Decorating & Design

March 11, 2009

How To Choose And Maintain A Hot Tub

Health benefits

Hot tubs have a long-standing reputation of whisking away stress and tension. The U.S. National Arthritis Association and National Sleep Foundation believe that hot tub massages provide therapeutic relief for arthritic pain and insomnia.


The disinfectant level should be tested about 30 minutes before using the tub, filters and pumping systems should be cleaned and serviced on a regular basis and always shower or bathe before using your hot tub; it will make cleaning the water easier. Most tub manufacturers recommend the use of chlorine in the actual tub water, but for those who would rather treat their tubs with a more natural filter than bromine, which is quite a strong chemical, natural charcoal filters are now widely available.

Types of Hot Tubs

Moulded lounge hot tubs

These “spas” come in various sizes, with moulded lounge seats and powerful jets and filtration systems. They can be installed above ground or below a deck surface and normally have simple chemical maintenance and cleaning programs. Outdoor maintenance is about twice as expensive as heating and using the tub indoors, which is said to cost about the same as leaving a light bulb on 24 hours a day. Proper design for indoor hot tub installation is very important, as humidity, moisture and potential leaks are vital considerations. Approximate pricing starts at $6,000 for a 3-4 bather-sized tub.

Portable hot tubs

“Soft” tubs are “go-anywhere” hot tubs made from marine-grade vinyl that plug right into an outlet for those with jet/filtration systems. Often used outdoors, these tubs can actually be installed almost anywhere, even indoors. Available in a variety of colours, soft tubs can accommodate up to six adults. Tubs start at about $3,000.

Wood-fired hot tubs

Not for the impatient, wood-fired hot tubs have aluminum stoves built right into the tub and take about 2 to 4 hours to heat. Fill the stove with wood, spark up a nice fire and in a few hours and a stir of the tub, you’ll have a wonderful, warm, country-style spa with the sound of a fire crackling at your side. For outdoor use only, these wood-fired tubs are a great addition to a country or vacation home. Initially created for places without electricity, the design of an aluminum stove submerged in the tub was simple and practical, eliminating the need for power, unlike conventional systems. Wood-fired tubs start at roughly $2,400, complete with wood benches, a drink shelf, wood steps and cover. Maintenance of wood-fired hot tubs is relatively easy. As there are no pipes or plumbing, water can be changed after several uses. Chemical kits and even filter kits are available, depending on how often you want to change the water. A gravel “foundation” pad and placing the tub on a wood frame are all that’s required for installation. The tub should not sit directly on the ground, as the wood may rot if it sits on damp soil.

Installation tip: Have a drain pipe installed just for the hot tub. Typically faucets are installed close to the tub, making it a breeze to fill it with a short hose. But a drain pipe next to the faucets will facilitate emptying the tub and will cut down on the chance of leaks by simply draining the tub with a hose stretched out into the yard.


Virginia MacDonald