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Archive for the ‘spa covers’ Category

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

 

Hot Tub Covers 6 Ways

December 14th, 2015 by

worlds-thickest-spa-coverA spa cover cap is one of the most important spa accessories you can buy, and so multi-purpose!

Spa tops not only insulate the spa, keeping the water hot, but they also make the spa safer for kids and animals. In addition, your spa cover keeps the spa clean, blocking out dust, debris and rain water. It also keeps out UV rays which can damage a shiny spa surface and affect water chemistry.

Indeed, your spa cover cap is a very important purchase. That’s why we have so many to choose from! Six different spa cover models, to fit every budget. Spa covers 6 ways!

 

ECONOMY

spa-cover-lt-blueOur Economy spa cover should really be called the indoor spa cover, because it’s not as outdoor-friendly as the other covers below. This is because it uses 1.0lb density foam, and is 4″ thick in the center (2″ at the edges). If outside temperatures dip into the 40′s, this spa cover can have trouble retaining the heat efficiently. It can also be more susceptible to damage from animals, tree branches, high winds, heavy snow, hazards that don’t affect indoor spa covers. On the other hand, it’s the lightest spa cover available!

 

STANDARD

spa-cover-blueOur Standard Spa Cover is great for moderate climates, or those areas that stay semi-warm all year around, or those hot tubs in the deep south. The Standard spa cover has all of the features used in the Economy, with the only difference being that the Foam density used is 1.5lb, 50% more dense than the 1.0lb Foam. The extra density increases the R-value of the cover, making it more efficient, and it also gives the Foam panels more strength and durability.

 

DELUXE

spa-cover-brownThe Deluxe Hot Tub Cover is good for areas that see occasional snow, or near freezing temperatures during winter. With a Full 2.0lb Foam density, your spa cover locks more heat and gives extra resistance against accidental damage to the Foam cores. If you opt for the thinner panels, with a 4″ to 2″ taper, take the option for double wrapping the Foam Cores, to provide more protection against water absorption, even though Deluxe hot tub covers have a five year warranty, not pro-rated, that even covers water absorption.

 

ENERGY SAVER

spa-cover-pinkSaving energy is the primary job of a spa cover, and the Energy Saver Spa Cover does it more effectively with a Continuous Heat Seal™ that prevents heat from escaping along the center hinge, between panels. In addition, the 1.5lb Foam panels are upsized to 5″ in the middle, tapering to 3″ at the edges. This amps up the R-value from 13 (Standard Cover), all the way up to 20 – making the Energy Saver suitable for mild winter areas of the country.

 

ULTRA

spa-cover-whiteThe Ultra Spa Cover is out most popular model, coming in just under $400, it has an attractive price point, and is loaded with features. Made for snowy weather, or mountain cabins, the 1.5lb Foam Panels are the thickest available, with a 6″ thickness in the center, tapering to 4″ on the edges. This boosts the R-value of the Ultra cover all the way to 24, with the included Continuous Heat Seal™ and the thickest possible Foam available.

 

THE WORKS

spa-cover-redFinally, we have The Works – which includes everything from the Ultra, but it uses 2lb Density Foam, with a 6″ to 4″ taper. All Options are included with “The Works”, which is why we call it that (Like a Pizza!). Includes the Continuous Heat Seal, Double Wrapped Foam Cores, and heavy duty wind straps, giving this cover an R-value of 30! For those that want the very best spa cover, the most durable and energy efficient available, just ask for “the Works!”.

 

spa-cover-colors-2Spa Covers Six Ways, something for everyone, from $243 to $499. All covers, including the Economy spa top, is made with the finest materials and workmanship, using 30 oz marine grade vinyl, super strong four layer hinge and 20 gauge steel reinforcement channel. Commercial grade zippers with nylon scrim is quadruple (4x!) stitched with Dacron thread at 37 different stress points! And of course, you can order a spa cover in nearly any color you want!

 

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

 

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

Swim Spa or Hot Tub?

November 9th, 2015 by

michael-phelps-swim-spaSwim Spas are like a Limousine, stretched out 2-3x longer on one side, so that you can swim, row, stretch, train or recuperate.

