Hot Tubs in the Winter

One of the most enjoyable things in life is getting into a nice, warm hot tub on a cool winter day. While winter is the best time of year for hot tubbing – in our opinion, at least – it also introduces some unique challenges for hot tub owners.

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!



1.  Open Waterfall Valves

While there is usually no 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.

2.  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.


3.  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!

Adding air to the massage jets can make for a better massage, however leaving your air controls on when you’re not using the hot tub can cost you a lot in extra heating costs!


4.  Change Your Water on Warmer Days

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.


5.  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.

Lastly, don’t forget maintenance!  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.  Neglecting maintenance leads to water quality issues, like cloudy water and foam. These issues take more time, money and effort to fix than regular maintenance does!

While hot tubbing in the winter is great, the cold weather also brings some unique challenges to hot tub owners. Following the above tips will allow you to avoid these challenges and focus on enjoying your hot tub!