Hot Tub Frequently Asked Questions
Our customers often ask questions regarding buying, owning and maintaining their hot tubs, so we've compiled some of the most frequently asked questions here. Read on to learn more about hot tubs.
Do you need planning permission to install a hot tub?
Planning permission is not normally required for items of a relocatable/temporary nature like a hot tub or swim spa, however, if you live in an area of outstanding natural beauty, or listed property or a conservation area you would do well to seek advice from the planners before installing your pool or spa.
What do you need to prepare before installing a hot tub?
To install your hot tub, you only need to worry about three things: a solid, level base to stand it on, a power outlet to provide the juice, and a hose pipe to fill it up with - it really is that simple. If you plan to sink the spa, there will be the added consideration of access to the component door for servicing, so do bear that in mind when planning and preparing your base. Always get full installation instructions from your supplier, which should include specific advice on sinking the model purchased.
How do you actually move and install the hot tub?
Most hot tubs are very heavy and easily damaged, so if you intend to move one make sure you have plenty of help and good dollies/trailers to help move the spa. It is usual to put a hot tub on its side for moving, but take care not to put it on the pumps side as the door on most hot tubs is very weak (some hot tubs have to be transported flat). Note: Hire a trailer or flat bed to drive from one address to another, most hot tubs will not fit in a luton or a transit van. If in doubt call in a hot tub company who will be expert in moving spas and insured.
How long should it take a hot tub to get hot?
Firstly, we must remember hot tub heaters vary considerably, from 1KW up to 6KW, and the volume of water to be heated varies, as does the mains water temperature from summer to winter. As an example, let's look at a 300 gallon hot tub with a 1.5kW heater, with summer temperature mains water. You should expect this to be hot in about 20 hours. Bigger spas, different heaters and winter mains water will all have longer or shorter heating times. A final point - hot tubs are designed to be hot 24/7. Once a hot tub is hot you are only ever topping up lost heat. A 1.5KW heater will put about 3 degrees of heat into a spa per hour, so a typical 1/2 hour use will drop the spa temperature about 1 degree, meaning it will take about 20 minutes to recover.
Hot tubs are made in many different ways using many different materials. The least expensive designs will cost about £5 a week to own, up to £30 for other designs. Why the huge difference? Does the spa come with a Thermal cover or just a thin floating cover made of bubble wrap? Most heat escapes from the top so a good quality thermal cover will save you loads of money. Is the spa insulated with foam or reflective materials? If it is not, then your expensive heat is just floating off into the garden. If the spa has an air blower, this will look nice, but have no therapeutic value and cost a fortune in waste heat. As the air travels from the bottom of the spa to the top it absorbs the water heat and takes it straight out in to the air. If you can see air vents in the cabinet then this means valuable heat is being lost to the outside, instead of being recycled back into the spa water. Hot tubs are designed to be kept hot 24/7. If they are built correctly, an average 300 gallon hot tub used 1/2 hour per day, every day, with an average 15p per kW energy cost will cost the owner about £260 a year. Larger hot tubs with more surface area and longer use periods, in colder climates like Scotland, and with higher energy costs, will cost more.
Is it more efficient to keep your hot tub hot, or heat it up for each use?
If your use pattern is to use your spa most nights, then provided your spa has been made with a good cover and quality insulation, it is best to keep the spa hot. This way, your heater will cut in and out as it needs to, and in summer may hardly come on at all. If your use pattern is less often, and/or your spa is not insulated to a very high standard, then you are much better off turning it off between use. Note: In the winter, because of the risk of freeze damage if the spa is not being heated, it should be completely drained if you are switching the heat off.
What is the average temperature for an outside hot tub?
Well, this depends on the time of year and season. If we are talking summer, then most people keep the spa at about 37C-ish, which is about body temperature - much lower than this and the water will feel cold! In the middle of winter, I think it is normal to be at 40C or even 41/42C. Any temperature over 37.5C will feel warm, but as the winter can get down to -5C or -6C you will need the water temperature to combat the cold. In water this hot keep drinking lots of water to stay hydrated.
