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Spa & Hot Tub Covers FAQ

June 27th, 2017 by

Spa Covers at Hot Tub WorksSpa covers are kind of our thing, so it’s only natural that we talk about them a lot on our little hot tub blog. We hear hundreds of questions from our customers, spa owners just like you, regarding hot tub covers.

We get questions about how to measure for a hot tub cover, or how long do custom covers take to ship (3 weeks), or my favorite, which color hides bird poop best? We’ve hopefully omitted most of the lower value questions.

Having sold over 500,000 spa covers, we are somewhat of an authority on spa covers, and therefore qualified to write a simple FAQ on the topic. I hope you find this information useful, and if you have any other questions about our hot tub covers, please don’t hesitate to contact us!

What are Spa Covers Made From?

Jerry shown in the Vinyl area of the HTW warehouseSpa covers are made from a custom cut and sewn jacket made from 30 oz. Marine Grade Vinyl, with a sturdy 4-layer brass hinge, and extra heavy duty nylon zipper and scrim. EPS foam core panels are wrapped in 1 or 2 layers of 6-mil PE sheeting, vacuum wrapped tightly, with seams heat sealed. All of our covers also include a 20 ga. steel C-channel running the entire hinge, are ASTM approved, and include 4 sturdy handles and 4 straps with cover clips.

How are Hot Tub Covers Made?

Jerry, one of our owners, in the foam roomThe process starts with a careful spa cover measurement, or you can also order by spa make and model (please call if you are unsure!). Our spa cover technicians enter the measurements into the CAD program, which checks for errors and inconsistencies in measurements, and makes association with known makes/models of spas. After approval of the measures, they are fed into the vinyl cutting machine which laser cuts the shapes for the vinyl jacket. The jacket is sewn together by large sewing machines, using high quality and durable threads, double stitching edges, and cross-hatching corners. Meanwhile, in the foam department, the EPS foam panels fo the selected weight and density are cut to the exact shape, again by laser cutting, computer controlled machines. After cutting, the foam panels are inspected and then vacuum sealed into one or two (optional) 6-mil plastic sheets, with the edges trimmed and heat sealed. The panels are then married with the jacket, and the nearly completed spa cover goes through two quality control checks, before it is boxed and shipped to you.

How Much do Spa Covers Cost?

The average price of a spa cover is about $375, but we sell covers from $250-$450, all day long. It’s nice if you can wait to find spa covers on sale, or if you can make use of a nice coupon to shave 10% or more off of the cost of a new spa cover. Alas, it often happens that your spa cover’s demise occurs suddenly and buying a new spa cover becomes rather urgent. The nice thing about spa covers, and unlike a lot of other things in this world, spa cover prices have remained steady for the last 20 years, as new efficiencies make production cheaper, even as material costs have increased over the years.

How Long do Spa Covers Last?

You could take our warranty period as a clue, Comparing Spa Covers, you will see that our Economy has a 1 year warranty, and our Standard has a 3 year warranty, but if you spend a little more, the next 4 models all have five (5) year, bumper to bumper warranties. So, depending on what you buy, you can expect 3-5 years from most covers. In my experience however, it is not unusual for a spa cover to last longer, when well maintained and protected from mishap. Jack Stone often brags about his ten year old spa cover, around the office. So they can last a long time, but the average is probably closer to 5 years.

How to Clean a Spa Cover?

Does your spa cover smell like mildew? Or have birds taken up target practice with your spa cover, or overhanging trees deposited a mix of pollen and sap? Cleaning your spa cover every month or so, will keep it smelling nice and looking good.

Floating spa blanketsFor a smelly spa cover, remove it and stand it up on its side, and give it a spray with a mild (1:10) bleach solution, on the underside of the cover only. Allow to dry and wipe down. If you spot mildew inside the outer jacket, unzip the jacket and pull out the foam panels carefully, and allow them to air dry. Follow-up with another bleach treatment or other treatment for mold/mildew, and when dry, reinsert the panels (easier with two people). To keep your spa cover smelling nice, remove the cover off the spa 2-3x per week, to allow it to drain and breathe, and consider using a floating spa cover to reduce the moisture up against the bottom of your hot tub cover.

