The lifespan of a hot tub can vary greatly, depending on its quality and price tag. A low-end hot tub may only last five years, while a high-quality one may still be bubbling away twenty years later. But the single most important factor in determining the life of your hot tub is not the manufacturer’s warranty: it’s how well you take care of it.
This article breaks down some simple pHin tips that will keep your hot tub clean and enjoyable to use for years to come.
Keep Your Water Balanced
Imbalanced water is not only unsafe to soak in and unpleasant in appearance; it can also corrode the equipment and electrical or even scale up your hot tub’s pipes. This will shorten the life of your tub. Test the water every few days to ensure that all chemical concentrations are well within their limits.
Maintain your pH between 7.2 to 7.8, with a chlorine level of 1.5 - 3.0 PPM (Part Per Million) or a bromine level of 2.0 - 5.0 PPM and a total alkalinity of 80 to 120 PPM. Also, you want to keep an eye on the “total hardness” level, which is a measurement of how much calcium, magnesium, and other minerals are in the water. This should be kept between 100- 250 PPM for an acrylic hot tub finish, and 250-450 PPM's for a plaster finish. If the hot tub’s calcium level is excessive or you visually detect a scale-like crust at the waterline, you can use a product to assist in preventing scale in hard water environments.
But while balanced water is great for your hot tub’s parts, the gases released every time you add large amounts of chlorine or bromine to your hot tub are hard on your hot tub cover. Save your cover’s underside from peeling or going brittle by leaving your cover off for twenty minutes after shocking your tub. This will prevent a buildup of chlorine gas.
pHin Tip: You may also consider adding a floating blanket to further prevent sanitizer gasses from deteriorating your expensive hardtop cover! A floating blanket increases the thermal insulation threefold by creating an insulative, dead airspace between the convention cover and the floating blanket.
But won’t the tub lose a lot of heat that way? Given the fact that you shouldn’t soak in your hot tub for at least twelve hours after you shock it, it makes sense to turn the temperature down to 101F for a while. This will not only save you energy, but also gives your heater a break, thus extending its life. Next time you want to use your tub, simply turn it up again to your desired temperature an hour beforehand.
Keep Your Water Clean
Keeping your water clean is actually quite different from keeping it balanced. You may think you’re quite clean when you step into the hot tub, but the reality is that the average body is coated in perspiration, natural oils, cosmetics, and other body contaminants.
Showering before using your hot tub is an excellent way to prevent this. Not only will this reduce the ‘chlorine-smell’ (a result of chlorine broken down while fighting contaminants) but less body oil in the water will keep your filter running well.
Regularly removing your hot tub filter and cleaning it according to the manufacturer’s instructions is another great way to extend the life of your hot tub. A clean filter is more effective and results in less stress on the pumps.
pHin Tip: Do not use household products to clean your filter as they often contain ingredients which are not compatible with hot tub chemistry. This often results in uncontrollable foaming.
There is a limit, however, to how clean you can keep your water with regular hot tub use, and eventually the old water will become difficult to balance. Some suggest changing it as often as every three weeks, while others claim that you can keep it clean for months with the right maintenance habits. As a general rule, if your water is starting to foam, look cloudy, or leave a ring around the edge of the tub, it is likely time to change it. A good rule of thumb is 3 months.
Those who live in colder climates should keep in mind that it’s not wise to drain a hot tub when the temperature is below freezing. Frozen water expands by nature, which can crack pipes and do all kinds of damage. Try to time your water changes accordingly so that you’re not stuck with gungy water in the middle of February.
Pamper Your Cover
The hot tub cover will typically begin to show its age far before the rest of the tub, so it’s extra important to give it the maintenance it needs. Tips to extend the life of your cover include:
- Protect it from the sun and elements. Hot tub covers that are protected by a gazebo or similar shelter will last longer.
- Do not allow anyone to sit on the cover, even pets or small children. This will cause it to sag or break. Hot tub covers are built to keep heat in, not to support weight.
- If you live in a climate with cold winters, brush any accumulated snow off the cover. Be sure to use extra caution to avoid tearing or damaging the cover.
- If possible, remove the inner foam sections from inside the cover and flip them once a year. This will help prevent sagging.
- It is recommended that you regularly treat your hot tub cover with some kind of vinyl protectant. Research your specific cover type and learn the best way to protect it.
Everyone knows that problems ignored are far more likely to get worse than better. Tears in your hot tub cover can start the spread of mold and mildew. Under-chlorinated water can become contaminated with algae. Dirty filters are not going to magically clean themselves. All these problems, if not dealt with, will shorten the life of your tub.
Treat your hot tub well, and you should be enjoying warm and relaxing for years to come.