The cold weather seems to be coming early this year, and you might be wondering what that means for your hot tub. You can still enjoy soaking in the bubbly hot water during the cold months, and some people even prefer it! There are a few things to keep in mind before the cooler temperatures hit, and then you’ll be back to enjoying your spa in no time without having to worry about the effects of winter on your wonderful spa.
- Drain and refill early. With good water maintenance, you’ll want to do a full drain and fresh fill of your spa water about every 3-4 months. Changing the water during cold weather greatly increases the risk of your pipes freezing, as you are adding cold water to an already chilly atmosphere. Pipe freezes can cause severe damage to your hot tub, so it’s always best to avoid changing the water during cold weather at all costs. Once the weather starts getting cooler, plan ahead for the winter and schedule your water change during warmer weather so you have fresh water in your spa to enjoy for the winter. Your next water change should be once the weather starts to warm up in the spring - the risk of pipes freezing greatly outweighs any benefits of changing your water in the water.
- Keep water clean after filling. Since you aren’t going to be able to change the water once the cold weather hits, it’s extremely important to take good care of the water in the hot tub so you can enjoy clean, clear water all winter long. Proper water maintenance includes testing your spa water weekly (or more often if you’re soaking more than a few times a week) making sure all chemicals (including sanitizer, pH and alkalinity) remain in proper range, rinsing and cleaning your filters, and shocking your spa. Rinsing off in the shower before using your hot tub can also help reduce the amount of oils, personal care products and particles being introduced into your water. For more details on an ideal water maintenance schedule, have a look at our in depth guide to hot tub chemicals.
- Check and clean your filters often. Your filters are the number one defence against dirty water. They’re picking up any oil, debris, particles, and bacteria floating around in your water and trapping them so they can’t circulate throughout the water and cause problems. If your filters become overly dirty, they stop working effectively and won’t be able to do their job as well. Make sure to rinse your filter with clean water at least once a week, and do a more thorough clean with a chemical filter soak about once a month. It’s also a great idea to have a spare set of filters that you can rotate into your spa while cleaning the other set of filters - this allows your hot tub to keep filtering while you’re cleaning your filters and then you even have time to let them dry in a nice warm place before swapping them back into the hot tub.
- Check your cover! Your insulated cover is a key factor in keeping your hot tub performing at tip top shape during the cool weather. A good cover is keeping all the heat in your hot tub, keeping your water steamy hot and not at risk of cooling down from the icy weather outside - and as we know, cool water can lead to freezing pipes which is a nightmare for your hot tub. When the snow starts to fall, your cover is also protecting any snow from getting into your spa, so give it a thorough exam before the cold weather hits to make sure its functioning well and doesn’t have any rips, tears, or signs of degradation. Also make sure you're keeping the cover locked in place at all times so it doesn't shift or move during intense wind or storms.
- Keep your hot tub cover and surrounding area clear of snow. Your hot tub and insulating cover are already working hard to keep steamy warm during terribly frightful weather - make it easier on them by removing snow and ice buildup from the top of your cover and around the spa. Try not to use a shovel and be gentle when removing build-up from your cover, as the blunt edges of a shovel could cause a tear in your cover - not what you need during snowy weather.
- Check water levels. It’s important to not let your water drop below ideal water levels - a few inches below the top of the spa and making sure all jets are submerged in the water. If your water level drops too much, any exposed components are at risk of freezing, so make sure to monitor your water levels after each use.
- Check pump and pipes. Before the cold weather hits, open up your spa and have a good look at the pumps and plumbing lines to check for any leaks, cracks or wear. If anything is damaged, you’ll want to be repairing parts before the winter hits and definitely not during! Since these parts are so optimal to keep your spa from freezing, inspect it thoroughly now instead of dealing with problems later.
- Don’t add snow to the hot tub! Melted snow does not make good hot tub water. The chemical levels of snow are different than what you’re used to which can cause issues trying to balance your chemicals, not to mention that snow contains particles and impurities that you don’t want in your hot tub water.
- Helpful hint: keep your garden hose inside during the winter so it remains unfrozen and ready to use when you need to top off the hot tub water levels.
- Prevent freezing with circulation. Our number one maintenance goal for the winter is always to prevent your water from freezing. So with all the previous points taken care of, make sure your water remains set to a toasty warm level and your hot tub heater and pumps are set to circulate the water for about every 15-20 minutes once an hour.
- Power outage? In the event of a power outage, your hot tub will stop circulating and your heater will stop working. However, if you’ve followed these steps, kept the temperature high and keep your insulated cover on top (don’t open it to check temperature as it will lose a lot of heat), your hot tub will remain at warm levels for a few days - usually long enough for power to be repaired or a service tech to come out.
If you complete some basic maintenance before the weather gets too chilly, and keep a closer eye on your hot tub during the cold weather, you’ll be enjoying and relaxing in your hot, bubbly spa all winter long.