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Archive for the ‘life’ Category

Can a 4th Grader Maintain a Hot Tub?

July 18th, 2016 by

Photo Credit to Carroll Photo via istockphoto
Most hot tubs are not too difficult to maintain, but can a 4th grader do it?

When my grandson Josh to came to stay with us for the most of the summer, I decided to give him some chores around the ranch.

I concocted a little experiment, to see if a 9 year old could manage a spa as well as his grandma could. When I asked him if he’d like to learn how to take care of the hot tub (which he loves), he enthusiastically agreed.

SAFETY FIRST

The first part of the hot tub education is what to touch, and what not to touch.

  1. Electrical: I showed him where the power cut-off is on the wall, and we traced the cable into the spa pack underneath. Then is showed him the exposed terminals on the spa heater and told him they could be shocking if he touched them. Also told him to stay out of the controller box, after lifting the lid to show him the inner workings (just to satisfy any curiosity).
  2. Plumbing: I showed him the two cut-off valves under the spa, and how to close and re-open the valve, and then asked him not to touch them again, after explaining the problems (burned out pump, broken pipes) that could happen if the valves were left in a closed position with the spa pump running.
  3. Chemical: I told Josh some horror stories of explosions and fires that I’ve heard about over the years, from chemicals mixing with each other, or being contaminated with dirt, liquids or nearly anything! My spa uses very few chemicals; I only have bromine tablets, MPS shock, and pH and alkalinity chemicals, all kept in separate bins. He sensed the importance of spa and hot tub chemical safety and pledged to follow the spa chemical rules sign I posted:
  • Open one chemical at a time, tightly closing one before opening another.
  • Always read and follow label instructions.
  • Store chemicals carefully in the correct bin.
  • Keep Chemicals dry and clean, and never mix.
  • Ask Grandma if you have questions!

CHEMICAL MANAGEMENT

Josh is exceedingly bright, of course, all my grand children are! I showed him how to test the water with a spa test strip, and then compare the colors carefully, to the chart on the bottle. Then I told him to write down the chemical readings in a Spa Log Book which I made up from a spiral notebook.

He tested the chemicals every other day, and when a chemical went out of range, he would let me know. The first month we did all the chemical adjustments together, so he could see me carefully reading the label, adding one chemical at a time, and replacing it safely.htw-spa-ph-minus

My spa only needs bromine tablets every 2 weeks, and a weekly shocking, which we do after our last weekend soak. The pH, alkalinity and calcium hardness levels are usually OK between water changes, but once or twice we had to lower the pH level by carefully adding pH decreaser.

Now into our second month, Josh is still testing the water every other day and jotting down his readings in the book. He refills the brominator, and adds pH down when needed, which he also notes in the log book.

FILTER CLEANING

spa-filter-cartridge-smOur spa filter usually goes 4-6 weeks between cleanings. It’s a top load style, so when we cleaned it the first time, I showed him how to remove the cover, and he stood on a step ladder and pulled out the filter cartridge.

Then I told him to take off his shoes, and have a seat in the sunshine. “Spray this cartridge from top to bottom, pleat by pleat, all the way around. Then flip it over and do it again. It takes about 15 minutes…”. Well, proud to say that he spent 23 minutes on it, and it looked really clean.

We’ll clean the filter again in a few weeks, I think he’s got it!

SPA CLEANING

Like most Jacuzzi tubs, they stay pretty clean, especially since it’s covered most of the time. But we still do get some sandy grit, and a light scum line around the water line.grit-getter

Even though it doesn’t really need it weekly, Josh gets in the tub (supervised by me or my husband), and uses the Grit Gitter to get rid of the grit and then a Tub Scrubber to clean the waterline.

Cleaning the spa takes Josh about 15 minutes, which is our maximum spa time anyway, so it’s perfect that way.

 


i-can-take-care-of-hot-tubsJosh, 9 yrs. old; has definitely proven that a spa can indeed be maintained by a fourth grader (so proud of him!). But before you draft your kids or grand kids into the spa service, think about the hazards or potential problems that could happen around your particular spa, and adjust any tasks to their age and aptitude.

Talk to you later;

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

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Spas and Hot Tubs in the News

June 6th, 2016 by

SPAS-IN-THE-NEWS

I’m so excited to report on spas and hot tubs in the news this time! Normally Jack finds these nuggets around the web, he’s always sending funny stories around the office.

Today’s News of the Weird stories about spas and hot tubs is a collection of actual events that I’ve been collecting for the last six months. I hope you enjoy them!

 

CAMERA CATCHES TRESPASSER’S HOT TUB SEX ROMP

By CTVNews.ca Staff , May 28, 2016

hot-tub-romp-in-BC - image by CTVNews.caMounties in British Columbia are searching for two trespassers who were recorded on camera allegedly committing “illegal and obscene acts” in a stranger’s hot tub. Investigators allege a teenager and a woman entered the backyard of a Kelowna home early Wednesday morning, where they drank, smoked cigarettes and had sex before leaving the property. Police say the suspects also looked into the windows and may have been attempting to steal a television. The homeowner, who was not home at the time of the incident, has asked to remain anonymous, but told CTV Vancouver that he is planning to invest in a lock for his hot tub. “We have something called a smart top, which is a more heavy-duty hot tub that has a cable locking mechanism,” said Robynn Robertson of Interior Pool and Spa. Full Story.