When it comes time to replace your spa or hot tub, or even if it’s your first tub, you’ll at least take a glance at Swim Spas.

I’ve also considered Swim Spas during a recent spa replacement a few years ago, so the considerations are still fresh in my mind. I love the idea and we came close to buying a swim spa, especially when our grand kids thought it was the coolest thing ever!

Here’s some things to be aware of when thinking about a swim spa.

 

Swimming in a Swim Spa

phelps-swimmer-costumeAre you a real strong swimmer? If you have swimming medals on display, you’ll want to look on the upper end of the scale, or at the deluxe swim spa models. Swim spas are fine for a medium-speed crawl or breast stroke, or a strong kickboard workout, but if you are a serious swimmer, you’ll literally “hit the wall”, or be able to swim faster than many of the swim jet type of swim spas. Deluxe models, with larger pumps, paddle wheels and additional jets, are more suitable, if you want to swim as fast as in a regular pool.

Secondly, it’s different than swimming in a regular pool. It’s loud first of all, very loud from the pumps that are delivering hundreds of gallons per minute. It’s also very turbulent, as you might imagine, especially in the lower priced swim jet models. Turbulence makes it hard to keep yourself aligned; you have to work at keeping your body in the center of the flow. Paddle wheel models or propeller systems with large grates can produce greater volume over a larger surface area, greatly reducing turbulence and air volume.

swim-spa-tether-systemAn alternative to swimming against the current is to use a harness / belt, called a Tether System, and swim against the resistance of the Tether cord, instead of swimming against a current. In this way, you don’t need large swim jets and pumps at all, which reduces much of the cost of purchasing and maintaining a swim spa.

Swim Spa Walking is another popular form of exercise that can be done in a swim spa, either against the current, or using an optional underwater treadmill.

 

Hot Tub vs. Swim Spa – Maintenance

In terms of chemical, cleaning and covering a spa or hot tub, keep in mind that a swim spa holds around 2000 gallons of water, roughly 5x the size of your average spa.

That does not mean 5x the amount of maintenance however! The time spent cleaning and maintaining a swim spa is not much more than a regular spa.

swim-spa-cover-ingrondA swim spa uses a double-size and double-cost 4-panel type of swim spa cover. The additional swim jet pumps or swim current system will require maintenance at some point, and prices for these super-sized pump parts can be expensive.

I should also mention that your water and electrical consumption will also be more with a swim spa, as compared to a regular spa or hot tub.

In all, you will spend more on maintenance with a swim spa, probably twice as much as a regular spa.

 

Separate Hot Water Sections

swim-spa-separate-sectionsAll manufacturers of Swim Spas offer models that have a separate spa section. This is very useful if you want to heat up the water to 104°, and don’t want to heat the entire swim spa. Many models have a separate spa area with multi-jet captain’s chairs, but don’t have a wall to divide the swim and spa areas.

Maintaining two separate temperatures, hot in spa, cool in swim area, is a typically only available in the higher end models. Otherwise, they are both at the cooler swim temperature, and when you want to heat spa only, you can have it hot in under an hour, at the push of a button, (or turning a few valves).

 

Swim Spa Prices

swim-spa-at-homeSwim Spas generally start at the high end of spas, around $15,000. They do rise in cost with size and features however, and a top of the line swim spa installation can cost (hold onto your hat), over $40,000. However, most swim spa purchases are in the $25,000 range.

Swim Spas can also be built in-ground, or placed into a deck, using a pre-fab shell, vinyl pool kit, or gunite/plaster; traditional pool materials.

Swim Spa prices are generally about 3x the cost of a regular 8-person spa.

 

~ Swim Spas are a wonderful invention, and we came very close to owning one! Before you buy, do your research and physically try out at least one model (in the water), to be sure that it’s what you expect.