303-spa-cover-wipesTo clean the outside (top side) of a spa cover, which is usually covered with Marine Grade Vinyl, a mild soap or vinyl cleanser can be used. Avoid using any kitchen or bathroom cleaners, but you can use a mild dish soap, or our specially formulated Hot Tub Cover Cleaner, or 303 Spa Cover Wipes are super convenient. After cleaning your spa cover, condition and protect it with vinyl treatments like our Cover Conditioner, or 303 Protectant spray to lock out the elements and make stains easy to clean. The Spa Cover Care Kit, has everything you need to clean and condition your spa cover, to make it last years longer, and look good doing it too.

How to Protect a Hot Tub Cover?

High Wind Spa Cover 'Hurricane' Straps shownIn addition to cleaning and drying your spa cover regularly, as described above, there are other tips that can help you lengthen lifespan. Number one, is get used to latching your cover down every time you use it, and if you live in a high wind area, use Cover Straps to avoid wind damage, which can destroy a spa cover in under 3 seconds. Number Two – look up above the cover, are there any tree branches that could break and come crashing down? If you can’t or do not want to trim back the branches, a pergola or other protection could be built around the tub, to afford some protection from flying or falling debris. Thirdly, is to protect the spa cover from excess moisture and chemical damage by using a Floating Spa Blanket, which also reduces heat loss, which means your heater can run less. Spa blankets also protect the spa cover from high bromine and ozone levels. If you use an ozonator, dial back the bromine levels to <1 ppm, and maintain pH in the 7.3-7.6 range to avoid acidic water conditions.

Why do Spa Covers become Heavy?

Man shown struggling with heavy hot tub coverAlthough closed cell foam does not absorb water in ocean or lake environments, or even pools – for a hot tub covers scenario there can be a 50 degree difference between the hot tub water and surrounding air, and the only thing in between is those two foam panels. What really fails is the vapor barrier, a plastic bag that is tightly wrapped around the foam core to lock out moisture. Our panels are vacuum wrapped and heat sealed, in 6 mil PE plastic sheeting, and we offer a double wrap upgrade for extra protection against foam panels becoming waterlogged. But still, rough handling or accidents can puncture the vapor barrier, allowing moisture to come in contact with the foam. Other less well wrapped or thinner foam panels may be taped or stapled, and not heat sealed, which will fail over time, allowing the very aggressive hot steam to penetrate even the smallest gaps or laps. If the vapor barrier is not vacuum sealed, to suck out all of the air, it makes it much easier to snag and puncture the vapor barrier. Using a floating spa blanket, and air drying your spa cover twice per week, and inspecting and patching any damage to the vapor barrier, can all help prevent a waterlogged spa cover.

Do I need a Hot Tub Cover Lifter?

animation of spa cover lifterYes, Spa Lifters are needed, and for two reasons – 1). To save your back and prevent personal injury when removing or installing the spa cover, and 2) to protect the spa cover from all sorts of calamity, when it’s being removed, and while not-so safely stored off the spa. It’s happened a million times – you very carefully leaned the spa cover up against the wall or the tub just like always, but this time… the dog, the wind, the kids, the lawnmower, the drunk friend…

How to Latch & Lock a Spa Cover?

Replacement spa cover clip set Lock your spa covers securely, to keep out small children, curious animals and large dogs, and to keep the wind from lifting your spa top, and possibly launching it across the backyard. When you get a new cover, you’ll need to adjust and perhaps reinstall the cover clips and latch mechanism. To prevent cover damage, and unauthorized use, the straps should be taut, so that it is necessary to push down slightly on the spa cover, to be able to unlatch the cover clips. If they are too loose, they are easy for small hands to open, and it can allow wind to come up under the cover, cooling the spa and possibly damage the cover if it begins to ‘chatter’ in heavy winds. To reinstall the latch mechanism to a new location, all that is needed is a screwdriver, in most cases. You can fill previous screw holes with a wood putty, or just leave the screws in the hole.

 


 

And that’s it – short and sweet, just like me! If you have other spa cover questions that we didn’t answer, drop me a line with your questions or concerns!

 

Carolyn Mosby
Hot Tub Works

 

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