How long should you stay in your hot tub?
There is no recommended time limit for bathing in your hot tub, however, it is best to keep yourself hydrated whilst you are in the spa and drink plenty of water. You should also take care to maintain your sanitizer level, which will deplete over a few hours of bathing.
Are hot tubs good for your skin?
Water is good for your skin, but hot water over a long period will cause your skin to dry out. It is important to maintain the correct pH and Sanitizer balance so as not to cause skin irritation. I would always suggest that a good moisturiser is used all over after using your hot tub.
Can you get Chlamydia or other sexually transmitted infections from a hot tub?
It is most unlikely, but not impossible. If a hot tub has not been sanitized correctly, then sharing a hot tub with someone who is infected could allow for the Chlamydia to grow in the hot tub water. It is so important to maintain 5ppm of Chlorine at all times and ensure all other chemical balances are correct.
Can hot tubs cause headaches?
It is most important to drink plenty of water if you are in your hot tub for a long time at high temperatures. If you do not keep hydrated, then you could give yourself a headache which may lead to faintness or dizziness if you aren't careful.
Spa Maintenance Questions
How do you drain a hot tub?
Many hot tubs have bottom drains which you connect to a hose pipe and run to a drain. However if you have not got a bottom drain then this is not a big problem as you can purchase a submersible pump and roll flat hose and can drain the spa that way just as easily.
What is an air lock in a hot tub?
Air locks happen when the hot tub is being filled with water. It is possible for both ends of a plumbing system to simultaneously fill up with water at both the suction end and the return end which sometimes leaves an air lock in the plumbing. This can cause both heater and pump problems. To overcome this issue it is suggested to push the hose pipe down into where your filters screw in which will purge all the air out of your important heating and circulation systems.
How do you mend hair line cracks in your hot tub?
To prevent shell problems it is a good idea to invest in a good solid, flat base when you first buy your hot tub. Sometimes, however, even this is not enough to stop hair line cracks forming when the hot tub gets old. Over heavy covers, people sitting on the edge or poor manufacture can all result in the same problem of hair line cracks. To stop a crack getting worse drill a small hole at the end of the crack with say a 4mm drill. Once you have stopped the crack you must now repair the damaged shell. With most spas you can remove the wooden sides and then re-fibreglass the area behind the crack. With some shell materials you can buy Acrylic pellets and melt them with acetone, this can be carefully applied to the visible side of the crack to make good the hole. Sometimes depending on the shell material you can grind out around the crack and once the fibreglass has hardened you the pellets and acetone to make a mixture and fill in the ground out section. If in doubt, consider calling in your dealer to undertake this work.
How do you repair an old hot tub cover?
This is not easy unless you have access to an industrial sewing machine, Marine grade vinyl and a huge shrink wrap machine to heat-seal your polystyrene inner cores. I think that when a cover fails, which is very common at about 4-5 years, you need to buy a new one from a reputable manufacturer.
How do you remove limescale and biofilms from the inside of the pipe work?
Once a year you need to treat your spa to hot tub System Cleaner. This is designed to clean out and remove Limescale and Biofilms from the insides of the pipes that you cannot scrub. Simply add system cleaner to Hot tub water before your 3- 4 monthly refill and allow to circulate for an hour. Then drain and refill with clean water drain and refill a second time and you are good to go. Note remove your filter during this process and soak in cartridge cleaner, then power wash before refitting to clean water.
How do you replace the electrical panel on a Riptide hot tub?
First disconnect spa from power supply, find the front and remove the door which is held in place by 4 screws. Set in the middle of the opening is the control panel. Remove the two small screws which hold the cover in place and then disconnect each sensor or cable one at a time making sure in each case to mark clearly where each cable or wire came from. Once all the cables are removed there are two retaining screws in the back of the panel and you can remove the box by pushing it to the left. Once removed put new box in to position, push to the right and re install the 2 retaining screws, then cable by cable refit all cables and sensors back to the correct terminals. put cover back on replace door and turn on the power, job done in about 1 hour.
