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Hot Tub 101 – The Basics Of Hot Tub Ownership

Anyone that owns a hot tub knows that there is a bit of a learning curve to hot tub ownership. If you’re new to hot tub ownership, here’s everything you need to know to get you started!

What To Do When You First Get Your Hot Tub

Read The Manual

The most important thing that you can do when you first get your new hot tub is to read the owner’s manual. Reading the owner’s manual will help you to better understand the features of your hot tub, and should show you how to program when the filtration cycles run. Schedule your filtration cycles to run during off peak hours to ensure that you’re not spending more to run your hot tub than you need to.

Set The Temperature

One of the most common questions that we get asked by new hot tub owners is “what temperature should my hot tub be set at?” The answer is whatever you want to set it to!

Most new hot tubs are programmed to heat up to 100F when they’re powered on. Use that as a starting point and turn the temperature up or down in 1 degree increments until you find a temperature that works for you. Most people tend to end up around 102F.

Note: If there will be young children using the hot tub, try not to set it above 100F. Young children cannot regulate their body temperatures as well as adults and can overheat if they stay in hot water for long periods of time.

Chemistry

Can You Run A Hot Tub Without Chemicals?

Another common questions we get from new hot tub owners is “can we run our hot tub without chemicals?” No matter what certain shady hot tub salesmen might tell you, answer is no. Hot tubs require chemicals to make the water safe for you to use, and to protect the hot tub itself from damage.

While you will always have to add chemicals to your hot tub, you can reduce the amount of chemicals that your hot tub requires. Adding an ozonator to the hot tub, for example, can help to kill bacteria, which will reduce the amount of chlorine or bromine sanitizer that you need to add to the water to keep it safe.

Testing The Water

To keep the hot tub water clean and safe to use you will need to keep it well “balanced”. How do you ensure that your hot tub water is in balance? Test it!

We recommend testing your water with a simple home testing kit at least 2-3 times per week. When testing the water at home, your main concern should be your sanitizer level. If your sanitizer level is low, add more before using the hot tub. If it’s too high, stop adding your chlorine / bromine until the level comes back down to within the normal range.

We also recommend having your water professionally tested for balance once every month. Having your water professionally tested not only gives you more accurate results than home tests, you’re also provided with a print out showing you exactly what steps you need to take to get the water balanced again.

Hot Tub Covers

Keep Your Cover Closed

When you’re not using the hot tub, it is a very good idea to keep the cover closed. There are a few reasons for this:

  • Closing the cover insulates the water from above, greatly increasing the energy efficiency of the hot tub.
  • If the cover is closed, debris like dirt and leaves can’t get in the water. This keeps the water cleaner and means that you’ll go through less chemicals.
  • If the cover is open during the day, the UV radiation from the Sun can quickly break down the sanitizer in the water, allowing bacteria to grow more easily.

Lock Your Cover

Hot tub covers come with straps that clip into special locking clips on the cabinet of the hot tub. Anytime you close the cover, make sure you also clip in the straps. Locking the cover down forms a tighter seal with top lip of the hot tub; greatly increasing the energy efficiency of the hot tub.

Protect Your Cover

The outer skin of your hot tub cover is slowly damaged by the UV from the Sun. To protect your cover, and extend its lifespan, pick up a UV protector from your local hot tub retailer. It is important to buy a product meant specifically for hot tub covers as generic cleaners will cause problems if they get in the hot tub water.

Don’t Use A Shovel To Clear Snow Off Of Your Cover

There will come a time during the winter when you’ll want to use your hot tub, only to find it covered in snow. When this happens, it’s important that you not use a snow shovel to clear the snow off of the cover.

It is very common for people to damage their hot tub covers with a shovel, usually when a corner of the shovel gets caught on the cover; tearing the outer fabric and exposing the insulting foam. Once this happens it doesn’t take long for the cover to become saturated and lose a lot of its insulating ability.

When clearing snow off of your cover, stick to brushes; like those used to clear snow off of car windshields.

Filtration

How Do Hot Tubs Keep The Water Clean?

Even with chemicals, without a filtration system hot tub water would quickly become dirty; filling up with oils, lotions, as well as small debris like sand and leaves.

For this reason all hot tubs come equipped with a micro filter. This filter traps smaller debris like sand, as well as oils and lotions that build up in the water with use. Over time, the amount of debris trapped in the filter increases to the point where it can no longer effectively clean the water and will need to be cleaned.

How Often Should I Clean My Filter?

We generally recommend giving your micro filter a basic clean every 1-2 weeks. To do this, simply remove the filter and clean it with some running water, either from your sink or garden hose.

These basic cleaning do a great job of removing trapped debris, although they’re not great at removing oils and lotions. To remove those, you also need to chemically clean the filter every 3-4 months. This can be done by submerging the filter in a specialty cleaning solution. Talk to your retailer for more information.

Cleaning your filters will only go so far however. Over time, micro filters wear out and need to be replaced. To maintain good filtration, replace your hot tub filter every 12-18 months, depending on how often you use the hot tub.

Changing The Hot Tub Water

Topping Up The Water In The Hot Tub

Over time a hot tub will lose water, mainly due to evaporation. To keep your filtration system working smoothly, and for your own comfort, top up the water in the hot tub periodically to maintain a level that covers 1/2 – 2/3 of the skimmer area (the spot where your micro-filter is).

Why Change The Hot Tub Water?

Even if you add the right chemicals and regularly clean your filter, the water in your hot tub will eventually need to be changed.

Over time, hot tub water accumulates various minerals and other ultra fine debris; commonly referred to as total dissolved solids (or TDS for short). When your TDS gets too high, your water will become cloudy very easily, will develop foam when the jets are on, and can feel “hard” on your skin.

How Often Should I Change The Water In A Hot Tub?

Generally speaking, you should change your hot tub water when the TDS gets to a level of 1500 above where it was when it was initially filled. For most hot tubs, this means you will have to change the water every 3-4 months, although you should get your water tested to confirm. Self-Cleaning hot tubs from Hydropool are the exception. Their ultra efficient filtration system allows them to go up to 6 months in between water changes.

Wrapping Up

For new hot tub owners, maintaining a hot tub can seem daunting at first. There are many little things that you must remember to do in order to keep the hot tub running properly. Once you’ve owned a hot tub for a little while, however, you will start to get more comfortable and realize that maintaining a hot tub is actually pretty simple. All you need to do is follow a few basic rules and stick to basic a maintenance schedule and you will enjoy many years of worry free hot tub ownership!

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