The Top 10 Hot Tub Purchase Mistakes
Bringing home a new hot tub should be a moment of celebration, but too many people fail to do proper research before handing over their hard-earned cash. In this article we look at the ten biggest mistakes people make when purchasing a new tub, and arm you with the facts you need to make good choices when becoming a happy new hot tub owner.
Issue #1: Buying a hot tub without properly understanding the commitment
We’ve all been to a great social occasion and enjoyed fun times in a hot tub. Upbeat music, good food and drink, great company, and a relaxing spa are the key ingredients for the perfect party. But while many people enjoy the experience and wish they had their own spa at home, it’s important to realize that owning your own hot tub is more of a commitment than ‘plug and go’.
One of the key mistakes people make when deciding to buy their own spa is failing to read up on the weekly, monthly, and yearly maintenance required to keep a hot tub safe to use and functioning properly. One spa pool owner admits learning the ropes took him “about 150 hours of reading to feel I’d mastered the art and science of hot tub maintenance”. So before buying a tub it’s worth asking yourself: Do I understand what it means to take care of a tub? And do I know enough yet to take the plunge?
There’s no getting around it: much like a car or a plant or a pet, hot tubs need looking after. Before buying, make sure you’re aware of the maintenance schedule you’ll need to keep, including:
- Removing debris from the skimmer basket
- Testing and adjusting the water pH, alkalinity, sanitizer and calcium hardness
- Cleaning out your filter
Every three to four months:
- Emptying and refilling your hot tub-Soaking filters in a degreaser
- Sanitizing your hot tub
All of these things are manageable, and owning a hot tub is definitely worthwhile, but make sure you’re not blindsided by your new to do list after committing to buying a tub.
Issue #2: Listening to a dodgy dealer
You’ve done your research, you know what you’re getting into on the maintenance front, and you’ve read everything there is to know about the beautiful new tub that’s caught your eye. Time to sign on the dotted line? Not so fast.
Not only do you need to research the type of hot tub you’re purchasing, you should also do your homework on the dealer who’s selling it to you. One of the initial mistakes people make when buying a hot tub is to trust the first salesman that comes along with a good deal. This can cost you thousands down the track if you get it wrong, because a reputable dealer will be around to help if you get in a pickle. A dodgy dealer? Well, he won’t be.
The golden rule of picking a hot tub dealer? Reviews, reviews, reviews. If they don’t have any, or they’ve not got great ones,that’s a red flag you should definitely pay attention to. If you can’t find any reviews for your dealer, ask for the contact details of previous clients and give them a call. Don’t be shy about doing this –if the dealer is reputable, they’ll have no problem finding a previous client who’s happy to talk to you.
Issue #3: Buying the cheapest hot tub
Buying cheap is tempting, but you’ve all heard the warnings: Buy cheap now and pay more later. When it comes to a hot tub, this is certainly true.
That doesn’t mean you need to rush out and nab the most expensive tub on the market, but take some time to consider the longevity of your future tub and remember: if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Generally speaking, a hot tub will set you back anywhere from $3,000 to more than $20,000. The higher the price tag, the more your eyes are likely to water, but approach the task of buying a hot tub with efficiency in mind, not upfront cost.
A $3,000 hot tub can cost far more than a more expensive hot tub in the long term when it comes to power bills, faulty parts, and chemical requirements.
Issue #4: Not considering your hot tub’s installation costs
Budgets can also be blown when failing to consider the installation costs of your new hot tub. If a lot of work needs to be done to prepare the site, installation costs can easily double the cost of the spa itself.
Before handing over money for the tub, talk to your dealer and other tradespeople about what you’ll need to do to prepare your property for installation.
Hot tubs aren’t little. You’ll need a small army to help get it onto your property and into position. Sometimes they’ll need to build a ramp over your fence. Occasionally you’ll even need to get a crane involved. That’s when you may start looking at over $1000 for delivery. Get a quote before you buy to avoid any surprise charges.
If you go for a 220 volt rather than a 110 volt spa you’ll get more power in your jets and faster water heating and recycling. You’ll also be able to run more add-ons like bubbles, music and lights. But a 220 volt tub will need more electrical set-up, which of course costs money, and could set you back between $1000 and $3000.
If you don’t already have a flat platform able to take the weight of your tub, you’re probably going to have to make a purpose-built foundation. Think your deck can take the burden? Check with a structural engineer. A hot tub can weigh more than a car-be safe and get it checked. A cement platform can cost anywhere from $200 if you DIY, to $1000+ for a landscaper. The foundation is certainly a cost you’ll want to factor in when drawing up your budget.
Installing an in-ground spa? Consider the cost of excavations, which can set you back around $100 per yard of dirt.
If you don’t already have a tap nearby, get a plumber to give you a quote for a new outdoor connection.
When it comes to foundation work and electrical connections, check if local laws require you to get a permit, and factor in the cost of this red tape when budgeting for your spa.
Issue #5: Putting your hot tub in the wrong spot
That old real estate adage is certainly true when it comes to purchasing a hot tub: Location, location, location!
