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Archive for the ‘spa covers’ Category

The Winterized Spa – How to Close a Spa for Winter

December 12th, 2013 by

hot-tub-in-winter

There comes a time for many hot tub lovers in the north, when they need to ask the question – close the spa for the winter, or keep it operating?

If you think you’ll use the spa occasionally, even if it’s only a few times per month, I would suggest that you keep it open. But, if no one is using it, or worse – maintaining it. You may want to winterize the spa.

For many spa owners, it’s the fear of extended power outages that will warrant emptying the spa. Heated and covered, a hot spa should be able to resist freeze damage for 24 hours, but beyond that you could face  expensive repairs to plumbing and equipment.

How to Winterize an Above Ground Spa in 4 Steps

step1 to winterize a spa or hot tub Step One: Remove the spa filter cartridge, and clean it thoroughly with spa filter cleaner like Filter Fresh, and allow it to dry for winter storage. Next, apply a spa purge product like Jet Clean, to clean biofilm and bacteria from the pipes, which will continue to grow in the moist interior of your pipes, unless cleaned before you drain the spa. Don’t skip this step, or you may have funk and gunk in your pipes when you start up the spa again.

 

step2 for spa and hot tub winterizingStep Two: Now it’s time to drain the spa. Shut off power to the spa, and switch the heater off. Find your drain spigot and allow the spa to drain completely, through a hose, so the water drains away from the spa. When almost empty, turn on power again, so you can turn on the air blower (if you have one), and let it run until no more droplets spray out the jets. Use a sponge or shop vac to get every last drop from the bottom of the spa. If you have air jets in the seat or floor, lay a towel over them to absorb water mist as it sprays out.

 

step3 to winterize a hot tubStep Three: Use a powerful shop vac, to suck and blow air through the system. Place a sheet of plastic over a group of spa jets and use shop vac suction on one of the group’s jets. The plastic will suck to the other jets, so you can pull water out of one jet. Repeat until all jets are vacuumed. Switch the vac to a blower, and blow air through all the jets. Now blow air through the skimmer and spa drain. Under the spa, open all unions (don’t lose the o-rings), and use the shop vac to blow and suck air in both directions. Remove the drain plugs on the pump(s), and filter.

 

step4 in winterization of a spaStep Four: Spa covers perform an important function during winter, keeping any rain and snow melt from getting inside the spa. Over winter, some areas can receive two feet of precipitation, and it’s important that this doesn’t get into the spa. If your spa cover is a leaker, and in bad shape, cover it with plywood cut to shape, and then wrap it tightly with a sturdy tarp that will repel water. If your spa cover is in good shape, use a conditioner like our Spa Cover Cleaner, to protect it from winter weather. Use a Spa Cover Cap for the best spa cover protection.

 

Other Thoughts on Winterizing a Portable Spa

  1. Consult your owner’s manual, or find it online, to read specific tips for winterizing your particular spa.
  2. Using non-toxic antifreeze is discouraged, but if you must, refill and drain the spa before use.
  3. Draining a wooden hot tub is discouraged, but if you must, leave a foot of water, to resist shrinkage.
  4. Be sure to shut off power at the breaker, so there’s no chance that the pumps will run without water.
  5. If you have doubts and worry, consider calling a spa service company to winterize your spa.
  6. Inground spas require different procedures, not covered here.

 

- Jack

 

 

DIY Hot Tub Cover – Make Your Own Spa Cover

November 21st, 2013 by

wood-circlesSpa Covers are a large part of our business here, that’s why when we heard about people making their own spa covers, we had to look into it. Is this a threat to our core business? No, we don’t think so at all – well, at least I don’t think that.

I think that American individualism has always led people to can their own food, sew their own clothing, and even make their own spa covers. In some cases, it’s born of necessity, necessity to save money that is. Even though a new spa cover from Hot Tub Works can be less than $300, for many cash-strapped spa owners, making their own spa cover for under $100 sounds a lot better.

I apologize to the wives and girlfriends out there, if I’m giving your “handy” man some kooky ideas. Most people would rather have a proper hot tub cover, I understand. At the end of the article, I have some talking points for you – reasons for not building your own spa cover.

Materials Needed to Make Your Own Spa Coverhardware-stores

  • 2- 2″ thick 4×8′ Polystyrene Foam Boards
  • Heavy Duty Adhesive in caulk tube
  • 2 – 4×8′ Plywood Boards
  • Heavy Duty Plastic
  • Exterior Paint for Wood
  • 2 – 4′ Continuous Hinges and screws

STEP ONE: MEASURE YOUR SPA

You know what they say, measure twice, cut once. Measure both the inside and outside dimensions of your spa shell, and draw a guide on paper. Your DIY spa cover must be large enough to sit on the rim of the spa, without the risk of falling in if you just bump into it, or look at it wrong. Both the wood and foam will be closer to the outside diameter, so that the foam rests on top of the spa. Alternatively, if you think you can get a better seal by having the foam cut to fit the inside of the spa (while the wood extends over the spa edge), you can cut the foam a few inches smaller than the plywood.

