Having a hot tub at home is a great luxury – but they are expensive items, and you need to know how to look after them properly. If you neglect the proper maintenance tasks, you will find they won’t last nearly as long as you might hope.
If you’re looking for information about how to look after your tub, here are our top 17 tips for hot tub maintenance to help you remember what you need to do.
Bear in mind that many – but not all – of these tips are just as applicable to inflatable hot tubs.
And if you want a preview of some of the stuff we’re going to be talking about, check out this video before you read on.
1. Circulate the water
One of the keys to keeping your hot tub water clean is circulating the water 1-2 times a day. When the water is circulated, it passes through the filter and impurities are removed, resulting in cleaner water.
More advanced tubs have circulation systems that automatically activate twice a day for this purpose without you having to think about it. If you don’t have one of these, you will need to remember to turn the water circulation on manually each day to keep the water clean.
2. Leave a tennis ball in the water when not in use
We all use a whole range of lotions, creams, soaps and deodorants on our bodies, and when we enter the tub, these are washed off into the water.
The filter system is designed to remove as much of these as possible, but it can never remove 100%. To give the filter a helping hand, leave a tennis ball in the water when you are not using the tub and it will help soak up some of this residue.
Check out this video for some other similar hot tub tips.
You can try implementing a “shower before soaking” policy to help with this too.
3. Pick out any larger debris by hand
Another way to help your filters remain in optimum condition is simply to pick out any larger debris that falls into your tank by hand.
Sure, the filters are there to clean this stuff up, but if you let them get clogged by leaves or twigs, you’ll find you need to clean – or even replace – the filters far more often.
4. Check the filters every two weeks
The filters are one of the key components that help keep the water in your tub clean and hygienic, so you need to make sure the filters are in good condition.
You should develop the habit of removing the filters every two weeks for a visual check to make sure they are not damaged. At this point, you can also manually remove any larger pieces of debris that have become stuck in the filters.
5. Clean the filters every month
Even if you visually check the filters every two weeks, you still need to give them a proper clean every month.
Here you have two choices: you can either give them a more superficial monthly clean by hosing them down and spraying them with filter cleaner or you can give them an overnight soak.
6. Give the filters a deep clean every 2-3 months
If your monthly filter clean involves hosing them down and spraying them, every 2-3 months, you should give them a more thorough clean.
This means leaving them to soak in a bucket of water and filter cleaner solution overnight to remove any smaller debris particles as well as any bacteria that may have begun to build up.
7. Test the water
The water in hot tubs needs to be monitored carefully – you have to maintain the right pH level, alkalinity levels, levels of sanitizer and so on.
The only way you can ensure all these chemical parameters remain balanced is by checking the water regularly with a kit, and this should be done at least once a week.
Chemical testing strips for hot tubs can be purchased at many department stores as well as at spa stores and online.
8. Adjust alkalinity with sodium bicarbonate or sodium bisulfate
If you find that the alkalinity of your tub is out, you need to adjust it. Alkalinity should be around 80-120ppm. If it rises above 120, reduce it by adding sodium bisulfate, and if it falls below 80, raise it by adding sodium bicarbonate.
After making the adjustment, leave the water for a couple of hours and then take another reading to check if it is where it should be.
9. Keep your hot tub sanitized
Sitting water is a breeding ground for bacteria, and for this reason, the water in your tub needs to be sanitized.
Bromine is the preferred option nowadays, but chlorine is also still used. These chemicals can be added to the water using a floater. Make sure you follow the correct dosage and schedule for sanitization.
10. Monitor calcium
Water that carries too much calcium can cause mineral deposits to build up and will reduce the life of your water filters and potentially other parts of your tub.
However, a complete lack of calcium will cause the deterioration of some of the metal elements of your tub.
Find out the recommended calcium level for your tub model and aim to maintain this balance in the water you use. If the calcium level falls too low, you can add a calcium booster.
11. Monitor pH levels
If you think back to chemistry classes at school, you may remember that a pH value of 7 is neutral, anything below 7 is an acid and anything above 7 is a base – and the ideal pH level for hot tub water is in the mid-7s.
As with alkalinity, you can use sodium bisulfate to reduce the pH value while sodium bicarbonate can be used to raise the pH.
12. Add chemicals one at a time
When adding chemicals to your hot tub water, you should add them one at a time and not all together. This will allow each one to have its maximum effect and will also reduce the risk of a chemical reaction occurring between two different products.
This will also let you to evaluate the effectiveness of what you have added more accurately and determine if anything else is required.
13. Leave the cover off after adding chemicals
After adding chemicals to the water, leave the cover off for at least 15-20 minute and leave the water circulating. This will allow the chemicals to become fully mixed with the water.
14. Clean the cover once a month
Your hot tub cover can also be a breeding ground for bacteria and fungus – so it also needs to be cleaned regularly. Any gentle cleaning product and a sponge or cloth will be ideal for this purpose. Try to do it when the weather is warm to help it dry off more quickly.
15. Drain and deep-clean the tub every 3-6 months
Even if you keep your tub in perfect condition and follow every other maintenance rule, you should still drain the water and give the tub a deep clean every 3-6 months.
This will give you chance to clean the inside of the shell, the jets and everything else to make sure the various parts are all in good working order.
There’s another reason for this, too. Although the chemicals and filters do a good job of cleaning the water, you, your family and friends are still soaking in the same water each time you use the tub.
And after six months, that’s pretty disgusting if you think about it!
16. Make a schedule
One of the most important aspects in caring for your hot tub is making a maintenance schedule.
There are tasks that need to be done every day, jobs you have to do every week, others for every month and so on, and if you aren’t organized about this, it’s too easy to forget.
To remember all the various maintenance jobs and when you need to do them, our advice is to use a calendar on your smartphone or computer that allows you to set repeating reminders. This way, you will receive a reminder every time a job is due.
Other options are to use an app – we’re sure there are loads that can be used for this – or even just an old-fashioned calendar if that’s what you prefer.
It doesn’t matter how you organize yourself as long as you do it – but the one thing you can’t do is just say to yourself you’ll remember everything in your head…because we can guarantee that you won’t.
17. Winterize the tub if you won’t be using it during the coldest months
There is some debate surrounding the need to winterize a hot tub for the coldest months of the year. If you are going to use it throughout the winter there is no need, and there is also no need if you will be at home and able to take care of regular maintenance tasks as usual.
However, if you are going to be away for several months and you want to leave it empty, you will need to properly winterize the tub by draining all water from the pipes, jets and anywhere else it may remain.
If you leave water in the pipes and it freezes, it will expand and may cause the pipes to crack or split – and this will be expensive to repair come spring.
Make a schedule – and stick to it
When it comes to hot tub maintenance, there’s a lot to remember, and the only way to do it is to be systematic and methodical. Use your phone, an app or a calendar, but have a system of reminders – and then make sure you stick to it