With that in mind, here are a list of winter hot tub dos and don’ts to help you successfully navigate these challenges and enjoy your winter hot tub experience that much more!
DO WEAR A TOQUE
It goes without saying that winter, especially in Canada can be very cold. Wearing a toque helps your body regulate its temperature better and keeps long hair dry; leaving you comfortably warm while you enjoy all the benefits of your hot tub!
DO WEAR SANDALS
Wearing sandals (or slippers) not only helps to keep your feet warm as you move from your house to your hot tub, it also stops you from tracking dirt and debris into the water!
DO OPEN WATERFALL VALVES
While there is usually little danger to hot tub plumbing lines freezing, some small lines – like those that supply water to your waterfalls – do run the risk of freezing.
The problem arises when these lines are closed and no water is allowed to flow through them. To make sure that these small pipes don’t freeze, open all jets and waterfalls valves when you’re done using your hot tub. This allows new, heated water to flow through the pipes and all but eliminates the chances of your pipes freezing.
DO LOCK YOUR COVER
Hot tub covers insulate much better when they’re locked. When locked, the straps pull down on the edges of the cover, forming a tight seal that keeps heat in. Without the straps being locked, the edges of the hot tub cover can lift slightly; allowing heat to escape.
Not only will this cost you money in extra heating costs, a bad seal will also allow steam to escape. This means having to top up the water level more often and having to add more chemicals to balance the water.
DO TURN AIR CONTROLS OFF
The air controls in your hot tub take air from inside the hot tub cabinet and force it through the jets. While this added air makes for a better massage, it also lowers the temperature of the water.
As you can imagine, the air in the cabinet of a hot tub is quite a bit cooler than the water in the hot tub. If left open, the air added by the jets slowly cools the water, causing your heater to work harder to maintain your set temperature.
Not only that, the added air can also push up on the bottom of the hot tub cover, breaking the seal and allowing more heat to escape, costing you even more money!
DON’T CHANGE YOUR WATER IF IT’S VERY COLD
Conventional wisdom says that you should change your hot tub water every 3-4 months. For some people, this means having to change your water in the dead of winter.
While having fresh water does make for a more enjoyable hot tub experience, changing your water in -20C weather is never a good idea. The risk of your pipes freezing greatly outweighs any benefits that changing the water has.
If you absolutely need to change the water, do so in small batches. Remove 6″-12″ of water at a time; refilling – and reheating – the water in between these partial drains. While this won’t get you the same results as completely draining and refilling the hot tub, it will get you by until the weather warms up.
DON’T USE SNOW TO REFILL THE HOT TUB
It can be tough to add water a hot tub in the winter. It’s cold, your outside taps are shut off, and the hoses are tucked away in the garage somewhere. This has led some people to abandon the idea of using their hose altogether and simply dump a bunch of snow into the hot tub when it needs to be topped up.
While this may seem like a good idea at first, the reality is that melted snow doesn’t make good hot tub water. First off, the water balance of snow is completely wrong, meaning that you will be constantly adding balancing chemicals to the water. Not only that, snow also contains a lot of impurities which can eat away at your sanitizer and cause the water to go cloudy.
DON’T USE A SHOVEL TO REMOVE SNOW FROM THE COVER
Heavy snow loads on a hot tub cover are never a good thing. All that weight can “cup” the cover; pushing down the centre of the cover and lifting the edges. Removing that snow with a shovel is also not a good thing however.
If you’re not careful, the blade of the shovel will dig into the cover, ripping through the vapour barrier and causing the hot tub cover to take on water. Not only will this dramatically reduce the lifespan of the hot tub cover, it also dramatically reduces its ability to insulate.
Instead of using a shovel, clear snow off of your hot tub with a broom or a brush (like the one that you use to clean your car). If there is an ice storm or freezing rain coming, tarp the hot tub. Once the weather clears up a bit, remove the tarp and the ice should come with it!
DON’T NEGLECT THE HOT TUB
For most hot tub owners, there are times in the year when you’re just too busy to use your hot tub. The problem comes when that lack of use becomes a lack of maintenance. There are a few reasons why you don’t want to neglect your hot tub, the biggest being all the time and effort required to fix a hot tub with water quality issues.
Even if you’re not using the hot tub, you should still try to get out at least once a week to check on it and add your maintenance chemicals. Doing this can save you a massive headache later and makes sure that your hot tub is ready to use when you’re ready to start using it again.
While hot tubbing in the winter is great, the cold weather also brings some unique challenges to hot tub owners. Following these dos and don’ts will allow you to avoid these challenges and focus on enjoying your hot tub!