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A Beginner’s Guide to Hot Tub Repair and Maintenance

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Owning a hot tub can be a lot of fun. Your muscles can relax, you can sleep better, and the aching joints can stop hurting so much. It’s a gathering place for your family, friends, and loved ones. Except, over time, it needs a little loving care in order to function properly.

That is what this beginner’s guide to hot tub repair and maintenance is intended to help you be able to provide. We will take you through some of the basics you’ll need to think about when it comes to repairing and maintaining this investment.

High quality hot tubs can last 20 years or more with proper care. Affordable portable models can last for 5 years or more with the same level of care. So take a deep breath, keep this guide as reference, and you’ll be able to give your hot tub the love it needs for a long, fulfilling life.

Cleaning Your Hot Tub Must Be a Regular Routine

Whether you have a high quality cover for your hot tub or you just leave it open to the air, debris can find its way into the water from time to time. One of your daily tasks will need to be checking the hot tub for floating debris. A simple skimmer net can help you to remove whatever floating debris you happen to find.

To clean the surfaces and waterline of your hot tub, you’ll need to drain it. We offer a full how-to guide for this process so that you can do so properly. Remember not to use household cleaners, soaps, or detergents for this maintenance task so your water quality isn’t negatively impacted. 

Why You Need to Know Hot Tub Water Chemistry

Being able to maintain a healthy water environment is essential to good repair and maintenance practices. This means you must know how to balance the chemical properties of your hot tub water so it isn’t too acidic or alkaline. Proper balance also lets you keep the water free of potentially dangerous bacteria and other microorganisms that love the warm water.

There are three primary ways that you can do this.

  1. Through regular maintenance of your sanitizer system. This means using products such as chlorine, bromine, and other chemicals that will effectively destroy whatever organic materials may be trying to grow in the hot tub.
  2. Through shock treatments. This type of treatment allows you to apply a compound to your spa water that will oxidize it. The shock breaks down the organic materials that the sanitizer system may leave behind, such as soap film, dirt, and even sweat. Regular treatments stop algae and bacteria from growing rather effectively.
  3. Through proper filter maintenance. Filters only work when they have the ability to stop contaminants from passing through them. Eventually even the best filters need to be cleaned and replaced. The average filter for a hot tub can last 14-21 days before needing to be cleaned. Consider having enough filters to have a rotation available so you can clean and replace it with greater ease. 

One element that is often overlooked when caring for the water in a hot tub is its hardness level. “Hardness” is defined as the dissolved mineral content of the water and is usually a reference to calcium. If you don’t have enough calcium in the water, then foaming and corrosion issues can appear with your hot tub. Too much calcium and it will cake up on your equipment, preventing it from working properly. 

Regular testing is required so you know how good or bad your water happens to be. This means testing the pH, hardness, and chemical levels of your water at least 2x per week. 

What are the recommend levels for hot tub water? 

  • Br: 1.0-3.0
  • pH: 7.2-7.6
  • Alk: 80-120
  • Cal: 150-250 

For some hot tub owners, starting with better water might be the best option. For others, a scale inhibitor is the right way to go. If you see hard water buildup on your indoor fixtures regularly, then this will be an issue you need to address with hot water chemistry and cleaning supplies. 

If you notice that your water conditions are extremely bad, a pre-filter for the water before it enters the hot tub might be your best option. These filters can remove high metal content, mineral content, and chloramines that may be in the water. Rural owners may need to have a pre-filter installed to remove silt and bothersome odors that may be in their water supply. 

Pre-filters for hot tubs typically follow the same maintenance routine as the filter cartridges installed on the unit. 

Why Proper Filter Maintenance Is So Important

You’ll find the hot tub filter is located under the skimmer basket, accessible from inside the spa. Some models have a small tank that is opened underneath the spa. You may need to shut valves to prevent water from draining when removing the filter.

Some also have a pressure gauge attached to the filter cartridge. You can tell it needs to be cleaned if the pressure rises to 8 pounds. Anything over 10 pounds requires immediate cleaning and replacement. Some filters may only show reduced water flow as an indication that it needs service.

Regular use of a hot tub may require filter cleanings every week. Filters typically need to be completely replaced in 12-18 months, though some may be able to last for 2 years.

Without proper filter maintenance, you’re putting your water and the integrity of your hot tub at risk. Organics may be able to stick to internal surfaces, which means algae could grow in your pipes. Bacteria may form that could threaten your health. Slower water flows mean the pump is working harder than it should, which may decrease its life and increase your power consumption costs.

Remember To Add Fill Water When Needed

When it comes to hot tub repair and maintenance, the easiest thing you can do is often the one that is most overlooked. If your hot tub doesn’t have the right water level, then the skimmer will start to suck in air, and this can damage the pump over time in some situations. Don’t keep water levels too high so that the spa could over-flow, but not so low that you could damage the spa.

It’s a good idea to keep a water source near if one isn’t permanently connected to the spa, like a garden hose. You can add a splitter or a spigot if the hose faucet is far away from the spa. That way you can always just top of the water levels when the need arises. Remember to check for your pH and chemical balance after adding fill water.

Why the Spa Cover Is More Important Than Many Realize

The bottom of your spa cover is exposed to very high humidity levels. This creates condensation on the inside of the cover, especially during the warmer months of the year. If left unchecked for more than just a week, the moisture can encourage mold, mildew, and bacteria growth. To prevent this from happening, part of your hot tub repair and maintenance duties include airing out your spa cover at least 2 times per week.

You can use a spa cover lifter to completely remove your cover if you wish. If not, just place the cover gently off of the spa so it can lie flat. You don’t really need to do anything else in most instances. Just give it a few hours to breathe and then you can place it back on your hot tub.

Many covers are made from vinyl today, so there will be some cleaning and conditioning work that needs to be done on occasion. Purchase a spa cover cleaner that will remove dirt, oil, and organics safely based on the material composition of your cover. Conditioners will keep the vinyl soft and strong while reducing the signs of aging for an extended period of time.

If you are in a hurry, a dry towel can let you replace the spa cover right away. Just make sure the cover is completely dry before replacing it. You should not use this shortcut twice in a row.

Enjoy Your Hot Tub with a Little Proactive Work

Although caring for a hot tub can seem like it is a lot of work, these tasks become part of your routine in no time at all. Most hot tubs only need periodic checks about twice per week for best results, with filters being changed out every 2-3 weeks to maintain the quality of the water. A complete cleaning may only need to be done 2-3 times per year – and for many owners, that is often at the start and end of the season when filling or draining is necessary anyway.

If something happens to your hot tub that goes beyond your comfort level to repair it, then contact a local contractor that specializes in your specific make and model for advice. Some repairs may be under warranty as well.

This beginner’s guide to hot tub repair and maintenance is not intended to cover every situation you may face. It is simply a guide which offers general care information. Review our other hot tub care guides and check your owner’s manual for best practices to get the most out of your new investment.

And congratulations on being a new owner of a hot tub!

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