STEP TWO: CUT THE MATERIALS

Measure again before cutting, just to be sure. For square spas, you’ll have less cutting to do of the plywood and foam boards, in fact, you may choose to not even cut them at all. For spas with rounded corners, octagonal cuts or circular spas (hot tubs), break out the jig saw, so you can cut the radius curve in the plywood. The foam can be cut with a sharp kitchen knife or with a hacksaw blade. After you have cut both pieces, lay them on top of each other, to remove any rough edges and to make sure that they are pretty close to identically sized.

STEP THREE: WRAP THE FOAM IN HEAVY PLASTIC

You won’t get the vacuum sealed, heat welded seams that you see on the best hot tub covers, but it is still important to spend time wrapping the foam as tightly as possible to keep moisture from the spa from coming in contact with the foam board. Wrap it with painter’s plastic, at least 4 mil in thickness. Wrap all sides like a gift box, folding over the corners and taping tightly, with a large roll of packing tape.

STEP FOUR: GLUE THE FOAM TO THE WOOD BOARDSliquid-nails

Use a heavy duty adhesive like Liquid Nails, or something similar. Use a liberal amount, squirting it directly onto the wood. Be sure to cover all areas, with special attention on the edges. Press your wrapped foam board onto the board. Flip it over, so the foam is on flat ground, and place a few heavy items on top of the wood, to help improve adhesion.

STEP FIVE: PAINT THE WOOD AND INSTALL THE HINGE

Sand the edges to remove any splinters or rough spots. Use exterior paint, and don’t be afraid to go heavy on it, or paint two coats on the side that faces up. After the paint dries, you can install the hinge. You can use several door hinges, or use one long continuous hinge, with a 1/4″ screw in every fifth hole.

That’s It! Five steps. The only thing left is to put it on the spa (use two people if it’s heavy) and check for heat loss. Now to come up with a solution to the heat loss that’s coming through the hinge, or at certain spots around the spa rim, like the control panel area. If you have a cover lifter, you may also be able to connect your cover lifter to work with your new spa cover.

 

Reasons for Not Making Your Own Spa Cover

I promised earlier to give some ‘talking points’, on how to dissuade a handy (and frugal) housemate from attempting a DIY spa cover. We know it’s a lot cheaper, and we understand the pride of making something with your own hands, but…

  • The heat retention of this type of spa cover is far less, easily half of what a real spa cover can provide.
  • Homemade hot tub covers may be difficult to latch or lock, to keep the spa safe and secure.
  • Without steam stoppers and skirts to prevent heat loss, a spa in cold weather may be unable to stay hot.
  • Without a rigid support panel, a DIY spa cover won’t stay flat, and quickly warps and bends to the water.
  • When it bends toward the water, rain and snow melt will drain into the spa, bringing contaminants. how-to-buy-a-spa-cover

 

For a real cover, see the benefits of a Hot Tub Works spa cover. You can still make a contribution however, and put your talents to good use, like building a wood bench or shelves to wrap around the spa. Rocks and plants? How about a gazebo, privacy screen or some pergola around the spa?

 

Happy Hot Tubbin’

Daniel Lara

 

 

How to Make a Cheap Spa Cover

November 11th, 2013 by

Don't buy a spa cover from this guy! - purchased thru istock

There’s a lot of cheap spa covers out there. Do a Google search for discount spa covers and you’re hit with some pretty low prices. $195 for a spa cover?

How can you sell a spa cover so cheaply? To sell cheap spa covers, you have to make cheap spa covers.

In the interest of science (and corporate espionage), we ordered a few of these discount spa covers, to see what they’re made of, and how they’re made. We were pretty excited when these 2 covers arrived at our offices, ready for their dissection. What we found however, was nothing short of shocking…

Manufacture of a Cheap Spa Cover

Poor Materials

Let’s start with the foam, that’s where the cost cutting begins, by using a cheaper grade of extruded polystyrene, more prone to premature water absorption and breakdown. Secondly is the rigid support channel that runs across the fold, instead of using steel, substitute the cheaper aluminum, or even use PVC.  Third, use a thinner foam core wrap to save more money – 3 mil wrap is much cheaper by the roll than 6 mil wrap. Cheaper zippers and scrim, cheaper thread used for stitching and cheaper vinyl used for covering, are other ways that a spa cover can be made more cheaply.

