Everyone loves to enjoy a hot tub, whether night or day, with a drink or with friends. They have unique LED lights and a whole host of features. Yet, in many cases, they are large squares or circles that stick out like a sore thumb. So, to hide that obtrusive view, many people sink their hot tub in the ground or deck like an inground pool.
Sinking a hot tub into the ground can be expensive but not outrageous. But you need to ensure the site is level, the groundwater doesn’t come up too high, and there is good drainage. You also want to provide 3 feet around the hot tub for future maintenance and repair.
Sinking a hot tub underground or in a deck can give the added benefit of easy access and a more luxurious look to your yard. Depending on your preference, that could be worth it for the full enjoyment of your hot tub. Now let’s learn more!
Can a Hot Tub be Sunk into the Ground?
When installing a hot tub, there are many things to consider, such as where to place it, what kind of hot tub, and all the features that come with it. What a lot of people don’t realize is a hot tub can also be sunk into the ground to form a seamless aesthetic with the landscape of your backyard.
However, it’s not as simple as just digging a hole and placing the hot tub into it. Careful planning and preparation are required to safely secure the hot tub. And sinking a hot tub into the ground is a permanent installation, so it can’t be moved until you are ready to get rid of it. Even then, there are difficulties to consider.
How Do You Sink a Hot Tub into the Ground?
If you have decided to sink your hot tub into the ground, it is crucial to do it correctly, given it’s a permanent fixture. There are a few tips and tricks for burying your hot tub into the ground or deck to get that flawless look and safe finish.
Preparing the Site to Sink Your Hot Tub
The first thing to do when planning to sink your hot tub is to prepare the site. You need to create a solid foundation that can support the weight of a hot tub, just like it would be if it were above ground.
The dirt will shift and settle with all that weight when you fill the hot tub with water and people, so, just like if you placed it on the surface, you need a platform. Most people use concrete vaults to do this.
You also need to check the height of the groundwater in your area. It can be challenging to bury your hot tub if the groundwater is high and close to the surface. This also applies if the groundwater level changes with rain and melting snow.
If you skip this step, the hot tub will most likely be fine while it’s filled with water, but as soon as you empty it for cleaning or winterizing, the empty hot tub will start to float and rise. A dangerous combination that can be more expensive to correct.
The last thing you want to be aware of is having a flat, level base. Like above ground, a hot tub must be on a solid flat surface. Hot tubs are built to distribute weight evenly, and when the ground they sit on is uneven, it can form cracks in the shell and eventually fracture due to stress points.
A hot tub will need a properly designed drain system, whether you decide to sink it entirely or only halfway. In addition, you will need to ensure the drain system is within a concrete pad, or else other issues could arise.
This step is vital because it will help collect rainwater seeping through the top layer. This won’t be possible if the drainage system is flawed and could lead to damaging the hot tub. And warranties do not cover drainage issues, so it’s crucial to ensure adequate drainage.
Installing a Trap Door Service Panel
A hot tub’s control panel and service elements are generally located on the side, so you’ll need to factor this in when sinking your spa into the ground.
It is best to plan for a 3-foot perimeter around the actual hot tub, which can be hidden with extra decking to make it look excellent and seamless in your yard. Then, through that decking, build a trap door so you can access the sides of the hot tub for maintenance.
Covering the Hot Tub
A hot tub cover is required to prevent unwanted debris from entering it and for safety reasons like children or pets accidentally falling into it. This is especially important for a sunken hot tub that will be level with the ground, as debris and loved ones could more easily fall inside and get hurt.
When you get your hot tub, it might not come with a cover, but it is essential to purchase one anyways. It is recommended with safety in mind and will help retain heat and lower heating costs. When purchasing your cover, ensure the cover and the lift can be used with recessed hot tubs.
Getting into the Hot Tub
Unlike above-ground hot tubs that require a ladder or steps to get in, a sunken hot tub is much easier. You can just sit on the edge and step in.
Depending on the hot tub’s depth and height, this might be a little difficult, especially with the jets being on and the decrease in visibility they cause with the bubbles. So if you plan on sinking your hot tub, keep in mind how you would safely get in.
Additional Lighting and Speakers
Some hot tubs come with lights and speakers already installed on the sides. Obviously, this won’t work if you are sinking the hot tub underground. So when looking for a model, make sure you are aware of these additional features before making your purchase.
How Do You Maintain a Sunken Hot Tub?
Maintaining a hot tub sunken in the ground is the same as if it were above the ground. There is only one difference, and that is the access to it. When you dig the hole for the hot tub, you want to give it about a 3-foot wide perimeter around the shell for maintenance.
It should be big enough for someone to fit all around the hot tub and be able to remove the cabinet panel to gain access to the pipes and electronics behind the shell.
If you need to repair the hot tub in the future and didn’t provide ample servicing room, then you would need to remove the hot tub from the ground, even for the most basic repairs. But, of course, this makes it exponentially more expensive.
Skimming on ample servicing room will only add issues for maintenance and repair later on and could make service more expensive and take longer to get the hot tub up and running again.
How Much Does it Cost to Sink a Hot Tub?
Sinking a hot tub is an added expense to installing one. In addition, it requires more work than simply placing it on a concrete slab. However, it can be worth it to make your backyard flow together.
If you want to sink the hot tub into the decking, you are looking at hundreds of dollars to do it yourself but thousands to hire a contractor. That being said, you want to hire a professional to d this kind of project, as accurate measurements and a skilled hand could save needless costs later.
If you want to sink the hot tub into the ground, you are looking at additional landscaping costs, which depend on the size of your yard and could wrap up to a few thousand dollars. So, again, leaving this task to a contractor with experience with this sort of project is essential.
In the grand scheme of purchasing a hot tub and securing a place for it, sinking one into the ground or deck becomes not as much as one would expect when considering the price of the hot tub itself and if you were securing a spot above ground.