Hot Tub 101

"What should I look for in a hot tub?"  is a question we hear frequently from our customers. 

We have put together this information so that you will have confidence in your ability to select a high quality hot tub that suits your needs without sacrificing value or service.

Exterior Factors

  • Where should I place my tub?

    • ​On a deck: the weight of a full hot tub is approximately 100lbs per square foot​ or 45kg per .1 square meters.  This means decks or raised platforms must be reinforced.

    • On the ground: you need a flat, level surface that will not heave with frost.  10 to 12 inches of gravel with patio stones or pavers or a concrete pad is typical. Alternatively, pre-engineered pads are available from most hot tub retailers.

    • Distance from door: over the years, we have found that a hot tub is used most if it is not more than 10-15 steps from the nearest door.  Going to and from the tub in -20C can be very chilly.

  • Size and configuration

    • How many people will be using the hot tub regularly?  This is the base size of tub you need.

    • Will I be entertaining in the hot tub?  Some people enjoy 'hot tub parties' where guests use the tub too.

    • Do I want a lounger in my hot tub?  Loungers are strictly a personal preference.  They usually have jets that massage the feet and legs as well as the back.  However, in most cases the lounger takes up two bench style seats.

    • Will there be children using the hot tub?  If so, you may want to make sure that you have seats of different depths.  Also a large footwell is great if you have several people in the hot tub.

  • How many jets do I need in my hot tub?

    • Jet placement: modern hot tubs often have jets that target specific areas of your body.  Neck, shoulder, foot, calf and wrist jets are available in some tubs​

    • Jet type:  Different jets feel different.  Swirling jets, directional, massage, rifled all have specific affects.  Luckily, jets can often be changed or moved if they are the same size.  remember, jets with moving parts take more water pressure to move them so they are often in the lower sections of the seats.

    • The balance between number of jets and the power of the pumps is more important than the absolute number of jets.  A spa with more jets does not guarantee a more enjoyable hydrotherapy experience.

  • Insulated Cover​

    • How thick should it be? Outdoor hot tubs need a 4" to 6" cover made of high density foam.​

    • Tapered or flat?  Tapered covers allow the water to flow off of the cover more quickly so your cover does not bow in the middle from excess weight.

    • Vapour barrier: the wrap that is put around the foam inserts can be a thin as 2mm or as thick as 6mm. The thicker it is, the longer the life of your cover.

    • Vinyl skin: the top and sides of the skin of your cover should be made of Marine grade vinyl.  The underneath can be either mesh or solid vinyl.  Mesh allows the gas (chlorine or bromine) that evaporates to deteriorate the vapour barrier around the inserts.

Internal Factors

  • Pumps

    • Jet Pumps: Pumps can have either one or 2 speeds.  A two speed pump has a high and low so that you have control over the amount of power in your jets.  Some hot tubs have one, two or more jets pumps with each pump controlling a different section of the tub.  If you do not have a circulation pump then the filtration of the tub is done on the low speed of one of the jet pumps

    • Circulation pump: is a smaller pump that runs all the time to do the filtration in the hot tub.  It is a lower voltage pump that saves wear and tear on the jet pumps and can save some money.

  • Construction 

    • Structure:  Wood, powder-coated steel or galvanized steel have provided the structure for most hot tubs.  Recently there has been a move to polymer hot tubs in which the structure is formed by the entire shell of the hottub.  This was first used in portable hot tubs, but is now available in many styles due to its light weight, durability, and less expensive construction.

    • Shell; traditionally hot tubs were made of acrylic that is laminated onto a fiberglass backing.  This is still the most common type of hot tub.  As stated above: polymer shells are becoming more popular due to the lower cost to produce them.

    • Insulation: Trapped air space is as crucial as the insulation itself. Every component that contains water should be inside the insulated space to provide the safest and most energy efficient operation of the hot tub.  The motors, however, need air space around them to stay cool enough to operate.  Removable and replaceable insulation (alternative to spray foam)  allows every component of the plumbing and equipment to be inspected and repaired when necessary.

Maintenance Factors

  • Access:

    • Ideally you will leave access to every side of your hot tub.  If this is not possible then the side with the "top side control panel" is the one that is accessed for regular maintenance. 

    • If there is a deck around the hot tub, then removable panels must be put into the deck on each side. 

    • If the tub is to be sunk into the ground, there must be adequate drainage so that if the pit floods the tub is not damaged. 

    • Easily removable cabinet panels and insulation are the key to quick access for maintenance.

  • Sanitation: 

    • Keeping the water clean is the most important factor in maintaining a hot tub. 

    • Filtration: Most hot tubs have a 'skim' filter that draws water from the top of the tub through a filter and returns it to the hot tub after it goes through the heater.  The filters need to be rinsed every 2 - 4 weeks and cleaned every 1-2 months.  The timing is dependent on the amount of use your hot tub gets.

    • Salt water:  a salt water sanitation system can be added to most hot tubs.  This is actually a chlorine based system that uses chlorine (or bromine) salt as its sanitizer.  It automates the sanitation of the hot tub.  Ideally, the hot tub will also have a circulation pump to make sure that the water is always moving through the system so that it can generate sanitizer.  The salt cell must be replaced every 2 years.

    • UV (UltraViolet Light): this is a sanitizing system that uses light to kill bacteria.  UV systems reduce the amount of sanitizer that is needed to maintain clean water.  Some chlorine or bromine must also be used to keep the water safe.  The UV light bulb must be replaced every 2 years. Ideally, the hot tub will also have a circulation pump to make sure that the water is always moving through the system so that the UV light can penetrate all the water.

    • Ozonator:  this can be part of any sanitizing system.  Ozone molecules are very good at oxidizing contaminants, reducing the odour caused by sanitizing chemicals and helping to kill bacteria, algae and yeasts.  Ideally, the hot tub will also have a circulation pump to make sure that the water is always moving through the system for optimum performance.  An ozonator must be replaced every 18 - 24 months.

© 2019 by Chinook Hot Tubs & Saunas Inc.