 

9 CHEAP AND FREE THINGS TO DO THIS WEEK

By LA WEEKLY,May 13, 2016

hot-tub-with-kurt-&-Kristen

[love these guys!] Laughing together onstage since 2003, comedians Kurt Braunohler and Kristen Schaal implore you to take a dip with them in their Hot Tub, their weekly wet jubilee of a variety show that’s all about comic warmth, with only a fraction of the mold. Square-jawed, nattily attired Braunohler and adorably dippy Schaal take self-deprecation and reference beyond the limits of ordinary comedy, working out new bits each week by themselves and with guests. Everyone from chortlesome cellist Nina Daniels to the incisively insightful Candy Lawrence has dropped by, marinating you in the egg drop soup that is this stand-up spa tub. The Virgil, 4519 Santa Monica Blvd., East Hollywood; Mon., May 16, 7:30 p.m.; $5. Full Story.

 

JACUZZI CELEBRATES 60 YEARS OF HYDROTHERAPY

Chino Hills, Ca, PRWeb, May 25, 2016

jacuzzi-celebrates-60-yearsJacuzzi Group Worldwide (http://www.jacuzzi.com), the pioneers of the first home whirlpool hydrotherapy pump, announces the 60th anniversary of the Jacuzzi® Brand. With a rich history of innovation and design, the Jacuzzi® Brand continues to lead in both indoor and outdoor hydromassage. The Jacuzzi brothers revolutionized the pump industry by developing a pump that drew water out of the ground more efficiently than ever before, earning them a Gold Medal Award at the California State Fair in 1930. Then in 1956, Candido Jacuzzi responded to his toddler Ken’s need for pain relief and created the J-300™ hydromassage pump. The portable hydrotherapy pump turned any normal bathtub into a relaxing and rejuvenating hydro-therapeutic spa and changed the lives of people around the world. Full Story.

 

THIS SPA GUY IS AN INTERNET SUPERSTAR

By Nate Taylor, Pool & Spa News, April 27, 2016

chris-wheatley,-hot-tub-universeThe owner of Hot Tub Universe, serving eastern Canada, became an Internet sensation after posting an impromptu video of himself giving a scathing review of a Costco 2015 Evolution, a model he considered insufficient in so many ways that he felt compelled to warn consumers. “It was just a knee-jerk response,” said Wheatley, who began his career in the 1980s selling hot tubs at a waterbed store. In the video, he details how shoddy insulation and chintzy plumbing are all indicators of a cheaply made hot tub. He particularly took issue with polystyrene foam pillars supporting the thin shell. The video wound up on the popular online message board Reddit under the headline, “Holy [expletive] this guy knows a lot about hot tubs.” It racked up more than 300 comments. A write-up on the website BuzzFeed soon followed. Full Story.

 

HOUZZ STUDY: HOMEOWNERS WANT POOLS, HOT TUBS

By Linda G. Green, Pool & Spa News, April 26, 2016

houzz-study-homeowners-want-pools,-hot-tubs-water-featuresHouzz cited the top four reasons for upgrades: The outdoor space needed repairs; the homeowners had wanted to do it and finally gained the means; they’d wanted to do it and finally have the time; or they want to customize a recently bought home. What sort of outdoor projects were undertaken? Patio or terrace upgrades top the list, followed by gazebos and pergolas; then decks, sheds/workshops, hot tubs, swimming pools, and greenhouses. “Comfort-enhancing outdoor products,” as the survey called them, were popular as well, including outdoor furniture (52 percent), fire pits (36 percent), grills (24 percent), patio heaters (12 percent). Also mentioned were various outdoor kitchen upgrades, such as pizza ovens, wine coolers, new sinks and fridges. Full Story.

 

RAPPER SUES SPA CASTLE FOR JACUZZI BURNS

The Gothamist, April 17, 2016

MISFIT-DIORThe Post reports that Laeticia Harrison-Roberts—who is also an aspiring rapper with the MC name Misfit Dior—filed her lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court last week, alleging that Spa Castle “failed to make sure the temperature and chemicals at its East 57th Street location were at safe levels.” The new lawsuit is the latest in a long chronicle of legal trouble for Spa Castle. In addition to the rampant underwater sex allegations against its Queens location, a dead man was discovered floating face down in one of the spa’s hot tubs in 2014. In February, a 6-year-old girl nearly drowned when her hair was caught in a Spa Castle pool vent. Spa Castle called the allegations “utterly frivolous” and said they have automatic systems in place to check temperature and chemical levels.  Full Story.

 

I’ll keep my ear to the ground, to find more spa stories in the news, and see you back here in 6 month for another bi-annual segment of Spas & Hot Tubs in the News!

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

Hot Tub Tips for Rental Homes

April 4th, 2016 by

Home Rental Hot Tubs The vacation rental and short term housing rental market is booming. One amenity that can help grow a rental home’s popularity as well as fetch a higher rental price is a hot tub.

Hot tubs are fairly self-regulating, and require only minimal care in between tenants, but there are a few things to keep in mind, if you currently offer a hot tub or are thinking about adding a hot tub to your rental home.

Here are 5 Tips for owners/managers of vacation rentals with hot tubs.

 

Get it in Writing

pool-guy-contractFor homes that are rented with a hot tub, we recommend a separate agreement be signed by the tenant, in addition to the usual agreement covering the home and other appliances. Having a separate agreement will help to reinforce important safety requirements, and help to protect your investment. After all, it may be the most expensive appliance in the home.

