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How to winterize a hot tub

How to winterize a hot tub
(Image credit: Getty)

Sorry to break it to you, but summer is officially over. That means it’s time to pack away your yard furniture and break out the patio heater, but does it also mean you need to switch off your hot tub? Many brands will emphasize that you don’t need to winterize your hot tub, but the guidance will depend on how often you intend to use your tub, and your local climate. The best hot tubs are designed to be used year-round, so even if it’s snowing outside you can ease your troubles with some quality time in the tub - apres-ski style. However, there are a few extra precautions you should take if you do plan to use your hot tub through the summer, and a lot of these tips also apply to the best swim spas, if you’re planning on keeping up the water workouts year-round.

If you’re particularly fortunate, your hot tub may even be at your summer residence, or maybe you just can’t face the idea of sitting out in the snow in your swimsuit. Whatever the reason, if you are planning on switching off the tub for the season, we’ve got all the guidance on how to winterize your hot tub right here.

What is winterizing a hot tub? 

How to winterize a hot tub

(Image credit: Sundance Spas)

The clue’s in the name - winterizing is what you do to your hot tub when the cold months hit. It is the process of shutting off your tub for the winter, and doing so in a way that won’t damage the machinery or hardware of your tub. Winterizing your hot tub can ensure that it’s bubbling again come summer, and it will save you on energy costs. This is because your hot tub will have to work extra hard to keep running at your desired temperature through the winter months. 

The process involves completely draining your tub, and adding antifreeze to any areas which could be prone to thawing, to prevent them from being damaged while the hot tub is empty.

Do you need to winterize your hot tub?

In short, you do not need to winterize your hot tub, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea. That ultimately depends on your particular hot tub. For example, Royal Spa suggests that the effort of winterizing isn’t worth it when you consider how inexpensive it can be to run a hot tub through the winter, even if you don’t plan on using it.

“There is no way it is economically practical to winterize a hot tub. You’re much better off to leave the hot tub running."

Royal Spa

Hot Spring also suggests that “in the long run, the time and effort spent winterizing your spa may not be worth the few dollars you save on your electric bill.” You may have an energy-efficient hot tub that will only cost you a few dollars to run through the winter months, but even so, it’s a good idea to winterize it if you’re planning on leaving it dormant for over three months, especially if you won’t be around to check on it frequently. 

There’s another reason why it makes sense to winterize your hot tub, and that’s if you’re planning on cleaning it soon anyway. Cleaning your hot tub can be a long process - you can check out our guide on how to clean a hot tub if you’re not familiar. It is recommended that you do a deep clean on your hot tub on a seasonal basis, so if you’re planning on cleaning your hot tub before you leave it dormant for the winter (which we would highly recommend) then you may as well winterize it as you go.  

How to winterize your hot tub

How to winterize a hot tub

(Image credit: Jacuzzi)

If you do decide to winterize your hot tub and shut down for the winter, here’s how. 

1. Shut off the power 

2. Drain the hot tub

You can drain your hot tub using a drainage hose, or simply allow it to slowly drain out into the surrounding space. 

3. Make sure your hot tub is thoroughly dry

You can use a specialist vacuum to remove any remaining water. We’d suggest the Craftsman CMXEVBE17590 for this task, because it’s our pick of the best shop vacuums for wet-dry use.

4. Give it a clean

Take this opportunity to clean those hard-to-reach parts of your hot tub, such as the filters and control panels. You won’t need these if you’re winterizing your hot tub, so place them in a safe and dry place in your home until you’re ready to fill the hot tub up once again.

5. Remove any water from the fittings 

You don’t want any water in your hot tub when it’s winterized, because this could freeze and damage the tub itself. Take your wet-dry vacuum around any jets or fittings to make sure they’re bone dry. 

6. Add antifreeze

You need to add hot tub antifreeze to your filter cavity, jets, and pumps. Any place where water could enter your hot tub, this is an important step to prevent it from freeze-thawing and damaging your shell or machinery. 

7. Secure your hot tub cover

To make sure no moisture enters your hot tub, and keep it secure from any wintry debris, make sure the hot tub cover is extra secure. 

When it’s time to use the hot tub again…

It’s always important to rinse your hot tub of any cleaning solution before you refill it, but it’s even more important when there’s antifreeze involved.