If you have a vacation home that you visit from time to time, you may be considering installing a hot tub for your use. Or you may be thinking about how much a hot tub will add to the rental value of a vacation home. Now you want to know: how does one maintain a hot tub at a vacation home?
You can maintain a hot tub at a vacation home by asking guests or caretakers to monitor water quality with testing strips or using a smart water monitor. To sanitize the water, use an automated saltwater or bromine system. For more complex maintenance, hire professional hot tub technicians.
Because hot tubs need a lot of maintenance to stay clean and safe, you may be wondering how you can accomplish this if you are not living on the property where the hot tub is located. There various ways you can ensure that your hot tub is maintained correctly, and we will walk you through them.
Various Ways To Keep A Hot Tub Maintained At A Vacation Home
If you have guests renting your vacation property regularly or a friendly neighbor or caretaker who can pop in from time to time, there are protocols you can put in place to make it easy for them to do basic maintenance for your hot tub.
Be sure to leave clear, written instructions where they will be easy to consult. If you are renting your property out, make sure that you include the instructions about maintaining the hot tub, using it, and essential safety information, in a form attached to the rental agreement.
Leave instructions on how to turn the hot tub on and adjust the water temperature. Also, ask users to shower before getting in the hot tub, keep candles and beverages away from the hot tub, and not smoke in or around the tub. Also, ask guests to check water chemistry with test strips. Guests will appreciate you putting in such effort to ensure their comfort and safety.
Leave a tube of test strips in an accessible and marked location. These usually have simple instructions on them, which will allow your guests or caretaker to perform a basic check of pH, total alkalinity, and sanitizer levels in seconds. This test will be enough to let anyone confirm that the hot tub is safe to use. Such tests should be carried out every week or more often.
However, if something does need to be adjusted, things get more complicated. It’s all very well to take a reading, but figuring out which chemical to add and measuring the correct amount is best left to someone with the proper knowledge. This especially applies to pH and total alkalinity.
You can ask your guests (or caretaker) to shock the tub after each use by making up portions of sanitizer into sachets and leaving clear written instructions to add one to the hot tub after each use. Doing so removes the burden of understanding hot tub chemistry from your guests’ shoulders.
Alternatively, you can invest in a hot tub with an automated sanitizing system. Use a saltwater chlorine generating system or a bromine system that dispenses tabs from a feeder. Doing so means you will only need to visit every two to three weeks to ensure that the system has not run out of tabs. Or you could get your caretaker to refill the system.
You will need to visit once a month to remove and clean the hot tub’s filter. Keep a second filter on hand to put a clean one in while you are cleaning the old one. Doing so is preferable to leaving the system without a filter. When you drain and refill your hot tub, give your filter a chemical soak. Replace the filter every year or two (depending on how much use it sees).
Every three to six months, drain, clean, and refill your hot tub, and get the chemistry balanced again, which may take a week or more. Time this maintenance cycle to coincide with your visiting your vacation home, or hire professionals to do it for you so you can get on with enjoying your hot tub.
A Smart Water Monitor Lets You Monitor Your Hot Tub Remotely
A smart water monitor sits in your hot tub’s water and constantly measures the water chemistry levels. It is connected to an app that will inform you of what is happening in your hot tub, so you will know if anything requires attention.
Such a device is a helpful way to monitor your water if you are not around to test it regularly, but it still requires someone on hand to adjust the chemicals if need be.
Some reviews of these devices have reported reliability or accuracy issues, so we recommend that you do not rely on one of them as your only way of checking your water chemistry.
Hire Professionals To Look After Your Vacation Home Hot Tub
In most parts of the country, you will be able to hire local professionals who can service your hot tub weekly, fortnightly, and monthly. They will have the appropriate equipment, chemicals, and know-how to keep your hot tub perfectly maintained without you having to make regular visits.
These services are perfect if you will only occasionally visit your vacation home but want your hot tub ready when you arrive. It’s also ideal for managing multiple vacation home rentals with hot tubs.
Professionals are the most expensive option, but the one with the least hassle and the one that affords you the most peace of mind.
The Parameters You Should Aim To Maintain In Your Hot Tub
Aim to maintain specific critical values for your water balance. Test pH, total alkalinity, and sanitizer level, and adjust where needed to keep these values:
- pH should be 7.2-7.8 to prevent skin irritation.
- Total alkalinity should be 80-140.
- Chlorine (if you choose to use a saltwater chlorine generating system to sanitize) should be 1 to 4 parts per million (ppm).
- Bromine (if you choose to use bromine to sanitize) should be 2 to 6 ppm.
What To Look For In A Remote Maintenance Hot Tub
If you want to install a new hot tub in a vacation home and you don’t want to be checking in on it all the time, there are certain things you can do to make sure that it will stay clean and safe for more extended periods.
Look for hot tubs with an automatic circulation schedule that cycles all the water in the hot tub through the filter for 15 to 20 minutes (or longer) twice a day. This feature means that you do not have to be present to circulate the water manually while still achieving the desired result of properly filtered water.
