Hot Tubs & Spas
Archived Q&A and Reviews
Hot Tub heater needs replacing
Hi everyone! Any advice would be welcome, I've been calling electricians and HVAC places all over town to no avail. We have a wooden hot tub that sits recessed into the deck on the second floor, that reaches to the ground underneath. The heater, which is located underneath, below the deck, is broken. A spa-repair guy looked at it and said that there's a big rats nest inside, wires all chewed up, etc. So that's probably the end of that heater. We'd like to have another natural gas heater installed properly. Are there venting issues that we need to worry about? Since we have tiered pricing for electricity, we don't want an electric heater since we couldn't use it at night when the electricity price is sky-high. Maybe combine a solar heater with an electric heater? If anyone has experience with this, please feel free to contribute. Mice mama
A natural gas heater will run about $150-$200. You will have to have it properly vented. Could get quite costly. Solar thermal would not heat the tub enough. Solar photovoltaic (or solar electrical) would cost on the order of $20k and your roof would have to be the size of a tennis court. You might want to do the math on this one. A hot tub electrical heater will cost you about and costs about 30 a month. ANON
Hot Tub Repair Person or Company Needed
As much as I hate to admit, we have a 13 yr. old tub/spa, that's in need of a good repair person or company. The tub has been empty and off for about the past three year. Thanks. Tracy
We use the Pool Doctor. http://www.thepooldoctors.com/ heidilee
For years I have depended on John from Satori Hot Tub (510) 339-1566 for hot tub maintenance. When I had an older hot tub he made it last longer by keeping the motor going. With my current hot tub he has been a great source of maintenance advice. He is capable and knows everything about hot tubs, including how to repair the older ones. Ann
Hot tub needs fixing
We have a hot tub that's about 14 years old. We don't use it often, but it's been kept clean etc. The keypad that controls the temperature is busted and needs replacing. Are there folks that fix such a thing? The hot-tub maintenance recommendations on the site are pretty old. Does anyone have a more recent recommendation? We're in Oakland. Thanks! Shirley
I use Sean Sullivan and recommend him to my customers as well. We have all been very satisfied with his work, expertise, etc. Sean is at (415)420-1481 and sean [at] sullivanwaterworks.com his website: http://www.sullivanwaterworks.com/.
Hot Tub: wood or synthetic?
I am purchasing a hot tub for a house in Tahoe and would love to get recommendations for this pricey and often *delicate* machine. I know hot tubs are reknown for how they break down, and as this is a vacation rental it feels really important that it holds to the test of time. I am first deciding between a wood tub and one of those synthetic fiber tubs with jets, and then need to decide on brand, style, etc. All I know for sure is that I want a 6 person jetted hot tub. Would love to know your experience with tubs you have used, read about, etc. and things to avoid , pitfalls, that I may know in advance. thanks so much! Sarah sarah sarah
Having had both kinds, especially for a rental, I would recommend skipping the redwood. It is harder to keep clean and actually less comfortable, I think. With the molded tubs you can even include a stereo system, cool lights, etc. You can get redwood around the outside or as the deck if you want the smell and more rustic look. We were very happy with our spa from Sundance. It lasted a good long time. coco
We've had both. Currently we have a cedar hottub. It is aesthetically more beautiful than the plastic ones, and is greener in the sense that when you eventually replace it, you have a stack or wood instean of a big blob of plastic. Once we got past the first year, our cedar tub has had fewer problems than the two plastic tubs that preceded it. But this may be because it has far fewer bells and whistles than the plastic hottubs. The wood tub has a heater and a pump that shoots water through two outlets only. The plastic tubs had multiple jets that could be adjusted in multiple ways, and all kinds of knobs and buttons and cushions and lights. You sit up in the wood one. In the plastic one you needed to partly recline to be submerged. The wood one has a smaller footprint so less water surface, so in theory it is more efficient, and we did see our PG bill decline somewhat. The downsides of the cedar tub: 1) Cedar gives off tannic acid which is not harmful but it does turn the water the color of tea. This is supposed to subside as the wood ages but we still see it. 2) Wood hot tubs are engineered to take advantage of the fact that wet wood swells. So the wood panels are not glued together, they are just aligned side by side and they swell when wet to form a watertight container. In the first 6 months after we got the wood tub we had some water seaping out - we couldn't see a leak but we noticed the water level going down slightly. It took two tries to fix this. We have not had water seepage in the 10 years after that.