Though not an all-inclusive list of potential problems (check with your legal adviser), however, any good spa and hot tub addendum should include:

  • Minimum age for unsupervised use of the hot tub. (typically 14-18 yrs)
  • Minimum age for supervised use of the hot tub. (typically 5 yrs)
  • Maximum number of persons in spa (capacity).
  • Maximum safe spa temperature is 102° or less.
  • …must replace spa cover and latch cover clips after use.
  • …must add water if level drops below indicator on skimmer.
  • …must shower or bathe before use.
  • …no pets allowed at any time.
  • …no eating, no smoking, and only drink water from plastic cups only
  • …do not use spa if pregnant or hypertensive (high blood pressure)
  • …do not use spa if under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • …do not use spa if water looks poor, smells bad, or without pump running
  • Notify management of any equipment failure or water problems
  • Use at your own risk. Tenant agrees to hold owner harmless for any injuries…
  • Responsibility for any damage to equipment, spa cover or spa surfaces…

 

Put it in Writing

The more instructions you give to your renter, the better. I’m often frustrated at rentals that don’t have a master ‘Operations Manual’, where one can find answers to just about anything, including the spa and hot tub.

HOT-TUB-GUIDEHot Tub Guide: A 3-ring binder, with plastic inserts to display spa operation modes (jets, heating, filter), and basic functions. A sheet detailing safety and health requirements, and information on basic spa care tasks like adding water, shocking the spa, or refilling the bromine floater. A page on how to safely remove and reinstall the spa cover can help prevent spa cover damage. Finally, insert the spa owners manual for those that want to really delve into spa functions.

Service Log Book: Even if you do all of the maintenance on the spa yourself, keeping detailed records of spa chemical readings, filter cleanings, equipment replacement, etc, could be required in your area. And even if it’s not required, you may be called upon to defend your spa maintenance practices, if a renter developed a rash or suffered physical injury in your hot tub. If you have a service company maintain the spa, require that they fill out the log book on each visit. Keep it in a dry location with the other supplies.

spa-safety-sign-smHot Tub Signs: I’m a big fan of signs, and in my mind it’s well worth it to pay for professional and durable printed signs that help to protect spa users and also your spa. The obligatory Spa Rules sign can be used, but you can also find premade signs for No Food/Drink, No Smoking or No Glass. Ideas for custom signs may include age limits, temperature limits, time in tub limits, or reminders to check water level, replace the spa cover, or turn down the temperature on check-out.

Get Hot Tub Help

If you live nearby and generally manage the entire guest experience, you may want to manage the spa/hot tub as well. Or you can sub-contract spa care to a local spa company or rental assistance company that caters to the rental industry. Depending on your location, weekly hot tub service calls cost $60-$90.

You can also ask your guests to help maintain the spa. Asking them to balance the water, vacuum the spa and clean the cartridge may be a bit much, but you may want to consider asking for help with:

  • Shock the spa after each use (with specific directions).please-help-with-the-spa
  • Add water to spa if below the mid-skimmer mark.
  • Keep the spa cover installed and latched when not using spa.
  • Shower or bathe before using spa, for everyone’s health.
  • Notify management of any hot tub problems.

 

Water Changes

cloudy-spa-waterIt’s common practice among some rental homes with hot tubs to drain the water after each renter, after check-out. However, this can be difficult to do in one day, and have it hot again by check-in time; and it may not always be necessary.

A good look at the water quality, along with testing water balance and bromine or chlorine levels, can quickly tell you if the water needs to be changed. An option to a complete water change is a partial water change with complete balancing, shocking and cleaning the spa filter cartridge.

Most spas in a rental environment can go as long as 4-8 weeks between complete water changes, as long as filter cycles are lengthy and effective, and water balance and sanitizer levels are maintained properly. Other things can also help lengthen water life, see below.

 

Water Problems

Notwithstanding the above statements, if your tenants leave the spa or hot tub water in a cloudy, gray condition, it may be best to drain the tub. If you find that you have regular problems with water quality in your rental spa, or want to increase the length of time between water changes, here’s some things to do:

  • Add a Second Filter. Many spas have enough vertical space to install a second Spa Filter cartridge to double the filtration.
  • Add a Purifier. In addition to bromine or chlorine, use Minerals or Ozone to help prevent water problems or health issues.
  • Shock after Use. Keep a bottle of labeled MPS or Spa Shock, and ask tenant to add a specific amount after use.
  • Use a Clarifier. Pods, tablets or liquid clarifier to assist your filter in trapping microscopic debris.
  • Replace the Cartridge. Every 6-12 months, replace your spa filter with new.

 

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

New! Hot Tub Tanning Liquid

March 31st, 2016 by

instant-hot-tub-tan

New – from the Fake Bake people comes Spa & Hot Tub Tanning Liquid. A proprietary formula that’s specially formulated for use in spas and hot tubs.

Just pour the Instant Self-Tanning Liquid into the hot tub and soak for just 15 minutes, and emerge with a glowing tan.

The topic of tanning is right up my alley. I’ve been fake baking for years, using tanning booths or spray tan during winter, to keep my tan all year long!

In the past, spray tanning and hot tubs didn’t play nicely together. Go Hot Tubbing after getting a fresh spray tan, and you can lose about half of your hard-earned color!

And, spray tan solutions used in most tanning places are not friendly to your water balance, and can gum up your spa filter, leading to premature filter failure.

