27 Awesome Tips and Tricks for Hot Tub Care
- Matt Giovanisci
Owning a hot tub is one of life’s awesome perks.
However, as a hot tub owner you know that it’s not all about relaxing, reading, drinking, and whatever else you decide to do in your hot tub – no judgment here. You need to take care of it! That means, cleaning it, testing it, adding chemicals, and making sure it’s safe for everyone that uses it.
I put out a call to the very best that the hot tub industry has to offer and asked them to share with us their coolest, most unique, most unconventional hot tub care tips and tricks.
Perhaps some of these you may know already and are currently performing them, but I can assure you there are some really cool tricks and tips in here that even I didn’t know about and I’m sure you’ll find useful.
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Without further ado in no particular order, here are 27 awesome hot tub care tips and tricks from industry’s top professionals:
When it becomes necessary to drain and re-fill a hot tub (which is frequently to maintain water balance in such a small body of water), cover the lower return inlets with nylons to catch the re-circulating debris and prevent it from getting back into the filter system.
Place tennis balls into the skimmers – or directly into the water – to attract bodily oils, hair products, lotions, etc. from entering the filtration system. Change them as necessary depending on the bather load.
I like to make my own siphon vac from a section of garden hose screwed onto a length of 3/4″ pvc pipe with an MTA fitting on the end. It’s quick and easy to pull it out, prime it up, drop the hose, and use it to vac up grit and small debris.
- 3′ piece of 3/4″ schedule 40 pvc
- 6′ piece of garden hose, with a female end on one end
- 3/4″ MTA fitting, (male threaded adapter), glued onto the end of the pipe.
The hose screws onto the MTA fitting. To use the device, submerge it in water to fill up the hose (prime it). Cap the hose end and drop it on the ground. It will start flowing immediately. Begin vacuuming to waste!
Hot tub covers are notorious for producing a musty or mildew smell after a while. That’s why it’s important to keep your cover clean and free of these foul odors.
Use a small amount of bleach (10%) added to water (90%) and wipe down the bottom of the hot tub cover every 90 days. This will help prevent your cover from getting that musty smell that everyone dislikes.
It is very useful to use an enzyme product on a regular basis for maintaining a hot tub!
Why do this, and what does it do?
Enzyme products break down fatty lipids, keep a pool or hot tub cleaner, and help the sanitizing chemicals work better. Enzymes are also great for keeping the filter cleaner and helping prevent the unpleasant “scummy line” that can form around the top.
Think of enzymes as little miniature scum busters for your hot tub! A little dab will do you and be well worth the small investment to keep your hot tub pristine.
When filling your hot tub, either for the first time or after cleaning it, make sure you set yourself a timer. My brother-in-law fried his equipment because he forgot to check on the hot tub for hours!
Also, while filling up your hot tub, attach a filter to the end of your hose. This will filter the water as it’s going in. If you can’t find a filter, place the hose in the filter area so that it will pass through them while filling the hot tub.
Clean your cartridge often…spray cleaners make this process easier.
When cleaning the filter, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. If your filter is replaceable, it’s a good idea to keep a second filter on hand for uninterrupted hot tub fun. This allows for a quick change-out so you can resume your activities without missing a beat.
Steer clear of household chemicals when cleaning the hot tub shell – you should use a cleaning chemical that is specifically designed for hot tubs. Be sure to rinse the shell with fresh water if you do use any cleaning agents. Cheaper is not always better.
To check for interior surface problems, without draining the water, squirt some dish soap in the water to break the ripples from the wind.
Lisa Hallett Taylor
NOTE: This tip applies to hot tubs with tile.
Before turning it on for a soak, apply a paste of baking soda and water (mix in a small bowl to get a paste-like consistency) with a sponge.
After five minutes or so, fire up the hot tub, bring an old toothbrush into the tub with you, and attack those dirty grout lines. I know this turns what should be a relaxing experience into more work, but at least you know you’re attempting to maintain it.
Since you’ve used baking soda, it won’t be a harmful chemical if it washes into the hot tub. Just do a small area each time, or encourage your hot tub co-horts to bring their toothbrushes and clean the tile with you. Make a party of it!
No baking soda in the cupboard? Use vinegar.
Do more frequent partial water changes instead of complete water changes to lower the TDS in your hot tub. This is common practice with fish tanks.
I find people are generally not sure why they have to change the water. The main reason is to reduce TDS to make water balancing easier/possible.
We sell a lot of hot tubs in places where it is cold in winter, and doing partial water changes (more frequently) is much more convenient when it is cold out (less time outside, less chance of something freezing, etc).
A lot of people can take advantage of off peak heating to reduce their energy consumption/heating bills.
If you’re not sure of your off peak hours, check with your utility provider to find out the details.
If you have a well-insulated hot tub, you often can program it to heat primarily when your energy costs are the lowest.
A great way to keep your hot tub filter cartridge sparkling clean is to run it through the dishwasher! This will get the grease and gunk out of your filter with very little effort.
You want to put it on the top shelf if it will fit and make sure to turn off the heated drying cycle to prevent damage. Just run it through a standard cycle and you can even use dishwasher detergent if it’s really dirty!
It’s a super easy way to get your filter cartridge all cleaned up and working like new!
Use white vinegar to clean valves and jets if they get an excessive buildup of calcium.
In high ambient temperature times of year, if your hot tub is creeping up in temperature because of these high temperatures, put 2 tennis balls between the acrylic shell and cover at night to allow the cooler night temperature to help keep the water temperature down.
Keep your cover open for 15 minutes after adding chemicals in order to prevent the corrosive off gasses from damaging your pillows, plastic parts, and cover.