Poor Construction

Or more accurately, a lack of workmanship or craftsmanship.  A cheap spa cover looks like a cheap suit. Not a good fit, poor stitching, and the liner hanging loosely inside. These spa tops had single stitching (not even straight), taped or stapled seams (not heat welded), loose fitting foam core wrap, and lightweight hinges or support channels. The vinyl is a single ply (no backing), and is as thin as you would expect. The weight of these spa covers – incredibly lightweight. That’s because they are made of cheaper, thinner and well, much less  material.

Poor Warranty

Question: If a spa cover has a warranty is for 5 years, and is pro-rated, and you have to pay to ship it back (both ways), is it really a warranty? Most of these so called warranties on these cheap spa covers only cover defects in materials or workmanship for one year. Longer warranties can be pro-rated so heavily that it makes the shipping costs prohibitive. And be sure to read the fine print, the exclusions, and you’ll find that most damage to the spa cover is not even covered.

Poor Service

Question: If you can’t even get in touch with them, how are going to lodge a warranty claim anyway? Many low budget spa cover dealers shave costs by not having customer service staff, or spa cover designers that you can speak with, chat with, or get a fast email reply from. They may or may not have a sales line, answered by a call center – somewhere, which will be “happy to take [another] message for you”.

Poor Selection

Even local dealers are getting in on this disposable spa cover market, advertising ‘basic’ spa covers, in only two or three sizes. Don’t buy a spa cover that isn’t an exact match to your specific spa. Color doesn’t matter, but a proper fit is essential to keeping your spa hot and as energy efficient as possible. Spa covers that don’t fit perfectly are also more susceptible to damage to the foam core.

 

How to Make a Good Spa Cover

Making a quality spa cover is what we do at Hot Tub Works. We’re proud of our materials and craftsmanship, and the reviews we get from satisfied spa cover customers say the same thing. And with prices starting at $269, you don’t have to shell out big bucks for a good spa cover.

Four Panel Spa Cover

Here’s how to make a spa cover that won’t fall apart in a year or two. These are some of the things that sets our spa covers apart from the “competition”.

  • Our spa covers meet or exceed ASTM safety standards
  • Computer aided design and manufacture process
  • 30 oz Marine Grade Vinyl is super tough
  • Double stitched with heavy Dacron thread, Quadruple stitched hinges
  • Vacuum heat sealed 6 mil Double-Ply foam core wrap
  • 20 ga. steel reinforcement channel on both spa cover halves
  • 5 year warranty, non-prorated, covering water absorption and shipping
  • Free shipping on every spa cover

 

- Jack

 

Cleaning Tools to Make Spa Maintenance Easier

November 4th, 2013 by

pleatco-cartridge-guyCleaning your spa or hot tub can be a bit of a chore. In my house, I was only able to pawn off some of the spa duties when I brought home some of these spa cleaning tools and supplies. Such as vacuuming the spa or cleaning the spa cover.

If you’re tired of certain spa maintenance tasks, and you are having trouble pawning them off on others, or making the spa off-limits until the spa is taken care of – take a look at some of these workload reducing hot tub tools.

Spend more time enjoying your spa, not cleaning it!

 

Easy Clean Filter Spray Nozzleeasy-clean-spa-filter-spray-nozzle

Some pool cartridge spray tools are too large for small spa filters. I always used my regular multi-purpose spray nozzle, and would have never thought to use anything else, until we had a manufacturer’s sales rep come to our office, handing these out.

I told him that I really didn’t need it, but he insisted, and left it on my desk. I took it home about a week later, and finally used it several weeks after that. I was so impressed, that I called him up to thank him. It makes an adjustable sharp or fan spray, which really gets in between the pleats.

Grit Getter

grit-getter-spas

This is the simplest little device, one of those things that I kick myself for not inventing. Squeeze the Grit Getter and it pushes out the air and water, and creates a strong suction that’s perfect for grit like sand or dirt.

The debris gets trapped in the body, just twist it to open, and dump out the grit. Made of a soft rubber-plastic, it floats when not being used, and is pretty much indestructible. Easy to use, and even kind of fun, everyone wants to give it a try. Also available with an extension pole, for use when you’re not in the spa.

 

Pool Blaster Spa Vac

spa-vac

For something beyond the manual vacuum power of the Grit Getter, this vacuum power vacs your spa, operating on 3 “C” batteries, which gives about an hour of cleaning time, which should last for several months, assuming you keep your spa covered, and your guests are clean!

There are several types of spa vacuums on the market, this one is the most maneuverable and easiest to set up. It also has an internal valve to keep debris inside, should you begin to lose battery power, a feature not shared by other spa vacs.

Comes with 3 extenders, which can extend the spa vac up to 8 foot in reach.