Hot Tub Tanning Liquid is so easy to use! Add 1-2 ounces for a light tan, 2-3 for medium, or 4-5 oz for the full on George Hamilton effect! The brown liquid instantly begins to coat your skin, transforming your pale skin to a darker, more lustrous you!

fake-bake-tan-in-tubInstant Self-Tanning Liquid absorbs into your skin while you soak. No residue left behind on the tub, and the microscopic particles easily pass through your filter. It even passes through your swimsuit (if you choose to wear one, that is!). Guaranteed to tan only you, and nothing else!

Try New Spa & Hot Tub Instant Self-Tanning Liquid from FakeBake – you’ll agree it’s the easiest and most convenient way to enhance your color, and dare I say, popularity!

Get it while you can! If you have trouble locating Self-Tanning Liquid, that’s because it doesn’t exist! This is just our little joke, see…

Happy April Fools Day!

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works

 

 

 

How to Read a Hot Tub Owner’s Manual

February 22nd, 2016 by

old-hot-tub-owners-manual

Unlike old spa owner’s manuals, the modern spa owner’s manual is a real piece of work. Some of the better ones are over 50 pages, with excellent color graphics, tables and step by step photo illustrations.

Early hot tub manuals from the 70’s and 80’s were laughably lackluster, and probably that’s why you can’t find them online. In the days before desktop publishing, you know.

A hot tub owner’s manual is a great resource for the spa or tub owner. But in talking to spa owners over the years, most of them don’t know where they put their Owner’s Manual, or had not thought to look at it for answers.

 

 INSTALLATION

Always the first section, after the obligatory precautionary statements, are an abundance of tips about how to choose a proper location for the spa, and other considerations like overhead protection, drainage around the spa, access for service, and location of power and water. Some useful gems about spa installation that you can find in your owner’s manual include:

  • A 4-6 inch poured concrete slab of concrete with rebar or mesh on compacted and level soil
  • For easier draining of the spa, and for flood protection, locate your spa in an elevated area.
  • Electrical Requirements: 230V, 50-60 A, 4-wire, GFI protected and grounded dedicated circuit with external cut-off box.
  • Bonding Requirements: Bonding wire bare #8 copper wire to spa, and grid or nearby metal fixtures, per local code.
  • Set-Up: Some general tightening or parts installation before fill-up and start-up.

OPERATION

Operation of the Spa, knowing how it all works. This section has grown large now that spas are so full-featured, with lots of equipment and so many jets.  Fortunately, owner’s manuals are becoming very visual, with large clear photos, flow charts and even infographics!

  • Understanding the User Interface: aka the Topside Control. How to program the filter and heater and run different operational modes.
  • Diagnostics: Status Codes and Error Codes. Nicer models also have low/high Chemical Alerts and Service Reminders.
  • How to control different banks of spa jets, or water falls and air blowers or air intake valves.
  • How to work everything else: Spa lighting, sound system, ozonator, sanitizer system.

MAINTENANCE

By this point in the manual most people naturally start to glaze over. I recommend coming back to it in a day or two with fresh eyes ~ because your spa maintenance is what you really need to learn fast – because it begins now! Maintenance items can include maintaining the surfaces, equipment, spa cover and also the water.

TROUBLESHOOTING

In general, most troubleshooting sections for spas and hot tubs are a bit thin, but complete enough for the average spa owner to check all the basic stuff, without getting in over their head. Most spa manufacturers would prefer that spas are serviced by trained mechanics, but will help you over the phone or by email if you try all of their suggestions (twice!) before calling.

  • Equipment Problem/Cause/Remedy tables
  • Flow Charts with Yes/No paths
  • Low water / No water flow from Spa Jets
  • Spa does not heat properly
  • Spa water is not clean

 

solana-owners-manual-coverSo you see – spa and hot tub owners manuals can be an invaluable resource to the spa owner. If you are looking for your old owner’s manual, and your spa is older than the 90’s – it is probably hard to find.

We have a huge list of links to spa owners manuals available, on a blog post we did last year, and updated – just now!

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

Romantic Hot Tubbing with your Valentine

February 8th, 2016 by

happy-valentines-dayHello folks; I don’t usually get the fluffy blog topics – but here goes, a man’s guide for hot tub romance this Valentine’s day.

I’m not sure how qualified I am to speak on the subject, but there are a few tips I’ve learned on how to create a romantic mood, and I do know about hot tubs!

Nothing new here, but be warned, these soft tips below are powerfully romantic!

 

 

SOFT MUSIC

Pick something soothing and mellow, think Sade or Michael Buble, maybe some Bossa Nova. Whatever she likes, and if you don’t know what she likes, ask her! If your spa area is not already wired, you can relocate a house speaker, use a boom box, or connect your phone or tablet to Pandora and connecting it to small speakers.

SOFT LIGHTING

Colored lighting is even better. You can find a red bulb for the patio light at the hardware store, or use colored plastic or glass filters around lamps. You may be able to do the same for your underwater spa light, with color changing LED spa bulbs or a cool colored snap on lens. Or, go with candles in glasses or vases that will block the wind.

SOFT GIFT

Take the spa experience to a whole new romantic level! Buy her a really nice robe and slippers (soft or sexy), and have the store wrap it with bows and ribbons, real nice. Present it to her or leave it for her upstairs, with a hand written invitation to join you downstairs, in the spa ~

SOFT DRINKS

Ladies like a fancy drink, so skip the Budweiser and create a smoothie tropical like a Pina Colada or Daiquiri – or go traditional with a bottle of champagne on ice. You can get plastic daiquiri glasses and little umbrellas or plastic champagne flutes at the party store. Something soft and cool, or go the other way to soft and warm, with rich hot cocoa or coffee drinks.

