tub expenses.

 

Electricity

The largest energy user is the spa pump. Two-speed pumps are designed to run on low all the time, except for a few hours per day on high during off-peak hours. You can experiment with run times, and short periods of off times, to reduce operation costs, but be sure to filter the water every day for at least 12 hours on low speed, and 30 minutes on high speed. Maintaining good water balance and sanitation levels can reduce your filtration demand.

Your spa heater is  also electrical, and depending on it’s size, it can draw as much amperage as the spa pump. Reducing the temperature in a spa can save money, but not much unless you keep it below 95°. A good spa cover, floating spa blanket and good levels of insulation around the spa or inside the cabinet are ways to improve heat retention, and lower  consumption.

Spa blowers also consume energy, and your spa pack circuitry uses a small amount.

How much electricity will the average spa consume? Depending on a host of variables, most spas use around 2000 kWh of juice every year. The national average for electrical cost is currently 12 cents per kWh, Annual Electricity Costs – $240

Spa Chemicals

Most spas need very few chemicals to maintain water quality. You’ll need pH control, and some form of spa shock or oxidizer. If your water is soft, you may need to raise the calcium hardness level, and if your water is very hard or has high mineral content, you can use a stain & scale control chemical. Enzymes are a good chemical for spas that are used almost daily, by many people.

Many spas use an ozonator or mineral sanitizer. These are excellent purifiers and reduce the amount of bromine needed to keep the water sanitary. Mineral sticks last for 6 months, and ozonators usually need a ‘recharge’ in 18 months.

Bromine tablets are a usual expense, and a bottle of bromide booster to use after draining the spa. This builds a residual of bromide ions, which continuously convert to bromine with the addition of tablets.

Let’s say you have a bromine spa, and you test it, balance and shock it twice weekly, and you use either a mineral stick or an ozonator as a secondary purifier. This is what I do, and for me, my Annual Chemical Costs – $150

Hot Tub Tools

I’m speaking about spa cleaning tools mainly – skim net, vacuum, hose nozzle or a pre-filter if your fill water is hard or mineral rich. These tend to last for several years, so the amortized expense may be close to Annual Tools Cost – $10

Spa Accessories

These are items that also last a long time, such as spa steps or spa furniture, which is usually a one time expense. Recurring expenses could include a thermometer or a bromine tablet floater, or waterproof playing cards. Annual Accessories Cost – $10

Hot Tub Parts

Spas don’t normally need spa repair every year, and then you have a year that requires several hundred dollars in spa parts. At some point in the life of a hot tub, repairs are inevitable, I suppose. You may get lucky, but I would plan on Annual Parts Cost – $40

Spa Cover

Spa covers that are well built and well maintained are likely to last 5 years on average. Spa cover prices vary, but let’s say you spend $400 every 5 years for a new cover. Averaged out per annum, we have the Annual Spa Cover Cost – $80

Spa Filters

The spa cartridge filter won’t last forever. Each time they are cleaned they lose a little bit of their filtering ability. Replace your spa cartridge every 12-24 months, or after 12-15 cleanings. The cost of replacement spa filters is low in most cases. At $20 a pop, every 18 months, the Annual Spa Filter Cost – $12

Fill Water

The cost of city water varies dramatically around the country, but if your average monthly water bill is $50, and you drain your spa every 3 months, your spa is only using 1-2% of your total household use. Annual Fill Water Cost – $8

 

Let’s Add it all Up!

CALCULATE-YOUR-POOL-HEATING-COSTS

Electricity 240
Chemicals 150
Tools 10
Accessories 10
Parts 40
Cover 80
Filters 12
Water  8
         Total    $550

Of course, your mileage may vary, depending on the variables such as the size of your spa, climate, how much it’s used, how hot you keep it, how well insulated your spa is … your total cost of ownership for a spa or hot tub could vary either way by $100 or more.

 

- Jack

 

Wood Hot Tubs vs. Acrylic Spas

August 11th, 2014 by

 

animated-hot-tub

WOOD HOT TUBS vs. ACRYLIC SPASanimated-spa

Born in the fifties, growing up in northern California in the sixties, I can remember when my parents installed their first hot tub. It was a used oak wine vat that my father got from a winemaker he knew in Napa.

He set it up in the backyard, and filled it with hot water from the kitchen. After the first soak, when we all got out, our skin was stained a burgundy color! Mom was very nervous and put us in the bathtub and scrubbed our skin until it hurt.

