How to Save Money and Stay Safe Buying a Used  Hot Tub

So you’ve decided to buy a hot tub, and just can’t go past that great deal you’ve spotted on a secondhand model. Everyone loves a bargain, but just remember – not all hot tubs are created equal. We’re here to take the unknown out of your used spa – buying experience with ten top tips for purchasing secondhand. Read on, and make sure today’s bargain isn’t tomorrow’s money trap!

Tip #1: Say No To Sharks

We can’t stress this enough – any decent salesperson you buy from is worth their weight in gold. If he or she is a dud, chances are your hot tub will be too. Don’t just take their word for it either. Google the heck out of your dealer’s name. Check online for reviews. And if nothing comes up? Don’t be shy to ask for two or three previous clients you can call for references.

Not all dealers carry secondhand tubs, so it pays to ask around.Buying from a genuine dealer should mean you get some kind of guarantee with your tub. This is by far preferable to buying from Craigslist and having no safety net should the tub be faulty when you get it home.

Tip #2: Inspect the Tub

This piece of advice goes for any hot tub purchase – new or used. If you can’t see the hot tub full and running before you buy it, be wary.

Ideally, you’ll want to inspect the tub when it’s turned on and heated. You should look for leaks, check the strength of the jets, and listen for strange noises. Bad smells are also a red flag!

Ask the owner to run the tub for 24 hours before you go and visit, and test the water temperature while there to ensure it can reach the factory setting of 104 degrees Fahrenheit. If the current owner or dealer is reluctant to fire up the tub for you, then walk away. Even if they’re not hiding something, it’s better toavoid the risk.

Tip #3: Check the Cover

It’s easy to overlook the cover when considering a used hot tub, but don’t forget this essential component! An old or dirty hot tub cover will cost you $300 – $450 to replace and could even indicate the rest of the tub has not been properly cared for.

If the cover is heavy, that’s a sure sign it’s waterlogged and will need to be replaced. Check for sagging, cracks or rips, weather damage and gaps – any problems with the cover will mean your hot tub will bleed money in power costs.

Tip #4: Ask for Paperwork

You ask for paperwork when buying a used car, so don’t neglect to do the same when buying your secondhand tub. Service histories, original manuals, and even copies of power bills are all valid things to request when considering a used tub. if the owner or dealer can’t provide anything it is not a deal-breaker, but you may be missing the full picture 

Tip #5: Don’t Pay Too Much

Scoring a hot tub for half the price of a new one may seem like a bargain, but make sure you consider the hidden costs of buying secondhand. Depending on the age of the tub, it’s likely to need more servicing, more replacement parts, and to have a shorter lifespan than a new tub, meaning you may end up paying big money for that bargain in the long run.

Roughly speaking, a used spa under ten years old should cost you around 50% of what the current owner paid for it. Do the math and figure out if you’ll actually be saving money in the longterm. If you really are planning to use your tub often and over many years, it might pay to splash out and buy new.

Tip #6: Consider Delivery and Installation

How many strong friends do you have? The upfront cost of your used tub may be low, but don’t forget you need to get it home and set it up. A lot of new tubs will include delivery, while used tubs likely won’t. If you buy online from a stranger, have you considered the cost of removing it from their property and transporting it to yours? What if the tub is difficult to remove or requires a crane? Do you have a posse of strong friends who can help? If not, have you researched the cost of hot tub movers in your area? Do you know how much it will cost to have the tub installed?

All of these points are worth considering before you hand over your hard-earned cash, as they can seriously add to that ‘great deal’ you’ve spotted.

Tip #7: Consider Age

Ancient Roman baths are all very well if you’re into the antique aesthetic, but age doesn’t wear quite so well on a hot tub. Even if the spa you’ve got your eye on looks fine and performs well, every hot tub has its lifespan.

If the used tub you’re considering is more than ten years old, you may be throwing money down the drain by taking it home.

Tip #8: Don’t Buy If Stored

If a tub has been stored empty for any considerable length of time, think twice about taking the risk. it could have a range of electrical or plumbing problems, including corroded components, rusted pump shafts, and dried up seals. 

Tubs stored in freezing temperatures could also pose major issues. Any residual water than freezes in the pipe system will have caused cracks and fractures – a disaster for the entire unit. 

Tip #9: Ask Questions. A Lot of Them. 

Regardless of how good your dealer is, it’s still on you to ask questions before signing on the dotted line. As well as the points outlined above, consider asking for the following, preferably in writing:

  • Ownership history
  • Service history
  • Noted faults/leaks
  • Age
  • Manufacturer warranty
  • Dealer guarantee
  • Has the tub been kept indoors or out?
  • How much does the previous owner pay in power bills?
  • What has the maintenance schedule been for the tub?

Tip #10: Clean Clean Clean!

We’ve saved the most important tip for last. If you do decide to buy a used hot tub, the most important thing you can do before hopping in is to purge it and remove all the bacteria left behind by the previous owner.

First things first – change the spa’s filter cartridge. Used cartridges harbor all sorts of nasties, like bacteria, chemicals, dead skin, and dried body oils. Assuming that you don’t enjoy bathing in other people’s bodily waste, we recommend a new filter – stat.

Super-chlorinate with a granular shock product, purge with a tub rinse to rid the tub of any lurking biofilm, drain the spa, and then clean with a tub cleaning product before going on to set up the spa’s pH and alkalinity.

Buying used can be a great way to get into hot-tubbing, but pay attention to the pitfalls before jumping in. You’ll be more confident you’re not flushing money down the drain!

So there we have it. Dip your toe in the wonderful warm waters of hot tub ownership! There’s plenty to consider, but if you learn from the mistakes of those who have bought before you, you’ll wind up with a life-changing addition to your home, on-budget, and without costly setbacks.

Happy soaking!