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Woman wearing red bikini drinking a beverage leans over hot tub looking at trees in winter

How to Keep Your Spa or Hot Tub Safe All Winter Long

The long, cold months of winter encourage us to take it easy, conserve our energy, and stay warm. Whether you’re more inclined to hibernate or take chilly adventures outdoors, there’s one sure way to enjoy your time this winter—spending some time in your outdoor spa.

Soaking in a spa or hot tub in winter is a true luxury. The warm, steamy water keeps you warm and comfortable outside in the cold fresh air. And it provides hydrotherapy health benefits, such as relaxing sore joints and muscles. It’s also a great way to unwind solo and with loved ones, especially during the holidays.

But using your spa or hot tub in winter comes with some special tips to ensure your spa is safe and ready to use all winter long.

So if you want to indulge in the luxury of soaking in a spa or hot tub this winter, consider the following maintenance and safety tips for using a spa/hot tub in the winter months.

Spa Maintenance Tips for Winter

Protect your spa or hot tub this winter by following these maintenance tips:

Drain & Refill Before the Winter Sets In

Spas and hot tubs require a water change every three months. So to avoid changing the water in the middle of winter, drain and refill your hot tub before winter arrives.

If winter weather is on the horizon, monitor your local weather forecast and choose a day when the temperature is above freezing to avoid freeze damage when draining and refilling the hot tub.

During the water change, flush the plumbing with whirlpool rinse to remove any build-up in your spa and improve its efficiency.

Stock Up on Supplies

Before winter storms make driving unpleasant, stock up on spa maintenance supplies, so you don’t have to venture out for more in the middle of a blizzard.

You won’t be able to use your hot tub if the water isn’t clean and balanced. So avoid missing out on hot tub time and make sure you have enough sanitizer, chemicals, test strips, and an extra filter cartridge to last the entire winter.

Invest in a High-Quality Cover

High-quality covers are well-insulated and have tight-fitting seals to keep your hot tub securely covered and insulated when not in use.

A cover that insulates and stays in place (i.e. with a lock), even in windy conditions, will prevent heat loss, help maintain the temperature of your spa, and keep your water clean by protecting it from outside contaminants.

Also, make sure to keep your cover clear of snow to protect it. Use a snow brush to brush off the snow gently. And always cover the hot tub securely when not in use.

Check Water Levels Regularly

When water levels drop too low in a spa or hot tub, the components are at risk of freezing in winter. And frozen components can end up with costly freeze damage.

So, monitor the water level of your spa often and refill with a hose whenever you notice the water level dropping.

Tip: keep your garden hose indoors in winter to prevent it from freezing, and only bring it outside when you need to refill your hot tub.

Keep Water Clean

Clean and maintain your hot tub water and filters following your usual maintenance schedule. Filters should be cleaned regularly and changed every three to four months. You should also test the water regularly to make sure the chemicals stay balanced for clean, safe water.

Clean Circulation Pump Filter

The circulation pump filter should be cleaned every 30 days with a chemical cleaner. Without cleaning, the filter will eventually clog, the water will stop circulating properly, and the heater will shut off, putting your hot tub or spa at risk of freezing.

Prevent Pipe Freezing

As long as heated water is flowing through all the pipes, they shouldn’t freeze in winter. So keep the water heated and all the valves open to make sure the pipes are heated as well.

Make sure your freeze-protect system is activated or set a timer to automatically run the heater and pump for 15 to 20 minutes every hour.

And if there’s a power outage, create a tent over any exposed equipment with a thick wool blanket and place a space heater in the tent to prevent freeze damage. Or, if you need to drain the hot tub quickly to prevent freeze damage, use a submersible pump.

Don’t Forget About It

To prevent your spa from freezing this winter, use a freeze-protect system to monitor the spa’s temperature and run the heater whenever the temperature drops below a set temperature.

You can also install an automation system that allows you to monitor your spa and control the equipment remotely with the use of a smartphone app.

These features are especially useful if you plan to travel this winter and won’t be home to care for your hot tub. If you’re out of town and something happens that’s beyond your control, such as a power outage, you can call a spa maintenance professional to address the issue before any freeze damage occurs.

Be Prepared to Close It

If you decide to close your hot tub, make sure to properly winterize it to prevent any freeze damage by draining the water, cleaning your hot tub, and blowing out water from the jet piping using an air compressor. And cover your spa or hot tub until you’re ready to open your hot tub next season.

Spa Tips for Use in Winter

Here are some helpful tips to follow when using your spa or hot tub in winter.

Be Conservative with the Jets and Blower

Since the jets blow cool air into the water, they end up lowering the water temperature when used frequently. So, turn down the jets and use them less often in winter. And make sure to turn them off when not in use to prevent your hot tub heater from working harder to maintain a warm temperature.

Make Smart Choices to Save On Energy

Keeping your spa or hot tub well heated and safe from freeze damage in the winter can use up a lot of energy. So to save energy, help the environment, and lower your hydro bills, consider these tips to conserve heat and energy this winter.

  • Limit the use of jets and turn them off when not in use to prevent cold air from lowering the hot tub temperature.
  • Along with using a secure, well-insulated cover, consider using an insulated spa jacket that covers the entire spa. These jackets provide extra insulation to keep the heat in and reduce energy use in winter.
  • Use a spa blanket as another way to help keep the heat in.
  • Program your filter/heat cycles to run at night for off-peak use.
  • If you have a portable spa, use foam board insulation underneath to insulate your hot tub.
  • Add insulation to the spa/hot tub cabinet, and inspect the cabinet for air voids.
  • Obstruct cold winds with a privacy screen.
  • Keep icicles away that could drip or fall and damage the hot tub cover.
  • Position the spa or hot tub in a sun-exposed corner or a south-facing exposure to keep the cover warm and melt snow and ice.
  • Keep your spa water at a consistent temperature at all times. It’s more energy-efficient to keep the temperature steady, even when not in use, than to lower the temperature when not in use and turn up the heat every time you want to use it.

Wear a Warm Hat & Wear Proper Shoes to Get to the Spa

Wear shoes or sturdy slippers to protect your feet when walking to and from the hot tub. And wear a warm hat at all times to keep your hair dry and prevent the loss of body heat while sitting outside in winter.

Also, keep a dry bathrobe nearby so you can protect yourself from the cold when getting out of the hot tub. Make sure to head inside immediately after getting out of the spa to protect yourself from the icy cold air.

Use It to Fend Off Winter Colds

Soaking in a hot tub can help you sweat out toxins to fight winter colds. And it’s helpful to breathe in fresh air when you’re fighting a cold instead of stuffy indoor air. The cold air can also help relieve coughing and sore throats.

Stay Hydrated

While soaking in water may seem hydrating, the heat from hot tubs will actually make your body dehydrate. So drink plenty of water before, during, and after each hot tub use.

You may want to drink room-temperature water or warm tea while in the hot tub. But do avoid drinking alcohol since it will increase the effects of dehydration.

Be Conscientious about How Long You’re in the Spa

Since hot tubs and spas increase your body temperature, the longer you’re in the heated water, the higher your body temperature will rise. So limit your soak times to 20 minutes to avoid overheating.

Stepping out into the frigid cold temperatures when you’re wet and your body is overheated can cause a shock to your body. So be careful when getting out of your hot tub, cover up immediately, and get inside quickly.

The Takeaway

Using a spa or hot tub in winter is a special treat. But in order to keep yourself and your beloved spa safe in the frigid cold temperatures, you have to use caution when maintaining and using your spa in winter.

So follow these tips to make the most out of your relaxing time in the heat and snow all winter long.