Hot Tub / Spa options -- Softub?
I am interested in buying either a Softub hot tub or something like it. We rent our home and do not have a large backyard. Softubs seem ideal because they are easily portable and plug into a regular 120V 15 amp socket. I guess another similar vinyl liner type spa is the 'Super Tub.' I would love to hear people's experiences with Softubs (pros/cons) and/or recommendations for a similar spa or hot tub. Thanks! emily
I bought a 2-person Softub 7 years ago, and have been really happy with it. It's on the ground, under trees, and has held up incredibly well--there have been no issues at all! It really is true that you just roll it into place, connect its powerpack (easy), and fill it--it's truly that easy. (As with any hot tub, once you have it in place you need to get the chemistry right, drain and refill periodically, etc.) I'm not familiar with the other tub you mention, but would definitely recommend Softubs
Hot tub cover
We recently moved to a house that has a hot tub. The cover is the usual sort--vinyl over styrofoam, like this: http://www.rhtubs.com/covers/insulate.htm . This is the only type of cover that the two local hot tub stores offer (and they have to order them). The cover on our hot tub, which is only about three years old, is disintegrating--the vinyl on the inner side is coming apart, the styrofoam is sodden with water, and bits of the styrofoam are falling into the tub. We would prefer to replace the cover with one that would not suffer a similar fate in a few years, but we don't know what to get. (We are not really interested in getting an additional 'blanket' to float on the water--too much hassle to have two things to remove when we want to use the tub.) Any suggestions? New hot tub owner
There's a place at Central Ave on Jacuzzi St (aptly named). 5327 Jacuzzi Street, Richmond - (510) 527-5547 They should have a cover for you or be able to lead you somewhere you can get one. If you know the dimensions, have you looked online? But one tip--buy marine vinyl conditioner. We got ours at Wal-Mart in the fishing/boat section (that's the only place we could find it). I use this 2x/yr to condition the vinyl so it doesn't get cracked from the sun. (Probaby 4x/yr would be better!) It really helps to extend the life of the vinyl. If your kid is of the right age, it's the perfect wax on, wax off exercise. http://www.amazon.com/3M-Cleaner-Conditioner-Protector-8-Ounce/dp/B000R4PFFO Suruchi
Looking for a good used hot tub
Anyone want to get rid of their hot tub that they never use? I am looking to buy one for my back yard. Thanks! Katy
Lots of them are offered for free on Craigslist. Even more in the For Sale section.
One problem is moving 'em. Figure that you'll need a lot of friends to help. The owner is very happy to get rid of the hot tub, but never so happy as to be willing to help lift the thing.
Oh, you'll need a 220 volt electric hookup. Maybe a gas hookup.
And periodic cleaning. Water changing. Chemicals. A new cover every few years. Figure out what's wrong with the pump.
Then, after a year, you may discover that you don't use the hot tub but once every few months. Around this time, you may worry about your high electric and water bills. A little later, you post a note on craigslist saying, ''free hot tub''...
signed: Gave mine away
Converting a redwood hot tub to a water garden
My old but water-tight redwood hot tub sits unused on the deck. Rather than removing it I would like to give it a new life as a water garden. I've searched books and the web for information regarding treatment of the tub to make it safe for plants and fish, use of the current pump vs closure of the jets, and other such questions. But I find very little and conflicting information. Has anyone done this successfully who can give me some pointers? Thanks very much.
