A Complete Guide to Hot Tub Maintenance
Updated: Apr 13
There is nothing quite like relaxing in a hot tub for kicking back and enjoying a spot of luxury in your home. But as a new hot tub owner, do you know how to maintain your hot tub?
Quite a significant amount of hot tub maintenance is required if you want to keep hot tubs in tip-top condition and the water clean. A hot tub is a sizable investment, so you must enjoy it as much as you can, but don't forget that you need to take care of it too.
How to look after a hot tub is easy with our step-by-step guide to hot tub maintenance. You'll find everything a hot tub owner should know to keep a spa clean, do repairs, and some tips for a hot tub maintenance schedule. We'll also introduce the 3Cs of hot tub maintenance: circulation, cleaning, and hot tub water chemistry.
Why do you need to maintain your hot tub?
Hot tub maintenance plays a vital role in hot tub ownership. If you don't keep your hot tub in good condition, the following is likely to happen:
Your home spa will feel much less luxurious because it won't be clean.
The hot water will be the perfect environment for bacteria growth.
The hot tub water could become cloudy.
You may have problems with algae blooms, white water mould, or foam.
The filter cartridges will clog up with contaminants from the dirty hot tub water, which means they'll be working much harder. Such a strain will reduce the lifespan of your filtration system.
What kind of maintenance do hot tubs need?
You don't need to worry about much when it comes to a hot tub's maintenance. Just remember the 3 Cs of a hot tub or spa maintenance schedule: cleanliness, circulation, and chemicals.
If you include these three elements in your hot tub maintenance schedule, you won't go far wrong.
Some of the tasks that come under these hot tub care categories include:
General cleanliness of the hot tub
Ensuring the hot tub water is circulating correctly
Hot tub water care: using a range of spa chemicals such as bromine granules or chlorine to check and adjust pH balance. Is it acidic or alkaline?
Changing the hot tub water periodically
Using a chemical hot tub filter cleaner and replacing the filter media when necessary
Is a hot tub hard to maintain?
Hot tubs are not that challenging to maintain once you establish a routine. There are some daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual checks you need to do. We'll look at this a little further down the post in more detail.
After reading this hot tub care post, you might think that owning a hot tub is a lot of hard work. However, each task takes a minimal amount of time to complete (fifteen minutes).
What are the different parts of the maintenance of a hot tub?
If you want to keep your hot tub in good working order, these are the things you need to do.
Hot Tub Water Balancing
The most important thing for hot tub care is correct water chemistry. Get it right and make sure it stays that way. You should test it several times during the week and make any adjustments if necessary. Check the pH, sanitiser levels, calcium hardness, and total alkalinity.
Ideally, the spa water should be within the following ranges:
pH scale: 7.4 to 7.6
Sanitiser levels: Bromine 2.0 to 4.0 ppm or chlorine 1.0 to 3.0 ppm
Calcium: between 150 and 250 ppm
Total Alkalinity: between 80 and 120 ppm
Hot tub sanitiser
You can wipe the tub down with a damp cloth and make sure the hot tub's water circulates, but that doesn't mean you won't need to use a sanitiser. Your hot tub is warm and wet, an environment in which algae and bacteria flourish.
However, you don't have to stress because it's easy to kill bacteria and prevent algae growth. All you need to do is top up your spa with adequate amounts of sanitiser. You can buy sanitiser at any reputable spa equipment or swimming pool store. There are several hot tub chemicals you can use:
Chlorine: When adding chemicals such as chlorine to hot tub water, hypochlorous acid is created, and this is what kills the bacteria. It then deactivates and leaves chloramines in the water. You can buy chlorine tablets or chlorine granules. Add chlorine granules directly to the warm water. Put the chlorine tablets in a floating dispenser. Gradually, the tablets will dissolve. Retest the chlorine level. Avoid adding too much chlorine.
Bromine: Bromine is another chemical that dissolves in the hot tub's water. It has a lower pH than chlorine, so more has to be added. It also kills the bacteria more slowly.
Salt Systems: You can also use a saltwater system. The system turns the saltwater into chlorine, along with active oxygen. Many people prefer this system because it's more convenient and the water feels more natural.
