If you’re taking a vacation or won’t use your hot tub for some other reason, you might wonder if you should shut it down. And there are no dumb questions, so what do you do with your hot tub while it’s not in use?
If you won’t use the tub for a few days, balance the water entirely before going and again when you return. But if you’re going out for more than four weeks and no one will use the tub, turn off the power and drain it completely. Next, winterize the hot tub by following the correct steps.
While every hot tub owner cherishes the joy of soaking in it and winding down, you might want to leave yours unused. And if you experience lengthy power outages in a place where winter temperatures drop below freezing point, it’s best to winterize it. So let’s explore everything in detail.
How Long Can You Leave a Hot Tub Unused?
As a general rule, leaving your hot tub unused is not a good idea. If it’s full and you leave it untreated, it quickly becomes a conducive host for harmful bacteria and algae.
Remember, grime, oil, and sweat get washed into the water whenever you or any other bather enters the hot tub. And with low sanitizer levels and improper circulation, bacteria will start growing within a few days. Unfortunately, such conditions also encourage algae to bloom, especially in outdoor tubs.
So if you won’t use your tub for more than four weeks, it’s best to turn it off and drain it completely. You then want to clean it thoroughly and disinfect it before covering it.
But if you must leave the tub unused for maybe three or four days, experts recommend you leave it on and balance the water with chemicals as you’d typically do.
Should You Leave Your Hot Tub Empty?
Generally, you shouldn’t drain your hot tub and leave it empty as you risk damaging it. Rubber gaskets and seals can dry out and shrink, leading to leakages when you reopen the tub.
Any remaining water in the lines and equipment, like the pump, can also freeze and expand, cracking them. Moreover, if you don’t blow out the pipes and jets thoroughly, they become a breeding ground for bacteria, making your hot tub unsafe.
If you must drain the tub and leave it empty, like when doing a home renovation, do it carefully. Once you’ve emptied the tub, use a Shop Vac to suck out excess water from each jet and pipe.
Clean the hot tub with a non-abrasive sponge and hot tub cleaning agent or vinegar. Then rinse it and leave it to dry. You also want to remove the filter, clean it and store it in a safe place.
When Should You Drain Your Hot Tub?
If you’re refilling the tub with fresh water or won’t use it for a long time, you must drain it—plain and simple.
While you can use your hot tub in any weather throughout the year without damaging it, sometimes, you have to drain it. Here are the practical reasons why you might want to drain your hot tub:
- You want to winterize the tub for the cold months when you’re away.
- You need to repair the hot tub.
- You’re revamping your home and want to relocate the tub.
How to Properly Winterize Your Hot Tub
Follow these simple steps to properly winterize your hot tub and keep it safe from critters and the elements:
1.) Check Your Owner’s Manual
Since most owner’s manuals have specific instructions for winterizing various tub models, you must review yours carefully. Also, some manufacturers will advise you against winterizing a hot tub.
2.) Use a Line Flush Product to Clean the Plumbing
Clean the plumbing with a line flush chemical (on Amazon) to prevent mold and algae growth. You may need to circulate the water, so check the instructions for using the line flush product.
Do not use antifreeze, as it’s usually hard to flush out of the pipes.
3.) Turn Off the Power and Drain the Hot Tub
While this can be the most involved step of the winterization process, you need to turn off the power and drain the tub.
Attach a garden hose to the tub’s bottom drain spout and let it naturally. A sump pump will significantly speed up the process, usually taking 10 minutes or less.
You want to ensure the water empties into a safe area, like a storm drain. That’s because the chemicals you use to treat your hot tub are toxic to plants and animals.
4.) Drain the Air Blower
You may skip this step if your hot tub has no air blower. Otherwise, here’s how to drain the blower:
- Carefully disconnect the heater.
- Replace the hot tub’s cover and turn on the heater back temporarily.
- Run the air blower for 30 seconds to 1 minute to clear its air channels.
- Turn off the blower, power off the hot tub, and remove the cover.
Loosen the Unions & Drain Plugs
Loosen the unions or couplers around the pump and heater so you can drain residual water from the pipes. For best results, use a wet vacuum to suck them dry.
Remember, any water left in the pipes will freeze and expand in the winter months, bursting the pipes and damaging the plumbing system. So secure the unions and plug the drains once you’ve blown out the pipes.
5.) Remove and Clean the Tub’s Filters
Remove your filters and dip them in a chemical soak (on Amazon) to remove hard calcium deposits. Next, wipe them thoroughly and allow them time to dry before storing them in a safe place.
But if the filters are severely clogged and damaged, discard them and get ready to buy new ones when you reopen the tub.
6.) Thoroughly Clean the Tub’s Shell and Let it Dry
Clean the hot tub’s shell with a hot tub cleaning agent (on Amazon) and a non-abrasive sponge.
You can also use vinegar to clean the tub, as it has no harmful ingredients. It’s effective at killing bacteria and has remarkable deodorizing properties. Plus, it will eat away stubborn stains and prevent clogs in the plumbing.
Rinse the tub thoroughly with clean water and wipe it dry with a soft towel. You might want to leave a clean rug at the bottom of the tub to soak up any water that may precipitate in the tub.
7.) Clean and Secure the Cover
Clean the tub’s cover with a reliable cleaning agent that offers good mold and mildew protection. Then, place the cover over your hot tub and secure it snugly with straps and locks.