Educate Me About Hot Tubs

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. Read 1320 times.

Don_S

Educate Me About Hot Tubs
« on: 25 May 2017, 10:25 pm »
When I move into my new home I will be in the market for hot tub.  My current spa is in-ground so I know nothing of the "portable" variety.

Please share your horror stories and victories.

One big question I have is should I install one on my 10' x 19' covered patio or pour a separate pad.  The smallest tub I am looking at is 1250 pounds filled plus up to two very warm bodies.

BobRex

Re: Educate Me About Hot Tubs
« Reply #1 on: 25 May 2017, 11:23 pm »
I have a Sundance Cameo that was installed in late 2004.  I've had to replace a few parts (ozonator, the air pump went, pillows, cover), but beyond that it runs like a champ.  I pay between 20 and 25 bucks a month to run it.  The spa is on a covered patio (elevated concrete slab), 20 feet from a door. You are used to having a spa, I would think the chemical routines are probably similar.  What do you want to know?

Phil A

Re: Educate Me About Hot Tubs
« Reply #2 on: 25 May 2017, 11:39 pm »
Not up on current technology but had one in my old house (sold it 3.5 years ago) that was put it probably towards the latter part of 1998.  If you pour a pad (I had one done and as you can see from the pic it was slightly recessed into the deck to make it easy to get in and out of), it needs to be level (for the hot tub) and not sloped so that water drains off otherwise your hot tub won't be level.  My tub was made by PDC - https://www.pdcspas.com/




Don_S

Re: Educate Me About Hot Tubs
« Reply #3 on: 25 May 2017, 11:44 pm »
Bob,

Thanks for the info.  Basically brand reliability.  Rotationally molded vs acrylic.

The only store I visited so far had acrylic and these:
https://freeflowspas.com/

The finish is not smooth (slightly textured) or shiny. Looks like sand.  Not as slippery and one piece vs an acrylic shell with a separate enclosure. Allegedly more durable and less expensive.  I like the look and feel a lot.

Will steam affect stucco ceiling on the covered patio? And other questions I should ask but did not. Personal experience vs advertising hype.

JLM

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 8446
  • The elephant normally IS the room
Re: Educate Me About Hot Tubs
« Reply #4 on: 25 May 2017, 11:46 pm »
Yeah I'd like to know more about hot tubs too as we prepped for one 12 years ago, but never installed one.  We ran water, a 50 amp service, even had a "sub deck" built 2 feet below the "real" deck for the hot tub to sit on.  With railings the hot tub would have to be lifted 10 feet above grade, but we have easy access to two sides.  BTW we're located in southern Michigan and this will be located outside in unprotected space.

Recommended types and brands?  What's the maintenance like?  A friend had his circuit board fry ($500 to replace) and his cover soaked up so much water that he had to replace it.  I'm not looking forward to it (up front cost, maintenance effort/cost, and electric cost) but wifey has lots of issues with sore back/hip plus tight muscles.  If it's just for her would a whirlpool tub make more sense?

Phil A

Re: Educate Me About Hot Tubs
« Reply #5 on: 25 May 2017, 11:57 pm »
Mine was not hard to maintain.  Involved testing strips and filling a tube with bromine tablets.  I also had chemicals for PH up or down, etc., depending on how the water tested.  As far as the cover goes, yes over time with cold weather it will go bad (and you can note from looking at mine it had an upper deck above it so it did not take the full brunt of the the weather.  So count on a new cover about every 4 years or so.  Depending on the size of the tub, it could be $300-600 give or take.  I had a circuit breaker run for it in the old house.  Really didn't track how much the cost was separately.  Had some repairs along with way, especially after 10 years. I know how much circuit boards can cost.  I got hit by lightning where I am now (FL) and among the things that got zapped was the pool motherboard (about $1k) and a board in the heater (about $500).

The things to consider having a tub inside are the size of the water heater and the time it takes to fill the tub (whereas a hot tub in the backyard is already full and hot).  I had a Jacuzzi tub in my master bath when I lived in NJ.  It was basically a two person model.  It held about 95 gallons of water from memory.

jk@home

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 752
Re: Educate Me About Hot Tubs
« Reply #6 on: 26 May 2017, 01:10 am »
I have a Sundance Cameo that was installed in late 2004.  I've had to replace a few parts (ozonator, the air pump went, pillows, cover), but beyond that it runs like a champ.  I pay between 20 and 25 bucks a month to run it.  The spa is on a covered patio (elevated concrete slab), 20 feet from a door. You are used to having a spa, I would think the chemical routines are probably similar.  What do you want to know?



We have a 2005 Sundance Optima. It has also been a great tub, It's indoors, in a dedicated hot tub room, which helps. Had a circuit board replaced under warranty, later an ozonator and a couple years ago, a flow switch, which I replaced myself. The pic above was when it was fairly new, when the head rests got too worn, I just pulled them off and didn't replace them. No biggie to me.