You use test strips to test the water chemistry. Alternatively, you can use a test kit. Both will determine the water pH and alkalinity of the hot tub water.
You should test the water every day using testing strips or other methods, even when not in use, and always follow the manufacturer's instructions.
PH increaser & decreased
If you check the pH levels and find it’s below the safe range of between 7.4 to 7.6, you add a pH increaser. Likewise, if the pH level is above the recommended range, you use a pH decreaser.
You should treat the hot tub to a shock treatment every week. It will ensure the spa is sanitised completely and is safe for you to use.
You can shock it with chlorine, bromine, or another non-chlorine shock treatment. If the water looks cloudy or the hot tub is getting a lot of use, you might need to do it more often.
Removing hot tub foam
If you have excess foam in your hot tub, use a defoamer or suppressant specifically for hot tubs.
Adjusting pH and Alkalinity
Is the hot tub water below 7.4 on the pH scale? It means it is too acidic. You could find the water irritates your eyes and skin, and it can also damage your hot tub.
If the pH level is above 7.6, it can lead to cloudy water in the hot tub because it stops the sanitiser from being effective. To decrease alkalinity and eliminate cloudy water, add sodium bisulfate. To raise the hot tub alkalinity, add sodium bicarbonate (baking soda).
The hardness of the water in the hot tub should be at a calcium level of between 100 and 150 ppm. Hard water makes the water cloudy, and scale will form.
If the hardness level is too low, it could damage the hot tub equipment.
To increase the levels of calcium, use a hardness increaser. You may need special filters, clarifying agents, or scale prevention products to treat hard water.
Water Changing and Draining
You can maintain a balance in your hot tub for a while, but it's not something you can do continuously. At some point, you need to drain it and change the water.
Typically, you should drain and change the water once every three to four months. However, it depends on how often you use it.
When you drain the tub, add a pipe cleaner into the water when it's hot. Run it through the pumps for about half an hour, and then let it drain away. Before filling the hot tub with fresh water, clean the shell, rinse, and dry it thoroughly.
Fill the hot tub with a few inches of water and then drain it once more. This will ensure all cleaners are gone from the system and no longer left in the pipes.
You can then safely refill the hot tub and balance the chemicals. If using a garden hose to fill the tub, consider adding some shock treatment because the water in the hose may contain bacteria.
Cleaning the hot tub
A critical part of any hot tub or spa maintenance schedule is keeping the hot tub clean. Scum on the waterline can be a common problem for hot tubs outdoors and indoors. For outside tubs, remove any leaves, rubbish, or unwelcome visitors that might drop into the water.
You should clean the hot tub weekly using a sponge and white vinegar. This is an excellent cleaning option for the hot tub's shell and the jets. You can also use vinegar to remove any scum line. Clean the interior of the hot tub often by wiping down the shell. Also, wipe the hot tub cover with a mild bleach/water solution. This will help to prevent mildew.
Circulation is another of the 3 Cs that requires your attention. If you keep the water circulating, it will help it to stay free of any contaminants. This is because part of the hot tub circulation process passes the water through filters.
Your hot tub may have an automatic circulation system. The spa will run automatically once, maybe twice each day. The water circulates for around one-quarter of an hour during each cycle, sometimes longer. This is long enough to ensure that 100% of the water is filtered.
If the hot tub has no automatic circulation system, manually switch the circulation mechanism on a couple of times each day. If you do this, you can be confident the water is refreshed.
A circulation pump is a conventional way to circulate the water.
But if you want to add some extra cleaning power, consider putting a tennis ball or two into the water once you finish using it. The fluffy surface of the tennis ball will soak up things like lotions, soap, and oils, helping keep the water clean.
Your filters have to do a lot of hard work when your pump is running. To keep them working efficiently and effectively requires regular hot tub filter cleaning using the rinse, then spray, and finally soak method.
Bear in mind that eventually, no amount of soaking will clean a hot tub filter thoroughly, and you should replace it.
Use a hot tub cover when necessary
There are many benefits to using a hot tub cover. If the hot tub is uncovered, the heater works much harder, maintaining the optimum temperature. More water also evaporates without a cover which means you use more chemicals to maintain the right balance. Therefore, a correctly fitting cover reduces the amount of maintenance needed.
