An improperly installed hot tub can cause years of headache for you. In this article, we will explore the most common hot tub installation mistakes that we see new hot tub owners make.
Using An Improper Base
One of the worst mistakes you can make when installing your hot tub is to put it on a base that can’t handle the weight of a full hot tub. Installing a hot tub on the wrong base can cause a host of problems, including:
If the base isn’t built to handle the typical freeze-thaw that we experience in Canada every winter, or if the base isn’t solid enough to evenly support the weight of the hot tub, your hot tub can begin to begin to sink on one or more sides. If your hot tub isn’t perfectly level, your waterline won’t be where it is intended to be. This can lead to comfort issues as the water is deeper or shallower than it should be in various seats. It can also cause filtration issues as the water doesn’t enter the skimmer at the depth that it is designed to; leading to poor suction and potential damage to your pumps.
Damage To The Acrylic Shell
Another potential issue that arises when the hot tub isn’t evenly supported by its base is damage to the acrylic shell. If your base isn’t level, or if it shifts over time, the acrylic shell isn’t being evenly supported. This causes pressure points in the acrylic as the weight of the water pushes down on it in unintended ways. Over time this can cause cracks in the shell that are expensive to fix and are not covered by your manufacturer’s warranty.
Damage To The Base
Putting a hot tub on a base like a deck that is not designed to support its weight can not only damage the hot tub, it can also damage the base. Once full of water, a hot tub can weigh over 1500kg. This is an enormous strain on a base like a wood deck.
To properly support the weight of a hot tub we recommend using a concrete pad that is poured over 12″ or more of level crushed gravel. The gravel underneath the pad prevents from water pooling underneath the hot tub, meaning that it won’t be affected by the freeze / thaw in the winter. Though not as strong, patio stones can also be used in place of the concrete pad, as long as they are installed on the same base of 12″ of compacted crushed gravel.
While hot tubs can also be installed on decks, you will want to make sure that they are strong enough to support at least 1500kg. Before installing your hot tub on a deck, make sure to consult a professional to ensure that it will be strong enough to support the weight of your chosen hot tub.
Not Allowing Easy Access To The Hot Tub’s Equipment
One of the most common installation mistakes made by first time hot tub owners is not leaving enough room around the hot tub for it to be serviced. This is typically an issue for hot tubs installed either fully or partially in-ground or in a deck.
When planning an install with limited access to one of more sides of the hot tub, make note of where the access to the hot tub’s equipment (pumps, heaters, etc) are located. This will typically be a removable panel on the front of the hot tub (underneath the control panel). Make note of this in your installation plans and be sure to leave at least 30” (2.5’) of free access in front of this panel. This will give a service person the room they need to work if you ever have an issue with your hot tub equipment.
Note: If you’re planning on building the hot tub into a deck, you’ll need to make sure that the joists don’t butt right up to the cabinet in front of the access panel. Many people assume that an access hatch is all that is needed to service the hot tub, forgetting that there needs to be room for the hot tub’s access panel to be removed. Hanging joists can be used to remedy this.
Not Having Enough Electrical Cable
The heavy cable required to wire a hot tub is not cheap. For this reason, most people will try and get away with using as little cable as possible in their install. For simple installations with plenty of access around the hot tub this will never really be an issue. If you have limited access on one or more sides of the hot tub, however, this can cause a problem in some rare cases.
For example, if your hot tub develops a leak in a spot without proper access, the hot tub service person will need to move the hot tub in order to fix and test it. If there isn’t enough cable to plug the hot tub in after moving it, it will need to be moved back into position to be tested. If further work is needed, the hot tub will need to be drained, moved and worked on again. As you can imagine, this will greatly increase the final repair bill.
To avoid situations like this, it’s always a good idea to give yourself a few feet of extra cable so that if the hot tub does need to be moved it can still be wired in. While it is almost never needed, if it is you will thank yourself.
Not Leaving Enough Space For Your Cover Lifter
Another thing to consider when planning your hot tub installation is the cover lifter. Cover lifters are typically a bar attached to the hot tub by brackets on either side of the hot tub cabinet. The cover is then folded over the bar and lifted up so that the cover is supported on the bar. Not only do cover lifters make removing your hot tub cover easier, they also prolong the life of the cover by ensuring that they’re evenly supported.
In order to do their job properly, cover lifters need room to pivot and hold the cover. A standard cover lifter will need about 2ft of clearance behind the hot tub to allow them to open fully. When fully open, the bottom of the cover will also hang around 1/2 way down the hot tub’s cabinet. You will also need to leave room on either side of the hot tub for the brackets. For most cover lifters, we recommend leaving 8″ of space on either side of the hot tub.
If your design simply can’t accommodate a standard hot tub cover lifter, there are other cover lifter options available that are designed for built-in or flush installs. Contact us for more information.
Improper Installation Location / Orientation
Deciding where to install your new hot tub can be a challenge. When planning your hot tub installation, there’s two things you should consider:
Distance From Your Door
Your hot tub should be placed as close to a door as possible. The closer your hot tub is to a door, the shorter your run to the hot tub is in the dead of winter! The shorter your run is the more you will use it in the colder months (which are, in our opinion, the most enjoyable months to be in a hot tub).
When deciding where to place your hot tub, you should also consider which way to face your hot tub. Take note of which way you will be facing and place the hot tub in a way that optimizes your view based on the layout of the seats. Covers installed on cover lifters can be used as a privacy wall or a wind break.
Ensuring that your hot tub is installed properly is one of the most important things that you can do as a hot tub owner. Avoiding these common hot tub installation mistakes will help ensure that you enjoy many years of stress-free hot tub ownership!