Winterizing a Hot Tub

Plenty of people consider hot tubbing a summer activity, but did you know that winter is one of the best times to be soaking in your spa?

There are a few things nicer than slipping into a warm tub on a freezing cold day – if you don’t believe it, give it a go this winter! 

If you’re dead set against using your tub in the colder months or are going to be away for a long period, you may need to winterize your spa to protect it from the cold weather and inactivity. Here we give you the key steps to winterizing your tub. 

When should I winterize?

If you’re going on vacation for a month or more, or if you don’t think you’ll use it during the winter months, you should seriously consider winterizing your tub. Putting your spa to sleep for the winter will protect it from the damage caused by freezing pipes, will save a bit of money on electricity, water, and chemicals, and will take some mileage off the tub’s overall lifespan.

Winterizing your spa takes a bit of know-how, and if not done right can seriously damage your tub. We’re here to help with this ‘how-to’, but if in doubt, consult your owner’s manual or get a professional to help.

Step 1. Clean the spa filter and pipe

Before you winterize your tub it’s a great idea to give it a good clean first. Biofilm and other bacteria can continue to grow in the damp depths of your hot tub’s pipes, so dealing to them before putting your tub to bed for the winter is a great way of coming back to a clean, biofilm-free spa.

Take out your filter and give it a thorough clean. If it’s been in your tub for more than 12 cleanings (or two years), dispose of it and pop in a new one. If you’re putting the existing one back, a 24-hour chemical soak is a great idea to ensure you’re not letting a dirty filter sit and fester for weeks.

Step 2. Turn off the power

First things first, you’ll need to power down. If possible, switch off and unplug your hot tub at the wall. If not, turn off the circuit breaker for the unit’s electrical line. You’ll need to switch the spa back on in Step 5, but it needs to be off for the initial draining.

Step 3. Drain your spa

Now you have the big task of draining the bulk of water from your tub. First, open up any adjustable jets and air valves to help the water drain out. If your spa has a draining spigot, all you need to do is open that and release the water. If you don’t have a spigot, you’ll need to use a pump or a siphon.

It’s best to attach a hose to your spigot and point it downhill towards a drain. If your drain is uphill you may not drain all the water properly and will need to take extra care when using your wet/dry vac in Step 7.

Step 4. Blow out the pipes

Now you can turn the power back on (keeping the heater and pump switched off) and use your air blower to push out any water hiding in your pipes. Put the spa cover on before activating the blower to prevent yourself getting covered in water. Run the blower for about 30 seconds, and then let the water drain from the spigot. Turn the blower on again and mop up any residual spray from the smaller air holes with an old towel.

Step 5. The first towel dry

Remove your cover and soak up any remaining water with a mop or old towels. You’ll need to get every last drop – this is the time for attention to detail! It’s also a good idea to take the cartridge filter out of the spa again and ensure there’s no water hiding in its canister compartment.

Step 6. Use your wet/dry vac

Now it’s time to bring in the cavalry. Using a powerful wet/dry vac, you’ll need to blow air through the tub’s system to remove residual water. First, loosen fittings on any equipment, open all your jets wide, and close off the topside air controls. Put the wet/dry vac up to each jet and blow out the remaining water, mopping up with towels as you go. Work your way around the tub, being sure to blow out every jet, as well as your skimmer and drain.

If you complete this step properly, it’s highly unlikely that any of your pipes will freeze and be damaged over the winter months. You should not need to add any type of antifreeze to your pipes. This is not recommended as it can take many flushes to make your spa safe to soak in again come springtime.

Step 7. The second towel dry

It’s the same step all over again – but make sure you don’t skip it. After blowing all that residual water out, you must make sure to mop it up using a sponge, towel or mop. Leave no droplet behind!

Step 8. Clean the shell and cover

If you’ve finished draining your tub and have soaked up all the remaining water, well done! You’re almost there! Now is the time for a final clean of your tub, to keep bacteria away while it’s not in use. Use a small amount of dishwashing soap or window cleaner and wipe down the inside of your spa with a soft sponge. Rinse it well, and dry thoroughly with a clean towel.

Use a weather-resistant cleaner on the outside of your cover – this will protect it from UV rays and from weathering in the harsh winter conditions.

Step 9. Secure and protect your spa cover

When putting your spa into hibernation for the winter, you not only need to dry it out thoroughly first but must also protect it from getting wet again throughout the colder months. If your cover isn’t tied down properly, there’s a risk water will seep into the tub, and if it gets into your pipes and freezes, you could have a big problem on your hands. On cabinet spas and inground spas alike it’s a good idea to use a winter cover or tarpaulin to safeguard against water infiltration.

Follow these ten steps and your hot tub should be tucked away safely until you’re ready to enjoy it again! Be aware that one of the leading causes of damage to hot tubs is incorrect winterization, and this can be very costly to fix. If you don’t think you can manage it on your own, ask your local hot tub service for help.

Happy soaking!