Any hot tub owners?

My husband and I have decided, after a few long weekend trips where we spent a lot of time in hot tubs, that it would be nice to have one at home. We have a nice wooded lot that would be nice for a hot tub.

Of course, we know next to nothing about hot tubs, having never owned one or even known someone who did. What is the upkeep like? What should we look for in a hot tub? Is there anything that you wish you’d known before you chose yours? If you had it to do over again, would you?

I can share some of my folks concerns about theirs (they had one for 20 years when they lived in FL), their biggest regret was getting one that was too big and didn’t have enough jets. They also wished they’d gotten one with two loungers (some just have seats or a single lounger).

Another concern is the cost of keeping it heated, it’s not cheap, so smaller can be better in that respect.

They’re really efficient these days and don’t cost much to heat. I agree that you shouldn’t go to big unless you’re going to have big parties in them. Head out to the store and check out some floor models.

I have one, but haven’t used it in years. Actually, I’ve only been in it a few times. I get bored. Still, there are times I wish it was filled; just not often enough that I’ll ever fill it. I’d give it away to anyone who wants to haul it off.

Good to know! We plan on buying one when we move to FL in a couple of years.

We have had two now. Started with a refurb and got a nice new one later. We really enjoy it. If you have privacy even better. We don’t use it as much as we used to use it a lot but not too much lately. Also, kind of hot out here and smoky from the wildfires.

The new ones are easy to maintain and aren’t too expensive to keep running as long as you aren’t living check to check. Probably add maybe $20-$40 to your electric bill. Chemicals are cheap if you use one that does not need much.

Part of the trick of keeping it clean is to shower before you get in. You have to get those chemicals and deodorant off of you. I change my water maybe 2-4 times per year depending on usage. YMMV.

I like having a larger one so I can move around and enjoy the different jets. We have a 6 person and it’s usually just the 2 of us. We don’t have a lounger but not sure I would like it. I keep the temp no higher than 99 F. Else it’s too hot for us to stay in it for a long time. A lounger for me would immerse me too much in the hot water to lay on it for a long time. However I could see having one if you have a large tub.

Don’t bother with a stereo but the lighting is nice to have and we have a little waterfall this is cool but not necessary.

You will have to get an outlet/breaker upgrade. That costs some money. The tub and such costs money. Figure to do it right maybe $7k - $10k. It should last you a long time. Get a good extended warranty. Find a good dealer, ask around and ask friends. We had a small repetitive issues with ours in the beginning but they got it worked out and were really good about it. No problems now.

They are a good way to relax and talk or just unwind. When I drank it was nice to have a cocktail after work and maybe a cigar.

It’s a luxury. If you can afford it, it’s nice. The upfront cost is what gets you.
Trees are great but they do mess with your tub. Keep the cover on else you get leaves, sap, and junk in there that dirties the water and kills the filter quicker. Filters cost money. You can clean them and reuse.

FL might be a bit hot for my tastes and use a tub but that’s me. I am in Colorado so it’s great watching the snow come down. If you keep the tub too cool the chems and filtration don’t work as well. Funny though when it’s really cold out sometimes the tub seems even hotter.

I could go on. Watch on for new technologies. Stick to tried and true but good filtration is key and low use of chemicals.

My wife and I love ours and would definitely do it again. We opted for the full foam insulation in the shell which is supposed to help with efficiency and muffles the pump noise a bit. The cover traps heat very well; snow will accumulate on top (not melt) and if I drop the temp a few degrees because I know we aren’t going to use it for a while it will usually still be a few degrees higher than what I set it at when I open it back up. We’ve had it two winters now; used it all through the first winter but not this last one due to wife’s pregnancy.

Ours is technically a 6-person (450 gallon, I think) but I would say any more than 4 and it starts to get crowded. We’ve had 6 in it several times and it was still fine but it probably helped that everyone was drinking and having a good time so a little leg touching wasn’t uncomfortable. It has one lounger and then 5 seats of varying depths and jet configurations. I like the LED lights (we primarily use it at night) and am glad we didn’t opt for any audio/video options; they would have to be pretty loud to hear above the jets and I can’t imagine watching a movie or something in there. The one thing I think could be improved is that the jets are on two different zones. So you either get the corner seats full on, the middle seats full on, or you have to split it and then the jets are rather weak. This usually isn’t an issue because it’s just the wife and I. Oh, and more cup holders.

Upkeep isn’t tough. If we’re using it a lot I test it every other day or so and add chemicals as needed. If we’re not using it a lot I don’t bother and it seems to maintain an OK balance. I drain it 3-4 times a year and use that as an opportunity to give it a good cleaning; pop out all the jets and use an old toothbrush to scrub them down. I have two sets of filters and try to switch those out every month or two. They are reusable and just need to get hair and gunk cleaned out and maybe cleaned with the chemical filter cleaner once a year. The chemicals aren’t cheap but they seem to last quite a while.