Is my Riptide Ozone generator really working?
A Corona discharge ozone generator can appear to be working, when in fact it is not working at all. The bubbles associated with ozone systems in spas will appear whether the ozone generator is functioning or not. The reason for this is because the generator creates an ozone, but relies on a flow of air drawn through a Venturi to mix the ozone with your spa water. It is quite possible for the generator to stop working, but for bubbles to still appear but no ozone has been produced.
So how do I check if my Riptide Fresh water Ozone generator is working?
Remove the wooden door to the compartment with all your pumps etc inside. Sit looking into the compartment and identify the power supply lead to the Ozone generator and then attach an AMP clamp the reading should be .3 Amps. If you do not get a reading check the Fuse which on later models is fitted with in the Generator box but is accessed from outside next to the Ozone outlet. The fuse is a .5amp fuse and if this has blown needs to be replaced before testing the amps again.
Any current less than .3 amp means the ozone generator is failing and should be replaced the part number for a new unit to current spec is 72603 which includes new Venturi,new pipe and one way valve.
Spa Issue FAQs
Why will my hot tub not stay hot?
This could be down to a faulty part like a failed heater, circulation pump or thermostat, or even simply that there is not enough water in the hot tub. However, if the spa heats up again after use, then your spa is using more heat than your heater can replace. If this is the case, you could fit a larger heater (if your power supply allows), or you could avoid using the blower, which takes a lot of heat out of your spa. Many spas also turn the heater off when the jet pumps run - there is normally a jumper on the control box to switch on full-time, but again it will take more power, and you must get an electrician to check whether you have the correct supply cable and fuse.
I have frozen hot tub pipes, what can I do?
If you have been caught out buy a cold snap and your Hot tub is now full of water and frozen then you are looking at a very expensive lollipop! When water freezes it expands and the plastic pipe work in most Hot tubs will crack. All you can do is wait until it thaws turn the spa on and look for leaks. Better still is drain down your spa in advance of cold weather or keep it hot and ready to use.
Why is my hot tub Cover waterlogged?
Hot tub covers are made of dense polystyrene wrapped in polythene and then put in to a vinyl cover. When new this is a light and strong way of keeping the heat in and the garden leaves and children out of the spa. However as the cover gets older the corrosive chlorine and ozone that is used to kill bacteria in the spa water also starts to break down the polythene wrapping around the polystyrene core. Over time usually about 4-5 years the polythene becomes porous and allows the steam from the Hot tub to rise up in to the core until it becomes too heavy to lift. When this happens it is too late and a new cover is required.
How do you stop hot tub leaks?
If your Hot tub leaks there is no other solution than take off the side identify the problem and either replace the seal or union or cut out faulty fitting or joint and clean and re glue new pipe work. This is normally a job for a trained spa technician.
Water Care FAQs
What does an Ozone generator do?
Introducing Ozone to the spa water after the heater as part of the circulation system is quite normal. The Ozone generator creates very high levels of ozone which in turn oxidises bacteria in the circulation system. If you do not have an Ozone system then you will use more sanitizer like Chlorine. Note UV Ozone system need to have a new bulb every year! CD ozone systems last longer but generally need changing every 5 years or so.
Can you put soap into a hot tub?
The idea of bubbles in your hot tub may at first appeal, but when the bubbles rise up out of the spa and block the light, and then start to blow around the garden, you will probably change your mind. As a general rule no soap or detergents is best. I personally shower before I use the hot tub, to clean off any shampoo, body wash or detergents in my swimming costume. If I have guests around, I also ask them to shower, so they do not bring any soaps in to my spa. If there is a small amount of soap in the water, then a few drops of Foam Reducer will make the water nice again. The detergents which get into the spa from shampoo and body wash are not really doing any damage, but are not nice to bathe in either.
What do you add to raise Alkalinity in hot tubs?