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

 

 

Amazing Inground Hot Tubs

September 3rd, 2015 by

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

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

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

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

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

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Image Credit: Tapiture.com

 

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Image Credit: Zillow.com

 

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Image Credit: Zillow.com

 

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Image Credit: Zillow.com

houzz-spa

Image Credit: Houzz.com

 

houzz-spa-2

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

 

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Image Credit: Realtor.com

 

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Image Credit: Realtor.com

 

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Image Credit: Houzz.com

 

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Image Credit: Houzz.com

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

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

 

Bad Fitting Hot Tub Covers

June 25th, 2015 by

ill-fitting-spa-coverI was visiting a friend at a beautiful resort home in Breckenridge, Colorado last weekend. They had so much snow in these parts of the Rockies (over 5 ft in May), that there is still snow now covering the mountain peaks.

A rental home with a hot tub in Breckenridge is easy to find. This town and many like it across the west are teeming with hot tubs. Rental homes with hot tubs need some extra attention, and if you have a hot tub at a vacation or rental property that you own, read Carolyn’s post on vacation home hot tub maintenance.

The purpose of today’s post is to rant about ill-fitting spa covers – oversized, undersized, wrong shape or size.

What’s Wrong With it?

Who cares, so what – if the cover is a little big for the spa, or doesn’t match the corner radius correctly? No big deal, right? OK, maybe no BIG deal, but from where I sit, there are some concerns about heat loss, cover durability and spa safety.

HOT TUB HEAT LOSS: When the skirt, or flap on the edge of the cover doesn’t sit flush over the outer lip of the spa or spa cabinet, heat seeps out, and air flows in. Both will create more work for your spa heater. A spa blanket can help, but if you see steam escaping from your spa top, imagine it as dollar bills with wings.

SPA COVER DURABILITY: When a spa cover does not fit properly, either too small or too large, or the wrong shape, the foam panels are more susceptible to damage from tree branches, dogs or kids, and from high winds that can toss a spa cover across the yard or even over the fence.

SPA SAFETY: If you can’t hook all of the spa cover safety straps, the spa is less safe than it needs to be. If there is any chance that the cover could be moved or fall in, then an ill-fitting spa cover could be dangerous for children or animals.bad-fitting-spa-cover

This ugly hot tub cover atop the otherwise beautiful Jacuzzi hot tub was costing the property management hundreds of dollars per year in heat loss. You can see how poorly made the spa cover is – wrinkles in the exterior fabric point to poor workmanship. So maybe they saved a few dollars on an ill-fitting spa cover, but in the long run, they are paying a much higher price!

If your spa cover does not fit correctly, there are some things you can do to help it out, if you aren’t ready to replace your spa cover just yet. First, turn the heat down as much as possible when not in use, and secondly, use a floating foam spa blanket to help reduce heat loss and water evaporation.

spa-cover-capSpa Cover Caps can also be used to help reduce heat loss on old, broken and ill-fitting spa covers. To increase the R-value, first place a heavy wool blanket over the hot tub cover, and then cover with the Spa Cap.

And for bad fitting spa covers that can’t be latched safely with cover clips to keep out young children, I recommend using spa cover “Hurricane Straps“, so called because they hold covers tight in high winds; they are also an added layer of protection for securing any hot tub cover safely.

Moral of the Story: Don’t buy a cut-rate, ill-fitting spa cover that seems like a great deal. In the long run, you may spend 2-3 times what you saved on wasted heat and premature cover failure.

To avoid this pitfall, order spa covers by specific spa make and model when possible, this ensures that your cover is made to manufacturer specs. For spa cover measuring or ordering questions, we have spa cover technicians standing by!

 

- 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 Cover Foam Replacement

May 15th, 2015 by

EPS-hot-tub-cover-foam-coresQ: Can the foam panels inside of your hot tub cover be replaced without buying the entire cover?
A: Yes! You can purchase a single, or both foam cores – vacuum wrapped and heat sealed in our US factory, and shipped to your door.

The foam core panels of your spa cover are the “core” of any spa cover, providing a sturdy, yet lightweight barrier to heat loss, up to R-value = 30, when you buy the thickest 6″ to 4″ taper, in the strongest 2 lb. foam density.

Thickness and density, and the 20 gauge steel channel are what gives hot tub works foam panels their strength, and the vacuum shrunk vapor barrier, with heat sealed seams is what allows us to provide a 5-year warranty on our spa cover foam, even covering water absorption!

