How To Start a Hot Tub in 10 Easy Steps - Using It for the First Time
Updated: Dec 7, 2022
After choosing your hot tub and installing it without hassle, it is time to use it. Hot tubs are great for relaxation, but you will also need to keep your hot tub in tip-top shape with regular hot tub maintenance.
This article on using a hot tub covers all you need to know to ensure you get the best out of your own hot tub.
What is a hot tub, and how does it work?
A hot tub is a self-contained tub that provides you with a cosy place to relax and relieve stress. It circulates the water and comes equipped with parts that keep it clean and clear.
The control system is responsible for all the hot tub's functions.
The tub/spa can't run without it. It is tasked with turning on and keeping the jets running, switching on the music and lights, and dictating how much heat should be injected into the water.
There are also operational parts like the air blower, filtration system, heater, jets, and suction lines. These parts are designed to cycle the water endlessly as long as you keep the hot tub running.
How to start & use a hot tub?
If you have just got a hot tub and are confused about how to use it, then this guide is perfect for you.
Rinse, Drain and Clean the Hot Tub
Many hot tub manufacturers ship their units with a small amount of antifreeze, which helps to protect the unit from freezing temperatures. It shields the plumbing system from the most damage. Get the hot tub's footwell filled, start the pumps, and drain the water.
If you have an old hot tub that hasn't been used for some time, you should drain out the water and wash the tub's surface. You need to kill bacteria colonies that could be harmful. So, get rid of the old water and refill the tub with clean water.
Ensure you use the correct drain and jet cleaner before running the jets and allowing the solution to do its cleaning work. After cleaning out the drains and jets, drain the hot tub. Use a soft cloth to wipe the water off the surface.
Turn off All Power
You should always follow instructions. Before any cleaning is done on your hot tub, ensure you disconnect all power. This ensures that you don't fall victim to any dangerous electrical shocks.
Turning off the power doesn't just mean flipping the switch. Ensure you unplug your spa and see that the circuit breaker is turned off. This process will ensure there is no power supplied to the unit.
Take the correct precautions to prevent electricity and water from mixing or coming in contact with each other.
Install or Clean the Filter
The hot tub filter is vital if you hope to maintain the cleanliness of your water and have it stay clean. At this point, you have to clean out the old filters or install new ones.
If you are setting up a new hot tub, check the owner's manual to see how to install the filter cartridges. Check to see if your model comes with only one (or more).
If you are restarting your old hot tub, remove the installed filter cartridges and check if they need replacement. If they are filled with dirt, get an instant filter cleaner and spray it over the filters. If the stains are too stubborn, you can leave them in a chemical soak overnight.
Even if you feel like your filters don't need cleaning, still carry out the process. It's better to be safe than sorry. After cleaning them, check again to see if they need to be replaced. A clean filter is imperative for proper water flow.
Fill Your Hot Tub
It doesn't matter if this is your first time filling your hot tub or not. It is recommended that you use a hose filter. This will get rid of any impurities like calcium, iron and copper, as well as other minerals at high levels.
Hose filters help you avoid metal and mineral issues before they can arise, saving you lots of money and time. Place the hose correctly to let the water circulate well and eliminate all airlocks (all the air stuck in the plumbing pipe work).
If there's no hose filter, then you can directly fit the hose into the filter area. You will benefit from using the spa's filter and still prevent airlock issues.
Check your owner's manual to see the required water level for your spa. A general rule is to keep it one inch below where you place your head to avoid it covering your chin when sitting in the tub.
Prime the Pump
Priming the pump is the best way to ensure you get the air out and prevent potential problems. This can be done differently depending on your hot tub's model and manufacturer, so check the manual before you proceed.
Control Panel Priming
Run the pumps by pressing the jets button and leave for about 10 to 20 seconds.
Press the button again to change the setting to high. Let it run for 10 seconds, then turn the jets off.
Repeat until the water has circulated through the jets and they work as they should.
Bleeder Valve Priming
Disconnect all power and locate the pump.
Shut off the water flow by closing the gate valve.
Turn the bleeder valve in a counterclockwise motion until it starts hissing. When the hissing stops, it means all the air has been released.
Tighten the bleeder valve and open the gate valve before turning on the power.
Run the jets and see if the water flows properly. Repeat until you have primed the pump.
Add the Start-Up Chemicals
Adding chemicals is your next step. Wait for the water temperature to reach 80 F/27 C before you add the chemicals. The heat allows them to dissolve properly. You can use a non-chlorine shock treatment to shock-dose the tub. You can add the necessary hot tub chemicals by placing the tablets in a floating dispenser.
Test the Water for Alkalinity and pH Levels
Yes, back to high school days. You need to test the water's pH levels and alkalinity. If the water chemistry is unbalanced (over-chlorinated or unbalanced bromine levels), it can cause skin irritation or damage to the tub/spa. You can make use of a test strip.
Test the calcium levels
A basic hot tub water testing kit should come with a calcium hardness tester. Place the strip in the water around the centre. The total hardness should be around 75 to 150 ppm.
Set the Proper Water Temperature
Some people like hot temperatures more than others. It all depends on you. But we advise you to keep the hot tub water temperature between 98 F and 102 F (37-39 C). It should never go beyond 104 F (40 C), or you risk skin injury or damaging the tub/spa.
How Long Does a Hot Tub Take To Heat Up?
Heating up a hot tub usually takes about three to eight hours. You can cover the tub to help it heat up faster and retain heat.
Run the Pump
You can run the pump when you are done with all the preparations. Keep it running for about 10 minutes on high speed before you get in to allow the chemicals to be spread evenly in the water.
Do you need to shower before using a hot tub?
