What to Know About Outdoor Hot Tubs
Here are important things to know and consider if you're thinking about buying a hot tub.
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A dip in a hot tub is the perfect way to end the day on a relaxing note. Here’s what to know about hot tubs, if you’re considering one for your yard.
Should You Get a Hot Tub?
There are pros and cons to owning a hot tub.
- Great way to unwind;
- Fun way to entertain friends;
- Unlike having a pool, in most parts of the country a hot tub can be enjoyed year-round.
- Initial expense and upkeep costs;
- May need to modify your yard and/or an electrical outlet to accommodate it;
- Time and effort required to clean and maintain it.
Types of Hot Tubs
These are the three main types of hot tubs:
Above-ground hot tubs: This is the most popular variety. They come in many shapes and sizes and are typically less expensive to buy and operate than in-ground hot tubs. Above-ground hot tubs require electrical hard wiring or can be plugged into an electrical outlet. Besides standard recreational hot tubs, there are also hydrotherapy hot tubs that feature ergonomic design and special massaging jets to create a therapeutic experience.
In-ground hot tubs: Often referred to as “spas,” in-ground hot tubs are custom-built into the ground. They are often paired with an in-ground pool. While aesthetically pleasing, they are typically the most expensive hot tub option.
Inflatable hot tubs: These blow-up hot tubs are typically made of latex or vinyl. They are less expensive than other above-ground hot tubs and can be placed on grass or a solid surface. They won’t last as long or have the water-jet power of other hot tub options.
Hot Tub Sizing Considerations
You’ll typically work with a contractor to decide on a size and space for an in-ground hot tub. For an above-ground hot tub, you’ll want to decide on a location (a patio, porch or deck are popular picks) and measure it. Restrict your search to hot tubs that fit within those dimensions.
Above-ground hot tubs are also measured by how many people they can comfortably accommodate. That can range from as few as two to as many as 12. Consider that when determining the size of your hot tub.
Hot Tub Costs
Price varies widely. While a simple inflatable hot tub can cost as little as a few hundred dollars, a custom in-ground hot tub starts at about $15,000.
For a standard above-ground hot tub, expect to pay around $3,000 for a basic model. A mid-priced model costs about $8,000, while luxury models start at around $16,000. Unless you plan on installing the hot tub yourself, add another $150 to $500 for installation. According to Home Advisor, “The national cost to install an above-ground hot tub averages $316, with most homeowners spending between $157 and $490.”
You’ll also need to cover the cost of water, heat, chemicals, bulbs and filters. Electricity costs for an above-ground hot tub are about $20 a month. In-ground hot tubs usually cost more than $30 a month to run. You’ll also need to budget for chlorine, filters, ongoing maintenance and the occasional repair.
Where to Buy a Hot Tub
- National retailers like The Home Depot, Amazon and Wayfair.
- Pool and spa dealers. Check your local listings or go to your desired hot tub manufacturer’s website to find the nearest dealer.
- Individuals selling used hot tubs. Popular places to look include eBay, Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace.
Hot Tub Maintenance
Cristina Miguelez, a home maintenance and remodeling specialist at Fixr.com, recommends the following to maintain your hot tub:
Check the chemical levels. Use tester strips to monitor the pH (it should be between 7.4 and 7.6), alkalinity (between 80 and 120 ppm), calcium (between 150 and 250 ppm) and chlorine levels (at least 3 ppm) at least twice a week. Leisure Time Test Strips for Spas and Hot Tubs let you test all four levels at the same time.
Clean the filter. Rinse off dirt and grime from the filter about every two weeks. Replace the filter as often as the manufacturer recommends.
Clean the inside. Miguelez recommends draining your hot tub every two months and using a spa cleaner like Oh Yuck Healthy Hot Tub Cleaner and a spa vacuum to clean the interior.
Air out the cover. At least twice a week, remove your hot tub cover so that accumulated moisture can evaporate.
Here’s how to winterize a hot tub to make sure it’s ready when it’s time to start using it again.