Why Buy New Spa Cover Foam Panels?

Although the outside vinyl on a spa top can crack and fade and eventually need to be replaced, it is the foam core panels that are the most important part of your spa cover. Panels can break or become waterlogged (or both), at the hands of these spa cover enemies:

  • Grandchildren, using the hot tub as a stage, or the cover as a fort.
  • Dogs, especially big dogs who enjoy the warmth.
  • Tree Branches falling on the cover.
  • High winds blowing the cover across the backyard.
  • Friends falling or stepping on your spa cover, when a cover lifter is not used.
  • Bears, who like the piquant and nutty flavor of spa cover foam.

How to Buy Replacement Spa Cover Foam Core Panels

If you purchased your spa cover from Hot Tub Works, it’s easy – just call us with some info, and we can pull up the measurements for your previous or current cover. If you are not sure where the hot tub cover came from, no problem, we can make new foam panels with a quick measurement of your current, broken or waterlogged foam panels.Hot-tub-foam-cover-panels

  • Center height and outer height or thickness, of the foam panel halves.
  • Foam density, if known – or the foam density desired. 1.0 lb., 1.5 lb., or 2.0 lb.
  • Panel shape – square, round, hex or octagon, rectangle with radius corners or wedge corners.
  • Perimeter measurements, radius or corner length and diameter of foam panels.

You can also order over the phone, with our helpful spa cover experts guiding your measurements.

Cost of Spa Cover Foam Panels

Probably more than you may think, panel replacements for spa covers can cost 60-70% of the cost of a new spa cover. They require technician time to design with the CAD program and cut with our laser cutting system. Then we have the 20 ga. steel channel installed on the thick side before it goes to be sealed in a 6 mil vapor barrier. We are one of the few spa cover manufacturers that vacuum shrinks a continuous PE sheet, and then heat seals the seams on both ends.

There are too many variables of thickness, density and size to quote any reliable prices here, but if you need a single cover panel, it can run a few hundred, and for a set of both foam panel halves, it can run several hundred. So…. if the entire spa cover costs $400, the foam panels alone will cost about $275 – almost the cost of a new cover.

Buying just one foam panel insert will cost the same in shipping as buying both foam panel halves, so most people buy both foam pieces, according to Alea Cozzi, our Customer Service Manager, who knows such things… She also notes that because our hot tub covers ship Free – buying just the foam panels and then paying for shipping makes the cost of buying just the foam panels come close to the cost of a complete spa cover.

Buying New Hot Tub Foam Pieces

Don’t be discouraged that replacing the foam panels won’t save as much money as you thought – if your spa cover is only a few years old, you can save at $100-$200 over the cost of buying a new spa cover. You do want to be careful to use only closed cell EPS foam (Expanded Polystyrene), and for outdoor covers, it must be beveled, or tapered, so that rain runs off the side. You also have to be careful to buy the correct size, length and height, to fit inside of your spa cover. Call Us, and we’ll make sure you get the correct foam panels, in the density that you desire.

How to Replace Spa Cover Foam Panels

Jerry-showing-us-spa-cover-foam-coreIf you do decide to replace the foam core panels, the process of removing and replacing the foam panels is not hard. Fold the cover on its hinge, and unzip the two zippers their full length. Then simply pull out the foam panel, working it slowly from side to side, to remove it from the tight fitting vinyl “bag”.

When inserting a new foam panel, take care not to rip the vapor barrier as you are pushing it into the cover – the corner may get snagged on the zipper. Also, if the temperature outside is very cold, you may find it easier to install new foam panels inside the house, where the warmth makes the vinyl bag more flexible and easier to work with.

So, if your spa cover is fairly new, but the foam panels broke or became waterlogged, remove the foam panels and measure carefully. Give us a call for a price for replacement spa cover foam, and you can save some bucks!

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

 

Heavy Hot Tub Covers

May 11th, 2015 by

spa-hot-tub-careOur hot tub covers are made with the highest quality, 100% virgin EPS closed cell foam, vacuum wrapped and heat sealed inside of a 6 mil protective barrier. But even our top quality 2 lb foam core panels can absorb water.