It is advisable to shower before you get into your spa. This will help you get rid of personal care products like body oils and deodorant, as well as dead skin cells and sweat.
How often do you have to change the hot tub water?
A significant number of people feel that raising the bromine and chlorine levels means that there is no need to change the hot tub water. That is false, you need clean water in your hot tub to ensure you stay in good health and it is in perfect condition.
It is true that if you add sanitiser, you can keep your hot tub clean. But, adding too much chlorine to the water will make it dissolve slower until it doesn't dissolve anymore. This is why it is recommended that you change your hot tub water once every three to four months.
When the chemical levels in the water get high, it might become cloudy and throw the water chemistry off balance.
Other factors that play a crucial role in why your water should be changed include the contaminants that could build up as you use your hot tub. Things such as body oils, lotions, shampoo, sweat, and other germs could accumulate. So, replacing the water means you will have a more comfortable and healthy soak.
How often can you use your hot tub?
Yes, you spent a lot of money to get your hot tub up and running. And you probably want to get the best out of it. But how often can it be used?
Many hot tubs are used to relax after a long day. So, how often you use your hot tub is based on your daily life routine. You might use your hot tub daily or twice a day - it might depend on how you feel.
There is no risk associated with using hot tubs regularly. What's more, regular soaking has been found to help with a variety of health issues. A home spa can also be a piece of recreational equipment to have a better bonding time with your friends and family.
So, integrating hot tub sessions into your daily routine will take some awareness and planning.
How long should you stay in your hot tub?
The total amount of time you can spend in your hot tub will vary depending on several factors.
Health: If you have an underlying medical condition like diabetes, heart disease, low blood pressure, or high blood pressure, you should stay away from hot tubs until you have spoken with your healthcare practitioner. If you get permission from your doctor, ensure you follow their advice.
Hydration: You are more susceptible to dehydration the hotter your hot tub is. This is why you should have a cool drink in hand as you soak. It will help replenish the bodily fluids you lose. If you feel dizzy, take a few hours to fully regain yourself.
Pregnancy Safety: Pregnant women are advised to exercise caution when using hot tubs. Most hot tubs have a control panel, so use it to keep the temperature at a safe 101 F (38 C). Also, ensure not to soak for more than 10 minutes.
Age: Are hot tubs okay for people of all ages? Yes, but with some caution. If you are over 65, you should seek advice from your doctor before using a hot tub. Kids under 12 should only soak at 98 F (37 C) or cooler. Also, one hot tub session should last for about 15 to 45 minutes.
Temperature: If you like to soak at the maximum temperature, ensure you time the period of your dip. The highest temperature is generally safe for most people, but you should not spend more than 20 minutes in one session. To enjoy a longer spa experience, try using a lower temperature. Make sure you monitor your body temperature.
Safety tips & advice when using a hot tub?
Spending time in your hot tub gives you a lot of health benefits, like soothing painful joints and keeping your skin fresh.
Before you go for a soak and relax in the warm water, follow these safety tips.
This is general guidance for using a hot tub safely.
Always ensure the hot tub cover is used when the unit is not in use. Ensure you repair or replace an old hot tub cover.
Keep your hot tub clean at all times.
Use non-chlorine shock dosing to prevent getting cloudy water in your tub/spa.
Bacteria love untreated hot water. Use test strips to check the pH, total alkalinity, and sanitiser levels. Doing so will avoid problems. One of the most cost-effective and efficient sanitisers is chlorine, which you can add by sprinkling chlorine granules into the water.
Do not use electrical devices when in or around the hot tub.
Make sure your head stays above the water.
Change hot tub water every 3 to 4 months. Replacing with fresh water keeps you safe from infections like urinary tract infections or skin irritation.
Regularly check the spa equipment.
Call a professional to help stop hot tub leaks if you have zero experience.
Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated.
You should add hot tub chemicals to the water, not the other way around.
Don't take in alcohol or drugs before or during hot tub usage.
You don't get as much space in your hot tub as a swimming pool, so don't invite more people than your spa's capacity.
The Pool and Hot tub Alliance says toddlers and infants should not use hot tubs.
How much does it cost to run a hot tub?
The costs for running your hot tub will likely differ because it depends on several factors. These include the usage, frequency, size, and type of hot tub. You should also note that it is not only the additional energy you should worry about.
There's the ongoing cost of cleaning, water, and maintenance products. The volume of water you need to fill up your tub will also impact your water bill.
For electricity costs, a medium-sized hot tub that is used about three times per week could see your energy bill rise by about £30 to 40 monthly.
Soaking in your hot tub can be just what you need after a stressful day. The bubbly warm water soothes pain and aches from conditions like fibromyalgia, low back pain, and arthritis.
However, hot tubs might not be safe for some people such as those suffering from heart disease and pregnant women.
A hot tub that is not cleaned well or dirty spa water can cause problems even in healthy adults.
Ensure you know about the safety and usage of hot tubs before you invest in/purchase one.
Can hot tubs be left unused for a long time?
You can leave your hot tub unused for a long time, but you must maintain it. If you cannot give your hot tub frequent spa maintenance, you should winterize it. Winterization is also advisable for hot tubs that are not being used in a location where the temperatures will likely go below freezing point.
Do you turn your hot tub off at night?
Hot tubs are typically designed to be left on as that is the way they work best. Turning your hot tub on and off might increase your energy consumption. But if you plan to stay away from your hot tub for more than three weeks, then you should turn it off.
Can you put soap into a hot tub?
A general rule would be to avoid using soaps in your hot tubs. This is because your hot tub is not to be used as a bathtub. Using soap can cause a build-up of residue because of the ingredients and chemicals used in making the product. As a hot tub owner, one of the best hot tub care tips is to avoid any product that could produce lots of bubbles in your hot tub.