SOFT SCENTS

Adding some Spa Crystals will be a great touch, and one that she’s sure to notice. Pour in just before you come outside, or place the crystals (or beads/elixir) in a fancy jar or bowl next to the spa, and with a small spoon, sprinkle the water just before getting in (with great dramatic flair, of course).

CHOCOLATES

Better than a heart shaped box of candies, is a nice box of Godiva chocolates from the mall. Or chocolate dipped strawberries, or other easy-to-eat-in-a-hot-tub foods like small finger-food or appetizers that aren’t greasy, crumbly or hard to handle. A Spa Caddy (shown above) makes a nice table for food and drink.

FLOWERS

Pick up a few dozen red carnations and a few dozen red roses at the grocery store and place several vases around the hot tub. Pick a few roses, pluck the petals and put them in a box, so you can float them on the surface, and sprinkle petals along the pathway to the spa.

 

~ Well there you have it, tried and true methods to turn a regular old soak in the hot tub, into something really special and memorable.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

– Jack

 

 

Buy a Used Hot Tub? Don’t Get Soaked!

January 25th, 2016 by

spa-for-sale-by-ownerHow to buy a used hot tub is “hot topic” these days, with showroom prices over $10,000 it’s natural that many people consider buying a “Gently Used Hot Tub”.

For many, a used hot tub is not something they would consider, especially given that online portable spas can be purchased for less than $5,000.

Regardless, if you have your eye on a “pre-loved” spa or hot tub, here’s some tips on making a smart purchase.

 

Will it Fit Your Space and Budget?

Setting a firm budget up front is smart – you don’t want to pay more than you can afford and, you don’t really want to pay less than you should. A hot tub in good condition, fully operational, will cost around $2500, in most cases. You can find a lot of used hot tubs for under $1000, but most are empty, non-working spa shells, that need a lot of reconditioning – new spa pack (heater and controls), pumps and perhaps plumbing.

Secondly, where are you going to put your new (used) hot tub? When full, they can weigh a ton (literally!), so it needs to be set on a solid base of reinforced concrete. Never set a spa directly on the ground, or on a wood deck, and absolutely never on a second story balcony or elevated deck. Spas should also not be placed indoors, unless you have plastic or tiled walls and ceilings, floor drains and a suitable dehumidification system.

Thirdly, will it fit? You will need room to access the equipment underneath the spa, and for other reasons, you may need to access the underside of the spa from a side other than where the spa equipment is located. Spa covers are big and bulky, and should be used with spa cover lifters, to protect the cover (and your back!). These require anywhere from 6″ to 36″ of clearance, depending on the model, and some cover lifts need room vertically (above the spa), for upright spa cover storage.

Fourth, choose a location that is out of direct sunlight if possible, and avoid lawn sprinklers, or placement under a roof eave that will allow rain water to fall onto the spa. The best location will protect the hot tub from sun, rain and snow.

Fifth, consider privacy if you have close neighbors. You can construct a privacy screen or a gazebo of sorts to block prying eyes and prevailing winds while hopefully preserving the best view to take in while soaking in the spa.

Ask the Right Questions – in the Right Way

Studies show that the way you ask a question about maintenance issues or problems affects the probability of an honest response. Framing your questions with negative assumptions elicits more honest responses. I know you want to be nice, but the get the best information you have to be almost accusatory.

questions-about-spasFor example, asking “What mechanical issues have you had with the spa” will produce a better answer than “There aren’t any problems with the spa, are there?” Other questions to ask include: “Tell me what repairs you have made to the spa”, and “What repairs will I need to do soon?”, in addition to asking to see service records, or repair invoices.

When you want the unvarnished truth, you have to ask for it – don’t throw soft balls, or you’ll get soft answers. Ask pointedly negative questions to get the best negative answers, or the most believable responses.

Inspecting a Used Hot Tub

When buying a used hot tub, make sure that it’s full of water and hot, as measured by a floating thermometer. Bringing your own thermometer is a good idea, because you can’t always trust the temperature display. 104° is the maximum safe temperature, and for most people, an ideal hot tub water temp. If it only reads 100°, it could be any number of problems, or it just could be set too low. Turning up the thermostat should raise the water temperature fast, around 5° for every 10 minutes.

An owner’s manual can be incredibly useful for running the spa through it’s paces, to test out all features and to diagnose any error codes, if presented. If the spa owner doesn’t have an owner’s manual handy, you may be able to find it online and view it on your smartphone or tablet.

flashlight-for-spa-inspectionBe sure to bring a flashlight, so you can get a good look underneath the spa, looking for any drips or leaks, although on cold days some condensation water can be normal. Look closely at the pipes, fittings, pumps, blower and other equipment to check for leaks and also to check for smooth operation. Pump and Blower motors aren’t quiet, but they shouldn’t be loud, or screeching, which indicates near failure (most spa pumps last about 7-8 years).

Look and Listen when inspecting a hot tub. Be sure to also inspect the spa cabinet for signs of wood rot or decay, which can literally fall apart during removal, transport or set-up at the new location. Spa cabinets can be replaced, but not without significant cost and effort. The spa cover should not be heavy, or waterlogged, and the foam panels inside should not be cracked. Most spa covers last about 5 years before needing to be replaced, at an average cost of $400.