The unit was designed for bromine tabs, but 4 or 5 years ago I switched to granular chlorine. Seems the PH is easier to control with the latter. Also we shut the tub down and drain it each May, leave it closed until November (shortly after the weather goes from hot and humid, to cool enough to enjoy the tub). Nothing like sitting in the tub during a nor'easter. :D

To the OP, if you have maintained a pool before, a tub will be a breeze. Adding tablespoons of chemicals, instead of pounds.

Bob2

Re: Educate Me About Hot Tubs
« Reply #7 on: 26 May 2017, 01:12 am »
In 1997 I purchased a hot tub. I built a deck on the back of the house that was located to take advantage of an outside door in our master bedroom, used to be the back door of the house when it was built circa 1903.
Ran water and electric to the deck. The hot tub was placed directly on the deck not recessed. Deck was built to support the tub, Joists on 12 inch centers and doubled up below area of the tub.

This worked very well. Deck had  4 ft. privacy fence so we could enjoy it without the neighbors seeing what was going on! All was well until the hot tub heater failed and caught fire.
Damage was limited to the hot tub itself. Turns out the GFCI failed. So make sure that yours is protected properly. Make sure that you have easy access for maintenance of the tub. Pay attention to it all of the time it is operating.. Things happen..

We now enjoy using the deck during the warmer months sans the hot tub. My wife and I enjoy a cup of coffee and reading early mornings. We are located in southern Michigan and have had some great times there.. Have not replaced the hot tub. Per the wife's decision.... I do miss it.. With all of the injuries over the years it was helpful. Maybe I need one in my listening room! How well do tubes play with high humidity?
« Last Edit: 26 May 2017, 02:22 am by Bob2 »

ctviggen

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 5020
Re: Educate Me About Hot Tubs
« Reply #8 on: 26 May 2017, 11:45 am »
If you live in a cold area, will you drain it each winter or keep it hot?   If you keep it hot, what will the cost be?  If you drain it, how easy to do is that?  (Some aren't made to be drained and will leave water in them.)

We had a hot tub we used once.  I was clueless and let the water get too low in the winter and it froze in the pipes and leaked internally to the hot tub.  Since we never used it. I cut it up with a saw.  It was infested with carpenter ants and mice.

rif

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 605
  • Not a cowboy or a dog owner
Re: Educate Me About Hot Tubs
« Reply #9 on: 26 May 2017, 12:17 pm »
Do the heaters all run on electricity or is natural gas an option?  Can it be run off of the house's main water heater, which is probably more efficient at heating water?


BobRex

Re: Educate Me About Hot Tubs
« Reply #10 on: 26 May 2017, 01:17 pm »
I keep mine running all year long, I use it in the winter.  The $20-25 per month figure includes winter running.  I'm in PA (outside of Allentown) so I see semi-serious cold.  The water is replaced at least every spring, I top off probably every other month.  I also use di-chlor, and I switched to baking soda for PH adjusting (it's cheaper, and the same thing as spa-up). 

I have heard of gas heaters for spas, but I've never seen one.

zybar

Re: Educate Me About Hot Tubs
« Reply #11 on: 26 May 2017, 01:25 pm »
If you live in a cold area, will you drain it each winter or keep it hot?   If you keep it hot, what will the cost be?  If you drain it, how easy to do is that?  (Some aren't made to be drained and will leave water in them.)

We had a hot tub we used once.  I was clueless and let the water get too low in the winter and it froze in the pipes and leaked internally to the hot tub.  Since we never used it. I cut it up with a saw.  It was infested with carpenter ants and mice.

I have kept mine running all winter and when we moved in the Fall a few years ago I drained it and winterized it.

Neither task is hard or difficult.

My hot tub (Sundance Aspen) is on the big size (holds 8-10 people and takes close to 600 gallons of water).

George

Phil A

Re: Educate Me About Hot Tubs
« Reply #12 on: 26 May 2017, 03:09 pm »
Do the heaters all run on electricity or is natural gas an option?  Can it be run off of the house's main water heater, which is probably more efficient at heating water?

Yes they do have Gas ones - e.g. - https://snorkel.com/hot-tub-products/gas-electric-hot-tubs.php

I doubt they can run from what one has in the house (you would probably need to talk to a specialist).  Usually heaters are designed specifically for pools and hot tubs.  For my pool and hot tub, I have a gas heater and I can choose to heat the pool (which I wouldn't as it has about 16,000 gallons of water) or the hot tub portion (which I use).

