couple in hot tub in the winter

Winter is here. And if any of you live in the Midwest, you’ve experienced some of the coldest temperatures in years. So at this time it’s important to ask yourself, is your hot tub ready and will it avoid freezing?

If you don’t heat or regularly circulate the water in your hot tub, you are risking a freeze up, which can cause pipes to burst and other critical components to fail. Not only will this ruin your hot tub fun, but you will also need to call out a repair specialist, which will be costly. 

Instead of leaving things to chance, here are some tips on how to winterize your hot tub:

1. Turn off the power to your spa. First and foremost, shut off the power to your hot tub by either turning off the circuit breaker responsible for the spa’s power or if accessible, unplug your hot tub. Once the power has been turned off to the hot tub, remove the cover to the spa.

2. Drain your spa. The first thing you should do to prepare your spa for winter is drain the water. The water should be changed every 3 to 4 months since non-organic contaminants (like sunscreen and salt from perspiration) can make your hot tub water cloudy, and cause chemical imbalances. Draining the water ensures it will stay sanitized and look great! It is important to remember that you never drain the spa in freezing weather. This may sound counterintuitive, but you should never drain your spa if freezing weather is forecasted in your area within the next several days. You might think that draining your hot tub will protect it from damage, but the opposite is true. Even when you drain your hot tub, there can still be water in the pipes, jets, and filter bays. So be sure to drain early!

3. Clean your spa. After draining the water, wipe down the spa to clean off any residue. It’s best to use vinegar or denatured alcohol for wiping down the spa surface. To clean the acrylic surfaces, use a soft damp cloth and a household soap or liquid detergent. We never recommend using any cleaning products containing abrasives because they often dull the surface. We also don’t suggest using Bon-Ami, Comet, Ajax, or Lysol as harsh chemicals should never be used on acrylic surfaces.

4. Clean your spa cover. Now that the hot tub is drained and properly cleaned, it’s time to clean the cover! Use SpaBoss ReStore on both the outside and inside. SpaBoss Restore includes a UV inhibitor which prevents UV rays from dulling or damaging the material, and its formula cuts through grease and grime fast to restore like-new shine and vibrance to your hot tub cover.

5. Keep your spa covered. When your spa is not in use, keep the cover on. If you leave the cover off, you will lose heat (and waste energy). This also makes your heater and pump work harder, which can lead to equipment failure. If your cover is damaged, consider purchasing a new hot tub cover from Master Spa Parts! 

6. Circulate the water. When you run your hot tub’s jets, the pump motors heat up, adding warmth to your hot tub’s water. If your hot tub has an “auto heat” or “freeze protect” mode, be sure to use this feature at least 25% of the time (15 minutes per hour). 

7. Invest in a sump pump. If your pumps are non-operable, you could use a sump pump to keep the water circulating in your hot tub. Simply place the sump pump in the middle of your hot tub’s footwell and let it run. The heat produced by the pump’s motor will also add some heat to the water and should help keep your lines from freezing over. Be sure that the sump pump has at least a .25 horsepower or more to ensure your investment is effective.

8. Prevent freezing with a ceramic heater. Placing a ceramic heater in your hot tub’s equipment bay can help keep your hot tub’s most critical components from freezing over. Be careful where you place the heater; it should not be in direct contact with any of the PVC pipes or components. You should also regularly circulate the water while the ceramic heater is in place.

Lower Your Winter Hot Tub Energy Costs

You hear it time and time: Unplug your appliances when they are not in use. But, this doesn’t apply to hot tubs, which require a considerable warm-up period before they are ready to use. Even during the warmer months, it takes less energy to keep your hot tub at a constant temperature than to reheat it after it’s been shut down for a period of time. So, you can only guess how much energy is required to warm up an unheated hot tub during the coldest months of the year. Beyond the extended warm-up period, you also run the risk of freezing up your hot tub, which can damage the pumps and plumbing.

What if I Lose Power to My Hot Tub During Winter?

If you’ve kept your hot tub heated during the winter, but happen to lose power due to a winter storm or downed power line, there shouldn’t be too much to worry about. So long as your hot tub’s shell and cover are well insulated, your hot tub’s plumbing should stay above freezing for at least a day or two. Just be sure to keep the cover on and resist the temptation to check the water temperature!

What About Failed Spa Heaters?

Has your spa heater failed? This is a component you should replace as soon as possible (especially if it goes out during freezing weather). While you are waiting on a replacement, be sure to keep the water circulating and/or keep a ceramic heater in your hot tub’s equipment bay (recommended in tip number 5) to keep it heated. Following this advice should prevent freeze-ups while you wait for a replacement part or technician to arrive.

Closing Thoughts

If you are planning to use the swim spa in winter, you will not have to winterize it. However, it is still important to keep it covered at times that you are not using it. Before using the spa or the hot tub you will also be required to switch on the heater of the spa at least half an hour before you usually do.

Make sure that you use your hot tub during noon or late mornings so that the water inside doesn’t freeze because of the dropping temperatures during early morning or in late evening/night.

Following these steps will not only help get the most out of your spa, but also increase its longevity so you can enjoy it for many winters to come.