Alternatively, you can hire a local spa service company to inspect the spa for you for about $150, which could be the best way to go. I’d recommend using a spa repair service, rather than a local spa store, who may use the opportunity to downgrade the spa in the hopes of selling you a new one instead.

Transport & Installation

This is often the biggest hurdle to buying a used spa; getting it to the new location. Empty spas can weigh 750 lbs, and are quite cumbersome to move. In California and other “spa happy” states, you can find companies that specialize in moving spas, for a price of around $400. Most spa stores and spa repair companies can offer this specialized service. If not, you can hire a tow company with a Jerr-Dan type truck, or rent a flatbed truck to transport the spa to the new location.spa-moving

But, transporting the spa is only half the job – you still have to get the spa on and off the truck, and move it through fence gates, or down hillsides or across rough terrain. Spa movers use oversized dollies, with large wheels and lots of straps to keep the spa from falling off the dolly. You could also use 4 burly guys to carry the spa by hand, but even so, that’s 200 lbs per person, which could be dangerous to consider.

Once you get the spa to the new location, there will likely be electrical upgrades needed. Spas require a dedicated 220V service, with a breaker of 50-60 amps, and a cut-off box located near the spa. An electrician should be hired to perform these tasks, at a cost of $400-$800, depending on how far the main circuit panel is from the spa location. It could cost more than that if the main panel is already maxed out, and there is not enough amperage available for the additional breaker.

Deep Cleaning before Use

When you get your new (used) hot tub situated and filled with water, before you use it – I recommend using a chemical like Jet Clean or Spa Purge to strip the pipes of any biofilm. You’ll also want to clean and condition the spa cover, spa cabinet and inside surfaces to remove any dirt or films, and replace the spa filter cartridge. See Gina’s post on Deep Cleaning a Hot tub, and then check out our other posts on spa and hot tub care – you’ll be an expert in no time!

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

10 Spa and Hot Tub Energy Conservation Tips

December 21st, 2015 by

bullfrog-spas-heat-map-of-full-foam-spaSome spas are built for a warm climate, while other spas are specifically designed for use in cold weather areas. A spa or hot tub that is energy efficient can use half of the energy of one that is not.

Spa insulation is the main factor, but there are many other variables that influence the amount of electricity used by your spa or hot tub. Here’s a few ways to curb your spa’s appetite for energy.

 

ADD WIND BLOCKS

hickorydickorydecksWind sweeping across the surface sure feels nice, but it also pulls a lot of heat from the surface. If your spa is not protected from the winds, consider installing small walls or plants on the side(s) with the most wind. They are usually installed on two sides, to preserve a preferred view, and can also serve as a privacy screen. Custom build it to your specifications, or you can order retractable spa wind screens online.

CLOSE THE AIR JETS

close-the-spa-air-knobAfter using the spa, remember to close the knobs that allow air to be sucked into the jets. Cold air being introduced constantly will cool the water, requiring your heater and pump to work harder to replace the heat that is lost. Heat loss is minor when using the spa for 15 minutes or so, but if you leave them open for days and days, you may notice an increase in hot tub energy use. For me, it’s the last thing we do, but I don’t usually open all of the air jet knobs, so I just close the one off before putting the cover back on. Remember to close the air jets!

TURN OFF THE BLOWER

The air blower, if your spa is equipped with one, is a real energy hog, besides being noisy and also cooling down the water with cold air injection. If you can go without forced air in the hot tub, you will absolutely reduce a hot tub’s energy usage. And when your spa blower finally bites the dust (and they all do someday), consider not replacing it.

FIND THE PUMP RUN TIME SWEET SPOT

spa-timers-can-save-moneyModern spas are somewhat self regulating with certain programmable modes, but for older spas or hot tubs, your filter pump or spa pump should use a timer, or be programmed to run in 2 or 3 shifts of about 3 or 4 hours each. When the pump is running, the filter, heater and purifiers can also operate, so it’s important to run it long enough each day (every day) to maintain water quality. Program your pump to run 2-4 times during the day, paying close attention to water quality. Some spas are fine with 4 hours per day, but others need 8 hours per day of pump run time, to both maintain water quality and water temperature.

TIP: Remember that spa pumps (and all motors) use a lot of power (amperes) just to start, so starting and stopping too often will increase spa energy consumption.

TURN DOWN THE SPA HEATER:

Turn down the heater to 90° if you won’t be using the spa for a week. For 2 weeks or longer, set it lower, but keep the spa water well above freezing – we recommend no lower than 65 degrees, to maintain some heat in the event of a winter power outage.

Turning down the heat for just the weekend, or even a week, and it can cost more to re-heat the spa than it would’ve cost to just to maintain the heat. Even so, many weekly spa users (myself included), maintain a temperature of about 95°, and bump it up to 102° an hour before using the spa.

RUN YOUR SPA DURING OFF-PEAK HOURS:

Off peak pump/heater operation, according to Energy.gov, may save you money over time. Check with your local power provider for peak times in your area, and available Time of Use rates. Generally speaking, peak rates are during weekdays, from 9-5 pm, although it varies by region and season.

USE A BETTER OR BEST SPA COVER

Notice I didn’t say a Good spa cover, or the El Cheapo spa covers; go for the Better or even the Best spa cover, if you really want to save energy by reducing heat loss. Our lower tier spa covers are only suitable for warm southern climates. If you have any kind of winter – buy a hot tub cover that can really hold in the heat.

you-need-a-new-spa-cover-1It goes without saying that a good spa cover can save money, while a bad spa cover can waste money. Spa covers that are waterlogged lose over half of their R-value, or insulation value. Hot tub covers that are warped, torn, or broken will not fit properly around the edges and leak precious heat from the sides or along the center hinge. Replacing an old spa cover before you really need to – is a surefire way to save money on heating a hot tub.

