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Archive for the ‘life’ Category

Hot Tub Water Conservation

July 21st, 2015 by

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

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

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

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

How to Extend the Life of Hot Tub Water

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

Beginner Tips:

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

Pro Tips:

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

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

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

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

The Future of Hot Tub Water

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

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

 

- Jack

 

 

Hot Tub & Spa Safety Products & Practices

June 8th, 2015 by

toddler-in-a-hottub-from-here-to-maternity-dot-comSafety products for spas and hot tubs? If you’re wondering how to child-proof your hot tub or spa, it’s a question that we get a lot here ~ new parents asking how to keep toddlers and children safe around hot tubs.

Not as common as pool safety products, which have several types of safety covers and dozens of pool alarm systems, but there are several practices and products that you can use to elevate your hot tub safety.

Today’s blog is a list of spa safety products and some hot tub safety tips to make a spa safer for children to be around.

 

LOCKING SPA COVERS

PLEASE-LOCK-THE-SPAEvery hot tub should have a spa cover in good condition, and cover straps with clips in at least 4 locations. If your cover begins to take on water, or puddle in the middle, buy a new spa cover, or replace the foam panel inserts. The small cover clips don’t look like much protection, but they’re almost impossible for small hands to operate. For more protection use our heavy duty spa straps, meant for protection from high winds, but they also function as another layer of protection.

LOCKING SPA CABINETS

lock_icon_image_150_wht_16460Most spa cabinet doors open fairly easily, and many have a magnetic latch that prevents the system from starting if the door is ajar, but very few people I know lock their spa cabinet door. All you need is a latch and padlock from a hardware store, and a screwdriver to install it. This will protect small people (who are always drawn to small doors) from getting under the spa, into the equipment bay, where electrical hazards (and other hazards) exist.

DOOR & GATE ALARMS

door-alarms-by-poolguardAnother good option to secure the spa is to use door alarms for any door or window that leads to the hot tub area. Like the pool fencing below, door alarms are a pool product that is easily adapted for increased hot tub safety. They install easily in minutes, and run off a 9V battery, like a smoke detector. Pass thru button allows adults to enter through either direction without setting off the alarm. Gate alarms can also be used, mounted on fence posts for backyard gates. They operate the same way as door alarms, but have attachments for different fence posts.

HOT TUB FENCING

In most areas, a suitable fence is required to install a hot tub. However, I know that there are many spas and hot tubs that don’t have a fence anywhere nearby. A good fence around the backyard will protect your neighbors and local wildlife from potential catastrophe, but what about children inside the house? In many homes, one door on the back of the house is all that separates a spa or hot tub. safety-mesh-pool-fencingAn easy solution is to install removable pool safety fencing around the spa, to create a secondary barrier to the hot tub. Mesh pool fence panels are 10 ft long, and install into wood or concrete; removes easily when using the spa, or when children are grown.

SPA CHEMICAL STORAGE

spa-chemical-lockerWe’ve talked before about safe spa chemical storage, here and also here, and shown you many ways to creatively and safely store spa chemicals. Tips for safe spa chemical storage won’t include storing them in the hideaway steps, or underneath the spa. Just like other household chemicals, hot tub chemicals need to be stored safely out of reach of children. A sturdy, locking chest or box with a latch is most suitable. Simply storing them out of sight, or out of reach (on a high shelf for instance), may not be the best place to keep your spa chemicals.

IN-GROUND SPA SAFETY

Some of the most unsafe spa designs is an inground or sunken spa. This is because they are at ground level and are often left uncovered or the cover is not anchored into the ground. For an inground spa or hot tub, you can secure the cover clips into the floor, just use a masonry or tile drill bit and use anchor sockets. indoor-inground-spaI also recommend the thickest and strongest spa covers for inground spas, 6″ tapering to 4″, to protect the spa cover from dancing kids, falling adults and sleeping dogs. It is common to use a flat cover indoors, but these are not very strong or energy efficient.

HOT TUB SAFETY PRACTICES

  • Always put the spa cover back on and latch the clips after use.
  • Keep the spa chemicals and the spa equipment safely locked up.
  • Consider additional layers of protection, like alarms and fencing.

single_eye_movement_150_wht_9341I applaud you for childproofing a hot tub, or making your spa safer, and commend your excellent research that lead you to my little ‘ol blog post! Whether you are protecting kids or grandkids, remember that there is no substitute for supervision! Keep a watchful eye on the children!

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

 

 

 

Hot Tub Recycling or Hot Tub Graveyard?

May 7th, 2015 by

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

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

Trade-in your Hot Tub

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

spa-graveyards

Sell your used Hot Tub

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

Strip it Down and Recycle what you can

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

Turn it into a Backyard Pond or Water Feature

hot-tub-garden-pond

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

 

Turn it into a Gardenhot-tub-garden

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

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

 

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

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

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

 



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

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

 

Spa and Hot Tub Water Color Problems

April 30th, 2015 by

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

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

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

HOT TUB WATER IS GREEN

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

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

HOT TUB WATER IS YELLOW

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

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

HOT TUB WATER IS BROWN

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

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

HOT TUB WATER IS WHITE

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

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

HOT TUB WATER IS PINK

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

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

 

Carolyn MosbyHot Tub Works

 

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

April 24th, 2015 by

intex-purespa-cutaway

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

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

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

 

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

 

GOOD – GOOD – GOOD – GOOD – GOOD

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

PRO TIPS:

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

 

BAD – BAD – BAD – BAD – BAD

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

PRO TIPS:

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

 

UGLY – UGLY – UGLY – UGLY – UGLY

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

PRO TIPS:

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

 


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

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

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

 

Hot Tub Pioneers – Watkins Brothers

April 20th, 2015 by

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

- Jack

 

10 Items that Every Hot Tub Owner Needs

April 16th, 2015 by

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

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

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

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

Hot Tub Covers

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

Hot Tub Cover Lifters

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

 

 

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