Winterize Hot Tub (How to Prep your Spa Hot Tub for Winter)

  • By: Brian Comstock
  • Date: May 28, 2022
  • Time to read: 6 min.

After using your hot tub all summer it’s now time to give it a rest and store it away ready for next spring and summer.

No doubt you’ve been filling it up and emptying it all summer long but when it comes to emptying it for that last time, you’re unsure whether it’s ok to leave it empty for long periods.

hot tub

Do you wipe it down with anti-bacterial wipes, spray disinfectant or turn it upside down, well in the article below I’ll put all the confusion to one side and explain it all.

First of all, hot tubs are expensive luxury items and looking after them is an important part of getting good value for money out of them.  My guide will ensure years of fun from your hot tub.

How-to Guide to Prepare your Hot tub for Winter

  • Wait for the chemicals in the tub to dissipate

Your hot tub likely uses chemicals to keep the water from becoming unsanitary. These may include chlorine and other chemicals designed to inhibit the growth of algae and bacteria.

These chemicals will damage the plants or lawn in your backyard when you flush the water in the tub out onto your lawn or garden, so you should let them evaporate and degrade until they reach a safe level.

This will usually take a few days.

  • Turn off the power to the tub

Before you drain the tub you should ensure that there is no electricity flowing into its powered components.

Turn off the power to the tub. If the tub has a power cord that can be disconnected then also disconnect this. If not then you should turn off the electrical breaker for the hot tub’s power circuit.

You can find the breaker in your home’s breaker box (fuse box).

  • Drain all the water out of the tub

Your tub should have a drain spout to attach a garden hose to. Attach the hose and run the end of it to someplace where the water will do some good, or at least won’t be a problem.

Your tub will likely contain several hundred gallons of water so make sure the area you are draining it into can handle this amount.

Once the hose is attached, open up the drain valve and let it drain. This may take some time for a large tub.  If you want to speed the process up then a sump pump may be a faster solution.

  • Drain the air blower

Not all tubs have an air blower but if yours has one then you’ll need to drain the water out of it.

First, turn off the heater. Then place the hot tub cover over the tub. Turn the power to the tub back on and let the blower run for about half a minute until it stops blowing out the water.

Turn the power to the tub back off again and disconnect the power via the wall socket or breaker switch.

Remove the cover from the tub. You’ll need it off to clean the tub.

  • Drain water from the pump and heater plumbing

Locate the plumbing cabinet for the hot tub and loosen the unions on the pipes for the pump and heater. This should allow water to drain out of these pipes.

Make sure that the water has someplace to go where it won’t cause a problem, or use towels to soak it up.

Also, check to see if the pump has a drain plug and loosen that to let water drain from the pump if so.  Once the water has drained, tighten the unions and drain plug back up again.

  • Clean and store the filters

Remove the filters for the tub and give them a clean. Replace them if needed. Once you are done, store them someplace where you can find them when you need to use the tub again.

Use an old towel or rag to soak up any water left in the filter well. You may want to leave any filter covers off until this area has dried.

  • Flush out the plumbing lines

This is probably the most important part, as water left in the lines may freeze over the winter and cause the lines to rupture.

Turn off any valve that sends water into the hot tub’s plumbing lines and then disconnect the lines. Blow all the lines out with compressed air or a wet-dry vacuum cleaner set to blow. Make sure that you get all the water out.

Once you have gotten all the water out you can reconnect the lines.

  • Clean the remaining water out of the tub

The tub will likely have some water left in the bottom at this point so you need to get it out. You can use a sump pump to do this or a wet-dry shop vac. You can also use containers to bail the water out.

Once the bulk of the water is gone use old towels or rags to soak up what’s left.

  • Clean the tub thoroughly

Give the tub a good clean with non-abrasive cleaning tools and tub cleaner formulated for use with the surface of your tub. You’ll probably have a ring of scum at the water line that will require some special attention.

If you don’t have proper tub cleaner then a non-abrasive bathroom cleaner will do fine.

Dry the tub out with a towel once you are done, and then let it air-dry for a while.

  • Clean the tub’s cover and put it on the tub

Once the tub is clean and dry you should place and lock-on the tub’s hardcover. This will prevent an outdoor tub from filling with water and detritus over the winter.

Before you put the cover on it’s a good idea to give it a solid clean though. Make sure it is fully dry before you put it on the tub.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is winterizing a hot tub actually necessary?

Extreme winter conditions will take their toll on an outdoor hot tub that is infrequently used, and on an indoor tub in a house that is left dormant and unheated for weeks at a time.

If your outdoor tub is in a warmer climate and gets regular use to the point where freezing pipes and other issues don’t come into play then you may not need to worry about how to winterize a hot tub.

If the tub is located indoors and the temperature is maintained at a livable level then you can also relax and leave it be.

If the indoor or outdoor tub is going to be subject to freezing temperatures, though, then you should definitely take the time to prepare it for winter.

What happens if a hot tub is not prepared for winter?

If your hot tub is going to be subject to freezing conditions then this means that any water in the plumbing and in the tub will also freeze.

Frozen water expands, which can lead to burst pipes and other issues if that water is trapped where it doesn’t have room for expansion as it turns to ice.

So you can end up with expensive repair bills if you don’t put in the work to winterize your tub.

Are there any other reasons to prepare the hot tub for winter?

Whether it is winter or summer, if you are not going to be using your tub for an extended period then you should prepare it for that long period of dormancy.

Water left on the tub will become fetid over time as the sanitizing chemical dissipate. A drained tub left dirty may have issues with mould and bacterial growth that can lead to health issues in your home.

If you are not using the tub then you need to ensure that it is ready for that lack of use and regular maintenance.

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