A hot tub is a large tub or small pool full of heated water and used for soaking, relaxation,
hydrotherapy, reading, or meditation. Hot tubs are frequently
located out-of-doors although they may be sheltered against sun,
rain, wind, or snow.
There are essentially three different
styles of hot tubs:
1. Simple wooden-staved soaking
2. Fiberglass-reinforced plastic spas (whirlpool
3. Bathtub-sized indoor units
Hot-tub basics: The spa/hot tub market has gone entirely
to free-standing spas. These units are all self-contained with tub,
motors, filters, and heaters all in one unit. This allows all parts
to be UL approved.
Installation: Installation is also
simple an owner only needs a garden hose and power supply.
Literally, you can just hose it, heat it and get in. Initial costs
and operating costs are also less.
On rare occasions, a
homeowner might want to install a built-in ground tub. These are
much more expensive and rare. However with major remodeling jobs,
you may want the additional aesthetics of a tub that is integrated
into you master design.
Spa materials: The spa
industry has gone with man-made materials for their spas. You'll
occasionally find plaster, tile and wood spas in older homes, but
these tubs are often difficult to maintain.
The most common
material is an acrylic tub with a fiberglass back. These tubs are
very strong, easy to care for, insulated for heat and come in a
variety of colors and styles. Centrex, a tough thermal plastic, is
another material used in tubs. However, it's not as popular because
it comes in one color: white.
Acrylic tubs with ABS plastic
and backed with foam or fiber is the third kind of popular tub. Its
non-porous surface makes it easy to clean. And it's also very
Sizes: Hot tubs come in a variety of sizes.
The most common tub holds 450 to 500 gallons of water and
comfortably seats six adults. For those private moments, you can
find smaller, two-person tubs that hold about 250 gallons of water,
however you may want to consider a four-person tub. On average, a
six-person tub will cost you $12 a month for heating. And the
industry recommends you change your water every 6 months, so you'll
see a 500-gallon increase on your water bill for those two months
out of the year.
Tub placement: About 90 percent of
all owners install their spas outside, partly because outdoor
installation and maintenance is less expensive. If you want to
install your tub inside, consider adding a ventilation system to
your room. The tub will increase the heat and humidity inside the
room, which can cause mildew and rot. Proper ventilation fans will
take away the humidity and chlorine smell.
Hot tub and spa design has come a long way. Today's models include
lifestyle features like special lighting, stereo and speaker
combinations and customized head rests, all features you'll want to
consider when choosing the right hot tub. Exercise swim jets are
good for people with physical ailments or to soothe tired muscles at
the end of a hard day. (Remember that lights and stereos will have
to be hooked up to your electrical system, too, and that electricity
and water don't mix.)
Ozonator: An ozonator is a
device that sprays ozone gas into spa water, an extremely effective
way to kill off bacteria in the water, keep the water clearer longer
than bromide or chlorine and not give off that chemical smell. (The
downside is that the ozonator has to be in operation a couple of
hours every day and that you must use other chemicals as
Winterize first: Many unnecessary hot tub
problems are caused by ineffective preparations for winter, which is
why you should talk with your service professional about
winterization techniques or (especially) if you shut the unit down
in the colder months. Be very careful if you do; any water left
inside the hot tub shell, pipes or equipment, when frozen, will
expand and crack your unit. A winter cover over your regular cover
will help keep your unit in shape during colder
Check filter: In the most-abused hot tub
category is the filter, which keeps your system clear of everything
from hair to bacteria, and today's models include programmable
filtering functions for busy people who don't have to the time to
keep up with their system.