 

Spa Fill Water Filter

spa-pre-filterIf you pre-filter the water that you use to fill your spa, your spa water will be pure to start. This puts less demand on your spa filter and sanitizers, and mineral control chemicals. Helps reduce foaming and staining by removing impurities, minerals, salts and scale. It also removes organic contaminants, chloramines, and sulfides, which make water smell bad.

Just attach the hose water pre-filter to your garden hose, and turn on the water. You’ll notice a difference immediately if your water contains silt, is colored or has a strong odor. Each pre filter lasts for 3 spa fills, plus as many top offs to the water level as you need.

A must to use if you are using well water, or if your water comes from old systems or travels very far to reach your home.

 

Spa Skimmer Net

spa-skimmer-netIt’s tempting to think that you may never need a skimmer net for your spa or hot tub. After all, it’s covered most of the time, and probably out of the way of most large trees. But, a skimmer net can be a handy tool to have on hand. Leaves, bugs, fibers or dust can be quickly swept from the surface.

You might use it to scoop off loads of foam out of the spa, retrieve tossed toys or the floater. It can also be used to scoop leaves or items from the floor or benches of your spa. Our spa leaf skimmer has a large head and a telescopic pole that extends from 3 to 8 feet. Frame is weather resistant plastic, with urethane handle and polished aluminum tubing.

Earlier this summer my spa skimmer nets kept disappearing. After my third replacement, I found them down by the creek behind my house. Apparently these also work great for catching tadpoles and turtles, as my grandsons taught me.

 

Tub Rub

hot-tub-scrubber-pad-tub-rubThis is like a Magic Eraser for hot tubs and spas. You can use it by itself, or along with a spa cleaning chemical (never use household cleansers to clean your spa shell). It has a textured surface and is soft enough to get into the many grooves and curves of spa surfaces. Can also be used for your spa cover, although I normally prefer to use the 303 Spa Cover Wipes for cleaning the spa cover.

Textured sponges could be too harsh for some delicate spa surfaces, and may scratch like steel wool. Tub Rub is a textured fabric – not plastic, so it’s always gentle, and works great for scum removal, or for high gloss polishing.

 

These are some of the most useful tools and hot tub accessories that I use around my spa, to reduce the maintenance, or at least make it more manageable. It may even help you pawn off some spa duties to others! Or you could start charging admission, to use the spa! Yeah, right.

 

- Jack

 

Spa Cover Lifter Repairs

October 24th, 2013 by

animated-spa-cover-lifterBroken spa cover lifter? Cover lifters can often be repaired, if you have the time and inclination. Sure, a new hot tub cover lifter is only one to two hundred bucks, but if you’re counting your pennies these days, many damaged spa cover lifters can be fixed quickly and cheaply.

Damage to spa cover lifters may result from water logged covers, improper use, acts of God, or teenagers.

Spa cover lifter repairs are usually to the mounting system, the lift assist system, or to the pivot arms or tubes that support the cover.

Replacement parts for some spa cover lifters can be scarce and in some cases, not available – forcing you to replace a damaged spa cover lifter with new. In some cases, you may be able to find suitable replacements for the parts your cover lifter needs, in a good hardware or home store.

Spa Cover Lifter Mounting System Repairs

If you have an undermount spa cover lift, with a metal plate that slides under the spa, you usually avoid complications such as this. Spa cover lifters that are screwed into the spa cabinet, via a mounting bracket, can suffer broken brackets, stripped screws, cracked bushings. It’s recommended to tighten spa cover lifter bracket bolts and check connections twice per year.spa-cover-mounting-bracket-repairs

If the wood of the cabinet has begun to rot, and there are soft spots in that area, could you remount the bracket on the opposite side of the spa? Or, can you empty and turn the spa to remount the brackets?

If not, maybe you can add a mounting strip to the spa cabinet. Glue and screw – a 2x4x8 piece of finished and stained wood or composite material from one end of the spa to the other. On top of the strip, or on the side of the strip, remount your brackets, following manufacturer’s installation instructions.

Broken or bent mounting brackets, bushings, or pivot points attached to the mounting system will put tubes out of alignment and create stress on attached parts. Metal brackets may be able to be returned to new shape with the use of a vice and a small torch to heat the metal. If not, replacement brackets are generally available online.

Spa Cover Lifter Lift Assist Repairs

Many spa cover lifters utilize a gas shock, also known as a gas spring or gas prop, with many uses. Although these may look the same as the one on your storm door, or car hatchback, they have different diameters, lengths, and output force of the piston. They also have different end fitting types. I wish that all spa cover lifter manufacturers would use the same shock for their lift assist systems, but most are different and specific to the model of spa cover lifter.

spa-cover-lifter-repairsGenerally, you will need the exact OEM shock, but if you are having trouble finding the ‘factory’ replacement gas shock for your spa cover lift, you could take the shock into an auto parts store to see if they can match it up [exactly]. They are usually sold in sets of two, and it would be best to replace both, so that their piston force and size will match.