One thing to note is that the cabinet isn’t vermin proof. After our first winter I opened it up to access the drain and there was mouse crap and nest material in there. I spent a few hours cleaning it up and sealing up all the holes (or so I thought) and the same thing happened again this winter. I have a can of the “vermin proof” expanding foam and some steel wool (read about that here:cool:) that I’m going to try this year. Luckily, no damage to the hot tub components.

We really like our dealer and were happy with the buying experience. A local store was opening a second location and had a grand opening sale and I think we got a pretty good deal. Keep in mind that depending on size you may need to have some electrical work done. Our spa company had an electrician on staff that did that work when they installed the tub. Our house already had a large enough pad in place because the previous owners had a spa, which they took with them when they moved. Fine with us as it was smaller and we preferred to get a new one. One thing I wish we would have done was improved the spa area before having it installed. I’d like to build out a patio a bit from the pad (right now there is just landscaping rock around it) and it will probably be more difficult with it there.

If you’ve ever maintained the water in a swimming pool, it’s very similar, but because there’s such a small amount of water in a tub, the chemistry can go wrong rather quickly. When I had a tub, we had “scum-grabber” things that looked like nerf balls and a silver ion stick, both of which lived in the filter housing and helped keep things stable. But even with those, and buffered chemistry, it can be a delicate balance. Sometimes, it felt like I needed a relaxing soak in the tub just to recover from the maintenance.

A friend of mine is responsible for keeping many tens of thousands of gallons of water clean and safe at a local water park. He says it’s hugely easier than keeping 250 gallons of water in his tub good.

It looks like my experience is very close to that of COGringo but I have a few responses:

Privacy - Yes, very nice. We are lucky to only have neighbors on one side. We have a row of tall shrubs on that side and it’s also the side that the top opens to, which creates a wall (also an OK windbreak).

Chemicals - In the long run they are probably pretty cheap. But when you’re starting up or need to replace a couple things at once it adds up. I use the Leisure Time line and they range from $12-$20+ depending on the size and what you’re getting. The prices on Amazon look better than at my spa place so I might start ordering online.

We really like the lounger. We both run for exercise and the lounger has jets down both legs that feel amazing. We also keep our spa at around 99-100 for the same reason but I don’t have a problem being in the lounger for long periods. Some people like really hot water so this is of course a personal preference thing.

Cost - Wow, lucky for us our spa and installation was well below the range COGringo gives. I think we paid about $3K but of course there are a range of models and different parts of the country may have different markets. I don’t feel like we got a cheap spa; it seemed pretty solid middle of the road.

As for the cover, yeah, keep it on or you’ll have to clean those filters out way more often. And keep it latched. I’ve forgotten to latch it a couple times only to find it blown open in the morning, despite the covers being fairly heavy. I try to keep it locked, too, to minimize liability and for peace of mind.

Softub is what I recommend. I’ve used their product for 16 years now, quite happily. It’s kept outdoors year-round, minimal maintenance, and perfect for 1-4 people, and great for 5-6 very friendly people. Fill it up with a hose, plug it in (no special wiring required tho an extra heavy duty extension cord is recommended), add enzymes and other chemicals once a week, change the water 3-4 times a year (more with more use). No special plumbing, no special bracing.

(My first tub did wear out after essentially constant use for 11 years, and was replaced with a new one. Dealer gave us credit for the old one)

(I’m not the OP)

Those look really interesting. Do they have any seats or um… sculpture on the inside, like a hardtub? Or do you just sit on the bottom?

There’s a single seat in it, big enough to hold two comfortably. It has 3 jets right by it, for concentrated jet massage.

Sitting on the bottom means the head is well above water and arms can be rested on the edge, for the average-sized adult.

Lots of fun things can be done by two people in the 6 person tub. Plenty of room. Plenty of room for 4 to get comfortable with each other too.

Yes, I know you didn’t ask, but it is a nice selling feature.

PM me if you really want my ad nauseum review of what’s good (95%) and what’s less good (5%) about the tub. Less good is chiefly only moderate jet strength and max temperature of 104.

I wanna know that, too. Those look super cool!

Also, mind telling us how much they cost?

I’ve been playing with the idea of a hot tub on and off for a while, but I’ve been loath to go through the hassle of putting in a permanent one. This is awfully intriguing.

In the Pacific NW, we have slug season in the spring and giant hairy house spider season in the winter when these critters flock (scuttle? ooze?) to the warm humid environment under the lid. Mostly you just have to fish the dead ones out of the water, but a huge spider crawling up and greeting you during your midnight soak isn’t everyone’s idea of relaxation :slight_smile:

I second this recommendation. I’m an owner of the largest model, the 300 … same size as QtM’s.

Very energy efficient. The water is heated by the waste heat of the motor that circulates the water. And the lid and sides are very well insulated.