You can raise your TA level with a good quality alkalinity increaser chemical, like Hot Tub Barn Alkalinity Increaser, which is sold in 1kg child-proof pots.
What if I do not put chemicals in to my hot tub?
If you do not want to put any chemicals in to your hot tub, no problem. But you must drain down and refill after each use and ensure that the water is never in the spa for more than 12 hours! If this seems like t0o much hard work and you want to keep the same water in the spa for up to 3-4 months then you have to balance Alkalinity, PH and Sanitizer or your water will become foul and dangerous.
How do you clean a hot tub filter?
Filters will over time clog with dirt and grease until they no longer allow water to flow through. When this happens jets can feel less strong and heaters may cut out. On a regular basis it is important to thoroughly clean your filters, First of all remove the filter or filters from the spa and then soak for 24 hours in a bucket full of Hot tub Barn cartridge cleaner. This will chemically break down the grease so that when you remove from the cartridge cleaner and wash with a hose it will be back to new again.
HARD WATER: If you live in a hard water area then it is important to use a pressure cleaner as well as to soak in cartridge cleaner. The pressure cleaner will remove the calcium that has built up in the filter and blocks the filter holes. Calcium is white and a clean filter is white and sometimes it is not easy to see but if there is calcium in the filter it still will not allow the water to pass through. Instant filter cleaner is the light version of cartridge cleaner, just remove the filters and spray with the trigger bottle, leave for 20 minutes then rinse with a hose or pressure washer and then refit to spa. Use instant filter cleaner every couple of weeks and it will reduce the number of times each year you need to soak your filters in cartridge cleaner.
How long do you have to wait to get into your hot tub after shock dosing it?
If you are shocking the spa with Non Chlorine Shock then allow 10 minutes for it to all mix in and get right in. If you are using Chlorine granules then you must wait until the Chlorine level has returned to 5 PPM which may take 24 hours.
If you over-chlorinate your hot tub, what should you do?
The safe maximum bathing level for Chlorine is 5 ppm. If you have put too much Chlorine into the water, then you must now wait until the reading drops back to this safe level. You can open the spa cover and run the jets and this will help a little, but depending on how over-chlorinated it is, it might take a while until it's safe to use the hot tub.
How often do you have to change hot tub water?
As a rule you should change your water every 3 to 4 months. Sometimes if the spa has had a lot of use it may be a good idea to change the water more often than this. The problem is TDS Total dissolved solids, just like a cup of tea if you keep putting in sugar there will come a time that it just does not dissolve. Same with a Hot tub if you keep adding chemicals to maintain the spa then there will come a time that it will be very hard to correct imbalances and it is best to just change the water.
Water Issue FAQs
How do I get rid of suds in the hot tub?
If you only have a small soap problem, then a few drops of Hot Tub Barn Foam Reducer will make the soap bubbles go away. If the problem persists, or there is a major amount of soap in the spa, the only thing to do is to empty and refill with fresh water.
What do you do if your spa water is cloudy?
Cloudy hot tub water can mean two things,
1) that the filtration is failing to clean out the small dust particles in the water or
2) that there is bacteria growing in the Spa. If it is Dust then I would suggest you buy a product like spa sparkle which acts like a coagulant and captures all the dust in the filters. Note that once the hot tub is nice and clean you need to get the filters out and clean them, if you don't then after 24 hours the spa sparkle will break down and empty the dust back in to your hot tub.
If it's bacteria then you need to act fast and shock the spa with a double the normal does of both Chlorine and Non Chlorine Shock.
Why is my hot tub green water?
Green is not a good colour for hot tub water. It indicates that your spa has active bacteria growing in the water.
1) do not use until problem is solved
2) Empty water out then scrub all surfaces with a chlorine solution.
3) rinse out with clean water
4) refill with clean water
5) shock dose the spa with a combination of Chlorine and Non Chlorine Shock the amount of each will vary depending on how many gallons of water your spa holds. As a guide I would add 6 teaspoons of Chlorine and 6 tablespoons of Non Chlorine Shock to a 300 gallon hot tub.