Other cover lifters may have Lift Assist in the form of a fulcrum device. Heavy winds or accidents can topple a cover while it’s in the up position, and bend the bend of the fulcrum. Heavy wind or cover ‘accidents’ can be especially hard on joints, pivot points and fulcrums.

Spa Cover Lifter Arm Repairs

The arms of your spa cover lifter, those that go alongside the spa and over the hinge, or fold of your spa cover – could be the most fragile part of your spa cover lifter. Heavy, soggy spa covers can cause the tubes to sag under the weight. Heavy winds, as mentioned above, can also do damage, especially for covers that are stored in a position above the spa.spa-cover-lifter-arm-repair

If your tubing, or spa cover lifter arms become bent or crimped, you may be able to find replacement parts from the dealer you purchased it from, or directly from the manufacturer. If you can’t locate replacement parts, and don’t want to buy a new lifter, some spa cover lifter arms can be replaced with steel tubing of a very similar diameter. Steel or PVC electrical conduit of slightly smaller or larger diameter could be measured, cut, inserted and screwed down – to replace bent portions of the pivoting arms or connecting tubes.

Spa cover lifter repairs are usually successful, if you use the right materials and take your time. OEM (original equipment manufacture) parts can be expensive however, so you’ll to weigh the costs of repair parts, vs. buying an entire new identical cover lift, and using the old lift for future spare parts.

If you haven’t been really satisfied with the cover lifter performance and are facing a repair, maybe now is the best time to look at other cover lifter models. We have ten spa cover lifters, and depending on your spa shape, there are usually 2-5 models that will fit your spa and spa cover.

 

- Jack

 

Spa Cover Lifter Buyer’s Guide

October 17th, 2013 by

spa-cover-lifts

We’ve recently added more spa cover lifts to our website. With over 10 cover lifters to choose from, it can be downright confusing. Today’s blog post is a buyer’s guide for spa cover lifters, designed to help you sort through the many models and options quickly.

We offer so many spa cover lifts, because there are so many types of spas, and because inventive people keep coming up with more ways to flip over and store a spa cover!

Here’s a rundown and roundup of the considerations one should make when selecting a new spa cover lifter.

 

Spa Shape:spa-cover-lifters-shapes

To start with, round spas or hexagon shaped tubs require a different cover lift than square or traditional hot tubs. Spa cover lifters listed as designed for “straight sided spas” would not fit round tubs, or spas with curved sides.

Spa Size:

Most spa cover lifters will fit a spa cover up to 96″, or a 8 ft. diameter. For covers larger than this, look at the Cover Caddy or the Cover Shelf. Also, many covers don’t work on spas that are smaller than 6 ft. diameter, or 72″. Most spa cover lifter models will handle a 6 to 8 ft. diameter.

Spa Space:spa-cover-lifters-space

How much clearance do you have available on the side that you flip the cover over? The clearance needed varies among cover lifts, but two only require 6 inches of space to flip and store the cover; the CoverMate 3, and the Cover Valet. Also, spa cover lifters need 2-3 inches of side clearance as well, on both sides.

Spa Location:

Is your spa above ground, partially in ground, or flush with surrounding decking? Most cover lifters are made for fully above ground spas and hot tubs; in ground spas can use the UltraLift cover lifter or the Cover Valet and secure the mounting plates to the deck.

Mounting Types:spa-cover-lifters-cabinet-mount

There are several types of cover lift designs. For those that don’t want to drill into the spa cabinet, use the undermount cover lifts like the Cover Rock-It, or the Cover Rx. These spa cover lifts allow you to slide plates under the spa. Other models will require that you drill mounting brackets on one or two sides of your spa cabinet.

 

Here’s a comparison chart of all of our spa cover lifters at Hot Tub Works. Use this to quickly narrow down a few choices, and then take a look at our spa cover lifters page!

I didn’t have room for everything – other comparison factors may be price and warranty. Most of our cover lifts have 1 year warranty, but some have 5 years! Spa cover lifter prices range (as of this writing) from $99 to $225.

spa-cover-lifter-comparison-chart

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

Hot Tub Covers and the R-Value Myth

September 19th, 2013 by
R-values sign at Penn State

The Myth of R-Value and Spa Covers

R-value is a measurement of the resistance to heat transfer for materials like the fiberglass insulation in your house or the insulating foam in our spa covers. In theory, the higher the R-value, the greater the heat retention and, heat retention is the primary function of any spa cover.

Most industries using R-values are regulated by FTC standards. Commercially sold insulation must pass independent tests created by American Standards and Testing Methods (ASTM) in order to be advertised or marked with their R-Value.