When purchasing a hot tub for a vacation rental, you can save costs and prevent damage to it by buying a rotomolded rather than an acrylic hot tub. They are lighter and therefore easier to move and are less prone to chipping than acrylic hot tubs.
Consider getting a plug-and-play rotomolded model, which uses a standard 110V connection. This feature also helps to keep things simple and accident-free.
Pay attention to how you keep your hot tub clean. Although dichlor has long been popular, it contains cyanuric acid, which various studies have indicated is not a good idea to use.
Instead, use a bromine sanitizing system or a saltwater chlorine generator. Bromine can last longer than chlorine, making for a more hands-off system, gentler on the skin, and not generating smelly chloramines.
However, be aware that bromine is more vulnerable to UV degradation than chlorine, and you will need to locate your hot tub indoors, or at least out of direct sunlight if you are using bromine.
When shocking your system, use non-chlorine shock and do not use a stabilizer to avoid using cyanuric acid.
Reasons To Avoid Cyanuric Acid In Your Hot Tub
Cleaning products containing cyanuric acid have been top-rated for hot tubs because cyanuric acid extends the lifespan of chlorine in the water. However, we recommend you avoid using cyanuric acid.
Cyanuric acid binds with chlorine, extending the lifespan of chlorine in the water at the cost of making the chlorine less available to kill microbes. As the amount of cyanuric acid in the water increases, the amount of chlorine available to kill micro-organisms drops off rapidly.
The kill time for Pseudomonas aeruginosa, the organism that causes hot tub itch is around 20 seconds when there is no cyanuric acid in the water. With 50 ppm cyanuric acid and the same chlorine concentration in the water, the kill time increases to 1 minute and 30 seconds, and at 100 ppm, it is around 2 minutes. You will have to raise the free chlorine level to achieve the same kill time.
As you can see, using a cyanuric acid stabilizer or chlorine products containing this chemical, such as dichlor, one has to use more and more chlorine to keep the water safe to use.
Cyanuric acid also decreases the alkalinity of the water in the tub, leading to corrosion problems.
Using cyanuric acid results in one ending up with cloudy, foul-smelling water and potentially even skin irritation. Shocking the water with more chlorine compounds the problem, and it will be necessary to drain and refill after about two months.
Such a scenario is no way to manage a hot tub when you are managing it remotely. Instead, steer clear of cyanuric acid, in whatever form.
How To Set Up Your Hot Tub For A Month Unattended
If you leave your hot tub unattended for a month, with no one on hand to check water chemistry and adjust it if need be, we suggest that you use the following settings. These apply if you are using a bromine sanitizing system.
Clean the cover and apply vinyl restorer to it. Change the filter to a clean one. Fill the bromine dispenser, and add 2.5 tablespoons of sodium bromide. Shoot for bromine levels of around 20 ppm (instead of 2.0 to 6.0 ppm). Doing so is overkill but will ensure that the water in your hot tub does not become murky with bacteria while you are away.
Set the temperature to 95 °F and put the tub into sleep mode (this will run filter cycles but will not heat the hot tub to the maximum set temperature).
Adjust the filter cycles from the standard two hours to four hours. Doing so is also overkill, but it’s better to be overly cautious than under-treat your hot tub.
How To Winterize A Hot Tub For Extended Periods Of Non-Use
Manufacturers do not recommend draining a hot tub of water, as any residual water left in the system can lead to gunky bio-growth or may freeze and cause cracking of pipes. However, sometimes you may have to leave a hot tub unattended for extended periods of non-use (around three months), and in this case, you will have to drain it. Do so as follows:
Attach a hose to the drain plug of the hot tub. Alternatively, use a sump pump for faster drainage. Once most of the water is out, remove the drain plug and cap the hole with the lid provided.
Suck out the remaining water with a wet/dry shop vacuum.
Turn off the hot tub’s electricity and heater. Turn the electricity to the tub back on, and run the blower for about thirty seconds to force out any remaining water.
Turn the electricity off again, and turn off the water
Use soft cloth or sponge, warm water, and dish detergent to give your tub a thorough cleaning. Avoid harsh chemicals that can ruin your hot tub’s finish. Remove and clean the filters at the same time, and then put them back.
Be sure to cover your hot tub securely while not in use to protect it against UV and wind-blown leaves and debris.
Be aware that wooden hot tubs cannot be left without water for extended periods.
Suppose you are thinking of installing a hot tub at your vacation home. In that case, there are various things you can do to make it easier to maintain, such as choosing automated bromine or saltwater sanitizing system. You can also ask your guests (if you are renting) or a caretaker to test water quality regularly. For more specialized maintenance, you will have to visit from time to time or hire professionals.
If you do the things recommended in this post, you should enjoy many years of hassle-free hot-tub use at your vacation home and be able to rent out your property more quickly and profitably!