Don_S

Re: Educate Me About Hot Tubs
« Reply #13 on: 26 May 2017, 03:50 pm »
jk@home,

Awesome setup.  :thumb:  Until I read the text, I thought the picture was from the company's glossy advertisement literature.

rif, Most, if not all, portable spas are heated by electricity.  Gas heaters are usually found on in-ground spas associated with pools.  Spas can't be connected to the main water heater which is for potable (drinking) water only. I try to avoid drinking my spa water whenever possible.  :no_speak:

I am very disappointed with the sales person I talked to yesterday.  When I mentioned the option of installing the hot tub on my existing patio, he never mentioned code requirements.  I did some research subsequently and found out hot tubs need to be at least 5' from an electrical outlet and lights/fans above the hot tub have to be at least 7'5" above the maximum water line.  Both have to be GFCI protected.  There are other options for lighting but I don't remember what they are.  I quickly moved on and decided I need to install a separate pad.  At least one decision is made.

I am surprised by the amount of repairs some hot tubs have required.  I have lived in my home for over 30 years and have had minimal equipment repairs on my pool and associated in-ground spa.  Perhaps pool equipment is more robust in design and build.

Thanks for all the info and please, let the topic drift to help anyone else who might benefit.

jk@home

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 752
Re: Educate Me About Hot Tubs
« Reply #14 on: 26 May 2017, 03:55 pm »
If you live in a cold area, will you drain it each winter or keep it hot?   If you keep it hot, what will the cost be?  If you drain it, how easy to do is that?  (Some aren't made to be drained and will leave water in them.)

We had a hot tub we used once.  I was clueless and let the water get too low in the winter and it froze in the pipes and leaked internally to the hot tub.  Since we never used it. I cut it up with a saw.  It was infested with carpenter ants and mice.

Guess it depends on how cold it gets where you live, best to ask the manufacturer of the tub. IMHO, winter is when you want to use it. But then again we live in Southeast VA.

I drain and change the water religiously every 60 days, when the tub is open. Real easy to do, has a drain valve on the base, then just refill it with a garden hose. The tub holds around 500 gallons. I also rotate the filter when this is done. My wife is very sensitive to smells, if the water gets funky.

And speaking of smells, love using the bath salts.


jk@home

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 752
Re: Educate Me About Hot Tubs
« Reply #15 on: 26 May 2017, 04:00 pm »

I am very disappointed with the sales person I talked to yesterday.  When I mentioned the option of installing the hot tub on my existing patio, he never mentioned code requirements.  I did some research subsequently and found out hot tubs need to be at least 5' from an electrical outlet and lights/fans above the hot tub have to be at least 7'5" above the maximum water line.  Both have to be GFCI protected.  There are other options for lighting but I don't remember what they are.  I quickly moved on and decided I need to install a separate pad.  At least one decision is made.

We have some family friends that have an indoor hot tub like ours, but he installed a ceiling fan right over the tub (with a pull cord) Bad idea, obviously done after the inspector left.

I have a big portable pedestal fan sitting in the corner of the room that we use. Its closer than code allows, but is on a GFI. Have shower/waterproof recess lights over our tub, which AFAIK, is legal.

Don_S

Re: Educate Me About Hot Tubs
« Reply #16 on: 26 May 2017, 04:00 pm »
I should add to my OP.  I live in Sacramento, CA where we rarely get a hard frost.  I will also have solar power so heating up the hot tub might be economical since I tend to not use much power otherwise and might generate surplus when the sun is shining but temperatures are moderate (meaning no or little A/C).  I would not be installing anything larger than 4-person models, and probably smaller. Sacramento gets a delta breeze so many hot days are followed by evenings cool enough to enjoy a hot soak.

I have only looked at one store so far.  Naturally I will check other local stores with good ratings but the first store had one model I like a lot and could probably be happy with.  A 2-person, 120 gallon unit with a sealed cover.

The Mini model in the sand color.  https://freeflowspas.com/shop-spas/mini/

Phil A

Re: Educate Me About Hot Tubs
« Reply #17 on: 26 May 2017, 04:04 pm »
jk@home,

Awesome setup.  :thumb:  Until I read the text, I thought the picture was from the company's glossy advertisement literature.



+1 on that.  I think that in a room like that, it is better than outdoors.  If I stayed in my old place, I probably would have considered enclosing mine and putting something over under the deck so that elements (e.g. rain, ice, cold) were less or a non-factor.  I had the motor/heater cover (can't be seen in my pic but basically was on the other side of the time and was open on the motor side and made of the same wood) actually rot out after about 10-11 years (and it is somewhat protected vs. being out in the open).  I built a new (and stronger one) that was much sturdier.

Phil A

Re: Educate Me About Hot Tubs
« Reply #18 on: 26 May 2017, 04:07 pm »
I also sanded and treated the wood every couple of years (would get some mold on it from being in the shade as would the Trex decking).

jk@home

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 752
Re: Educate Me About Hot Tubs
« Reply #19 on: 26 May 2017, 04:11 pm »
Thanks. The double hung windows block some of the view, but are nice to control the breezes. When it is too cold and windy or rainy, we will open the top halves, nicer weather, the bottom halves.

Don, when you pick out your favorite two or three tubs, see if the dealer will let you try them out, in the store, after hours. Most of the dealers around here did this for us.