Hot Tub Maintenance Guide

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A home hot tub is an absolutely delicious luxury, offering the perfect oasis to de-stress alone or a relaxing spot to socialize with friends. Regular maintenance will help keep your hot tub as beautiful and clean as the day you bought it for many years to come.

Why Pay Attention To Maintenance?

Hot tubs are wet, warm, bubbly retreats and that’s what most people love most about them. Unfortunately, the same features that make hot tubs so inviting also create the perfect environment for bacteria, fungi, protozoan and viruses to grow, unless the tub is well maintained.

One of the most common uninvited hot tub organisms is pseudomonas bacteria, which causes hot tub folliculitis. This condition produces a rash, small red bumps or sometimes more serious problems. Maintaining your hot tub will reduce the numbers of bacteria and other microbes that can make you sick, as well as keep the tub running smoothly.

Everyday Hot Tub Upkeep

Part of keeping your hot tub environment healthy is giving it your attention frequently. Here’s what you’ll need to do daily, every few days and whenever you use your hot tub:

  • Check the water: Make sure the water looks and smells as it should daily, and if you detect a problem, correct it.
  • Check the cover: Be sure your hot tub is covered tightly when not in use to save energy and keep out contaminants. If your hot tub cover fits poorly, replace it.
  • Test the water: Use test strips about twice a week and adjust pH and alkalinity as necessary.
  • Shock your tub: If you use your hot tub up to four times a week, a weekly shock should be enough. Increase that to two shock treatments a week if you’re in the hot tub more often, and if your tub uses a natural purifier, it will need a light shock after every use as well as your regular heavy shocks.
  • Vacuum debris: You’ll probably need to vacuum away debris that accumulates in your hot tub about once a week. For an easy clean up, try using a garden hose to siphon away unwanted mess from the bottom of your tub.
  • Close air control valves: After you’ve finished using your hot tub, be sure to close these valves to save energy and prevent airborne debris and algae from getting in your spa water.
  • Rinse filters: About once a week, rinse out all filters with a hose and make sure no debris (or animals) are stuck in them.
  • Give spa wear an extra rinse: Soap residue on swimsuits can ruin the water quality in your hot tub. Run bathing suits you plan to wear in the hot tub through an extra rinse cycle before enjoying spa time.

Ongoing Hot Tub Maintenance

While you don’t have to do these tasks quite as often, they’re equally important to keep your hot tub in top condition and maintain a safe, healthy environment:

  • Change the water: Depending on how often you use your hot tub, and how the water quality is holding up, you’ll need to start with fresh new water every three, four or six months.
  • Condition the tub: Once a month, condition the tub’s vinyl surfaces to prevent hardening and cracking and protect it from the sun’s rays.
  • Maintain the filter cartridge: Check the hot tub filter cartridge regularly to make sure it’s seated properly in its compartment and clean the cartridge once a month. You’ll need to replace the filter cartridge every year or two.

Hot Tub Troubleshooting

Sometimes, despite your best efforts you’ll develop problems with your hot tub. Here’s what you need to do to solve some of the most common hot tub issues:

  • Algae: If you see floating green, black or mustard colored algae, add an algaecide.
  • Scaling: Drain the tub, clean with a sponge and remove any run off with a towel.
  • Stains: As long as it won’t affect your warranty, try Polident on a dry tub to remove stains.
  • Cloudy water: Add clarifier and shock your water.

Helpful Tips For Hot Tub Maintenance

In addition to your regular maintenance tasks, these basic care tips will help you keep your hot tub in the best possible condition:

  • Always keep your chemical and PH levels within manufacturer suggested guidelines.
  • Use the alphabet to remember the order for adding chemicals to your water. Start with alkalinity adjustment followed by bromine or chlorine and then add calcium. Finish up with adjusting the pH.
  • Allow a two-hour separation between each chemical you add to your water.
  • Be sure to buy good quality chemicals for your hot tub.
  • To save money, use the economy mode and turn up your thermometer a half-hour before you want to use the tub. While it’s warming up, take a shower to minimize the amount of germs introduced to the water.
  • Keep all personal care products such as sunscreen, cosmetics, moisturizers and hair styling products out of the hot tub. They’ll only cloud your water and clog filters.
  • To reduce oils in your water, try floating oil-absorbing sponges. These will need to be squeezed out occasionally (not over the tub!) and replaced when they sink or appear worn-out.
  • Keep your pumps running all day or at least most of the day. Stagnant water increases the likelihood of microbial growth.
  • Consider getting your hot tub professionally serviced annually.

Although it seems like a lot to remember, maintaining your hot tub should only take you a few minutes each day. You’ll be glad you put in the time when you climb in, close your eyes and sink into the heavenly warmth and bubbles.

Last Updated: September 2, 2012
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About Roberta Pescow Roberta Pescow holds a bachelor's degree in communications from City University of New York, Queens College and is a freelance writer and editor in the NJ area. The author of "A Life In The Service" and "A Monster's Tears," she enjoys writing informative articles, personal essays, fiction and music.  Roberta is a proud mother of two. Her other interests include fitness, photography, sculpture and meditation. She is a voracious reader and holds a 2nd degree black belt in Tae Kwan Do. Roberta enjoys decorating her hectic, but happy home and garden in original and affordable ways.  

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