10 Commandments of Buying a Hot Tub

If you’re looking a purchasing a hot tub, you’d better be sure to abide by these “laws.”

Thou Shalt Have Your Location Checked Out in Person

Your hot tub dealer will most likely offer a site survey before delivery, and you should definitely take them up on it. There are many things to consider when installing a hot tub — things you may not realize, but an experienced professional will know. Electrical requirements, soil conditions, access to the service panel — even overhanging trees — can all play a part in longtime satisfaction and use of your hot tub. Make sure you get most of these things figured out before the concrete pad is poured and hot tub arrives.

Thou Shalt Have a Strong, Flat Surface

When filled full with water, hot tubs are heavy — and nothing shows how level something is more than water. The last thing you want is to see your hot tub slowly dip to one side. Not only will you have an uneven water surface, but it could compromise the structure of your hot tub and possibly invalidate your warranty. Make sure you have a solid, flat surface that will withstand over time.

Thou Shalt Know Your Warranty

Similar to the purchase of any major appliance or vehicle, make sure you understand exactly what is covered under your warranty. Most hot tub manufacturers offer different warranties for different aspects of the spa. For example, you may get a lifetime warranty on the hot tub shell and surface: This would cover any major failures of your acrylic or rotomold surface that would cause leaks or disruption in use. In addition, the dealer may offer a separate five-year warranty on the hot tub equipment, like the pump and heater, and yet another five-year warranty on the spa cabinet. Know what your warranty covers and what improper care may invalidate it. Your dealer can also explain any trip charges or services for which you would be responsible.

Thou Shalt Know What it Will Cost to Operate

Today’s hot tubs are designed to be energy efficient, and manufacturers are always striving to increase performance in this way. How much it will cost to run your hot tub depends on, among other things, local energy rates, weather in your region, the size of your hot tub, how much you use your hot tub and the temperature of your spa water. To keep costs as low as possible, there are a few things you can do:

  • Be sure to purchase a fully insulated hot tub with a high R-Value
  • Make sure your hot tub comes with a heavy-duty cover that also has a high R-value
  • Look for hot tubs with efficient components
  • LED or fiber-optic lighting will also keep operating costs low, as will using the hot tub’s efficiency settings.

Remember that running your hot tub isn’t the only cost of ownership. Besides regularly purchasing chemicals, the cover and other components will at some point need to be replaced.

Thou Shalt Test Before You Buy

After researching hot tub brands, dealerships and features, go see some tubs in person. Many retailers also offer hot tub wet tests. You and your family can get into a running hot tub to see how all the jets feel and if the seat configurations work for your needs. If the model you’re eyeing isn’t available for a wet test, you can often test a similar model. If getting into a swimsuit in the middle of a retail store isn’t your cup of tea, ask if you can come back after hours. Larger dealerships may have separate wet-test rooms for complete privacy.

Thou Shalt Not Leave the Store Without the Proper Accessories

When it comes to a hot tub, there are certain accessories that make your hot tub safer and more user-friendly. Many of these will depend on whether the hot tub is on a patio or sunk into a deck. Hot tubs are too tall to safely get in and out of without steps. Your dealer will have slip-resistant steps that you can purchase, or they can recommend options for a built-in look.

Also, while it may not seem like an issue when you’re standing on the showroom floor, getting a hot tub cover off can be cumbersome. Fortunately, there are dozens of cover lift options. Your dealer can help you determine which one will work best for your installation and tub location.

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Thou Shalt Know Why You Want a Hot Tub and How You’ll Use It

That might sound silly at first, but knowing why you want a hot tub and how you will use it can help you and your dealer quickly determine which tub will make you happiest. Do you plan on hosting hot tub parties? Will your children be using it regularly? Do you want to use the hot tub for pain relief for a certain body part? Will it be used occasionally or daily? What kind of features do you want (such as a built-in stereo system or extra jets)? Answers to these questions will help point you to the model for your needs.

Thou Shalt Understand Water Maintenance and Find a System that Works for You

Caring for your hot tub water is a commitment you must be prepared to make before you buy a spa. Modern hot tubs offer a plethora of built-in water care systems that make this process simple and hassle-free, but you still must be vigilant in checking and maintaining your water balance. Out-of-balance water and dirty filters are common culprits for a hot tub on the fritz. Before you choose which model and options you want, think about the time you can devote to this essential task.

You may want to invest in a built-in system, whether it be salt, UV-C, ozone, a mineral purifier or some combination of those that does a lot of the work for you. Some dealerships also offer weekly, biweekly and monthly service visits. But even if you can’t afford to add a water care system, basic hot tubs are easy to treat when you are faithful to testing and balancing your water.

Thou Shalt Love Thy Dealer

There are many great hot tub brands, and there might be one that offers features you can’t live without. But what may be more important than your actual hot tub is your relationship with your dealer. Not only will your hot tub purchase require return trips to the store for chemicals, filters and other accessories, but you’re also purchasing your dealer’s knowledge. Hot tub retailers have seen it all, and while you might be in a panic that for some reason your hot tub just won’t turn on, a quick call to your dealer could solve it in a simple step. When you’re shopping around for a dealer, how they behave during the sale will give you the best indication of how you will get along afterwards.

Other things to consider:

  • How long have they been in business? New doesn’t necessarily mean bad, but an established business that’s kept its doors open for years can only do that if they have happy customers.
  • Are they a member of any local or national groups, like the local Chamber of Commerce or industry associations like the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance. Companies that participate in these groups often will be attending seminars to further their industry education and business acumen.
  • If the business sponsors local charities or if the owner servers on local community boards, you can be sure they are invested in the local community, including you as a customer.

Thou Shalt Sit Back and Enjoy

A frequently used hot tub is a happy hot tub — and makes for a content, relaxed you.

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