All hot tub owners know there are steps to take to keep your favorite hot spot in tip-top condition. Shutting down your hot tub for the season might be a good idea if you don’t plan on using it during the cold winter months, and it’s a great time to winterize the tub, so it’s ready for the following spring.
Let’s find out what it means to winterize your hot tub and if it’s really necessary.
How To Winterize a Hot Tub – A Step-by-Step Guide
Winterizing your hot tub is easy if you know how. It doesn’t cost much to shut down and prepare the tub for winter, but it’s worth the effort to ensure a working hot tub next season.
This is how to winterize your hot tub in 15 easy steps:
1. Let the Levels of the Chemicals in the Hot Tub Water Reduce
Water drained from the hot tub contains chemicals and chlorine used to clean and sanitize the tub. This water is generally pumped into the yard or garden around the tub. Hot tub chemicals are toxic substances and can affect animals and plants, so you should reduce the amount of chemicals you use for a few weeks before emptying the tub. This will allow the levels to dissipate before you drain the water, reducing the threat to the local fauna and flora.
2. Clean and Flush Out the Pipes in the Hot Tub
Add a flush line product to the tub water. This will help prevent bacteria and mildew from growing in the pipes. Read the instructions for using the product and allow it to circulate.
3. Remove the Side Panel of Your Hot Tub
To gain access to the hot tub plumbing and pump, remove the side panel.
4. Switch off the Power to the Hot Tub
The safest way to power down the hot tub is to switch it off directly at the GFCI circuit breaker, which is generally located outside the house. If you can’t find the breaker box, unplug the hot tub at the power outlet. Ensure the hot tub’s display panel is not working before you continue. This ensures that the tub is safely powered down, which is essential for preventing any accidents while you are cleaning the tub’s plumbing.
5. Drain the Hot Tub Contents
You can safely leave your hot tub empty during the winter, but it must be empty and dry with the filters removed before you close it up. Any water left inside the tub could freeze and damage the shell and the plumbing.
There are a few ways to drain the water from the tub:
- Unscrew the drainage plug, attach a garden hose to the outlet, and allow the water to flow out. This could take a few hours.
- Use a submersible pump – this will pump the water out of the tub quickly, saving you time.
6. Loosen the Unions on the Hot Tub and Drain the Plugs and Heaters
Loosen the unions to allow all the water in the lines to drain. Always remove the lowest drain plug at the front of each plug to ensure all the water is removed.
7. Allow Water to Drain from the Pumps
Your hot tub might have more than one pump, so ensure that all the plumbing lines are clear.
8. Clean or Remove the Hot Tub Filters
Leaving used filters in the tub could damage them beyond repair. So, you should either discard them and add new filters next season or, if the filters are not too old, remove them and store them in a chemical cleaning solution to be used again. Remove any accessories like spa pillows and store them for the winter.
9. Use a Wet/Dry Vacuum to Dry Out the Lines
Any water left behind in the lines could freeze, causing costly damage to the plumbing. Attach the wet/dry vac to each drain and suck out the excess water. Open each jet and blow excess water out of the pipes. Repeat this process until all the water has dried up.
Any wet spots can be dried using a dry rag or paper towel.
10. Clean the Hot Tub Shell
Give the tub a thorough clean with non-abrasive tub cleaning materials. Leave the tub to air dry.
Top Tip: Before you cover your hot tub, leave a few pieces of paper towel inside the tub to soak up any water that might make its way into the tub while it is not used! This will prevent mildew and mold from damaging the shell.
11. Replace the Pump Drain Plug
After draining all the water from the tub and making sure that all the plumbing is dry, replace the pump drain plug and tighten all the unions. All the gate valves should be open.
12. Add Antifreeze to the Hot Tub
Adding antifreeze to the hot tub’s jets, filter standpipes, and pump discharges will protect these areas and prevent them from freezing. Follow the directions on the bottle for the correct amounts to use. Consult the hot tub’s manual first and check that your particular hot tub can use antifreeze.
13. Replace the Side Panel of Your Hot Tub
Replace the side panel of the hot tub and ensure that all the fastenings are secure and tight.
