5 Common Hot Tub Mistakes

woman in hot tub with soap bubbles
  • 1-3 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 25-50
What You'll Need
Hot tub chemicals
Owner's manual
What You'll Need
Hot tub chemicals
Owner's manual

Who doesn't love a long, sudsy soak in the hot tub? Hot tubs are the perfect place to relax, but when you use them wrong, they can cause some serious headaches. If you're considering purchasing a hot tub, or if you're already a hot-tub owner—pay attention, this list of dos and don'ts has your name all over it.

Mistake 1 - Forgetting the Filters

As easy as it is to forget, neglecting filter care of your hot tub can leave your hot tub full of germs and gunk that makes even looking at the water unappealing. The filter is what keeps your hot tub in pristine condition and helps it run smoothly. Not only does it protect the water, it protects the hot tub itself from nasty build-up.

Make sure you're regularly maintaining your filters, switching them out when necessary, and checking on them from time to time as part of basic hot tub maintenance. You can do this yourself, or use a hot tub care company to help with this. Sometimes a simple filter rinse is all you need to keep your hot tub up and running.

Picking the right filter for your hot tub is also essential. It's tempting to walk into a hot tub supply store and buy the cheapest filter that you see, but sometimes you get what you pay for, and sometimes when you're just looking for the cheapest filter—you buy the wrong kind altogether.

Keep your hot tub owner's manual around if you plan on servicing your hot tub yourself. Your manual will give you instructions on how to care for your filter and how to replace your filter. It will also tell you which kind of filters you can purchase for your hot tub.

If you misplaced your owner's manual, and let's face it who hasn't been there, the internet has your back. A quick web search will likely bring up a digital copy of your manual, or a forum where others with your same hot tub can answer your questions about the appropriate filter. When in doubt, call the hot tub supply store and they'll be able to point you in the direction of the correct filter.

hot tub filters

Mistake 2 - Sudsy Soak

We love suds in our hot tub as much as the next person, but only if they're coming from the air bubbles produced by the hot tub jets. If you notice your hot tub water accumulating a layer of foam, this is something you're going to need to clean up quickly.

If you want to avoid the regular task of cleaning the hot tub foam and scum, the solution is simpler than you may think. Take a shower before you get in the hot tub. The grimy foam that builds up in the hot tub, the bad kind of bubbles, comes from the products on our bodies and swimsuits when we get into the hot tub. So make sure you're hopping in clean with a clean suit.

If you find your hot tub filled with the wrong kind of bubbles, don't panic, it's a pretty simple fix. Start by having everybody exit the hot tub. Then scoop out as much of the bubble scum as you can. You can use a basic net for this, or even just your hands.

Next, you're going to want to add chlorine shock to the water, and this will likely be a high dose. Check your owner's manual before you add chlorine to the water, but in most cases, a high dose of chlorine shock is just with the hot tub doctor ordered.

Lastly, turn on the jets at full blast and let them run for forty-five minutes to an hour. After they’ve run for an hour, test the Ph level of the hot tub and make any adjustments you need.

Mistake 2 - Too Hot to Handle

woman in steaming hot tub

Hot tub water above 104 degrees is dangerous for a few reasons. Firstly, if not safe to get in water that's super hot.

Second, your hot tub can struggle when the water gets too hot. So not only will you spend more money heating it, you might end up splashing out costs on maintaining it because water that's too hot can actually cause damage.

Always check the temperature of your hot tub for the safety of your guests, and consider turning the hot water down when you know it won't be in use for a long time.

If you're worried about the temperature in your water, just measure it. Many new hot tubs come with built-in thermometers, but you can also test the temperature of the water with a standard third-party thermometer.

When you test the chemicals in your hot tub, you can take a sample in a little cup and test that sample, but don't do that when you're looking to test the temperature. For an accurate read, you want to test the temperature of the whole body of the water without giving it a chance to cool down.

Follow the specific instructions on your hot tub thermometer carefully to get the most accurate read possible.

Mistake 4 - Power Down

hot tub with blue lights

Like your refrigerator or your dishwasher, your hot tub is considered a major home appliance. So even if you turn it down, you shouldn't necessarily unplug it just because you go out of town or stop using it for a little while.

