For those who live in chilly climates, using an outdoor hot tub in the frozen months of winter is a luxurious experience. There's no better way to warm your body and spirit in subzero temperatures than by taking a decadent soak in hot water. Your hot tub can also be an ideal site for holiday gatherings with your family or a few close friends. If you're a hot tub owner, you know this to be true: Winter is the perfect time of year to use your spa.
However, if your hot tub will lie dormant during the winter months—for instance, if you have plans to spend the season vacationing in a warmer climate—we can show you how to winterize your hot tub in advance. By following these steps and tips, you can protect your spa during the long, cold winter to ensure it remains in excellent working condition.
SHOULD YOU WINTERIZE YOUR HOT TUB?
If you're planning on spending most of the winter at home, it's best to keep your hot tub constantly running and filled with hot water that you test and treat according to your usual schedule, even if you don't expect to use it frequently. Energy-efficient hot tub models require a minimal output of electricity to remain constantly heated, even in cold weather, whereas winterizing a hot tub can be a complicated process. In the long run, the time and effort spent winterizing your spa may not be worth the few dollars you save on your electric bill.
Similarly, it's simpler to keep your spa operating as usual if you plan on spending up to two consecutive weeks away from home during the winter. Before going on vacation, make sure the water is freshly sanitized, the filters are clean, and the hot tub is covered by a high-quality, well-fitting cover in good condition; secure your cover with child safety locks to provide an extra barrier of protection against any unsupervised use of your spa in your absence. To conserve energy while you're away, you may wish to lower the spa temperature by five or ten degrees, but make sure your water stays constantly warm—if the water freezes, it could cause expensive damage to your hot tub.
Why You'll Never Have to Winterize a Hot Spring® Spa
If your winter plans involve a lengthy vacation or a season-long retreat to a warmer climate, a good option is to either arrange for a trusted individual to monitor and adjust your tub's water quality in your absence, or to use Connextion™ from Hot Spring® Spas, a subscription-based remote monitoring service in which you and your hot tub dealer receive automatic notifications of any water quality or service issues involving your spa. Otherwise, because even a clean and sanitary hot tub will eventually become a breeding ground for bacteria if left unattended for a long while, you'll want to drain it, clean it, and protect it from freezing temperatures. One caveat: To avoid damaging your spa, it's important to winterize it correctly. If you have any doubts about your ability to manage this on your own, hire a professional to do it for you. Your hot tub dealer will be able to arrange for a qualified hot tub professional to visit your home and winterize your hot tub.
PREPARE YOUR HOT TUB BEFORE WINTERIZING
Winterizing your hot tub is not a task that should be left until the last moment, so plan ahead and get an early start. To reduce the risk of bacteria lingering in dormant pipes during your absence, make sure your water is clean before your drain it. Pick a clear day when the temperatures are above zero, or else water could freeze in your still-draining spa.
Before you drain your hot tub, you'll need to assemble some equipment:
- A wet/dry vacuum cleaner will help suck as much water as possible out of your tub, your jets, and your pipes.
- A garden hose will facilitate draining from your hot tub's drainage plug.
- Absorbent towels to sop up any lingering water from the bottom of your spa.
- Propylene Glycol antifreeze to keep your spa's pipes from freezing. For safety, never use an antifreeze containing Ethylene Glycol—the kind you use in your car—in your hot tub. It's toxic.
- A long funnel for pouring the antifreeze into narrow openings.
HOW TO DRAIN YOUR HOT TUB
- Turn off the power to your hot tub by tripping the GFCI breakers at your spa's electrical panel. If you don't know how to do this, consult your owner's manual or contact your hot tub dealer to ask for assistance.
- If you own a sump pump—a submersible pump designed to remove water from a large area, such as a flooded basement—you may use it to rapidly drain the water out of your tub. Otherwise, let gravity do the work for you: Unscrew your hot tub's drainage plug, attach the drain valve nozzle to a garden hose, and let the water flow out. Be prepared for this process to take a long time. When most of the water has drained, use your wet/dry vacuum to suck up any water remaining at the bottom of your spa.
- Remove the filter cartridges, clean them, and store them in a warm space until you return. If your hot tub's control panel comes with a wireless remote, store that indoors as well.
- Even after draining, several gallons of water may still remain hidden in your hot tub. To prevent this water from freezing and damaging your spa, get rid of as much of it as possible by using the wet-dry vacuum to either suck or blow any remaining water out of the jets, the filter standpipe, and any other feature or opening in your hot tub where water may hide. Consult the owner's manual for your hot tub model for instructions specific to your hot tub.
CLEAN AND PROTECT YOUR HOT TUB
After you've removed as much water as you can from your spa, continue the winterization process by following these steps:
- Screw the drainage cap back into place.
- Using a clean, absorbent towel, wipe any remaining moisture from your hot tub shell.
- Use a funnel to pour a small amount of propylene glycol antifreeze into your jets, your filter standpipes, and any other opening through which water may enter or leave your spa.
- Replace your hot tub cover and securely strap it into place. Place plywood boards on top of your cover to prevent it from being damaged by the weight of accumulated snow and ice, then secure a plastic tarp over the entire top of your cover.
Upon your return from vacation, you'll need to remove any trace of antifreeze from your tub before it's safe for you to use. Fill your spa with water as usual, add double the usual amount of chlorine to neutralize the antifreeze, then drain and refill your spa once again before fitting your clean filter cartridges back in place. Your owner's manual or your hot tub dealer will be able to guide you on this process.
Your hot tub is designed to serve you well throughout the coldest months. However, if you won't be around in the winter to use it, you can take steps to keep it safe from the ravages of rough weather until your return, either by winterizing it yourself or by hiring a professional to take care of it for you.
Every hot tub owner's experience is different, so your local Hot Spring® Spas dealer can advise you of the best way to keep your hot tub protected during the freezing months of winter. Find your dealer here. You can also request a price quote, or download a brochure.