Some say that there is nothing better than sitting in a warm hot tub during a light snowfall. As beautiful and beneficial as it may be to have a nice soak during the winter months, the process of getting your outdoor hot tub ready for some winter fun can be quite complicated.
Some people choose to winterize their hot tubs for the winter. I was curious about keepin it open for the winter. Before I decided to keep my tub open for the holiday season, I did some research and I found some great tips on how to keep on tubbin’ all winter long.
Twelve Tips for Wintertime Tubbing
#1 Do Your Routine Water Change Early
Tip number one starts before the winter even comes, but it is a very important step towards winter tubbing. The usual schedule for changing your tub’s water is about every three months. However, if you plan on using your tub in the winter, you should change the water and clean the cover a little bit ahead of schedule to ensure clean and clear pipes all winter long.
The only thing out of the ordinary about this water changing is how soon you should do it. There are servicers that can come to your home and change the water for you but—if you’re a do it yourself person like me—you might enjoy doing it yourself.
The steps of a normal water change will be the same.
- Prepare by finding your hot tub’s owner’s manual and reading the directions thoroughly. Each tub is different so there may be specific steps you need to perform depending on the tub. If you have any questions, contact your manufacturer BEFORE you start.
- Locate the filter and remove it. The filter can usually be found somewhere in the water path and is typically visible from inside the tub and easy to find.
- Make sure you clean the area where the filter was just sitting. Some dirt or debris may have fallen when you removed the filter and you’ll need to keep that clean up before moving forward.
- Flush the pipes of your tub by adding a pipe purge to the water and letting the jets run on full power for up to 15 minutes. Once that is finished, turn off the tub and cover it for a few hours so that the grime can fully loosen from your pipes.
- Once you turn off your tub, open the main circuit breaker so that your tub won’t be able to start operating while you are cleaning.
- While you wait for the tub to soak, clean the filter using a soft bristle brush to remove any big dirt build ups. For best results, soak the filter is filter cleaner overnight. After its soak, use a hose to spray each fold of the filter.
- Find the drain valve, connect it to a hose, and drain the tub’s water. The drain valve should be at the bottom of the tub if not stated differently in the owner’s manual. If there is no drain valve, you can use a submersible pump, which is often faster!
- Once the tub is empty, using a non-foaming hot tub cleaner, clean the inside of the tub. It is imperative that you use a hot tub specific cleaner and not any of your ordinary household cleaners since they can leave filmy deposits that will get into your clean water or ruin the finish on your tub’s inner lining.
Also, be sure to use soft, non-abrasive cloths for wiping so you don’t scratch or damage the inside of your tub.
- Put the cleaned filter back in the housing where you found it. For it to be placed correctly, you shouldn’t have to force or push too hard. Be careful not to damage the filter! If you are having trouble placing the filter back in its housing, check your owner’s manual.
- Now it’s time to refill! Simply close the drain valve and fill the tub with fresh, clean water. Close the circuit breaker and let your tub run at full power for a few minutes to push out any air bubbles and send any missed debris to the filter.
- Using your water testing kit, check that the water levels are safe for use. The ideal pH range for a hot tub is 7.2 to 7.8. Anything below that range means the water in your tub is to acidic and anything above that range means the water is too alkaline.
To fix these issues is quite easy. If the pH is too low, add sodium bicarbonate to raise the ph. If the pH is to high, add muriatic acid to lower it.
#2 Put Your Hot Tub in Freeze Protect Mode
Some hot tubs are equipped with a really cool “freeze protect” or “no freeze” or “auto heat” mode or setting. Not all hot tubs have this setting and many tubs call it different things. This is another reason why you should hold on to your owner’s manual.
This feature will simply keep your pipes a bit warmer than usual to prevent ice from forming. While this is a great feature to use, only use it about 25% of the time. After about 15 minutes you can turn it off, if you are still having fun in your tub in an hour or so, turn it on again for another 15 minutes.
Most modern hot tubs have this feature, but if yours does not you may want to consider closing up your hot tub for the winter. You may be able to get an upgrade from your hot tub manufacturer, but it could be as expensive as buying a new tub!
When water freezes, it expands by at least 10% and the plumbing of your hot tub won’t be able to deal with the stretching. The pipes will likely burst and leave you with some hefty repair costs. Fixing your hot tub after something like this happens is not impossible, but it can be very expensive and time consuming.
#3 Get an Insulated Tub Cover and Floating Thermal Blanket
Now that you have taken the time to properly clean your tub and pipes, next you must cover it. It may seem like a relatively simple task, but the type of cover your use for your hot tub is quite important. While it is not mandatory to have both an insulated cover and a floating thermal blanket, I think it is the best decision to have both.
An insulted hot tub cover does the same job as your regular cover by covering the outer rim of the hot tub. However, normal tub covers tend to be thin and can allow heat to move through them which is not ideal for winter tubbing. Insulated covers are made with layers of high quality foam to keep heat from passing through.Table could not be displayed.
