To use or not to use your spa during the winter…that is the question

Whether or not you decide to keep your spa running during the winter, protect your investment by properly preparing it for the winter ahead.

More and more people are using their hot tubs outside throughout the winter months. Although the wintertime is the most pleasurable season to use an outdoor spa, there are certain precautions you must take to ensure the proper operation and energy efficiency of your unit.

Setting your controls: If your spa has an Auto Heat or Freeze Protect system, make sure that it is activated as soon as the temperatures start to drop at night. Many spas have a Timer-Auto Heat button on their control boxes. Flip the button to the Auto Heat mode. This will ensure that the water in the spa and the jet piping doesn’t freeze. If your spa has a Topside Thermostat Control, make sure that it is set past the Freeze section, well into the Heat or High portion of the dial.

If your spa only has a timer system, you’ll want to reset the time to give you the best possible protection against freezing. With a Cycle Timer, it is a good idea to set it to come on for 15 minutes every hour. This will ensure good hot water circulation through the pipes as well as keep the water nice and hot.

If your spa is not equipped with any of the options listed above, you must keep the spa running on low speed heat mode 24 hours a day until there is no more danger of freezing temperatures.

On many spas, there is a thermostat dial on the heater unit itself. Set the dial on High or Maximum position. If the spa does not stay hot enough, increase the running time. If it gets too hot, decrease the thermostat setting-not the running time! Remember it costs less to maintain the temperature in a spa than it does to let it get very cold and then CRANK the heat up right before you use it. Aside from running the risk of a freeze up, this method of heating will cost you a tremendous amount of money in energy bills. Maintain your water temperature on a consistent daily basis during the winter. The colder it is (inside or outside), the longer  it will take for your spa to heat up.  Spas must run considerably longer during the winter to achieve the same heat rise as in the warmer months.

Since it’s no fun draining and cleaning your spa when it’s freezing cold out, it is a good idea to do this job in mid-December when, hopefully, the temperature is still somewhat mild. This way, the spa should not have to be drained again until the end of February or the beginning of March-depending on use-when the temperatures are milder once again. Don’t forget to use the Spa System Flush when draining your spa to help eliminate biofilm build up in your plumbing.

For those of you who prefer to shut your spa down, here are some winterizing tips to help protect your spa from old man winter.

Turn the power off at the breaker box and leave a note there indicating that the switch should be left off for the winter. Disconnect the inlet lines to the pump and let the water drain. Suck any water that remains in the foot well with a wet/dry vac if your spa is not equipped with a floor drain. Also, be sure to get the water out of the jets, fittings, bottom drain, filter canister, pump inlets and lines that connect to the inlets. Use a blower to help remove the water from the plumbing.

Remove top and bottom load filters, soak them in a filter cleaner and store them in a warm place over the winter. Put pool antifreeze into the plumbing lines, jets, fittings, bottom drain, and filter canisters. Reconnect the pump inlet lines but don’t reinstall the filters. Reinstall any covers you have taken off. Add antifreeze to the foot well in case any water is able to get under the spa cover.

Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations in using your spa since all spas are not the same and some of them may have special instructions to follow.

The most important thing to remember in using your spa is that it does not matter when you use it only that you enjoy it.