TIGHTEN UP YOUR SPA COVER

spa-cover-wind-straps-smAdjust your spa cover straps if necessary so that there is a slight downward pull on the strap, as you click the clip into place. This helps to pull-down the spa cover to snug-up against the spa top edge. Loose spa cover straps allow heat to leak out and high winds to get under the spa cover. Spa strap clips can be replaced if broken, or if your spa straps are completely torn off, you can use our heavy-duty over-the-top spa cover wind straps. A less elegant, but also effective way is to use a sheet of 1/2″ plywood, to gently hold it down and reduce heat loss from a loose or ill-fitting spa cover.

USE A FLOATING SPA COVER

floating-spa-blanketA secondary floating spa cover can increase your overall R-value by up to a third. Floating spa blankets are 1/4″ closed cell foam, to keep heat trapped in the water, and reduce moisture beneath the spa cover. It also prevents chemical damage to a hot tub cover, by containing the chemicals in the water. Foam spa blankets work much better than solar blanket type, which is a heavy duty bubble wrap type material – but any secondary spa cover will help, even plastic kitchen wrap!

INCREASE CABINET INSULATION

For spas that didn’t come with a lot of insulation around the cabinet, energy efficiency can be increased by strategically adding insulation underneath and around the spa or hot tub. There are several ways to do this, but remember that your pumps still need adequate air ventilation and circulation to prevent overheating. Never cover air intake vents or reduce the size of the equipment bay.

Spray Foam: There are spray foam kits that you can use to cover pipes and the back of the spa shell. Be sure to use a spray foam that has a high R-value and that you apply it according to directions. For best results, remove all cabinet panels before applying foam. A full-foam treatment may be difficult, but an inch or two on the spa shell and covering exposed pipes (outside of the equipment area) is do-able.

owens-corning-fiberglassInside Cabinet: You can also use wall or attic insulation, in soft rolls or rigid panels, to line the inside of your spa cabinet panels. Reflective bubble wrap insulation, placed on the inside of cabinet panels, can help by reflecting heat inward, back towards the spa.

Outside Cabinet: Another method is to construct an enlarged cabinet around the existing cabinet and fill the space with insulation. Or described another way, affix rigid insulation panels to the outside of your cabinet panels, and soft insulation on the corners, then build another cabinet from wood paneling, on the outside of the new insulation. Cap it with a heavy board on top of the enlarged cabinet.

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

Spas and Hot Tubs in the News

December 7th, 2015 by

SPAS-IN-THE-NEWSDecember is here already, and that means that it’s time once again for our semi-annual look at hot tubs and spas in the news.

Real stories from news sites around the globe, sometimes funny, sometimes sad, but always entertaining. Today’s round-up of news stories has a few laughs, a head shake and an Oh My!

 

Japan obsessed with French wine holiday

By  

haruko-wine-hot-tubWhile the French still produce and consume the most wine per capita, Japan is continuing to grow as one of the biggest wine markets in the world — and they’re not afraid to show their passion for the beverage. It’s one thing to drink wine, but it’s another altogether to have it poured freely into a pool, into your cupped hands, and over your head. Nonetheless, that’s just what happened at a hot-springs resort in the Japanese city of Hakone as revelers celebrated the wine-filled holiday Beaujolais Nouveau this year. Full Story.

 

California Hot Tub filling ban has owners steaming

By Nicholas Weiler May 10. 2015  San Jose Mercury News

hot-tub-water-conservationFor their part, some hot tub retailers resent that their product is being lumped in with pools. Lynda Sisk of Hot Springs Spas of San Jose, said she uses her hot tub several times a week and has to add only 10 gallons a month. Many use their spas for therapy, she said, and would otherwise take long showers or baths to ease aching muscles. In part because of Sisk’s lobbying efforts, Santa Cruz decided to remove the spa-filling restriction from this year’s drought rules. Full Story.

 

UCLA removes hot tub from QB Josh Rosen’s dorm room

By Chip Patterson  October 27, 2015 CBS Sports

josh-rosen-hot-tub Image by @azcsportsThe life of a college football quarterback is pretty sweet, especially when you are UCLA Football Quarterback Josh Rosen and a hot tub gets installed in your dorm room. But with great power comes great responsibility (or something) and once the world got a sight of Rosen enjoying the luxurious life, the school needed to take action. Ricardo Vazquez, a UCLA Dorm official, confirmed to TMZ that the hot tub had been removed from Rosen’s room. Full Story.

 

 Vanishing hot tubs are here! Vanish Spa

By Leo Lutero  October 6, 2015  PSFK.com

vanish-spaInspired by his son’s inflatable pool, Jet Capps created an inflatable spa that lets you relax Jacuzzi-style virtually anywhere. The Vanish Spa does look like a child’s pool but a step into the heated, bubbling water will prove it is a much more sophisticated affair. Also, it comes in an interesting pattern so you won’t help but be able to take it outdoors. The Realtree and Max 5 are for marshy to tropical outdoors. The AP Snow is especially stealthy for use in the snow. The Vanish Spa has a Kickstarter campaign. Full Story.