14. Clean the Hot Tub Cover
Clean the hot tub cover using a cover cleaning product. The correct product protects the cover and keeps it clear from mold and mildew.
15. Cover the Hot Tub
Make sure that the cover is securely strapped in place. If the hot tub is outdoors and exposed to the elements, place a layer of plywood over the tub to protect it from snow and ice. Cover the entire hot tub, cover, and plywood with a tarp. Make sure the tarp is tied down and secure.
What Does it Cost To Winterize a Hot Tub?
The cost to winterize your hot tub really depends on how much maintenance is needed. All the cleaning products and chemicals required to clean the tub and pipes could be expensive.
The correct hot tub chemicals are essential to prevent bacteria and algae and keep the water sparkling, so buy the right chemicals for your tub.
Going the DIY route could simply mean buying chemicals and a few paper towels, or it could mean buying a wet/dry vac or replacing a faulty hot tub cover.
A professional hot tub cleaning service will charge around $200.00 – $300.00 to winterize your tub, excluding extras like a new hot tub cover. The costs could increase depending on your location and traveling expenses. (source)
Should I Use Antifreeze In My Hot Tub?
Using anti-freeze in your hot tub is the best way to prevent the pipes from freezing and bursting during the freezing cold winter months. However, only use anti-freeze in the tub if you are planning on winterizing the tub for an extended period.
The tub cannot be used after anti-freeze has been added. The tub will need to be cleaned and flushed completely from anti-freeze before the water is safe for anyone to relax in.
Always check the manufacturer’s directions for the correct quantity of anti-freeze for your size hot tub before adding.
How To Prepare Your Hot Tub For Winterizing
Winterizing or cleaning your tub is not a quick task, and it could take anywhere from 3 to 6 hours, depending on the size of the hot tub and the maintenance required. So, ensure you set aside the time to complete the job without distractions.
Choose a warm day to winterize your hot tub. The best time to winterize your tub and to prepare for the cold winter temperatures is towards the end of fall when the weather is still warm. Removing all the water from the tub and drying the pipes and the tub before the weather gets too cold will guard against any leftover water from freezing.
Before you begin the winterizing process, check the manufacturer’s manual for any special instructions or warnings. Hot tubs are not alike, so your hot tub might have a unique feature that needs special attention.
Read the instructions on any cleaning solutions, filter cleaners, antifreeze, and flush line products you plan on using on the tub. You might need goggles and gloves if the products are particularly harsh.
You will need these items to winterize your tub:
- A long funnel for pouring antifreeze into the pipes
- A garden hose to attach to the bottom drain spout to drain the water
- A wet/dry vacuum cleaner with a blow setting to dry the water out of the tub, jets, filter cavities, and pipes.
- Absorbent or paper towels to dry the tub
- Sponges to clean residue off the tub
- Non-Toxic Antifreeze (Propylene Glycol)– check the ingredients in the antifreeze – you shouldn’t use the same antifreeze in your hot tub as you use in your car as it’s toxic. Use antifreeze especially made for hot tubs.
- Cleaning products for the hot tub shell and cover
- New filters or a filter-cleaning product
Why Should I Winterize My Hot Tub?
Winterizing your hot tub really means shutting it down for the winter or for an extended period. While some people love wallowing in their hot tub throughout the year, including during the winter months, others might only use it during certain times, leaving it dormant for the rest of the year.
If you own a vacation home and only visit during summer, winterizing your hot tub is a good idea. Winterizing is good practice if you are out of town and not using your hot tub for a few months – if you aren’t going to use your hot tub for three to four months, winterize your tub!
Winterizing your hot tub is a great way to clean the tub and the pipes and prevent bacteria from growing in the unused lines. Draining all the water out of the tub during the cold winter months prevents the water from freezing and causing costly damage to the tub.
So, Is Winterizing My Hot Tub Really Necessary?
Well, if you are not going to use your beloved hot tub during the winter or for an extended period of time – yes! Shutting down your tub will prevent damage to the tub, saving you money and giving you peace of mind.
The added bonus is knowing that your hot tub will be in tip-top condition next season when you want to use it again – simply fill it up, switch it on and jump right in. Bliss!