Simple but very effective: Keep your hot tub covered when not in use, and use Bromine.
Because hot tubs are so much smaller than pools, the amount of bacteria has a greater concentration, therefore making Bromine a much better chemical treatment than Chlorine.
Covering up your hot tub at all times will keep harmful UV rays from dissipating the Bromine, extending the life of your sanitizer.
Even if you monitor your hot tub water, it can very easily get out of control.
I often instruct people not to waste a lot of time and money dumping expensive chemicals into their hot tubs in effort to clear them up. All you need to do is simply drain, wipe the tub dry, refill, add start-up levels of your chemicals of choice, and enjoy.
It only costs around $15.00 dollars to fill an average hot tub with water vs. hundreds of dollars chemicals. This tip not only makes financial sense, all things being considered, it’s actually less harmful to environment.
Use a floating hot tub cover (and a regular hard top cover).
It will serve to protect your normal cover from moisture and chemicals, as well as making your hot tub more energy efficient.
Using the same chemicals in your hot tub as you do in your pool can also be a very costly mistake. Here are some good reasons why you shouldn’t use pool chemicals in your hot tub:
- Tri-chlor tablets are very acidic and concentrated for treating large areas of water. The acidity will lead to a quick decline in pH.
- Soda ash for your pool can cause water balance issues due to the high pH of soda ash added to a small amount of water.
- Muriatic pool acid can also cause problems. Use alkalinity and pH products that are made for hot tubs.
- Liquid chlorine has one pound of salt in every gallon. When that’s added to a hot tub, it will cause the total alkalinity, pH and hardness to increase fast.
Also, I don’t buy your chemicals from the big box stores just to save money.
Make sure that the Air Control Injection Valves are closed when you finish using your hot tub. These are the knobs on top of the hot tub that allow air to mix with the water coming out of your jets. Since these valves let cold air into the water, it will take much longer to heat up your hot tub if they remain open during the heating cycle.
Try to avoid getting oil based or soap based products in your water. When cleaning your hot tub, avoid products like Glass Plus, Fantastic, Formula 409 or car cleaners. These products contain soap or ammonia based degreasers and are very bad for your water chemistry.
Also, try to avoid products like hair spray, hair mousse, styling gels, deodorant, anti-perspiration sun tan lotion, excess sweat, skin creams of any sort ( ie, Jergens, Nivea, Soft Sense, arthritis creams ), or excess soap or dyes in bathing suits. Any of these products will seriously cloud up your water and clog your filter. Although inconvenient, try to have bathers shower before going into the hot tub.
Keep some baseball type caps near your hot tub so that people with long hair can tuck their hair up under the cap to keep it from getting into the water. This will keep a lot of hair spray and hair products from getting into the water.
Your hot tub water needs to be tested regularly. The frequency depends on your region, weather conditions, and how much it gets used. A good rule of thumb is four to five times per week and a good quality test kit is vital to provide safe water for your friends and loved ones.
Adding chemicals to a smaller body of water can be extremely challenging because adding too much can cause major shifts in chemistry. It’s extremely important to accurately measure any chemical needed based on the gallons of water in the hot tub to prevent equipment damage or skin damage.
My biggest thing is with adding chemicals is when someone adds too much acid, and if it’s not properly balanced, it can ruin the heating element.
pH is always more important than Total Alkalinity and it is not always possible to get both in range.
When the pH is optimum and the TA is low, adding TA Booster could raise the pH to a level higher than 7.8. Now, you might have a proper TA, but the pH will be too high. So you’ll add acid and the pH will be back to where it started and so will the TA. You will feel like a yo yo.
If you can’t get them both right, it could because of the nature of the natural minerals, present in the source water. Raising the calcium hardness to 250 PPM will make the water less corrosive and could help the situation.
There are several buffering products, that help stabilize the pH and help solve the TA problem. However, these products should not be used, if the calcium hardness is over 250 PPM, because precipitation will cloud the water.
So what to do?
Monitor the pH and keep it in range. Should it drop below 7.2, use sodium bicarbonate, instead of sodium carbonate, to raise the pH, as that will help boost the TA. Don’t get caught on the yo yo roller coaster.
In many areas of the world the temperature may drop below 32°F (0°C). We recommend the hot tub is always filled with water and running at normal temperatures. By doing this you will minimize the risk of freezing. If it is necessary to leave your hot tub unattended for long periods of time during the cold weather conditions, you should drain it to avoid accidental freezing caused by power outages. You can perform the following winterizing procedures:
- Ensure that you have fully drained the hot tub.
- Disconnect the hand tightened union fitting going to and from the jet pumps. Be careful not to lose the o-rings between the unions and pump housing.
- Leave drain valve in the open position and the safety cap off.
- To completely drain the plumbing lines, a wet/dry shop vacuum can be used to draw out any remaining water. Place the vacuum hose over the jet fittings in the hot tub as well as the plumbing lines in the equipment area. You should also disconnect the plug on the crystal clear ozone injection tube (if your hot tub has this).
- Remove the filter cartridge and store in a warm, dry area.
- Clean the shell and place the cover on the hot tub. BE sure to lock the cover in place in case of high winds or rain.
Emergency Situations – To eliminate freezing in the event of an equipment failure, use a small heater via extension cord and place it in the equipment area, keeping it away from plumbing lines. This will help for a short period of time until proper service can be rendered.
The above are guidelines ONLY. Potential freeze damage may still occur.
Do YOU have any cool hot tub care tips?
In the comments below, please share your unique tip for hot tub care that you think other readers might like to use implement.
I would like to thank everyone who participated in this post! I really appreciate everybody who stepped up to share their expertise :-)