Setting Up a Hot Tub for the First Time

Setting up a hot tub the right way

Even when you've outgrown your stuffed animals and little league gear, a childlike sense of excitement still exists when a new present arrives at your front door, and the bigger the toys, the more excited you are. So when your very first, brand-new hot tub arrives, it's tempting to quickly throw it together at its final resting place. Patience is a virtue, though. Setting up your hot tub right the first time will prevent breakdowns further down the road due to a rushed installation. Here's some valuable steps for setting up a spa.

Owner's Manual

This one is fairly self explanatory. If you know a thing or two about hot tub installation, you may want to wing it, but each spa is different. Reading the owner's manual will help get you used to your particular model and inform you of any details that may differ from other models.

Preparing Your Hot Tub

First, cut off all power to the equipment at the circuit breaker since you will be working with the hot tub equipment inside the cabinet. There are a couple of safety checks to go through before getting into the hot tub setup itself:

  • If not already open, go ahead and open your gate valves. This allows the water to flow through the pump and heater into your spa.
  • To avoid water seepage around the spa, check to see that the drain valve is closed.

Once you've taken safety precautions, it's time to get down and dirty by cleaning the interior of your hot tub with a clean towel and a mild, non-foaming, non-abrasive cleanser. If you use a common household cleaner to do the job, you may wind up with a plethora of problems, including damage to the inner shell, foaming problems, and/or altering the pH balance of the water. If you opt for a natural, earth-friendly cleaner, you won't even have to rinse it out, since they are composed of non-toxic ingredients that won't harm your spa or skin.

Hot Tub Water

Filling Your Hot Tub

First check to see that your filter cartridge is installed. This will start you off on the right foot by filtering your water from the initial pour. A recommended method for filling your hot tub is through a garden hose equipped with a hose end spa pre-filter. This limits the amount of iron, lead or other impurities that may come standard in tap water. Hook up your hose to the filter area and fill the tub up to the water line as designated in your owner's manual. Too little water and you could harm the pump or heater element. Once the tub is full, it's a good idea to check inside the electrical cabinet again and make sure no leakage is occurring around the fittings. Fittings can often jiggle loose during shipping, but a solid hand-tightening should do the trick.

Powering on the Hot Tub

Now it's time to close the cabinet door and turn the power on at the circuit breaker. The owner's manual will describe your hot tub's control system, so glance over it before your initial soak. You are going to have to draw on another childhood lesson at this point: patience. It can take anywhere from seven to 24 hours before the water is thoroughly heated. While you wait, you can check on the jets and control system and make sure they are functioning properly.

Sanitizing Your Hot Tub

Don't be fooled into thinking that your first time setup is complete after your water is filtered and hot. The water may look crystal clear, but in order for it to remain guarded against bacteria, you need to sanitize your hot tub. An effective spa sanitizer is necessary. One solution is brominating tablets. They provide excellent sanitation conditions without the harsh smell of chlorine. Simply place them in a floating dispenser. They'll slowly dissolve in the warm water, releasing their contents into the circulating water. Another option is the Nature2 spa purifier. This mineral sanitizer fits inside the filter cartridge and slowly releases its minerals over a four-month period, which allows you to use up to 50% less bromine or chlorine in your hot tub.

Testing and Balancing the Water

When you step into the water, it may look clean to the naked eye, but it could actually be carrying remnants of body oils, soaps or fragrances. These irritants can lead to cloudy, foaming or foul-smelling water, so it's important to not only test and balance your water on a continual basis, but also to do it before you even sanitize your hot tub. Keeping the pH level at equilibrium will not only maintain inviting waters but also sustain the life of the equipment. To test the water, you can use testing strips to determine the water's alkaline or acidic nature. To perform this procedure, let the water circulate for a few minutes, then gather a small sample in a glass jar. Dip the test strip into the water, shake off any excess moisture then compare it to the color chart on the bottle. You should have a supply of hot tub chemicals on hand in case you need to make adjustments to the water. Remember that different sanitizers require different testing time periods, so be sure to check the label for an accurate time frame.

You're now ready to go. Although at times it may seem like you're back in a high school science lab, preparing and maintaining your hot tub will soon become second nature. Taking the time to properly install and maintain a clean, comfortable hot tub will be worth the effort, especially when your friends show up unexpectedly!

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