Nothing is made to last forever and hot tub covers are no exception. In this article, we’ll discuss how long hot tub covers typically last and give you some tips for extending the lifespan of your current hot tub cover.
How Long Do Hot Tub Covers Last In Canada?
In general, hot tub covers will last for around 4-5 years, though this can change depending on a variety of factors, including:
- Sun exposure. The UV radiation from the sun can damage the vinyl skin of the cover and reduce its lifespan.
- Rough treatment. Covers that are kept on cover lifters typically receive a lot less wear and tear than those that aren’t, resulting in a longer lifespan.
- Water balance. Poor water balance can degrade the underside of the cover; breaking down the vapour barrier designed to keep the insulating foam dry.
- Falling debris. Falling debris like tree branches or icicles can pierce the outer skin of the cover and cause it to take on water.
- Heavy snow / ice loads. Hot tub covers are not designed to bear heavy weights. Heavy loads of snow and ice in the winter can cause the cover to buckle in the centre; breaking the seal that the cover forms with the edge of the hot tub.
Why Should You Replace Your Cover?
Old, worn out hot tub covers don’t just look bad, they also cost you a ton of money in added energy costs. In fact, an old, inefficient cover can cost you several hundred dollars over the course of a single winter!
Hot tub covers are designed to form a tight seal around the edge of the hot tub to prevent heat escaping. Once this seal is formed, the foam insulation will act as a barrier between the hot water in the tub and the cold air outside.
Foam provides insulation by trapping warm air within the air bubbles of the foam. Since water is a poor insulator (water transfers heat 32 times faster than air), if those air bubbles fill with water the cover loses much of its insulating ability. This causes a dramatic increase in your monthly electric bill, especially in the winter.
Signs It’s Time To Replace Your Cover
There are two big signs that your hot tub cover needs to be replaced.
1) The Cover Is Heavier Than Normal
Most hot tub covers need to be replaced when their foam core becomes saturated with water. Although the insulating foam cores are protected by a heavy plastic vapour barrier, as we’ve seen this barrier does break down over time and allows water to be absorbed into the foam.
As water is absorbed into the foam, the cover will start to get heavy, very heavy. If not replaced the cover will eventually become too heavy to lift by yourself. At this stage you not only experience higher than normal energy costs, you also run the risk of either causing damage to your cover lifter or splitting the cover in half along its centre seam.
2) The Cover Has Started To Cup
Another sign a hot tub cover needs to be replaced is if it has begun to buckle (“cup”). This will happen when the cover is subjected to heavy loads (usually from snow or ice sitting on them) over long periods of time. There are two ways to easily tell if your cover has started to cup:
- Water pools in the centre of the cover.
- The corners of the cover have started to lift away from the shell of the hot tub.
Cupped hot tub covers are a problem because they break the seal around the edge of the hot tub, allowing a substantial amount of steam and (more importantly) heat to escape. This leads to a higher energy bill, more water needing to be added (and heated), and more money spent on balancing chemicals.
Tips To Extend The Life Of Your Cover
Now that you’ve replaced your cover, here are a few tips to make sure that you get the longest possible life out of it!
- Don’t rest anything heavy on your cover. Remove any heavy loads of snow or ice in the winter, being careful no to damage the cover in the process. Avoid using metal or hard plastic shovels as their blades can catch on the cover and tear open the vinyl skin.
- Use a hot tub cover lifter to minimize wear and tear on the cover.
- Leave your cover fully open for at least 30 minutes after shocking your hot tub. After you shock the hot tub, strong chemical vapours are released that can harm the underside of the cover and increase the rate at which the vapour barrier deteriorates.
- Clean your cover using a UV protecting spray at 2-4 times a year to help reduce the harmful effects that the Sun has on the vinyl finish of the cover.
- Make sure that your water is properly balanced. Acidic water can stretch out the fabric on the underside of the cover. Consistently high levels of chlorine or bromine can also degrade the fabric and foam of the cover.
- Use the built in clips to lock your cover down and prevent it from being carried off and damaged by high winds. This will also form a better seal, reducing the amount of heat loss and increasing the energy efficiency of the hot tub.
With an average of 30-40% of the heat loss in a hot tub coming from its cover, making sure that your hot tub cover is working at peak capacity should be a top priority for any hot tub owner. While new covers aren’t cheap; broken, cupped, or saturated hot tub covers can cost you hundreds of dollars in added energy costs over the course of a single winter. Knowing when to replace your cover is therefore vital to ensuring your hot tub is running at peak efficiency.
Most hot tub covers will last around 4-5 years, though this can be reduced by a variety of factors; some in your control and some not. The lifespan of your hot tub cover can also be extended with regular cleanings, good water balance and by utilizing cover lifters.