Having a hot tub in your own backyard is exciting. You are sure that you always have somewhere to soak and relax your body and soul after a physically or emotionally exhausting day.
However, hot tubs are complex systems and setting one up can be a little tricky. You need proper planning and sometimes compliance with your city codes to have a successful installation.
But don’t you worry. We have prepared a step-by-step guide that gives all the information you need to make your hot tub setup less intimidating. Whether you are doing it from scratch or just want to replace your existing spa, these 10 instructions will help you do it like a pro. So, let’s skip the chitter chatter and dive right into the nitty gritty, shall we?
1. Familiarize Yourself With Your City’s Building Code
Most cities will require you to have a building permit in order to set up a spa in your property. So find out if yours needs one so that you don’t find yourself on the wrong side of the law.
In most cases, the building code dictates how far you should put your hot tub from home. The most recommended distance is 5ft from your house or property line. Also, if there are any overhead power lines passing near your property, the code typically needs your spa to be at least 10ft away from these. Water and electricity are just not the best of friends!
2. Choose A Location
This may sound obvious but remember, once you have set up your hot tub and filled it with water, it will be very difficult for you to move it to another location afterwards, so get your position right from the word go. Look for a flat surface so that your spa can be level. And if you are installing an inflatable hot tub, the surface must be as smooth as possible and away from sharp elements.
You may also prefer an area that has a perimeter walkway like decking or cement slab to minimize the amount of debris and dirt accidentally carried into the water. You will thank us later when you are not skimming leaves from the water or removing layers of dirt from your filter.
The spot you choose must also be large enough so that you have plenty of room to hop in and out and perform your hot tub maintenance. 10 by 10ft will be a safe leeway, but then it will depend on how big or small your spa will be.
For inflatable spas, your spot must also be able to comfortably carry the weight of the equipment, the water contained in it, and the bathers. You can check this information on the product description before making a purchase.
3. Get Your Location Ready
Prep your site properly before your small above ground pool arrives. Some spas will weigh up to 1360 kg when full, so make sure the ground on which your tub rests is firm enough. You can achieve a solid foundation by pouring 3-4 inch of concrete on the surface where you are going to do your hot tub setup.
If you are not planning on moving your tub to a different location in the future, concrete will give you a permanent anchor for your system. But if you think you might be relocating your tub, you may want to consider using prefabricated spa pads instead.
These will make your installation process simpler and can easily be removed whenever you want to move your spa. However, they are not as strong as concrete, so you may want to look for the strongest pads in the market if you choose to take this route.
If your hot tub installation will be done indoor, you must make sure that the room is well ventilated so that moisture can escape freely. Your hot tub releases the same amount of water vapor your shower or bathtub produces, so make sure this steam has somewhere to go if you don’t want to end up with a damp room. You can prevent excess humidity by installing a ventilation system or bathroom fan in the room where you are going to set up your spa.
In addition, make sure the floor has a good drain so that any splashed water can dry up quickly. Your floor must also provide a good grasp for wet feet. Otherwise, you will be forced to bring a rag to the tub all the time to dry off your feet so that you can walk outside the room without slithering.
4. Check Your Electrical Requirements
Although most of the tubs in the market today are self-contained and won’t need any plumbing during installation, you will need to run electrical wiring to get your spa up and running. Your building permit will have stated the dos and don’ts for using various types of conduits in your city, so make sure you are familiar with these before calling your electrician. Once you have acquired this information, it’s up to you to decide whether you would like the conduit to pass above or under the ground.
Most pumps require a dedicated 240v, 50A Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI). Some will only work with a 60A circuit. If you are not skilled enough to perform this kind of wiring, it would be best to have a qualified electrician do the job for you.
5. Get Ready For Delivery
You know the size of the spa you have ordered so even before it arrives, make sure that your set up location can be accessed easily. Cut down shrubs and low hanging tree branches. If you have a wooden fence round your backyard, you may want to remove a few pieces of timber to ensure smooth delivery. Clear any other protrusions line wires, house overhangs, etc., that might interfere with the movement of the tub to its set up spot.
Talking of movement, find out how your tub will be unloaded off the truck. If it will be delivered curbside, you might want to hire a forklift to move it from the kerb to the site of installation. There are some delivery companies that do this at a fee so if yours is one, you will need to have this arranged in advance to avoid any inconveniences.
6. Read The User Manual
So your “machine” has just arrived! What now? Look for the user manual to begin your hot tub setup!
Read your equipment’s manual. Even if you are familiar with how most hot tubs work, it is always important to go through the installation instructions to find out exactly what is needed of you. Manufacturers keep on upgrading their products so you need to make sure that all the new features are on your fingertips.
Sure, no one wants to keep glued to lengthy instructions, we get it, but these will make your spa installation a cakewalk. You will also get important safety tips that you may not find anywhere on the internet. Some user guides will even share information on things you should not do in a hot tub to make it more durable.
7. Position Your Spa
Assemble the spa and connect it to an electricity source. As we mentioned earlier most hot tubs use a voltage of 240v, which is higher than the normal home outlets. You will therefore need a breaker in your electrical control box. Again, if electricity systems are not your thing, please contact an electrician for assistance.