I took out my hot tub and built a 1000 gal water garden, i would say to get a rubber liner, your redwood tub i would think would be contaminated. I used 2'' PVC for the filter system and i think your tub is 2'' PVC? Cutting the holes was the easiest, i was scared of leaks but had none. The water garden is great, never thought it would be so much fun. Its 1.5 years old with 60 different plants, 10-coy, 2 turtles, and 2 Cat fish to keep the bottom clean. Filtering is the most important, don't go to Orchard or Home Depot. Connie Pond Supply in Castro Valley was one place i got stuff brian
Low-chemical maintenance options
We are thinking of purchasing a used ''soft tub'' hot tub, as an inexpensive energy efficient option. We are hoping to keep it clean with an ozone system and little or no chemicals... Any body have experience and opinions about ''soft tubs'' and/or low chemical systems?
I don't know about soft tubs but my parents use ozone cleaners and UV cleaners on their hot tub. It works great for most of the time, but every 3 months they get an algal bloom that needs treatment with chlorine. But every 3 months is better than every week which is how many people do it. I'm not sure if non-chemical approaches work flawlessly in all scenarios so be prepared to go back to bleach when necessary.. Judiah
Which hot tub?
We are considering installing a hot tub and are somewhat baffled looking for an esthetically pleasing, affordable, environmentally friendly option... I prefer the look, feel and simplicity of the wood ones, but have been told that they are less efficient and require more chemicals. Does anyone know of a simple plastic tub (not bright blue, weird shaped, with a gazillion jets) or any other kind of tubs that are energy efficient and work with no chemical or low chemical cleaning systems? lysa
We found a used redwood hot tub on craigslist and we love it! It's worked great for the 3 years we've had it and doesn't require a bunch of chemicals. I'd like to recommend John Satori of Satori Hot Tubs (510) 339-1566, who is a great resource for parts, chemicals and advice. Try out wooden & plactic tubs before you decide. Luv the tub
I would love to have a hot tub. My husband says he had one 15 years ago and they are expensive to install in old Berkeley houses and expensive and ''a pain in the butt'' to keep running. How expensive are they really? What about service and repairs? My parents had a hot tub that after years of neglect is now a planter. Do those of you who have hot tubs use and enjoy them? Do you find they are worth the care and upkeep? anon
We just recently replaced the hot tub in our old Berkeley house so I can give you some estimates on cost. A new hot tub will cost you between $3000 and $6000, depending on size and style. Add more for the delivery and installation. If you don't have a level cement pad to put it on, you'll need to budget for that, maybe another $1200 or so. You will need electrical wiring done for the pump, and if you want to be safe and up to code, you need to hire an electrician for that. They will put in a shut off switch and make sure it's the required distance from the house. We got a wood hot tub, and had to run a new gas line to the hot tub to heat the water. If you want something like a deck, or a trellis or screen around it, then more. The main ongoing cost is going to be in your PG bill, for heating the water and running the pump. The pump, which circulates and filters the water, has to run several hours a day to keep the water clean. We estimate that the hot tub adds an additional 15% to our PG bill, even with a heavy insulating cover. We've actually had to cut back dramatically on our other electrical use in order to keep the hot tub without going broke. Other maintenance: you need to test the PH and put in chlorine or some other bacteria killer once a week. And you have to change out the water periodically, every few months, say.