 

The Myth: As there is no FTC recognized independent test for spa covers, so any R-value stated by a spa cover dealer is actually an unregulated, unmonitored “interpretation” of the insulative value. It’s open to speculation and abuse, from adding the R-value of the air space between the water and the cover, the space between the vinyl and the cover insulation, or simply blatantly inflating the number. At HTW, we state only the known R-value of the insulation itself plus a small increment for the vinyl and plastic wrapping the closed cell foam core.

The R-value of the actual foam insulation plus covering in our Standard 1.5 lb foam covers is approximately 13.5 and for the denser 2 lb foam, it jumps to 15. This is based on an average spa cover thickness of 3″; our thicker spa covers will retain proportionally greater amounts of heat, as you can see in the image below.

Best Spa Cover Foam

spa-cover-r-value-char-t-2

Foam Density and Foam Thickness.

These two factors affect the R-value of a particular spa cover.

It’s easy to understand why a thicker and denser foam will reduce heat transfer.

But the type of EPS (Extruded Polystyrene) can also make a difference. EPS is made from melting small pellets into a thick fluid, which is in then poured into molds and formed into sheets of varying thickness. The level of gas present in the mix, as well as mixing and drying methods can produce EPS foam of varying strength and density.

Our spa covers use the most expensive spa cover foam (rigid cellular polystyrene thermal insulation) available, which not only holds in more heat, but resists breakage, vapor absorption and chemical damage better than any other material we’ve tested.

ASTM C578 Type IV, 25 psi, 1.55 pcf density

worlds-thickest-spa-coverWhen shopping for and comparing spa covers, be leery of unsubstantiated claims of R-value. Look at Foam Density numbers and Foam Thickness. Most spa cover dealers should be around the same numbers. Our R-Values shown in the chart above are realistic, and in fact may even be higher, but the new EPS we now use has not yet been tested by the ASTM.

Myth Busted!

R-value testing of materials is done at room temperature, and doesn’t take into account moisture and vapor. In the spa environment, we have hot water and lots of moisture. Both of these can facts will dramatically reduce the R-value of a material. Using the best quality EPS will almost prevent any moisture absorption, but a spa at 105 degrees will challenge the R-value of any material tested at 75 degrees.

Therefore, forsooth and verily I tell you ~ don’t let R-value be your only measurement for spa cover quality, instead look for a spa cover with high density and weight, vacuum wrapped in continuous sheets of 6 mil heat welded polyethylene, sealed in heavy gauge marine grade vinyl, with chemical resistant scrim and stitching.

Come to think of it, I just described our spa covers!

- Jack

 

How to Spot a Junk Spa Cover

September 4th, 2013 by

 

junk-it-2

The spa cover business is rife with imposters these days, making low quality, junk spa covers. And it doesn’t matter which side of the border they are made on, Mexico or North America, you can find poorly manufactured spa covers.

Our business has always been to produce the best spa covers, all computer designed and made to exacting specifications, with quality materials and quality control. But there are cheaper ways to make a spa cover.

Here’s some things to watch out for if you’re shopping for a new spa cover.

First, let’s look at the anatomy of a spa cover. For strength, you have the foam core and the reinforcement channel. For weather and water resistance and to protect the core, it’s covered in marine grade vinyl and the foam core is wrapped and sealed in thick plastic.

spa-cover-anatomy

Solid handles are useful in maneuvering the cover, and good locking straps keep it secure in high winds, and safe for kids and animals. A thick, well sewn skirt helps hold in heat and block any drafts into the spa.

Now, let’s look at some of these spa cover parts one by one, to show how the quality of materials can be manipulated. These are the distinct differences between a good spa cover and a junk spa cover.

TAPERED FOAM CORE

A tapered core will allow water to run off, very important for outdoor hot tubs, and also allows for use of a larger reinforcement channel, for greater strength.

The thickness of the foam core will affect it’s heat retention, strength and water resistance. The best spa covers are 6″ thick in the center, tapering to 4″ on the edges, but you can also find 5″ to 3″ or on the lower end, 4″ to 2″ thick spa covers.

But more than thickness, the weight of the foam or foam density, is important. Spa covers can be made with 1.0 lb foam, 1.5 lb. foam or 2.0 lb. foam. The greater the foam density or weight, the greater R-value your spa cover will have.

REINFORCEMENT CHANNEL

Galvanized steel channels will provide the best strength for a hot tub cover. These are available in many thicknesses, but almost all are superior to aluminum channels, which don’t have the strength of steel. I’ve seen some aluminum channels with the rigidity of thick aluminum foil.

