Hot Tubs and Winter. Revisiting Some Recommendations.
A couple of years ago, I posted the following recommendations to help safeguard your hot tub during frigid times. I’m adding some new thoughts here, too.
It’s the perfect season for hot tubbing. Maybe…
I’ve always thought that winter is the best time to use a hot tub. There’s just something about sitting in hot, pulsating water while big flakes of snow gently fall, coating your hair. Still, you’re warm and toasty, even as steam turns the snow to ice. However, I realize that not everyone shares my sentiment. Many users winterize their tub the instant the winter coat comes out of the closet. Others gut it out, happily shoveling a path to their portable good-times machine. And then there are those that finally hit the wall. Basically, the bitter cold, blustery winter winds, and occasional sleet and freezing rain make them cry ‘uncle’! If you fall into this group, this blog is for you.
Rule #1. Don’t forget about your hot tub.
So, you’ve gone from using the tub every day to looking at it through the window. You’re nice and warm, but is the water inside it? It’s important to check the hot tub every day or two. Breakers trip. Occasionally, an element may go bad or a relay malfunctions. In short, you need to make sure you still have power to the unit. Without power, there is no heat, and eventually, your prize possession could turn into a big ice cube. This could crack the shell and frozen plumbing lines usually result in major repairs.
Some hot tub owners that know they won’t be using the unit as frequently lower the setting for water temperature. I do not recommend doing this. During a power outage, 102° water takes much longer to freeze than water that has purposely been lowered to 65°.
“I have that power outage!”
Fortunately, most quality hot tubs can withstand several days without power. In this scenario though, it is important to just leave the unit alone. Look, you know you have no electric, so leave the cover on. Every time you remove it to check, you lose a little heat.
But what about an extended power outage? That can be very problematic, and depending on the manufacturer, your safe window may vary greatly. Years ago, I lost power for seventy-two hours and the outdoor temperature was in the low ‘teens. When power was restored, the water temperature in my hot tub had dropped from 102° to 73°. My neighbor had more of an economy-line unit and his fell to 52°. My personal recommendation is to call the store where you purchased your hot tub for their guidance.
“The power is back on!”
“I’ve had enough of winter. I’ll just drain it.”
Problem solved…right? Not necessarily. Sure, it’s easy to drain the visible water from a hot tub. Just hook a hose to the external drain line (if you have one) and let gravity do the work. You can also use a small electric drain pump or start a manual syphon. After an hour or so, your tub is drained. Unfortunately, that’s not good enough. You also must get rid of the water hidden from view in the plumbing and pump housing. Again, gravity plays its part and water will find the lowest point. That will be below the tub’s shell.
Using a shop vac, hold the nozzle over each jet or port and suck water out of the lines. Suction each jet, then for good measure, repeat the process. Still, that’s not enough. There may be water in the wet end of the motor. This is the rigid plastic end that houses the impeller. Look for drain plugs and then remove them. Vac out any remaining water, then leave the plugs out. I’d place them in a plastic baggie then put them on a seat inside the hot tub.
The cover is also part of the hot tub.
Many people forget to latch their cover down. Winter’s winds can easily flip the cover off so secure it to avoid massive heat and water loss. Then there is snow to deal with. Mistake number one is trying to clear it with a snow shovel or your car’s ice scraper. Whether metal or plastic, these get scarred and chipped and will rip a cover to shreds. Instead, use a soft bristled broom. Even better, if you have a battery or gas-operated snow blower, use it.
As moisture collects on the hot tub’s lip, a cover will sometimes freeze to the hot tub. Not a biggie. Don’t yank on it with the handles as they may rip off the cover. Just gently work it until it pops free.
Stay alert to strange sounds coming from underneath the unit.
Most people are familiar with Murphy’s Law of “Whatever can go wrong, will.” This seems to be even more applicable during the winter months. At least that’s been my experience. If you hear louder than normal noise coming from the motor, call us if it is one of our units. If not, call your local servicing agent. It could be that motor bearings have started to fail. This can ultimately result in leakage at the motor and the complete shutdown of the system. Don’t wait for warmer days. Get it fixed before it becomes a much bigger problem.
If you use your hot tub a lot during the winter, you’ll know if you have an issue. If you use it sparingly or not at all, you need to check it every two or three days. If you lose power, don’t panic. You’ve probably got a safety window of several days, but when in doubt, call. Lastly, if you decide to winterize it for the duration of the season, I recommend you have it professionally done. If you are not confident in your ability to properly winterize your Eastgate Pools hot tub, we can help. Call our service department at 513-528-8878 and schedule a winterization.