When Should I Drain My Hot Tub?

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How do you know when to change your hot tub water? This is a very important question, and if you don’t know the answer, you could damage your hot tub. Improperly balanced water can be very corrosive and that causes equipment failures. Proper water care is essential to enjoying your hot tub. After all, enjoying your hot tub is why you got it in the first place.

Periodic Draining

Draining the Hot Tub

It’s a good idea to drain your tub at least once every 3-4 months. If you drain your spa less frequently, water chemistry becomes very difficult to keep in balance. Some people spend more time, effort and money than necessary because of this. Following some simple directions, and knowing where to find them will help you get the most out of your hot tub.

Causes of Cloudiness

Adding chemicals to your spa water is a necessity, but will eventually cause particle build-up and cloudiness. You can monitor this using the “PPM” (parts per million) indicator on your test strips. The key to crystal clear water is using fresh water, the right sanitizer, right amount of sanitizer and the use of an oxidizing shock. Without these, you’re going to experience water quality issues (the most common issue is cloudiness). If you fill your spa and find that the water becomes cloudy within a couple of weeks, there’s something wrong.

Here are a few things you can do to fix this:

1. Talk to an expert. There are technicians, like myself, that have been working with hot tub chemistry for many years, and can troubleshoot your problems. This service is usually free if you’re dealing with a good company. You’ll know when you’re talking to someone that loves hot tubs because they will be delighted at the opportunity to help you.

Mark

2. Try a different sanitizing system.There is no such thing as a “One system fits all” sanitizer. If you have trouble with one, experiment with another. No need to struggle when there are other options that could be perfect for you.

 

3. Stay on top of your schedule! I can’t emphasize this enough. I know it can be a pain (especially in winter) to go outside and test the water. But, it’s better to drop into crisp, clean, beautiful hot water and forget all your worries, than to go out and find your tub full of green stinky water! It’s also a good idea because if you don’t balance your water properly over the long term, the components in your hot tub are going to break down faster. That could cost some serious money. Don’t let it happen.green water

4.CLEAN. YOUR. FILTER. Don’t ignore it for 3 months. Pull it out once a month and use a filter cleaning product to make sure you get it as clean as possible each time. It’s also a very good idea to get two sets of filters and rotate them. That way when you remove one to clean it, you’ll already have another to put in your tub right away. Cleaning and rotating your filters will also increase their longevity.

How Bather Load Effects Your Water

High Bather Load

The more you use your spa, the more chemicals you need to add. Additionally, the more people you have soaking in your hot tub, the more chemicals you need to add. And, as stated previously, if you’re adding chemicals, you are increasing the PPM. The more the PPM builds up, the more difficult it becomes to keep things like pH, Alkalinity and your sanitizer in the proper ranges. These are the factors that determine how often you need to drain and refill. There it is, there you go….that’s the formula. Pretty simple really. The more times you use your spa, and the more people that use your spa, the more frequently you will have to replace the water.

The Draining Formula

If you use your spa 2 or more times a week, you should be draining it about every 4 months. Less use and less people mean that the PPM will take longer to build up to the point where it’s a problem. Does that mean if you use your spa once a week you can wait a year to drain your spa? Sorry, unfortunately not. Even if you only use your spa weekly, you’re still adding chemicals weekly. If you’re not, that’s gross, and we have more problems than we thought.

Getting the Most Out of Your Hot Tub

Mowing the Lawn

Managing your chemistry properly is the best way to get the most out of each tub refill. Again, stay on top of it and add the chemicals on schedule. The more you do it, (like anything else) the easier it will get, and the less time it will take. Think of your hot tub like you think of any other investment. Take care of it like you take care of your car or your home. You have to clean your car, put the right gas in it and follow the routine maintenance or it will break down. You have to clean your house, maintain your lawn and yard, etc. You get the picture.

Making sure you manage your water chemistry properly is essential to insure years and years of hot tubbing in clean, crisp, inviting, beautiful hot water.

crystal clear water

Click here to watch a great video by Swim University on how to drain your hot tub.

46 comments

  1. Hi Mark! I would recommend draining your tub every 4 months. Over time, salt from perspiration and other non-organic contaminates will increase the TDS (Total Dissolved Solids). Although organics are destroyed by your sanitizer system, TDS levels will continue to increase. Thanks for writing!

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  2. Hi Barb, Thank you for your comment. Are you referring to 3/4″ garden hose connection on the tub, used for draining? If so, a smaller pair of pliers or any tongue and groove pliers should loosen this connection. Please let me know if you have any other questions! Thank you, Mark The Spa Depot

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  3. Mark, We”ve been thinking about getting a spa for our house, the plan is to have to have a small covered deck built for it on the back our house, at an unused back door so we can use it year round. I”ve been trying to read up on maintenance but it”s hard to get a good feel for what I would need to do daily/weekly/monthly/yearly because everything is broken up in guide after guide after guide. What I”m looking for is a quick and easy idea of how much time and effort will we need to put forth to maintain a spa for year round use in Western NY so we can decide if something we really want to do. Any suggestion on where to start? Thanks

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  4. Hi John, I appreciate how frustrating it can be getting conflicting information from different sources. When you first fill your hot tub, you will need to balance the pH and Alkalinity, then balance the hardness of the water (if necessary), and finally add sanitizer. That”s how simple the start up is. After that it”s just a matter of checking the water weekly, or bi-weekly. If you would like to review the basics on our site, I would recommend reviewing the ABC”s of Water Chemistry; I have provided the link below. I would be happy to discuss the sanitizer options with you, and I can explain how most of them are easy to manage. Here is the link to the basics, and my number if you would like to call: http://www.spadepot.com/spacyclopedia/spa-chemistry.htm Thank you! Mark The Spa Depot 800-823-3638 x908

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  5. That awesome thanks, I”m caught up in a massive project at work but when I get a chance I will definately give you a call (I”ve been browsing your site when I have to take a break for a bit.) I think a hot tub would be just the thing to help me deal with the results of years of bad choices when I was younger (just a piece of advice, while jumping out of airplanes and repelling out of helicopters sounds like a good idea when your 18 things like this catch up with you later in life. lol!)