Once you have hooked a power source, don’t turn on the power yet. You need to wipe the interior of your spa and ensure that all knobs and jets are properly installed. If everything is in place, open the valves to allow air to circulate.
Grab a hosepipe and fill your spa with water. Buckets will also get the job done, as no special water is needed. Once this is done, turn on the power to heat up the tub.
Congratulations! You have just installed your spa without breaking a bank to pay an expert to do it for you.
But hold on. You are not done with your hot tub start up yet, so let’s go!
8. Add Chemicals
You were definitely not going to soak in your new spa without first treating the water, were you? Great! So add your start up chemicals. And since you are installing everything for the first time, it would be important to shock your hot tub to make the water safe for use.
But first, you need to wait until your tub heats up to about 30˚C to make dissolving of the chemicals easier. Here are tips on how to treat your water:
- Find out the amount of water your spa holds. How much water is in your tub will determine how much chemicals you will add in there. This information is usually written in the user manual and that’s why we insist that you should have a keen look at it before anything else.
- Take a bucket and fill it with water from the pool. Measure the chemicals you want to add to your spa, pour them in your bucket and stir until everything dissolved completely.
- Pour the mixture into the water and cover your hot tub for about 15 minutes.
- Leave the pump running during this time to distribute the chemicals evenly in the water.
- Remove the cover and leave the spa undisturbed for the rest of the day so that the chemicals can dissolve naturally.
Remember: If you are adding more than one chemical, pour them into the water one at a time allowing enough time for each to dissolve. Mixing chemicals directly can be dangerous as they can react with each other and the results could be very unpleasant. Also, only use chemicals that are aimed for hot tubs. Additives used in spools and swimming pools may not work as desired in a spa.
9. Test The Water Of Your Spa
The only thing that will make you not like this whole idea of owning a spa in your own compound is the fact that you will need to keep revisiting your high school chemistry once in a while. But hey, it’s not as bad as it sounds, we are sure you enjoyed the classes back then, so here you will just be putting what you learned into practice.
Adding chemicals to the water during your hot tub setup is one thing but making sure these chemicals are always balanced is another. If your water chemistry is off, you not only allow pathogens to breed but also cause damage to your expensive spa equipment. We are sure you don’t want to start doing replacements after a year of your tub installation.
Testing your hot tub water is not rocket science. You don’t even need to be a chemist to do it. Once you have done it during your hot tub start up and probably a few more times, you will master the basics in no time.
To do you water chemistry, you can either buy some test strips or test kits. A test strip will test for PH, alkalinity, as well as chlorine and bromine levels. To use a test strip:
- Draw a little amount of water from your spa and put it a clean container.
- Dip one strip into your water sample and hold it for about 20 seconds.
- Pull out the strip from the container and compare its color to the chart provided on the test strip holder.
A test kit on the other hand will work differently but will give similar results. To get started:
- Draw a sample of water from your spa using a clean container.
- Add about 5 drops of the reagent you want to test in your water.
- Wait for about 20 seconds and compare the resulting color with what is provided in the chart.
Apart from testing for alkalinity, PH, chlorine, and bromine, a test kit will also help you determine cyanuric acid and calcium hardness levels of your water. Once you have collected these readings, you can adjust your chemicals accordingly.
10. Adjust Your Water Temperature
Some like their hot tub hot, others hotter, and a few extremely hot. After all, this is the whole reason why the tub was named “hot” in the first place, right? Wrong!
Excess heat could damage your equipment or leave you bruised, or both. You want to feel the heat, we get that, but never ever, let the temperature of your water exceed 40˚C.
Most hot tubs have an inbuilt thermometer but to be on the safe side, it is advisable to test the temperature with a different thermometer just to be sure, the reading is accurate.
Also, ensure that the temperature remains consistent while using the spa. Cooling off and reheating your water with every use stresses your heater and the circuit board, which could end up damaging them. Don’t forget that it also draws more energy than necessary and so you would end up with a higher electricity bill than usual.
Once you have set the right temperature for your spa, leave it covered for the next 24 hours. This will allow the temperature to rise faster, help in heat retention, and most importantly, prevent water and chemical loss through evaporation.
After your water has stabilized and has the right temperature, test the chemical levels again and adjust these if needed. And (drum roll, please): you can now hop into your new hot tub!
How To Keep Your Hot Tub In Good Condition
Now that you have set up your spa, it is important to make sure that it is always safe for you, your family and friends to bathe. You can only achieve this by caring for it. And especially now that you have just installed it, everyone in your household will be dying to dip themselves in it.
If you are not careful, this can turn out to be a breeding spot for bacteria and you could end up wasting so much money trying to get rid of foam in your hot tub. Acquaint yourself with our beginners guide to hot tub and spa maintenance and you will always have an enjoyable, healthy soak.
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Good job! You have successfully completely your hot tub setup. See, it was not that hard. Now sit back, relax and enjoy a nice soak in your new baby!
If you are having trouble doing the installation, you can always get a professional to do it for you. But before then, take a look at the user manual. It could be all you need to get yourself started.
Just don’t forget to come up with a proper schedule to clean and do your water chemistry. You will also want to change your water at some point. Wondering how to drain and clean your hot tub? You will find out that it is not hard either.
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