The jets aren’t that powerful, as QtM mentions, and it shouldn’t be heated above 104 degrees. Mine gets to that temp at the “9” setting on a dial that goes to 10. So maybe it could get it 3-5 degrees hotter.

But honestly, I wouldn’t want the water to be much hotter than that. In fact, I’ve read that you shouldn’t have it any hotter than that, in a Softub or in any other kind of hot tub.

BTW, for the second summer in a row, I’ve turned this into a cool tub, heating the water to only about 70-75 degrees. Great for cooling down in just before bed on these hot and muggy nights!

Dumb question: What do you do in a hot tub? Just sit there? You can’t swim like in a pool…

ETA: I guess you could have sex, but that’s not going to maintain the cleanliness of the tub.

Okay, popular clamor compels me to wax further eloquent about the softub.

Our home already had a hot tub built in, in the master bathroom, when we moved in. It was a 6 person job, pretty fancy, but needed filling every time from a very oversized water heater. It was nice, but it was a pain to fill, the bathroom is not the most congenial location for recreational hot tubbing, and as a result, it really didn’t get used much. It had a hard shell, and wasn’t that comfortable.

One day, I went to the local Softub spa store, to look for a seat for our hot tub. We thought that perhaps a more comfortable seat in it would encourage more regular use. But when I arrived there, and saw the softubs, I suddenly knew I had to have one!!

Why? Well, this one could be put right outside our bedroom, on the deck, overlooking the lake. And it was simplicity in itself, compared to other tubs I’d seen. Relatively easily portable, it could be placed on about any flat surface without special bracing (assuming the surface can hold 300 gallons of water plus a few people), filled with a hose, plugged in, and it was ready to run.

So I dragged the wife to see it, and surprise, she agreed! Had to have. Bought. Sales guy delivered, installed, showed me how to install (you need one screwdriver to connect 3 pipes. Filled. Added bromine (which we prefer to chlorine) and in 24 hours, it was warm enough to use.

And use it we did. An excellent way to relax and reconnect before dropping off to sleep, we’d slip into it in the evening for a few minutes. The jets were nice, it had bubbles too if we wanted them (but we don’t), and we could float and bob around in it to our hearts content. Summer, winter, it got used year-round. Weekly use of the special enzymes and adding some bromine and alkylizing agent at the same time kept the water clear. Clean the filter once a month (takes 4 minutes with a garden hose) and change the water when we felt like it, usually after heavy use by others.

The lid flips up to open half the tub if you want, nice and convenient if we’re dashing thru -20 weather to dive in. Or slip the lid off onto the bench at the side of the tub, and drag it on after we’re done. Easy peasy!

No infestations or inhabitations by bugs, slugs, or even fish. Sometimes some seaweed gets brought in from swimmers in the lake, but the filter grabs that pretty quick. Sometimes leaf debris gets in, if the lid is left off.

We do have to put a weight on the lid. When winds exceed 45 MPH coming off the lake, the lid did go sailing away in the past. Now that’s not an issue.

Easy to change the water, drop a hose in it and drain it, tip it out on its side, hose it out, and if I feel it’s needed, scrub interior with sponge/soap. Or not. Put it back down, fill it up again. Water change takes less than 2 hours, most of which is spent emptying or filling it. I use a hose from my water heater so it can be hot and ready to go right after.

Being left outside in temperatures ranging From -25 to 107 does take its toll. After 11 years, the motor was getting a bit iffy, so rather than replace it we traded up for a newer model. This one featured a seat in the tub, more jets, and not just an underwater white light, but also a colored disco-style light!!

Upsides: Low maintenance, ready to go in a moment’s notice, can move the thing around pretty easy (remember to remove water before moving), and the newer models have timers so it can heat during the lower electricity cost time periods. Edge strong enough to sit on. Lets you get outside in the winter at night (we sure see a lot of shooting stars now) and certainly encourages a couple to play together nekkid on a regular basis. Lid can be strapped down and locked if you really want. Same for hot tubbing partner.

Downsides: Vinyl covering needs cleaning on occasion, does weather and crack after a decade or so. Only 1 seat. Inside lining can get a bit wrinkly after a while. If you turn bubbles on you get rather a fine bromine mist rising off it (which does drive away mosquitoes but also hot tubbers.) Bubbles make the water a bit foamy when you turn them on too. Really need a heavy duty extension cord (one with a circuit breaker too). Disco underwater light is just stupid (IMHO).

Wife and I agree it’s the second best toy we ever bought. After 16 years of it, it still gets used 2-3 times a week on average. If it breaks, we’ll fix it or replace it.

That’s what filters, enzymes, and bromine is for! :smiley:

Most folks I know think it’s a great place for foreplay, but prefer to get out of the water before concluding the passionate activities.

As for what it’s for: Hot soaks, relaxation, conversation, contemplation, meditation, looking at your partner nekkid.

You know that just begs the question… 'fess up, what’s the FIRST best toy you ever bought?

Yeah, you can’t get away with making a comment like that without following up.