Using your hot tub in cold weather is like having your own personal spa or chalet experience right in your own backyard. However, the winter makes maintenance a little trickier so, it’s important to set your hot tub up properly before the snow begins to fall.
If you’re looking forward to winter hot tubbing, here are 5 hot tub tips for winter fun that will help make sure your water chemistry is easy to manage, the waterline doesn’t drop too low, and that you are one step ahead of any service needed.
- Drain and fill the tub: The most important thing you can do to prepare your tub for winter use is to drain and fill it as late in the year as possible.We hear of many people who prefer to drain and fill in September or early October as the weather begins to cool down. The problem with this approach is that you can only efficiently maintain your water for approximately 4 months before managing the water chemistry gets more difficult. You then wind up with cloudy or foamy water – as well as facing the prospect of changing the water again in freezing January or February temperatures. Draining your tub during these frigid months is challenging, therefore you should avoid this scenario if possible.
We recommend draining and filling in mid-to-late November, which will put your next water change in the spring. The key to remembering actually lies in your garden hose – turning off your outdoor tap for the winter is the best reminder to do a drain and fill before shutting down your outside water.
It’s possible to drain and fill when the temperature is below zero degrees Celsius, as long as you have running water and do both in one day so the water remaining in your pipes between draining and filling doesn’t have the chance to freeze overnight.
This is also a great opportunity to clean your hot tub cover, shell, filters, and internal pipes before it gets too cold to spend a lot of time outdoors carrying out these tasks.
- Inspect your hot tub: Trust us – winter poses challenges and limitations when you need to inspect your hot tub. It’s even worse when something needs replacing or fixing, especially if draining is necessary for service. When the snow falls, you just want to use the tub, not inspect it, so we recommend that you do it sooner rather than later. Here’s the 3-point do-it-yourself hot tub inspection list to help ensure your tub is ready for winter use:
- Run your tub at 102 degrees for at least three days. Afterward, check to make sure the hot tub is heating, holding, and moving water. If the water is not heating or not moving, or is leaking, schedule a service call with your local hot tub professional.
- Turn the pump(s) on high speed for a few minutes and visually inspect the equipment area for any irregularities. Be sure to check for any error codes on your control panel and listen for any unusual sounds.
- Inspect your hot tub jets and cover functionality. These may not require a service call to correct but inspecting or replacing them now is much easier than it will be in the winter.
If you need any help or discover anything worrying or unusual, be sure to talk to your hot tub professional as soon as possible before the snow falls.
- Top up your hot tub water level (both now and throughout the winter): During the winter, you will likely notice that the water level is going down faster than it did in the summer. That’s because in cold, dry seasons such as the fall or winter, evaporation rates are accelerated compared to the warmer, more humid months in the summer.
That means there’s a good chance by February or March your hot tub will be low on water. If the water gets too low, your hot tub seats will become shallow and your shoulders will be exposed to the cold air – not the relaxing tub experience you want.
Top off the water before it gets too cold to run your hose. If you wait until the mid-winter months, you might find yourself running buckets of water from inside your house to your tub. This takes a long time, plus think of all the heat that will be wasted with your back door open while you tediously fill buckets and add them to the tub, each one not appearing to make much difference to your tub’s water level. We have done this before so trust us, it’s not something you will look forward to after you have tried this the first time.
You can avoid this problem by following this simple 2-step solution:
- Fill your hot tub a few extra inches higher than you normally would during any other time of the year. This will give you more time before your water level will be noticeably lower than normal. The seats may start off a little deeper now, or the water may spill over the edge of the tub upon entry, but these aren’t causes for concern. We want to ensure that we start the winter off with as much tub water as possible.
- Top up the water as you use it during the winter. Evaporation is a relatively slow process, so you can balance the water loss by pouring a bowl, cup or small pail of water into the tub every time you climb in. This will compensate for the evaporation rate so your tub water level never gets too low. Do this each time you use the hot tub and you will avoid the annoying bucket runs.
- Clear the snow from your hot tub cover: During the winter months, be sure to keep your hot tub cover free from snow, otherwise it will melt and freeze to the surface, making it more difficult to remove as it adheres to the vinyl. As you try to chip the ice away, this is when your cover is highly prone to being damaged Simply use a broom to clear the snow off the cover soon after a snowfall. Don’t use a shovel, as the sharp edges might puncture the vinyl, which would severely affect its performance and lifespan.
- Avoid using glassware in the hot tub: Imagine hopping in your hot tub for relaxing winter soak and – OUCH! – you step or sit on a piece of broken glass! On top of the pain you’re now feeling, you have to stop everything and hunt for glass shards in your hot tub – in sub-zero temperatures. Not only that, if you do find the offending shard, can you really be confident there isn’t another one lurking in the water somewhere waiting for the next unsuspecting victim?
Accidents with glass drinkware can and do happen, so we recommend using plastic or our popular unbreakable drinkware instead to avoid the risk of broken glass throughout the year.
Sometimes, especially around the holidays, you might get too busy to jump in for a soak. If you haven’t used your hot tub for a week or so, it’s a good idea to lift the cover to make sure everything is working properly. The last thing you need is to go out for a soak after a few weeks and only to find out that it needed service a while ago, and that the repair is much more complicated now than it needed to be.
If you find an issue with your hot tub (even during the winter), have any questions about winter hot tub maintenance, or want more handy hot tub tips, give us a call anytime. We’re happy to help you get the most of your hot tub experience!
Learn all about hot tub tips for winter hot tubbing from the experts at Lakeshore Pools & Hot Tubs in Mississauga, Oakville, and the Greater Toronto Area!
Knowing about hot tub maintenance in winter is crucial to enjoying a great tub experience throughout the colder months. Talk to the award-winning experts at Lakeshore Pools & Hot Tubs for recommendations on how to keep your hot tub running smoothly all year long.
Visit Lakeshore Pools & Hot Tubs at 309 Lakeshore Road East in Mississauga, or call (905)-891-8818 today!