A floating thermal blanket is very different from an insulated cover tub cover. While the hot tub cover goes around the outer rim of the tub, the water below is still exposed. That’s where this cool blanket comes in handy! The floating thermal blanket lays flat on the surface of the water and not only keeps it from getting too cool but it also stops evaporation, which can cut energy costs!
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#4 Monitor Your Water Levels
If you don’t get a floating thermal blanket, evaporation may be a problem. As the water evaporates, your water levels will drop which is NOT good. Even with the thermal blanket—but especially without one—be sure to check your water levels daily.
If the water levels get to low, the water could easily freeze and destroy not only the inner lining of your tub but the pipes and plumbing system as well. If the water level does happen to get lower than you want, simply add more fresh, clean water and use your water testing kit to make sure that the balances are safe.
#5 Uncover Your Tub Carefully
Your hot tub cover will more than likely be covered with snow and ice when your first get out to your hot tub area. It is important to remove the cover very carefully. Be sure to have a small shovel or snow brush nearby so that you can get the snow and ice off the cover.
Once you have removed the snow and ice, pull back the cover slowly to ensure that no pieces of ice or snow fall into the water. If a little bit of snow falls in, there won’t be much of a problem, but, if too much ice or snow falls in it could disrupt the chemical balance and lower the tubs temperature which could raise your energy bill trying to reheat the tub.
#6 Prepare to Exit Before You Get In
The most dangerous thing about wintertime hot tubbing, is the possibility of temperature shock. Temperature shock—also known as thermal shock or cold shock response—is what happens to the human body when there is a drastic temperature change and your internal temperature control does not have time to catch up.
It is crucial for your safety to have a prepared, warm path from your tub to your home. Simply have warm gripped slippers, towels, and a robe within arm’s reach of the tub so that you can quickly cover yourself as you make your way inside.
Make sure your shovel the path to your hot tub early in the day and salt the path as well so that you can quickly and safely get into your home.
Something else that is very important is keeping your hands safe. Be sure to COMPLETELY dry your hands BEFORE you touch anything metal like a door handle or outside light switch. If your hands are even a little wet, you risk the possibility of your skin freezing to the metal and getting stuck which is not only very dangerous but also quite painful.
#7 Be Mindful of Jet Usage
We all love some bubbles in the tub with us while we soak but, for winter tubbing, it is not the best idea. The jets create their bubbly effect by pushing water into the tub which may feel great while tubbing in the hot summer but can actually lower the temperature of the water. More often than not, the air used by the jets to make bubbles isn’t heated.
To avoid spending more on your energy bill to keep you hot tub heated, simply turn down the jets. Using the jets on their lowest setting will still put some air in the water, but not enough to drop the temperature too much. If you enjoy the full effect of the jets, just don’t leave them on as long. Short increments of 10 to 15 minutes should give you some bubbly fun while keeping the water warm.
#8 Watch Your Soak Time
Since it is so hot in the summertime, people don’t usually sit in their tubs for more than 20 to 30 minutes at a time. However, in the winter, since it is colder outside, you may want to sit in your tub for a little while longer. While that may be your instinct, you should NOT follow it.
The reason you may be inclined to stay in your hot tub a little bit longer is because your head and shoulders will be out of the water and will still be experiencing the cold winter weather. This can essentially trick your body’s internal thermometer. While you may feel like your body’s temperature is normal for a hot tub, in actuality your body temperature will have been slowly rising without your knowledge.
This is very dangerous since it can cause light headedness, dizziness, nausea, and heat exhaustion. If you feel like you have begun to overheat in your tub, exit the hot tub immediately and safely and get to a doctor as soon as you can.
To stay safe while wintertime tubbing, try to max out your soak time at 25 minutes. Any more time than that can cause problems.
#9 Stay Properly Hydrated
With temperatures getting as high as 104 degrees, it is very important to stay hydrated but with wintertime tubbing things are a little different. You still need to drink a good amount of water so that you do not get dehydrated, but since you will be in the cold, a nice cold bottle of water won’t be what you need.
Replace the summertime water bottles with some room temperature water. Also, nothing is better in the wintertime than some tea, cider, or hot chocolate, so bring that out to the tub too! The warm liquids will help maintain a warm body temperature when moving around outside.
Also, avoid drinking alcoholic beverages in your hot tub. When alcohol gets into the body’s bloodstream it makes it easy to become dehydrated. Even in the summertime it is not a great idea, but with all of the over factors added by the cold it is not a good idea to drink in your winter tub.
#10 Watch You Tub’s Temperature
As I’ve said before, maintain your body temperature is very important. An instant reaction when getting out to the warming tub would be to turn up the tub so that your body can warm up faster, but that is not a great idea.
