How to Set up and Install a Hot Tub
To set up or install a hot tub or spa, a little advance planning and preparation will go a long way. Follow these steps to make your installation as smooth as possible. Make sure to read your owner’s manual, prior to installation.
Hot Tub Location – Site Selection
You may have already picked out a location for your new hot tub. Make sure the site is properly prepared, on the ground, on a floor, deck, patio or concrete slab. Make sure to observe the following:
- The filled spa or hot tub will have considerable weight. Make sure that it is placed on a structurally sound surface that can hold the weight of the spa, water, and occupants in the spa.
- If you are placing your hot tub outdoors, make sure that it has adequate drainage so rainwater won’t pool around the hot tub or spa and cause damage.
- The area must be level before filling the spa with water. The surface must be even or you can damage the spa and void your warranty.
- Electricity – Plan in advance to have proper access to power sources and circuit panels.
- Make access to the spa’s removable equipment compartment panel easily available for future service needs.
Prepping an outdoor Hot Tub location
Many people choose to put their hot tubs outside. There are various options to provide a firm level surface, unless you have a suitable existing location. Keep in mind that installing your hot tub on the ground without a perimeter walkway, paver stone or concrete walk will result in a large amount of debris that inadvertently is brought into the hot tub on feet. A walkway can be added later.
Prefabricated Spa or Hot Tub Pads
Prefabricated Spa Pads are a great alternative to poured concrete, that will provide an attractive base for your hot tub. The inter-locking pad system is quick and easy to set up, is maintenance free and can be less expensive than other options.
Gravel or crushed rock is one of the least expensive materials to use for a hot tub base. Make sure that the ground is properly compacted to prevent settling, level and rainwater drainage is taken care of. A walkway of stepping stones is an attractive and practical finishing touch.
Poured Concrete Slab
A concrete slab is a long-term foundation base. This choice can be costly, but it’s low maintenance and adds value to your home. Reinforced concrete at least 4 inches thick, that will support a weight of at least 115 lbs. per sq. foot is recommended, especially for larger hot tubs. Make sure the concrete is fully cured before placing the hot tub. Also consider decorative stamped concrete. This can be a very attractive addition.
Concrete paver stones are an attractive base material available in a multitude of choices. You can do it yourself or hire a landscaping contractor. Just make sure that the base is prepared according to the stone manufacturer’s specifications and leveled to ensure a stable foundation.
If you choose a deck installation, you have to know the maximum load capacity. You need to check with a qualified building contractor or structural engineer before placing your hot tub on an elevated deck. Find out what the filled weight is of your hot tub from the manufacturer. Remember to add the weight of occupants. The spa’s weight per square foot absolutely must not exceed the rated capacity of the structure to avoid damage and possible injury.
Deck designs are only limited to your imagination. Just remember to allow easy access to the spa cabinet for cleaning and maintenance. If you decide to build a deck around your spa or hot tub, be sure to allow for access to the equipment compartment panel.
Indoor Hot Tub Setup
Special considerations need to be made for indoor installations. The room needs to be properly ventilated to allow moisture to escape. Using a hot tub for 15 minutes releases the same water vapor as a shower of the same time duration. A bathroom fan or venting system installation is a good idea to prevent excess condensation in the room.
The hot tub will need to be placed on a suitable concrete slab or you need to verify that the supporting floor structure will accommodate the weight of the filled spa with occupants. A contractor or structural engineer can help you determine the requirements. Check with the manufacturer for the specifications for the estimated weight load of the filled spa. 1 gallon of water weights approximately 8.35 lbs.
If you are building a new room for the hot tub, a floor drain is a good plan since water potentially may be splashed from the tub. Flooring that provides a good grip for wet feet is also a plus.
Full sized hot tubs and spas are usually designed to operate on hard-wired GFCI-protected 220-240V 50 amp circuits. Some hot tubs with more than one pump may require a 60-amp service. These hot tubs must be wired by a qualified electrician. A manual disconnect device for your hot tub is required to be installed at least 5 feet away and within line of sight of the spa for safety according to The National Electrical Code.
Preparing for your Hot Tub Delivery
Make sure there is clear access to move the spa from the truck to the predetermined location. It may require to remove a section of fence, trimming tree branches, move a stack of firewood or any other protrusions that might get in the way. Make sure you also have overhead clearance.
Scheduling the Delivery
Make sure you know what kind of delivery is going to take place. Will you need to unload the product off of the truck? Will it be delivered curbside? You may need to rent a forklift to unload a hot tub from the truck. It is your responsibility to move the spa from the curb to the set up location. Some delivery companies will do this for you for an additional fee if arranged in advance.
Position the Hot Tub
Once your spa is off of the truck, it’s usually not to difficult to move with two people to the designated location with a furniture or piano dolly. These are available for rental.
If you think there will be difficulty moving your hot tub over uneven ground or lawn, prepare a smooth runway with plywood cut into 2ft x 8 ft. planks.
Although this is extremely rare, sometimes the setup location of the hot tub is inaccessible by easy means and a crane is required to position it. This actually costs less than you might expect, often just a few hundred dollars depending on the job.
Hot Tub Start Up
- Once the hot tub is set up in the final location and wired correctly, you can begin with startup.
- Turn off all electrical power to the equipment at the circuit breaker.
- Make sure the gate valves are open if so equipped
- Make sure the drain valve is closed.
- Clean the interior of the hot tub with mild, non-foaming, non-abrasive cleaner.
- Check that the filters are properly placed.
- Using a garden hose, fill the hot tub with clean cold water to the level specified. Low water levels will cause damage to the pump and heater element.
- Open the equipment door and look for leaks around fittings. Tighten if necessary.
- Turn on power at the breaker.
- Operate your spas controls.
- Balance your water chemistry and use a sanitizer system.
Heating your Hot Tub
Hot water will not immediately come from the jets. Initially, the spa will take 7-8 hours to a day to heat, depending on its size and other factors.
Water Balance & Sanitizer
Nothing is more important in promoting equipment life and healthy clean spa water than making sure your water is balanced and properly sanitized at all times. Once you get it balanced, the routine is easy to follow.
A little advance planning and preparation will go a long way when setting up your new or used Hot Tub. Make sure to read your owner’s manual, prior to installation.
This information is for educational purposes only. It is not a substitute or replacement for information contained in the owner’s manual. Consult with a qualified licensed contractor, structural engineer or local building department for structural and electrical requirements as appropriate.!