As mentioned above, the thicker foam cores allow for using a taller reinforcement channel across the hinge of the spa cover, to add strength and rigidity. With one on each half of your spa cover, they form an I-beam support for your spa cover. Cheap spa covers will use smaller channels, with lower grade steel, or aluminum, to cut costs and maximize profit.

MARINE GRADE VINYL

This is a type of vinyl made for boats that resists moisture and water. It is available in many thicknesses, and with many options for backing the vinyl. Our 30 oz. marine grade vinyl is a heavy weight, and it’s treated with UV and antifungal inhibitors. Light weight 20 oz vinyl are common on a cheap spa cover, some used without any woven backing.

A thicker marine grade vinyl, treated against fading and mildew, and with a heavy gauge woven backing makes a longer lasting cover that can take years of heavy sun and snow, and even a little dragging around.

FOAM CORE WRAP

This is another profit center for cheap hot tub cover production. We wrap our foam cores with heavy duty 6 mil polyethylene sheeting, in a continuous sheet. Then we fold over and heat seal the edges, before vacuum sealing to remove air. Cheaper spa covers have thinner plastic that won’t stand up to spa chemicals, and use either tape or staple their seams, with no heat sealed edges and vacuum sealing.

As an option, we offer a double-wrapped foam core, with two sheets of 6 mil wrap, and a continuous heat seal that runs across the entire bottom of the spa cover, to stop mildew from forming and prevent heat loss through the fold.

FourPanelCover

Take a look at our advantages, and our low prices – and you’ll see how we manage to sell 100,000 spa covers every year. We have 6 grades of spa covers, from our Economy Spa Cover to The Works – to fit all budgets. But even our lowest price spa covers have quality materials, computer design and precise construction – unlike some junk spa covers out there!

- Jack

 

5 Signs that You Need a Replacement Spa Cover

August 12th, 2013 by

spa-covers-newSpa and hot tub covers are indispensable, if you want to keep the heat in the tub – but they don’t last forever. Despite recent advances in materials used, creating stronger and lighter covers, there will come a time when you will need a replacement spa cover.

How do you know when a spa cover has given up the ghost? There are obvious signs, and there are not so obvious indicators. Can you get another year, or a few more months out of the current spa cover? Here’s 5 signs of spa cover distress to look for.

 

Saggy Cover

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If your spa collects water on the surface, you may need a new spa cover. This indicates that the reinforcement channel is bent or broken. This is a C-channel that runs along both halves of the spa cover, where they meet at the hinge. Lower grade materials like aluminum or thin steel at this point can bend under weight (dogs, kids, snow), or from many openings and closings.

I know of someone (who shall remain nameless! ;-) who built a PVC support thingy that he placed inside the spa, and it brought his spa cover up level again. But eventually, he also had to buy a new spa cover. This time he bought a Hottubworks spa cover, an engineered steel channel that will hold up to most anything.

 

Puddle Cover

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Water is heavy, at 8 lbs per gallon, it adds up quick. Another case of broken reinforcement channel. Probably started as a small crimp in the channel, which began to puddle some water, and then some more water … and now it looks like a new spa cover is in order.

Once a cover begins a gradual puddle, it can be hard to prevent it from getting worse. If you catch it early, you can flip the foam cores over to extend the life of a puddle cover.

Buy a quality spa cover to start, use it gently, and keep heavy dogs, kids and snow loads greater than 8 inches off of the spa cover.

 

Water Logged Spa Cover

waterlogged-spa-cover

This is a spa cover that now weighs about 3x what it did when it was new. They can get so heavy that they become almost impossible to move for petite gals like myself. They can also damage spa cover lifters when they get too heavy.

What has likely happened is that the foam core wrap has become pierced, is taking on water – and, is not draining.

Our spa covers are double wrapped in 6 mil sheeting, with heat sealed edges to keep moisture out.

If you find a puncture in the core wrap, seal it up with clear tape. Removing the foam cores and allowing the spa cover to fully drain and dry can help for a time. If it repeats, it may be time for a new spa cover!

 

Torn & Worn Spa Cover

torn-spa-cover

When the fabric (marine grade vinyl on our spa covers) suffers from too much sun and weather, it becomes brittle and begins to deteriorate. Eventually, holes and tears will develop that will let in moisture.

Using a spa cover protectant like our Spa Cover Conditioner & Protectant will keep your spa cover clean, and it will keep it supple and soft. Similar to using Armor All on your car’s dashboard to prevent cracking, your spa cover will benefit in the same way from a regular conditioning.

Small rips and tears in the material can be sealed up with – I dare say, Duct Tape of all things. It won’t be pretty, but it may get you by for another year, if the foam cores, wrap and channels are in good shape.