 

World’s Chillest Bear Hops from Pool into Hot Tub

By Ed Mazza  05/19/2015  The Huffington Post

bear-in-hot-tub-10A Canadian couple had a bear of a scare on Monday when a furry invader busted down their fence and decided to go for a dip in the pool. After floating in the pool for a bit, the black bear then hopped into the adjacent hot tub for some more relaxation. “It’s just amazing,” North Vancouver homeowner Tony Diering told CTV. “You see funny things on YouTube, but to have it happening in your own backyard…” Diering told the network that possibly the same bear was spotted eating birdseed a month ago. Full Story.

 

– Jack

 

Bears in Hot Tubs

November 30th, 2015 by

bears-and-hot-tub-jacuzziUnless you live in Bear Country, you may not know that bears love hot tubs.

And they aren’t shy about taking a nice soak in your wonderful heated tub!

If there are bears in your neck of the woods, get your camera ready, or we may see your hot tub next time!

 

 

Vancouver Couple Finds Bear Soaking in their Spa
CBC News Posted: Aug 18, 2015

bear-in-hot-tub-2

Image Credit CBC.Ca

Denise Diering didn’t expect to see a big black bear standing at the edge of her swimming pool when she looked out the back door of her North Vancouver home late on Monday afternoon.  She told CBC News she shouted to her husband, Tony Diering, who was nearby, to “Close the door!” When she looked back, the bear slid into the pool, then climbed into the adjoining hot tub for a quick soak. The swim lasted about 15 minutes, and was partly caught on video, before the bear scampered off through a hole it had knocked down in the Dierings’ fence. – Belle Puri, CBC News

 

Colorado Couple Find Spa Cover Destroyed by a Bear
SteamboatToday.com Posted: October 25, 2010 by DeeDee and Bing Rikkers

bear-in-hot-tub-3

Image Credit SteamboatToday.com

This bear tore this spa cover to shreds! There was another picture of him chewing on the floating thermometer, not fun or funny when it costs you money. Most bears enter spas or hot tubs that are left open, uncovered. But in cases where they jump on top of your spa cover, even our best spa tops will break under 500 lbs of bear!

 

Bears enjoy a Smoky Mountain Hot Tub
A Day in the Smokies Posted march 06, 2009

bear-in-hot-tub-4

Image Credit: Chipmunk Haven

If you were to spend a day in the Great Smoky mountains, at the Chipmunk Haven cabin rental in the hills of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, you may be visited by a family of bears looking to sooth tired muscles and relax in a warm bath. A sturdy spa cover may keep these water loving bears down in the river below. Bears have a very strong sense of smell however, and can literally sniff out your spa, even when covered!

 

Bear Family Visits Vermont Hot Tub
StoweToday.com Posted May 16, 2013

bear-in-a-hot-tub

Image Credit Judy Lazaro

This Mama Bear and Cub took over this attractive watering hole. Seems to be too tall for the little one to get in, so Mom has it all to herself. According to the full story by Matt Kanner, the owner Judy Lazaro had just drained and cleaned the spa and had left it open to air dry when the bear climbed in. The baby cub began whining and crying, and the mother bear soon climbed back out, after a nice long drink, and they disappeared into the woods again.

 

Even Bears Need a Soak in a Hot Tub Now & Then
Examiner.com  Posted June 24, 2010 by Kathy Harris

bear-in-a-hot-tub-2

Image Credit: Sky Johnson

In Anchorage, Alaska, these bears were caught on film frolicking in an uncovered hot tub. Once again, the young cub was too small to find his way into the tub, but unlike the other cub above, was content to stay dry on the deck.

 

Bear takes a dip in Seminole County woman’s spa
Orlando Sentinel Posted June 7, 2011  by Gary Taylor

bear-in-a-hot-tub-3

Jenny Sue Rhoades lives only a couple of miles from Wekiva Springs State Park, and she has been bears in her yard before. But this bear wasn’t just passing through. He headed toward her pool and pressed his nose against the screen. Then he just walked through the screen “like it was made of butter.” First he put his mouth in her spa, then a paw and finally he just jumped in. “I think he was hot and thirsty,” Rhoades said. “It looked like he knew what he was doing.” – Gary Taylor

 

Casey Anderson and His Pet Bear Brutus
Today.com Posted August 27, 2009

bear-in-a-hot-tub-4

Image Credit: msnbc.msn.com

Meet Casey Anderson and Brutus his pet bear, who not only shares the family hot tub, but also loves to swim in the inground pool. I know this picture looks like fun, but you should never share your spa with a bear. Brutus however, born in captivity, is quite tame and as long as the 800 lb bear doesn’t sit on you, you should be safe. See the whole story, as reported on Buzzfeed, with additional pictures.

 

Man Finds Bear in his Hot Tub
Seattle Wolf 100.7 FM Posted October 21, 2014

bear-in-a-hot-tub-5

What a surprise to look out onto your back deck and see your hot tub -a- rockin’! This bear splashed so much water out of the hot tub that the skimmer was sucking air! Next steps? Drain the spa, and refill! Or at least that’s what I would do. Perhaps just balancing the chemistry and shocking the spa would be enough.

 

~ This has been fun – but bears in your hot tub could be dangerous! Keep your hot tub lid closed, with the safety strap clips connected. For added security, place a pre-cut 1/2in plywood board on top of your spa cover, or use our heavy duty high wind straps to keep the spa cover in place.

For more tips on sharing your environment with bears, see LivingWithBears.com.

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works