So you're getting a new spa…relax! Installing a spa is no big deal if you plan and prepare ahead of time. Since a spa is a major purchase that becomes a long-term home fixture, consider these factors to make the spa installation a breeze.
Finding the Perfect Site
Installing a hot tub in the right location can enhance your enjoyment of it for years. Here are the factors you should consider to find the best location.
How Will You Use the Hot Tub?
The ideal spot largely depends on the hot tub's use. If you plan to use the spa mostly for socialization, then you might want to set it up in an open area outside. If it's for family get-togethers, install your spa near the gathering area. But if you expect to use it mostly for adult relaxation, choose a quieter or more secluded spot.
Environmental Factors to Consider
A hot tub in almost any outdoor spot serves you well in summer, but careful planning can extend the season by several weeks. In many locations, the hot tub can be used all year-round if you choose an appropriate site.
If you live in a sunny area, consider placing your new spa in a shady spot in your backyard, such as under the trees or near a wall, fence or other structures to protect you and your hot tub against extreme sunlight. This makes your spa experience more relaxing and comfortable.
Cold or Rainy Area
If you are in an area where it tends to get cold or rainy, then you may need to install your tub close to your home's back door so you can quickly get inside the house after soaking.
Wind blowing constantly around the spa can make it unpleasant to use. It may be a good idea to place your spa near barriers such as solid baffles or fences.
Whether your spa's ideal location is on the ground, on a deck, floor, slab or patio, you have to ensure that the area is well prepped. Here are a few tips:
- Since a filled hot tub is very heavy, ensure that it rests on a strong, level surface that can take the weight of the tub, water and occupants. Unsound and uneven surfaces can damage the spa and invalidate your warranty.
- If you plan to set up the spa outdoors, check if the site has proper drainage to easily eliminate rainwater.
- Plan in advance for proper access to circuit panels and a power source. The spa should be at least 10 feet away from the power source and at least 5 feet away from the circuit panels.
- Leave access to the removable equipment compartment panel for maintenance purposes.
What Type of Surface to Set the Spa On?
If you've decided to put your new spa outside, these options can provide a firm, level surface.
Prefab Spa Pads
Prefabricated spa pads are a perfect alternative to poured concrete. This type of inter-locking pad system is cost-effective, easy to install and provides your hot tub with an attractive base. It is also maintenance-free and can be removed easily if desired.
Crushed gravel can also be a cost-effective and easy way to create a strong hot tub foundation. The thickness of the crushed gravel bed should be about 4 inches, and you should ensure that it's properly compact to avoid settling after the hot tub is in place.
Poured concrete can also be a good long-term foundation base. It's expensive, but it only requires a little maintenance and adds value to your home. The base of reinforced concrete should be about 4 inches thick and be able to withstand a weight of at least 115 pounds per square foot, especially for larger spas. The concrete should be fully cured prior to placing the tub.
Concrete pavers are attractive base materials and come in a wide range of choices. Whether you set it up yourself or hire a professional, make sure that the base is leveled to ensure a strong foundation, and it's well prepared based on the specifications of the stone manufacturer.
If you prefer a deck site, make sure that the deck can hold the weight of the spa and the occupants. Consult with a structural engineer before you place the spa on an elevated deck. Check the manual from the manufacturer to know the filled weight of the spa (don't forget to include the weight of the occupants). The weight of the spa per square foot should not exceed the maximum load capacity of the deck to prevent structural collapse.
Placing the Spa Indoors
If you plan to install a hot tub indoors, make sure that the room is properly ventilated to prevent the moisture from accumulating. Using your spa for about 15 minutes produces the equivalent water vapor of a shower of the same duration, so it's a good idea to set up a bathroom exhaust fan to prevent excess condensation in your room.
Unless you put the spa on a concrete slab, you need to check if the supporting floor can handle the filled weight of the spa. An experienced contractor or engineer can help you determine this. Also, check the specifications of your spa for the estimated weight capacity.
If you want to build a new room for the spa, it may be necessary to install a floor drain to drain water that splashes from the tub. Also, choose flooring that provides a good grip for wet feet.