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No hot tub will last forever. As your hot tub slowly wears out there comes a time where every hot tub owner must ask themselves “is it worth repairing my hot tub or should I just replace it?” This can often be a tough question to answer, however, as nobody wants to get rid of a perfectly good hot tub but also, nobody wants to waste money on constant repairs to a hot tub that is past its best before date.

With that in mind, today we will discuss the 4 questions that you need to ask yourself before repairing your hot tub. Not looking to buy a brand new, full priced hot tub? We will also give you some alternatives to buying a brand new hot tub.

How Old Is The Hot Tub?

The first thing you should take into consideration is the age of the hot tub. This will give you a sense of how much longer you can expect the hot tub to be functional after the repair is finished.

A well made hot tub should last around 10-15 years. If your hot tub is only 5 or 6 years old, it almost always makes sense to repair it as you should have at least another 5 years life out of it. On the other hand if your hot tub 15 or more years old it is likely living on borrowed time and should probably be replaced.

How Large Or Small Is The Repair?

Of all of our tips today, this one is likely the most basic. Before deciding on whether to repair or replace your hot tub, you first need to understand how large the repair is. No matter how old your hot tub is it never makes sense to replace a hot tub if all you have to do is replace a gasket or a jet. Likewise you should never really fix a hot tub where the repair costs more than the hot tub is worth.

For example, a 15 year old hot tub with 10 jets and no light might only be worth a few hundred dollars. To do a $1000 repair on it therefore would make no sense. However, a 5 year old hot tub with lots of jets, lights and waterfalls might still be worth a few thousand dollars. A $1000 repair almost always makes sense to do even if you don’t want to keep the hot tub anymore, you will have an asset to sell that is worth much more than the cost of the repair.

Before committing to any major repairs, especially on older hot tubs, it is also a good idea to see if there are cheaper alternatives available to you. For example, rather than replace your hot tub pump at a cost of $500 or more, see if it is able to be “rebuilt” instead. This less drastic fix generally only costs around $200 and can extend the life of a pump by at least a few years.

Other examples include:

  • Replacing the heater element, rather than the entire heater.
  • Trying to replace a flow switch, rather than the entire spa pack.
  • Buying 3rd party replacement parts, rather than factory direct parts. In some cases these parts are identical to the factory direct parts, with the exception of the brand name attached to them.

Are There Any Other Repairs That Will Need To Be Done Soon?

One thing that many people don’t consider when deciding whether it’s worth fixing their hot tub is if there are any other repairs that will need to be done in the near future. While nobody has a crystal ball that lets them see exactly what will happen with their hot tub in the next year, there are some signs to watch out for.

  1. What shape is the hot tub cover in? Is it getting too heavy to lift? Are the seams beginning to wear out? Is water beginning to pool on top of it? These are all signs that the cover is wearing out and should be replaced sometime in the next year. Replacing a cover will cost you an additional $500 and should be factored in when deciding whether or not to keep the hot tub or replace it.
  2. Is the pump becoming louder over time? Is there any sort of “grinding sound” or high pitch tones when it is running? While most hot tub pumps do create some noise, one that is getting louder or higher pitch is likely beginning to wear out. As we previously mentioned, it will cost you anywhere from $200-$500 or more to repair or replace it.
  3. Is there any water in the cabinet of the hot tub? This is a definite indication that there is a leak somewhere in the hot tub. While probably minor at this point, leaks only get worse over time and can cost a lot to fix.
  4. Are your jets starting break or fall out? While most jets only cost $20-$40 to replace, that can quickly add up in modern hot tubs that can have 50 or more jets. Once a few start to go, you can be fairly confident that you will have to replace all of the jets within the next couple of years.

How Energy Efficient Is It?

As hot tub technology continues to advance, hot tubs are becoming increasingly energy efficient. As hot tubs age, they also become increasingly inefficient. The foam insulation found in hot tub covers – and most hot tubs themselves – tend to take on water over time. This greatly reduces their energy efficiency and can easily cost you hundreds of dollars per year in additional energy costs.

If you’re on the fence about whether or not to replace your hot tub, consider how much you would be saving by trading it in for a newer, more energy efficient model.

Not only that, also consider if you current hot tub is too large for your current needs. Many first time hot tub owners purchase a hot tub that seats 6, only to realize that they only really need one that can handle 3-4. Heating and treating all that extra water can get pricey. Upgrading to a newer, smaller hot tub that better fits your needs can therefore also further reduce your monthly energy costs.

What To Do If Your Hot Tub Is Leaking

In most cases one of the trickiest hot tub repairs to properly diagnose and quote is a plumbing leak. The reason for this is that most hot tub manufacturers use spray foam to insulate their hot tubs.

While foam is a good insulator, it also retains water very well, meaning that it can absorb a ton of water before you notice anything is wrong. Not only that, water tends to take the path of least resistance. In a hot tub this means that leaking water tends to travel along the outside of the pipes. This often leads to areas far from the source of the leak becoming wet as well, making it more difficult to diagnose, and more expensive to repair.

As we’ve previously covered, wet foam loses most of its insulating ability. To prevent skyrocketing energy bills – and to confirm that there aren’t any other leaks – it is therefore essential to remove and replace all wet insulation when fixing a leak in a full foam hot tub. As you can imagine, this can get quite expensive.

Before going ahead with a leak repair, you should first try to get a sense of how large the affected area is. If you’re going to have to remove and replace all of the insulation on two sides of the hot tub, you might be better off simply getting a new hot tub.

Hot Tub Replacement Options

Don’t want the expense of buying a brand new hot tub but don’t want to keep throwing money at a hot tub that’s well past its prime? You still have options, including:

  • Trading in your old hot tub. Just because you no longer want it doesn’t mean that your old hot tub is completely worthless. Most hot tub retailers will take a trade in if you’re buying a hot tub and will offer at least a few hundred dollars on a broken hot tub just to make a sale.
  • Buying a used hot tub. Used hot tubs are a great option for those looking to trade up without spending too much money. If you go the used hot tub route, avoid private listings in favour of dealing with a local retailer. Private sellers can hide problems and rarely offer anything in the way of a guarantee. Used hot tubs from The Spa Shoppe, on the other hand, are looked over and fixed up by our professional technicians before being sold and come with a standard 90-day warranty or upgraded 2-year warranty.
  • Getting a good deal on an old floor model or blemished hot tub. For those not wanting a used hot tub there is one more option; blemished and discontinued models. Check your local retailer for floor models over a year old, or those that have blemishes on the cabinet or acrylic. Owners are usually motivated to get rid of these hot tubs and will often give some great deals to get them out of the showroom.

Wrapping Up

Deciding whether to repair or replace an old hot tub can sometimes be a hard decision. Nobody can predict the future. While your hot tub may be on its last legs, it might also continue running well for years. Fortunately, there are a few questions that you can ask yourself to see if it is really worth repairing your hot tub, or if it needs to be replaced. If you do decide to replace your hot tub, there are also plenty of options out there besides buying a brand new, full priced hot tub.