There are several settings that run on your hot tub while you're not using it in order to properly maintain it and keep it safe for you and your family. When you unplug your hot tub, you risk damaging it by letting hard water or other issues build up while it's not in use.

You can certainly adjust the settings if you're not going to be using your hot tub for a while, but don't unplug it.

If you do plan on going on vacation, prepare your hot tub accordingly. It's a good idea to have a friend or neighbor come by to check on your hot tub every few weeks if you plan to be out of town for an extended period of time.

If you'll just be gone for a little while, there are a few preparatory steps you can take to make sure your hot tub stays up and running while you're gone.

Before you head out the door on your vacation, check the levels in your hot tub. Every hot tub has a different line below which the water shouldn't drop. If the water is getting close to that line, you may want to add a little extra water just to be safe while you're out of town. Water naturally evaporates, and things happen, so it's smart to add water to your hot tub before you leave, just in case.

Next, you're going to want to test the pH levels in your hot tub and adjust them to the correct points. Even though you're not going to be taking a dip while you're on vacation, the right balance can help keep the system running smoothly while you're gone.

Once your levels are balanced, you may consider adding a bacterial fighting agent to the water if you're leaving for an extended amount of time. Bacteria can grow in stagnant water, and adding the appropriate sanitizer to your hot tub is a great way to keep your water clean while you're away. After you add the bacterial sanitizer to your water, check the filters to avoid any problems while you're gone.

Lastly, give your hot tub a little room to breathe before you cover it. Leave your cover off for about an hour before you secure it down. When you do put it on, double-check the latches on the side. We've seen more than one hot tub cover blow away on an extra windy day, so make sure the latches are on tight and everything is secure before you leave.

Mistake 5 - Casual Chemical Use

hand pouring chemicals into hot tub

As with a lot of things in life, there's a learning curve to owning and operating a hot tub successfully, and chemical management is a big part of this learning curve.

Too much of one chemical or not enough of another can be disastrous for your hot tub, or the people in it, so it's really important that you learn exactly how to manage the chemicals you need. Refer to your owner's manual or the company who sold you the hot tub for help.

If you're new to hot tubs and need some basic info, we have you covered. Hot tubs use chemicals to keep the water safe and sanitary for regular soaking. As with pool water, there's a lot of science that goes into perfectly balancing this mix. Your owner's manual will give you the levels your hot tub needs to run smoothly, and it might mention a few different chemicals you can use to achieve those levels.

All hot tubs need to have the appropriate pH balance, which you can achieve with a pH increaser or decreaser. These two chemicals work against each other, and with each other, to help you get the perfect level.

You can also use shocking agents in your hot tub, both with chlorine and without chlorine, in order to increase the oxygen level in the water.

Sequestering agents are used to remove metal and alkaline from the water, And the removal of those metals and minerals will keep your water clear. If your water starts to turn a funky color, you definitely need to reach for your sequestering agent.

Another essential pool and hot tub chemical is your sanitizing agent. Hot tubs tend to have lots of people hopping in and out all the time, and the sanitizing agent will be a game-changer when it comes to keeping your pool really clean. You can also use a bacterial sanitizing agent, which is different than your typical sanitizing agent, to keep your pool water bacteria-free.

We've already talked about the bad kind of bubbles your hot tub can get, and a defoamer is one way you can battle that. A defoamer probably isn't something you'll regularly use in your hot tub, but if you have a large group of people using your hot tub in a short period, there's no telling how many different oils, lotions, and perfumes are entering your hot tub water. A defoaming agent will help reduce the number of bubbles and scum on the top of your water.

Two more common hot tub chemicals are calcium increasers and decreasers. The calcium level of your water is another metric you have to maintain to keep the hot tub running properly. Calcium can build up and cause big problems, so you want to make sure that your level is always really steady. Using a combination of increasing and decreasing chemicals, you'll be able to achieve the right calcium balance.

Now don't be overwhelmed, you're going to get the hang of all the chemicals eventually. And once you do, you'll learn that less is more. Work towards being able to balance the levels in your hot tub using the fewest chemicals possible. It's going to make the hot tub experience more enjoyable for you and your guests.

And now that you're a hot tub expert, we think it's time to work on the pool. Happy soaking!