However, be careful not to use a cover that is too tight. Moisture can develop, which could damage the trim of the hot tub. It could also lead to electronic issues.
How do you maintain your hot tub?
We've covered all the maintenance tasks you need to do. Now let's put them into some easy-to-follow lists and compare some of the costs involved.
After using the hot tub, add a sanitiser to maintain chemical levels.
Check sanitiser levels and add if necessary, even when the hot tub is not in use.
Check the spa water temperature to ensure the system is working correctly.
Test pH, alkalinity and sanitiser levels and adjust if needed.
Add a shock treatment.
Add scale and stain control treatments.
Wipe any debris from the water line.
Rinse the hot tub filters, if necessary.
Wipe the spa cover (both sides) to prevent mould and mildew.
Clean the hot tub filters thoroughly.
Check the hot tub jets work correctly.
Clean the pipes using line flush.
Empty the hot tub and clean it thoroughly.
Clean filter and, if necessary, replace it.
Refill the hot tub with water.
Add balancing chemicals and then test the water to ensure correct chemical levels.
Deep clean the walls.
Treat your hot tub to a professional service (average cost £210)
Replace the filters
Inspect the wiring and hardware for damage, wear and tear
Inspect the hot tub cover for damage
What is the easiest way to maintain a hot tub?
If you want to narrow your maintenance schedule down to the bare bones, there are five tasks you should give priority to.
Test the spa water balance between two and four times a week. If necessary, make adjustments.
Every couple of weeks, clean the tub filter and replace it every year.
Drain the hot tub and refill it every three to four months.
Take the spa cover off twice every week and allow it to air.
Add extra water if necessary so that the tub is always full.
Never allow the temperature of the hot tub to go over 40℃.
Children and non-swimmers should never be left unattended.
Never exceed the recommended number of people in the tub.
Never use any electrical appliances or devices near the hot tub.
Keep glass away from the hot tub.
Never drink alcohol while in the hot tub or before you get in.
Always seek a doctor’s advice if you have a history of high blood pressure, cardiovascular conditions, or are pregnant.
When cleaning the hot tub filters or changing them, always wear gloves.
Hot tub chemical handling tips
When handling chemicals, read the manufacturer's instructions.
You should always add chemicals to the water, rather than the other way around.
Never mix concentrated, dry chemicals.
When dissolving chemicals, use a clean container made from plastic and do it in a well well-ventilated area.
Avoid spillages and clean them up immediately should they happen.
Never use chemicals that have no label.
When you’ve used hot tub chemicals, always thoroughly wash your hands.
How much does it cost to maintain a hot tub?
Minimise the possibility of expensive repair bills by getting the hot tub serviced regularly. A reputable service should cost around £210. You can also expect to get a thorough clean included in that price.
You could also opt for a service plan. Most offer an annual mechanical service plus the possibility of regular service visits that include refills, drain downs, and valeting services. Service plans start from around £25 to £30 per month.
If you use the hot tub all year, the annual chemical costs should be between £200 and £350. However, the cost of chemicals varies depending on the type of hot tub, whether you use any water conditioners, and how much you use it.
Hot tub maintenance is not tricky at all. But don't skip it! You made a significant investment buying a hot tub. It's worth putting in the time and effort to ensure it always runs correctly and is safe for you and your family to use.
Treat your hot tub with the love, care, and attention it deserves, and you'll enjoy using it for a long time. However, if you fail to follow a maintenance schedule, it could result in some costly repairs.
1. How much of the yearly hot tub maintenance goes into repairs?
A repair to a hot tub could cost between £1,000 and £3,000. However, the actual cost will vary depending on the severity of the problem and the condition of the parts. On average, you can expect to pay £1,000 or more, which is significantly more than the cost of regular maintenance and ensuring it is cleaned regularly.
2. Do hot tubs need daily maintenance?
Yes, daily maintenance is essential to avoid the build-up of organic compounds and other contaminants. You should take the cover off every day and use a test strip to check the water pH level. If the balance is not correct, you must make adjustments. Also, remove debris and do a quick wipe of the tub shell with a chemical cleaner. Regular cleaning is vital, as this will remove any accumulated scum build-up and avoid water quality issues.