Many people particularly enjoy using their outdoor spa or hot tub during
the cold winter months. While the wintertime can be the most enjoyable time to use an
outdoor spa, if you live in an area of freezing conditions, there are some things you
should do to ensure the proper operation and maximum energy efficiency of your spa.
Protect From Freezing:
The greatest danger of using your spa in the winter time is that damage will occur
from water freezing in the piping system. Most portable or self-contained spas have a
system designed to prevent this from happening. Many spas have a "mode" switch
on the main control box labeled, "timer/thermostat" or
"timer/no-freeze" (or something else to that effect).
When the switch in in the timer mode the spa will generally heat only
during a preset time throughout the day. During the rest of the day, the heating system is
off and the spa can be prone to freezing. The switch should be in the 'thermostat'
or 'no-freeze' setting so that the spa will always maintain a
constant temperature. The thermostat should also be turned up to the normal operating
If your spa does not have a "mode" switch and operates only by a timer,
you'll need to reprogram it to give the best possible protection against freezing.
It's a good idea to set the timer to come on for at least 15 minutes each hour. This
will ensure hot water circulation through the pipes and equipment (the piping is the place
most prone to freezing). Please note, in areas of intense cold, i.e. -10 or below, 15
minutes per hour may not be a long enough time to keep things from freezing.
Keeping it hot:
Remember...the colder it is outside, the longer it will take for your spa or hot
tub to heat up. Spas will need to run longer during the winter to maintain the same
temperature as in the warmer months.
The most important thing for reducing the energy requirements of your spa in
wintertime is a good insulating cover. Your energy requirements can be further reduced
with the simple addition of an inexpensive floating
thermal blanket. Not only will a floating blanket help to keep in the heat, but it
will also reduce your hot tubs chemical consumption and increase the life of your primary insulating cover.
Remember also to regularly remove the snow from atop the cover. Most spa covers
are not designed to hold the added weight of snow. Laying a plastic tarp over your cover
will help prevent damage from a snow shovel, and light snow can be removed by simply
pulling off the tarp.
Draining and cleaning your spa:
The middle of winter is defiantly not the most joyous time to drain and clean your
spa (is there ever a 'joyous' time?). If you take care of this in the late fall you most
likely can get by till the end of the colder months before needing to clean your spa
A story of warning:
This is a true story told to me by a customer. It was the coldest day on record in
Minnesota, -30 degrees. Wanting to have "Macho Bragging Rights" (hey, these are
his words) he decided to use his spa. As he was going back into the house, he touched the
aluminum frame of the sliding glass door with his damp hand. Well, ten minutes later,
half-naked and still screaming, the fire department poured warm water over his hand to
unfreeze it from the door.
Enjoy your spa this winter. There's sometimes nothing more exhilarating than
sitting in hot bubbling water while snow is falling all around you.