 

Smelly Spa Cover

SMELLY-SPA-COVER

Musty, mildewy, old wet dog – whatever your spa cover smells like, if it’s a bad odor, that probably means that you have bacteria forming inside the spa cover. It probably also means that the cover is water logging (see above). Are you removing your spa cover regularly to allow it to breathe?

A complete dismantling of the cover, by carefully removing the foam cores from the outer vinyl covering. Turn the vinyl inside out and spray it down with Lysol. Now your cover smells like Lysol, not sure which is worse, but at least you’ve killed 99% of the bacteria on the fabric.

The high quality foam used in our spa covers is extremely resistant to water absorption and bacteria formation. When you are ready for a new spa cover, make sure it’s not made with cheaper and less dense foam cores.

 

5 reasons that you need a new spa cover – in case you were wondering about your own hot tub cover making it another year. This time of year – late summer into fall, is the busiest time of year for spa cover sales. It’s that instinctual preparedness clock that we all have that tells us to get ready – winter is coming!

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

Spa and Hot Tub Cover Safety

July 29th, 2013 by

locking-spa-coverSince the 1980′s, more than 250 children age 1-4 have drowned in hot tubs and spas. A small percentage became entrapped on suction outlets. Most were not experienced swimmers who fell into an open spa or hot tub, and were not able to escape.

A strong locking spa cover is the best protection for children in homes with spas or hot tubs. No matter what type of spa you have, there is a way to make it safer with the use of a cover.

 

Above Ground Spas and Hot TubsPLEASE-LOCK-THE-SPA

My spa at home is an above ground spa, with a standard folding spa cover – and there’s 4 million more out there, just like me! These spas are the simplest to keep safely covered with spa cover clips.

Latch your spa cover clips every time you put the cover back on, and never leave the spa unmonitored when you have the cover off. A simple practice of latching the spa cover clips, and keeping your spa covered when it’s not being watched will keep your spa safe.

I have a small sign near the spa, as a reminder to myself and others, to keep the spa cover latched when not in use. Although not specifically child proof, it’s unlikely that a small child will be able to remove a spa cover that is clipped in place on 2 sides of the tub.

For more advanced spa cover locking hardware, there are two other ways to secure the cover – with external straps or steel bars. This not only keeps out children, but any unauthorized use. As horrible as the numbers of drownings in spas are for children, the number of adults found dead in spas is double.

Spa cover straps, sold here at HotTubWorks, are primarily sold as heavy duty Wind Straps – but also function as extra protection, to delay or frustrate children and also – inebriated acquaintances who decide to crash your tub when you’re not looking.

Lock them over the spa cover for extra protection. Wind straps use a standard style spa cover clip to protect against high winds, and double your spa cover security.

spa-cover-lockWant even more protection? Use the Spa Cover Lock, a spa cover locking bar, made by Arctic Spas. Attach two heavy plates on the side of your spa cabinet, and use a padlock to secure the curved steel bar. Works with spa cover lifters to keep the spa cover pressed down on the tub, and prevent use of the spa cover lifter.

Used with a spa cover lifter, it also prevents being able to slide the cover off, in the other direction. If you have no spa cover lifter, two bars can be used, in opposite directions, to absolutely prevent hot tub cover removal.

In Ground Spas and Hot Tubs

Outdoor or Indoors, a spa that is at ground level presents an even larger danger to young residents or visitors, and accounts for more drownings and injuries than above ground spas – which are more difficult to access for 1-4 year old kids and easier to lock a spa cover on safely.

Many in ground spas may not even have a rigid spa safety cover – using a floating thermal blanket or soft cover instead. Of course, these are more convenient to use, than a rigid spa cover, but if there are young people in the house, nothing is safer.

You can still secure a spa cover on an in ground spa. Indoor spas may present more of a challenge, but nearly any flooring type around a spa can be drilled, and screw anchors installed – so that standard spa cover straps can be connected. Even outdoor spas – you can drill into the concrete with a small masonry drill bit and a hammer drill.

inground-spa-cover-locking-strapsWant even more protection? You can use pool safety cover hardware to secure a spa cover on an outdoor, in the ground spa or hot tub. Drill holes with a 3/4″ masonry bit and a heavy duty hammer drill.  Connect nylon strapping with the stainless steel buckles to the s.s. springs, and then attach the cover springs to the brass anchors with the installation rod that is used. In this way, you can run 2 or more straps over top of your cover, which hold the cover down tightly, and is difficult to remove without the installation rod. You can’t buy these, but you can make them, with pool safety cover hardware, and nylon strapping from the fabric store.

Keeping your spa safe is every hot tub owners responsibility. Even if you don’t have children, you likely have neighbors and guests who do – and also keeping out trespassing acquaintances should also be on your mind, to prevent an unwanted tragedy in your spa or hot tub.

 

XOXO;

Gina Galvin
Hot Tub Works