It sounds like a lot of trouble and expense, but my husband uses it every single night, rain or shine, to soak and read. It really is important for him so that's why we have it! Personally I'm not a fan - I'd rather have the garden space - but it is a big thing for him. If you think you would use it at least 3-4 days a week then it is probably worth it. I hate getting wet
We installed a hot tub on the side of our hill in Montclair 3 years ago. The tub was expensive and we had to put an electrical box up there just for the tub. We also had to have a concrete pad installed to make sure it didn't slide down the hill. Those 3 added up. However, the maintenance was inexpensive. We had it serviced twice a year and I think that was at most $200 to clean it that often (I'm talking deep clean, drain and scrub the tub). My husband maintained the chemicals, he did that once a week, but it wasn't a big deal at all. I think it's completely worth the expense, but I love hot tubs! Jen
We have a modest area of dirt in our back yard where we'd like to build a wood deck and install an outdoor hot tub. We already have a hookup on the side of the house where the hot tub would attach. Problem is, we don't have any idea what the sequence of events should be in proceeding with our project. I know we need to put in a concrete slab, a deck, and a hot tub, but based on our past experience working with separate contractors for a multi-step project, one contractor will do his part of the job but not necessarily take into consideration what needs to be in place before the next contractor does his job--in their opinion, that's the other contractor's problem. (In other words, the concrete contractor might put in the slab without thinking about the wood deck that needs to be built above it. And since neither my husband nor I are experienced general contractors, we don't know enough details to communicate all necessary information to the contractors.) Should we just hire one contractor for the whole project? And if so, can anyone recommend a good contractor who has experience with this type of project? Hoping for a deck and outdoor tub before winter
We extended our deck to have a hot tub. It ended up taking a year longer than we had expected. You have to have a permit, which has to be signed off by ALL your neighbors, which means detailed drawings, which means an engineering design for the deck. We'd chosen and half-paid for our hot tub for months before we got it, which created some confusion but did allow us to know exactly how much space to design for it. We set the hot tub into the deck because I liked that look and thought it would be easier to get into. Actually it isn't, and if there's a problem with it we'd have to rip the deck apart to get it out. The hot tub people were in charge of delivery and setting it up on the platform and using the wiring that the builders had made, then the builders came back and completed the rest of the deck. We had to creep over planks for two weeks to use it, but overall that went very smoothly.
We chose an expensive portable electric system which has worked well and has very low utility bills. Gas- powered wooden hot tubs are less comfortable to use and require a separate place for the gas heater and its concrete foundation.
You want to think about: screening from neighbors; lighting, allowing lots of room for splashing and overflow. Also, a tap installed close by for refilling and cleaning the filters is convenient. Consider where you're going to drain it, such as: away from your foundations.
My husband uses it every night and loves it. Generally a really great investment, worth the trouble. Fiona
Does anyone have any advice about:
- where to purchase a hot tub in the Bay Area?
- what are the best hot tubs?
We recently had to replace our gigantic old fiberglass spa, which came with our house, and now had a broken pump. We visited the hot tub place on Ashby near the freeway and also a place in Fremont: Crystal Springs Spas in Fremont, 657-4584. They have a good selection to look at, and the saleswoman was very helpful and not pushy. We also did a lot of research online.
We ended up buying a wood hot tub from Robert's Hot Tub in Richmond. http://www.rhtubs.com/ He ships them all over the world and is famous for his hot tubs. We are very happy with our wood hot tub. It has a smaller footprint than the big old spa we had before, it smells really nice (it's cedar), it looks beautiful, and when it wears out after 15 or 20 years, we only have wood planks to recycle, not a big chunk of plastic (it was a pain finding someone to take our old one but that is another story). We were also interested in energy costs - the plastic spas do have insulation where the wood ones are just wood. We think that because the wood one has a smaller surface area, it loses less heat, so they work out to about the same. In terms of cost, the price of the wood tub was about the same as the small-ish plastic spas we looked at, but there were additional costs for the wood one - running a gas line for the heater, paying someone to put it together, and building a little deck and steps into it. Roberts recommended a contractor to do this and we were very happy with the results. We felt the additional cost was worth it considering the aesthetics and ease of recycling at the end of its life. Go look at the website -- I think you can see examples of Robert's hot tubs at the place on Ashby but it's not that much farther to Richmond (you need to make an appt first though because it is not a showroom - it's a workshop). Ginger