Later on, he added a small Jacuzzi® brand pump, and pumped the water through a wood burning heater. A year or two after that he added a small pool filter, so he wouldn’t have to change the water so often. He also put in a gravity fed shower with a pull chain. It was a great outdoor shower, because the water was hot, straight from the tub.

This was 1965-ish, so remember there were no spa or hot tub suppliers back then, things were sort of cobbled together. And no, my parents weren’t hippies – they would consider themselves more avant garde – what you might call ‘early adopters’ nowadays.

Wooden Hot Tubs or Acrylic Spas - which is better?

 

ROUND ONE – APPEARANCE

round-1Both spas and hot tubs have appealing designs, but the natural wood staves of a hot tub, and the round shape has a more zen-like feel. Wrapped in a beautiful wooden deck and steps (which also hides the equipment and helps to retain heat, is the most beautiful approach to hot water soaking. The smell of the redwood or cedar wood gives off a natural aromatherapy

Winner: Hot Tubs

ROUND TWO – COMFORT

round-2Early wooden hot tubs didn’t even have benches, you had to stand up! Most hot tubs have simple wooden benches around the edge of the tub at different levels or depths. Hot tub walls are straight, and frankly, not that comfortable. Spas, on the other hand, have buckets seats, molded lounges and head rests.

Winner: Spas

ROUND THREE – COST

round-3With a wooden spa, you can definitely spend more than for an acrylic spa. Or, you could also build your own, from a kit or from scratch, (or from an old wine vat like my father) and save quite a bit of money. But comparing an assembled wooden hot tub with heater and filter to a modern spa of similar size, hot tubs are more expensive. A DIY wood hot tub, coupled with one of our spa packs is cheaper than most new spas.

Winner: Hot Tubs

ROUND FOUR – FEATURES

round-4Spas pummel hot tubs in this round! Modern spas have cool lighting, controls, waterfalls, audio/video. Hot tubs with a spa pack also have digital controls, and lights can be added to a hot tub, but most hot tubs are decidedly low-tech, and not usually feature rich. With a transistor radio and a nearby stream, you have all you need.

Winner: Spas

ROUND FIVE – MAINTENANCE

round-5Hot Tubs made of wood understandably require more maintenance than a hard acrylic or rotomold spas. The wood exterior should be stained and sealed every few years (just like a spa cabinet), and the inside should never be treated, only cleaned with a stiff brush and a hose when draining. Filter and chemical maintenance should be the same on both types, although the more equipment you have – the more potential for maintenance exists.

Winner: Spas

ROUND SIX – SANITATION

round-6Spas and hot tubs are equally sanitary when filtered and treated with spa chemicals, without which, both types would become green and potentially unsafe. However, spas, with their miles of hose and pipe, creates an ideal environment for biofilm, which can grow in poorly treated spas, or spas left empty. Hot tubs typically have very little plumbing for biofilms to form colonies. Although the smooth surfaces used in spas help with a clean surface, wood contains natural antiseptics, especially the rot and insect resistant types of wood used in hot tubs. This helps inhibit algae and bacteria from growing on the surfaces, kind of like Microban.

   Winner: Hot Tubs

ROUND SEVEN – EFFICIENCY

round-7Hot tubs made of wood are not as efficient as a well insulated acrylic spa with cabinet, even though both can use insulated hot tub covers. The thickness of the wood matters, and a hot tub can hold heat for hours, but it can never be as efficient as a well insulated spa. A poorly-insulated spa perhaps, but not one that is well insulated. However (always a caveat), if your hot tub is heated with wood, your electrical use will be less than a spa.

Winner: Spas

ROUND EIGHT – DURABILITY

round-8Even a well maintained wood hot tub will eventually develop wood rot. This can be repaired and stopped, or one can use a vinyl liner made to fit your spa, like a small aboveground pool. Even so, it is unlikely that a wooden hot tub can be continuously used for longer than 30 years. The surfaces of plastic or acrylic spas can scratch, chip or fade, but are generally impervious to structural damage. You could continue to rebuild a spa forever, I suppose – or at least 50 years.

Winner: Spas

 

>>> Let’s see, that’s 5 rounds for Spas, and 3 rounds for Hot Tubs. Some rounds were close, and both fighters gave it their all – but Spas Win!

On the surface, it looks like Acrylic Spas have more benefits than their wooden ancestors. But for people like my father, proud to have once told me that he has “never been in one of  those flooded boats” – there is nothing like a wooden hot tub with a wood fired heater, especially for homes that have lots of ‘natural’ appeal.

Either way you do it ~ enjoy your soak!

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works