Too many people simply place their hot tub where they have existing space, without properly considering whether that space really works for them. If you don’t give enough thought to this before your new tub is delivered, you may have major regrets later on.
There are a number of things you should factor in when planning where to put a tub:
Will it even be possible for the delivery driver to access the spot you’ve chosen? If not, is a crane delivery possible, and what might that cost you?
Does the area you’ve chosen have an existing gravel or concrete foundation, or will you need to have one made? If you’re putting it on a deck, is the structure strong enough to withstand the weight of a full tub?
When you empty your tub, where will the water go?
This is a big one that many people overlook until it’s too late! It’s easy to brush away concerns about how close your hot tub will be to your neighbor’s home or to the road, but when you’re actually slipping out of the house in your swimsuit in full view of the neighborhood, you might wish you’d picked a slightly more private spot for your evening spa.
First time hot tub owners always underestimate the convenience of close proximity.
You might not think walking to the end of your garden makes a big difference, but trust us –the closer the hot tub is to your home, the more likely you are to use it. Don’t underestimate how off-putting it is to get out of a warm spa and be forced to sprint across a cold yard. The closer your hot tub is to your door, the more you will use it, the more you will reap its benefits, and the more financial sense it makes to buy in the first place
Issue #6: Not matching your jet choices with an appropriate pump and power
You can’t run Old Faithful-strength jets on a dollar store pump.
It’s a rookie mistake but a common one. Hot tub buyers choose amazing jets, tailored to their needs, but a weak pump and insufficient power mean there’s not enough kick to let them reach their full potential. The result? Incredible, expensive jets that simply stir your water around instead of giving you the massage you deserve!
Look into the quality of the pump you’re buying and its electrical specifications. These are what will give you great hydrotherapy results, not the number of jets. Raise the issue with your dealer and electrician for advice specific to your situation.
Issue #7: Failing to tailor your tub to your needs
Hot tubs come with so many features these days, the choice can be as overwhelming as a dessert stand at a wedding. But one of the key mistakes people make when buying one is to ignore their options and purchase a tub that looks great on paper, but may not meet their unique needs.
Many people buy hot tubs for therapeutic or social purposes, but consumers too often overlook adding in features that will make their hot tub more enjoy able and that will prompt more frequent use.
One of the main reasons people buy a hot tub is to ease aching muscles and joints, yet failing to tailor your tub to you needs means more often than not your new hot tub won’t help you. If it’s your shoulder that suffer the most pain, but your hot tub has no shoulder-height jets, then it just won’t give you the outcome you’re paying for.
Your hot tub should feel right for you. If it doesn’t, don’t buy it.
Issue #8: Skimping on your warranty
We’re not suggesting you take out every type of warranty under the sun, but even though your hot tub is shiny and new and working wonderfully right now, try to think ahead to a time when things might go pear-shaped. Ask yourself: How protected do I want and need to be?
There are many different warranties available, and your dealer will have details of them all. Ask to take home some information and consider your options –often warranties are bought under pressure and without time for reading the small print.
When you do come to making a decision, consider the following:-Is the warranty offered by a third party? Check reviews of that company as well as your dealer
- Will your warranty cover fixes at home, or will it need to be shipped back to the manufacturer? The latter could be costly!
- What does your coverage extend to? Shell structure? Shell surface? Leaks? Equipment?
At the end of the day, a warranty helps give you peace of mind, and will be worth it is anything goes wrong.
Issue #9: Buying a tub with poor insulation
A significant part of a spa’s up-front cost is in its insulation. A well-insulated spa may have a bigger price tag, but it’s going to save you plenty of money in the long run.
Many premium models have full foam insulation between the shell and the tub. Quality insulation like this minimizes temperature loss out of the sides and bottom of the hot tub. A well-insulated hot tub with a good quality spa cover can run on as little as $20 per month in power.
Unfortunately, insulation is one of the first places potential spa buyers look to save money on because the benefits aren’t as ‘sexy’ as nice jets and other add-ons. But taking this approach can be a mistake you will come to realize after a few months of high power bills and a quick-to-cool tub.
Issue #10: Neglecting to test-drive your tub
By far the biggest mistake people make when investing in a hot tub is neglecting to try before they buy.
If you wouldn’t purchase a house or a car before seeing it first, why would you buy a tub before trying it out?
The worst thing a consumer can do is to pick a model out online without ever having seen it in person. But even taking a look at showroom models may not be enough. Make sure you ask your dealer if you can“wet test” a couple, and get a feel for the subtle differences each spa boasts.
Looks are certainly important when it comes to making a hot tub purchase, but ultimately it’s all about functionality. If you haven’t bought the right type of jets or hydrotherapy features, you’re wasting your time and money. And while those jets may look right, and feel right to your hand, until you get in and feel the water on your body you can’t be sure it’s the tub for you.
Wet-testing also helps you to get a sense of the capacity of your chosen tub. It may look big enough from the outside, but when you sit in does it feel cramped? Are the seats comfortable? Are the headrests in the right spot?
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.