Why? Why do spa and hot tub covers absorb water? Many people will say that closed cell foam cannot absorb water, and they point to studies where a piece of foam has been sitting in a jar of water for 20 years in some laboratory. And this is correct. Even submerged in water, at room temperature, most quality closed cell foam will not absorb water.

However! In a hot tub environment, there is a large temperature difference between the top of the cover and the bottom of the cover, in some cases it can be more than 50 degree difference. This creates an imbalance, and makes the warm moist air of the spa condensate on the bottom of the cover, and become aggressive in trying to escape.

Add to this the fact that most spas are treated with chlorine or bromine, or ozone – which can break down the vapor barrier, the closed cell foam, or both.

What’s wrong with a heavy spa cover?

For one thing, the R-value of the spa cover drops dramatically as water is a very poor insulator. Hot tub cover heat loss becomes a real concern when it becomes waterlogged. Secondly, the weight of the water can actually bend the steel reinforcement bar (not on our spa covers, made with 20 ga. steel bars).

It also just becomes a real pain in the butt – if you have to call a second person to help lift the spa cover on and off of the tub. Full of water, a spa cover can weigh several hundred pounds, which can cause injury, trying to move such a large heavy object. It can also damage or break your spa cover lifter.

Causes of a Waterlogged Hot Tub Cover

  • Torn foam panel protective barrier
  • Deteriorated foam panel protective barrier

That’s it! The 6 mil plastic sheeting that is used to wrap the foam core panels is the main protection against a waterlogged spa cover. Sure, other factors contribute to the problem, like chemistry or broken foam panels, but the fact is – if the vapor barrier is sealed tightly without any gaps or holes, the foam core panels stay nice and dry. Taking care to prevent punctures or tears and chemical deterioration is the best way to keep your spa cover dry and lightweight.

In addition to vacuum shrinking and heat sealed seams (not something all other spa cover makers do), Hot Tub Works spa covers offer a double-wrapped foam core, standard on our “Works” spa cover, and as an option for other covers. Could be the best $30 you ever spent!

How to Avoid a Heavy Hot Tub Cover

  • Remove the spa top twice weekly for 2 hours, to allow the cover to breathe.
  • Avoid unzipping a spa cover or removing panels; creates voids for moisture to enter.
  • Maintain proper water chemistry, and keep sanitizer at a minimum level.
  • Always remove the cover for several hours after shocking the spa water.
  • Patch any holes or punctures in the vinyl cover or foam barrier immediately.
  • Clean and condition the exterior vinyl on your spa cover once or twice per year.
  • Protect your spa cover from damage by keeping it locked, or use Hurricane straps.

In addition, buying a quality spa cover from a company you can trust, will prevent many problems with waterlogged spa covers. The “Other Guys” don’t vacuum wrap and heat seal the foam panels, and don’t use heavy duty polyester scrim and zipper.

Most importantly, hot tub covers from Hot Tub Works are warranted for 5 years against moisture in the foam core. How can we do that? Truth is, our warranty claim rate is very low, and less than 0.65% of our hot tub covers need warranty assistance.

How to Dry out a waterlogged spa cover

bailing_water_all_of_the_work_300_wht_15637Once your vapor barrier has been compromised, there is not much chance of drying out the foam panel completely, but you can take it off the spa and lean it up against a wall, so that excess water drains out. There is no reason to unzip the cover and pull out the panels, since they are encased in plastic and won’t dry out anyway. Even if you remove the foam panels from their vapor barrier, very little drying of the foam will occur, even after days of drying time.

There is very little you can do once a spa cover has taken on water, except to try to find the rip, tear or puncture and make a repair, but by then it may be too late. The best thing for a waterlogged hot tub lid is to set aside $300-500, and buy a new spa cover. This time you may opt for a spa cover with denser and thicker foam or more importantly, a double-wrapped foam core.

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara
Hot Tub Works

 

 

Hot Tub Cover Lifter Reviews – Part II

April 10th, 2015 by

animated-spa-cover-lifterI wrote Spa Cover Lifter Reviews Part I, over two years ago, so this topic is ripe for an update. Also, in Part I, we only showed reviews of half of the spa cover lifters that we have and, only positive reviews. :-)

In Part II, we look at 5 more hot tub cover lifters, and show more balanced reviews, negative and positive, to give a better overall picture.

