No one purchases a hot tub because he or she is excited to put a cover on it. Similarly, while the wooden casing on your spa might really tie the deck together, it's probably not the reason you got a hot tub in the first place. So, maybe you're paying special attention to jets and seats while leaving those peripheral features neglected. Don't make that mistake! These are integral parts of your hot tub's well-being, and failure to maintain them could cost you a pretty penny in premature replacements.
Here's the good news: with a few minutes here and there, cover and skirt care is a breeze. They're also cheap to maintain and require only a handful of special products. We'll walk you through some maintenance routines that will keep your hot tub cover and skirt shiny and functional.
Out in the elements, your hot tub is susceptible to weather, moisture, and all manner of natural challenges. Your maintenance routine should address the specific risks the cover and skirt are likely to face.
- UV damage: Both the cover and skirt are susceptible to sun damage. While these products typically have some UV resistance built in, sunlight will eventually bleach and degrade them.
- Mildew: Since your cover experiences moisture constantly, there's a risk of mildew buildup. Mildew creates an unpleasant smell and compromises the cover's topcoat. Its roots can dig deep into the vinyl, making it difficult to remove once accumulated.
- Chemical corrosion reaction: The rich soup of chemicals you use to keep your water clean can also chip away at the hot tub cover. This results in a porous cover, which lets in more chemicals and water vapor that degrade it even further.
- Water accumulation: If you let water sit on, under, or inside your cover for too long, you risk a variety of structural and cover material problems. The hot tub skirt is also subject to water damage and rotting over time.
- Dehydration: The vinyl and topcoat on your cover need a hydrating agent to prevent cracking. Don't count on water vapor to provide that for you.
- Scratches and tears: Dirt, branches, animals, and gritty shoes can all leave dings in your cover. You can prevent these by limiting certain activities around the cover, and by applying special protectants.
Maintaining the Cover Jacket
Give the outside of the cover jacket a good cleaning once every two weeks. This will require a sponge or terry cloth, a gentle detergent such as CleanAll Spa Surface Cleaner, some cool hose water, and a protectant. 303 Aerospace Protectant is among the most highly recommended protectants on the market. We recommend sticking to detergents made specifically for spa covers, as most other soaps and cleaners can degrade the topcoat.
- Spray the jacket with cool water from a garden hose. This loosens dirt, moss, and any other undesirable buildup. It also reduces friction, which prevents abrasion when wiping down the cover.
- Spray a mild detergent on the cover, and then wipe up dirt and grime with the cloth. You can soak particularly dirty areas with detergent for 2-3 minutes. You can also spray and wipe repeatedly to fight caked-on substances such as bird droppings.
- To remove mildew or moss from the zippers, zip them open and spray thoroughly with detergent, and then wipe clean. You can use a small, abrasive brush to get between the zipper teeth.
- Rinse the cover with a garden hose. Towel dry with a terry cloth, and then allow the jacket to air dry, preferably in the shade.
- When dry, finish with a coat of oil and silicone-free protectant. Spray evenly and spread with a soft cloth. This moisturizes the topcoat, prevents cracks, and protects the vinyl from dirt and UV damage.
Don't forget to clean the underside of the jacket; this is where most chemical buildup will be. Once every few months, it's good to take out the foam core and clean the inside of the jacket using the same techniques.
Foam Core Care
Foam cores receive a lot of abuse; hot tub owners tend to set heavy things on them and let water set up inside. Preserve the life of your foam core by keeping heavy objects off it, such as snow, water puddles, and children. This will prevent compression and sinking. If you notice a water puddle collecting on top of your cover, flip the foam cores over inside the jacket.
Once a week, completely remove the cover from the hot tub and allow water to drain out of it. If you notice your cover getting heavier over time, this means water has not been able to drain out properly. To combat this, remove the foam cores and let them air-dry in the shade.
Another tip to preserve the overall life of your expensive hardtop hot tub cover is to consider adding a floating blanket (foam or bubble-type). This is a fairly inexpensive addition which will act as a “sacrificial lamb” in that it helps keep the chemical vapors and moisture normally rising to the underneath side of the hardtop at the water’s surface. Additionally, it would create a total of three layers of insulation-the water’s surface, the dead air space and the hardtop cover.
If your spa skirt, or cabinet, is the constructed of a wooden casing around your hot tub. It, too, needs upkeep. Most skirts have a UV- and water-resistant coating, which will preserve the wood for some time. Still, you can increase the skirt's lifespan by routinely cleaning off dirt, moss, and other natural substances. Spray the wood with a garden hose and wipe it clean with a gentle soap. Always rinse the soap off thoroughly. To prevent rotting, dry the wood frequently with a soft cloth.
Covers and cabinetry are two of the biggest investments you can make for your hot tub. Staying ahead of the wind and weather will ensure that you get the most for your money.
Additionally, good water quality and chemical balance will prevent wear on your hot tub accessories. The pHin smart device monitors your water quality and notifies you by smartphone when you need a chemical tweak. It will even ship you the exact right amounts.