The most important thing that I would recommend is that you open up the yellow pages, find several hot tub distributors, and then go to the showroom to actually TRY OUT the hot tubs they sell. When we were shopping around I thought that I knew what kind of tub that I wanted, but after actually sitting in several I discovered that I was wrong. Yes, it can seem kind of silly to sit in your bathing suit in a hot tub in the middle of a showroom. But it's a big investment and you don't want to regret it. That said, we've owned a Hot Springs spa for 6 years. It's had some problems, but they were all covered under the warranty. anon
Does anyone have a spa repair person they trust? All the recommendations on the website quite dated. Has anyone had experience with Greg Taylor from Spa Repair Plus? Thanks Adele
John from Satori hot tub has been repairing and maintaining our hot tub for over 20 years-- 7 years for us and 15 years for the previous owners. He is knowledgeable and pleasant to work with. He is good at presenting options for repairs. His number is 510-339-1566. judy
Someont to repair heater on hot tub
Any recommendations out there for someone to repair (problems with the heater) and help us maintain a 15 year old Sundance hot tub/spa? Has anyone had Rick Dykstra work on their spa? Thanks
We have used Hercules Pool Care for the last 10 years, and have been very pleased with the work. Tracy is honest, punctual, reasonable, and does a great job maintaining both pool and spa. He has done a better job than any of the previous companies we used. He can be reached at 510-410- 7273. kelly
Our extended family is researching buying a hot tub, we're hoping to find a round, attractive tub that has jets good for arthritis. Any suggestions on dealers or tubs you love? Thanks Vicki
Sundance Spas are the best. The only two to even look at are Sundance Spas or Hot Springs. (The ones at Costco and Home Depot are poorly constructed.) The jets on Sundance Spas are the superior. Sundance is on Jacuzzi Street in Richmond (close to Costco). The closet Hot Springs retailer is in Marin. What ever you do, wet test them. Bring you bathing suit and a towel to the store and GET IN! This is the only way to really try them. Don't be shy. This is an investment that will be with you for a long time and will improve the quality of your life.
Hi -- we are considering buying a house that has a hot tub- - a luxury item that we have no idea what it involves... Is there a lot of maintenance that needs doing? Chemicals that need adding? Cleaning? Do you have to heat it all the time or do you turn it on a day before you want to use it? Do they take a lot of energy to run (it does have a cover). OK, I have exposed my ignorance, now someone please take pity ... Shahana
We bought a house last year with an existing hot tub. Our agent insisted on having it added, at the seller's expense, to the one year home maintenance policy they gave us. Otherwise it would have cost us about six hundred dollars to get working properly - the previous owners had not maintained the water quality properly so it was leaking, heater switch was burned out, needed new filters and so forth. Gary from Spa Repair Plus was absolutely great and gave us lots of advice on how to maintain it properly. Other spa repair people didn't even return phone calls, and those who did refused to have anything to do with a Jacuzzi - they're hard to work on, apparently, and the parts are expensive. In the long run, actually, we'd be better off with a smaller tub with an ionizer instead of chlorine, and a gas heater I believe is cheaper to run, so sometime when we're rich and famous we'll probably exchange it. We love it, though, and its been great to have. Fiona
I am looking for a cover for our Hot Tub. Does anyone have a suggestion as to where to find a used? I would appreciate any information about non chemical water treatment for hot tub use as well. Thank you
I think you may have trouble finding a used one because the shape and size of the tops can vary so much. Also I think by the time people decide to get rid of their covers, they are pretty mildewed and watersogged and beat up. We recently needed a new one, and we just went on the web and found a place in So. California that made it to our specifications and delivered it. We are very happy with it. Just go to http://google.com and type in ''hot tub cover''. One thing I wanted to recommend was getting a ''spa cover lifter''. It's hard to explain, it's basically a metal bar that attaches to the side of the tub that the cover hangs on when you've using the hot tub. You raise or lower it to move the cover off and on, and it keeps it off the ground and out of the way. Here's a picture of the one we got here: http://www.specialtyspacovers.com/coverupspacover.html I think this is also the place we ordered the cover from but I'm not sure. For us, the cover lifter was a big improvement over lifting the heavy waterlogged cover off and on. Good luck. Ginger
We use Jim at Jim's Spa Service. He helped us get our wooden hot tub into good shape when we first bought our house, and continues to help us when we need something. Very nice, down-to-earth guy, extremely knowledgeable. His number is 547-2301. Happy hot tubbing, Heidi