The safest temperature range for a hot tub is between 100 to 102 degrees Fahrenheit. During the summertime, people usually won’t raise their tub above 102 degrees Fahrenheit even though most standard hot tubs go up to at least 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
When tubbing in the winter, you might feel inclined to turn the hot tub up to as high as it can go but doing that could be dangerous. Again, the problem is overheating and heat exhaustion. When you raise the temperature of the tub, you are also raising your own body’s temperature. It is best to avoid that so that you can stay safe and healthy.
#11 Monitor During Vacations
It’s not a holiday season without a family vacation, but what about your tub that you have worked so hard to keep open during the winter? If you are gone for more than a couple of days, there could be many different complications that would damage your tub without monitoring it. It is possible to just drain the tub and flush the pipes before you leave for vacation, but that’s a lot of work.
Fortunately, there are some apps and services that can help you monitor you tub while you are away. Some apps include:
- Insta-Link Water Testing is a free app that uses a special pool test strip to help you manage your pool. The app takes a photo of the test strip, then tells you exactly what chemicals you need to add! No hardware needed, but the test strips are available at the above link.
- Nimbus Pool Doctor helps you balance the chemicals in your pool and keeps a record of the treatments you’ve completed in the past.
- Pool-Calculator does just what the name implies. It does the complex pool calculations for you. All you need to do is enter accurate information about your pool (size, chem readings, etc.), and it will tell you how much of each chemical to use.
While these apps can serve some purposes, I found a monitoring system that can do them all in one. The Cennextion ® messaging system not only alerts you when things in your tub may be going wrong but also your tub dealer. Some of the other features and controls listed on the website were
- Global remote monitoring of spa’s system from your smart phone or tablet
- Alert message system
- Convenient access to spa controls
- Filter cleanliness status
- Ability to lock and unlock spa controls remotely
- Dealer contact information link
- Set temperature
- Jet Pumps
- Clean up cycle
- Summer timer
- Temperature lock
- Spa lock
#12 Spruce Up Your Tub Area
Create a wonderful warm environment around your outdoor hot tub. You can easily turn your lackluster patio into a warm wintertime wonderland by adding just a few things to the area around your hot tub.
Things like heating lamps and towel warmers can make your path back to your home much warmer and safer. Adding candles around the area can make your soak feeling more relax. Having a weatherproof matt to dry your feet on after getting out of the tub can make the walk back in your slippers more enjoyable.
Having all these fun gadgets and gizmos around your hot tub area will definitely make it a more fun environment for relaxing or entertaining. If you chose to add some of these things make sure that the electronic devices are either battery-operated or far enough away from you, the tub, and most importantly the water.
Benefits of Winter Tubbing
When you tell people that you are going through all of this trouble to keep your hot tub open in the winter they might ask why. What many people don’t know is that there are many wonderful benefits to using your hot tub in the winter.
Some benefits include:
Staying Warm – As it gets colder in the winter months, everyone wants to enjoy the time of the year and avoid turning into a popsicle! With your hot tub open in the winter, you can easily do both! Just turn on the tub and enjoy the snowfall. As long as you are sure to safely monitor your body temperature, this can be a great way to heat things up.
Healthier Skin – In the winter season, people tend to get more dry skin and more clogged pores which is never good. After a soak in your winter tub and some moisturizer, your pores will be open and unclogged, and your skin will keep supple and smooth!
To add some extra fun to your soak and help you skin even more, you can add a bath bomb too! Just make sure that the bath bomb you chose has no flower petals or confetti added to it as that would clog you jets. Also, this activity means that you will have to clean your tub more often. If you don’t mind the extra work, go for it!
Cold Relief – The winter time usually brings along a cold or two. If you notice that your sinuses are a little congested, taking a quick soak in your hot tub can clear your sinuses and relax your breathing. But be careful! If you have a fever, sitting in your tub could cause dizziness and worsen your fever! Be sure to consult your doctor before your decided to soak your cold away.
Winter Workout – Sometimes you may not want to bundle up and clean the snow off of your car just to get to the gym. Instead, you could do some exercises in your hot tub! You could get a full body workout right at home! When you’re done, be sure to soak in the tub to relax to muscles.
Be sure to keep your exercises as low impact as possible. The heat your body exerts when exercising combined with the heat from the tub can cause heat exhaustion.
Holiday Celebration – It wouldn’t be a winter hot tub if you didn’t have some holiday fun inside. Your holiday party will definitely be the most fun party of the holiday season by inviting your friends to have some hot coco or cider with donuts and cookies! To elevate your wintertime hot tub party, consider installing a fire pit a safe distance from the tub to make smores!
Stress Relief – As we all know, the holiday season is one of the most stressful times of the year! And, with all the gift shopping, partying planning, and vacation arrangements, you may not have time to schedule a spa appointment to unwind. By keeping your hot tub open for the winter, you can have your own relaxing spa session in your back yard! Not to mention the money you’ll save!
There are so many more benefits to wintertime hot tubbing! If you’re interested in some more of those benefits of winter hot tubbing click here for some really cool information!