These reviews I found by searching our database of hundreds of emails and thousands of phone conversations with customers. Around here, we talk a lot about spa covers and cover lifters!

 

COVER SHELF REVIEWS

  1. cover-shelf-reviews ”Great spa cover for the price, and very simple to operate. It’s really all you need actually, no need for power assist, just open the arms and slide the cover off of the tub.”
  2.  ”When I was installing the arms, I couldn’t find a solid piece of wood to anchor into on the side I wanted to use. Ended up tacking on two 2×4′s and staining them to match the cabinet. Works well.”
  3.  ”The design of the Cover Shelf is good, but over time, the screws worked loose and almost ripped out. My handyman resecured it with some lumber, and it seems to be holding for now…”

COVERMATE EASY REVIEWS

  1. covermate-easy-reviews-2“This is just a bar and a strap, not much for the price, but it does the job. I could make my own for $20 in parts. Maybe next time.”
  2. “I love the Covermate Easy. It is easy, but not really for one person, unless you a very big person, I suppose. For little ‘ol me, it’s a little cumbersome.”
  3.  ”Cool design, but not especially “easy” to pivot into position. Also bows under the weight of my cover, and seems to put a lot of stress with how the cover hangs on the bar.”

COVERMATE 2 REVIEWS

  1.  covermate-2-revierws“Likes: Easy to use by just one person, no stress on cabinet. Dislikes: Cover hanging by a seam, drilling into cabinet.”
  2.  ”We’ve had another type of spa cover similar to this one, but it was harder to lift the cover, and get it balanced just right. Would recommend the Covermate II for any square tub.”
  3.  ”I’m returning this because I don’t want to drill 30 holes (!) into my spa cabinet. I understand that there is a version of the Covermate 2 that slips under the spa? Please exchange.”

COVERMATE 3 REVIEWS

  1.  covermate-3-reviews“Without a doubt, the finest spa cover mechanism I’ve ever owned. The piston arms pop the cover right up with very little effort, and I can tell that the materials and construction is top notch.”
  2.  ”Installation was not as easy as I was expecting, but after 1.5 hr I was ready to test. No go – long story short, the pistons were installed upside down! Took another 1.5 hrs to figure that out and fix it. Quality control is needed, especially on imported products. Come on, guys!”
  3.  ”Even my mom could remove the spa top now. One person can do it, even on large covers like mine (8ft). I actually got this one because it’s the only one that will lock in place. My spa sits on a hill, high winds were always knocking the cover down, onto our heads! Ha ha – but this has fixed that problem.”

COVER VALET REVIEWS

  1. cover-valet-reviews“This cover lifter does not have a solid bar running across the cover, on the cover seam, and is starting to rip the cover! Why there is not a solid bar used I do not know, but we have removed the Cover Valet from our cover and are back to manual lifting and moving – not impressed!”
  2. “Got this as a Christmas present. Installation instruction were fair, but managed to self-install in under an hour. The shocks make it real easy to open the spa cover, now even my wife can do it. Should have bought a spa cover lift a long time ago!”
  3. “If you can decipher the poorly translated and sparse instructions, you can install this yourself, with a full set of hand tools. The gas shocks don’t do much, the poles are a little flimsy, and it still takes some effort to lift the cover. That said, it is more stable and better made than my old spa top lifter.”

I hope you find these hot tub cover reviews useful – I tried to pick out ones that had some nuggets of usefulness! No spa cover is made that comes with only pluses and no minuses, I think the cover lifter manufacturers walk a fine line of quality vs price.

Years ago, there were some $500 cover lifters – very nice products, but too expensive – no one bought them. Or perhaps it’s a bit of planned product obsolescence in practice? If you make something too good, you only sell it once! Either way, hot tub cover lift mfg’s found a sweet spot in the range of $100-$200. Not as good as they could be, but a good value for the price.

See all 10 Hot Tub Cover Lifters we have to choose from ~

 

- Jack