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  6. My pleasure John! My hours are 8-5 pacific time. Hot tubs are outstanding for general soreness from years of bad choices (sounds like some fun bad choices by the way!) They”re also great after anything physical; working out, snowboarding, mountain biking, etc. The list is basically endless! I look forward to talking with you.

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  7. We”ve had our hot tub for 8 years. If there is one thing I hate it”s when the water isn”t crystal clear, or when it foams. I have learned that balancing the hardness after establishing the proper pH is the single most effective tool for maintaining proper balance. It”s also very important to use an oxidizing activator frequently. We both use our tub at least once a day (sometimes 2x), so that”s 8-10 hours of use per week. It takes about 3 minutes a week to test and chemically adjust water balances. We change our filters once a month (We use a 3 set system so that the cleaned set gets a chance to fully dry before installing). We drain and fill the tub 4 times a year (when we change the thermo cartridge). We like using a 5hp pump instead of the drain valve, and the whole process including a good scrub down takes about 2 hrs. We also use our tub nude, because it”s in a nice private place and suits don”t play well with jets. Material bits and fuzz also clog filters. We also take quick showers (rinse offs, really) before and after to keep oil and grime out of the tub and chemicals off our skin. Works for us!

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  8. Hi Dale, Yes, spa water is safe to drain on lawns as long as chemicals (such as bromine or chlorine) have not been added to the spa in at least 1-2 days. Please let me know if you have any additional questions.

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  9. Hi Mark, We have a lake cottage with a hot tub. We rent out the cottage for the majority of the summer season. The cottage will sleep up to 15 people and although I am not there each week to take a head count; I will bet the hot tub is often filled to the maximum capacity! We have a maintenance man clean the hot tub each week. He also checks for PH balance, cleans the filter, shocks it, etc. Unfortunately, we had one issue last year with renters obtaining folliculitis, and now another incident last week. I have no idea what type of care goes into ensuring the hot tub is maintained, hence our hiring someone else to do it. Still, I want to be sure all is being done so everyone enjoys their stay to the max. Can you please provide some guidelines as to our hot tub”s care? Scrubbing/vacuuming, shocking, PH testing, filter cleaning, emptying, etc. I am ready to order whatever products necessary to ensure this will not happen, again! Thanks! Laurie

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  10. Hi Laurie, The first thing I would recommend is that you go through the decontamination process. We provide the directions here: http://www.spadepot.com/spacyclopedia/spa-contamination.htm Considering how many users your hot tub has, you want to make sure the sanitizer is always at the proper level. You can review the guidelines on how to properly balance your water on this page: http://www.spadepot.com/spacyclopedia/spa-chemistry.htm Please let me know if you have any other questions! Thanks! Mark The Spa Depot

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  11. Hi just bought a lazy spa 4 people model. I have no idea at present how to manage it. The instruction book says drain it after 3 days which appears a bit excessive. Think this may be if not using any chemicals? Any ideas

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  12. Hi Mark, Thank you for your comment! As long as your hot tub has a circulation system that includes a filter cartridge, and you maintain a water treatment schedule, draining should only be necessary every 60-90 days. Managing a hot tub is fairly simple once you get a few basic procedures down. Some key routine maintanence steps include: 1. Getting a water treatment kit that includes all products necessary to maintain and balance your water chemistry. 2. Treating & balancing your hot tub water once it”s filled. 3. Weekly testing of your hot tub water. 4. Adding chemicals depending on your test strip reading. 5. Shocking after each spa use. 6. Cleaning your filter cartridge at the same time you change your hot tub water. Our technical team would be more than happy to help you with all of your hot tub questions. Please feel free to give us a call at your convenience: 800-823-3638. Also, here is a link to our SpaCyclopedia which includes pages about every subject related to hot tub care: http://www.spadepot.com/hot-tub-spa-information.htm Please let me know if you have any additional questions! Thank you, Mark The Spa Depot

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  13. I have a hot tub and use it maybe once a month if that. Its a summer home and we use it more often in the winter. We have been draining it after we leave and whenever we come to stay and expect to use it, we fill it. My guess we use it 10 times a year. Does it make sense to do this?

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  14. Hi, Thank you for writing! Considering how often you use your hot tub, and how long the tub sits unattended, draining and refilling it each time does make the most sense. Hope this helps! Thank you, Mark The Spa Depot

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  15. I have started doing weekly 10% water changes this winter to cut down on the TDS. We use the tub about 5-6 times a week year ”round. With my other, older tubs I couldn”t afford to keep at temperature and it was used a lot less. I also used liquid shock which helped to keep water clearer. Unfortunately, my newest tub the shock I use only comes in a powder. So I am hoping these weekly changes keep the water clearer longer. I like doing it this way as we add hot water provided from our outdoor furnace and we don”t run up the electric bill. Also, we aren”t battling our frigid temps this winter as much doing this!

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  16. We are winter visitors in Arizona, and have purchased a hot tub this winter, we don”t have a monthly service, my question is, when we head back up north for the summer what should we do to prep our hot tub for the 100+ degree summer weather here?

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  17. Hi Renee, Thank you for your comment. Great question! It is necessary to unplug and thoroughly drain the spa if you are going to be away for an extended period of time. Doing this will help preserve your equipment and keep bacteria and mold growth from rooting in and on the spa cover and other surfaces. Also, be sure to apply a generous amount of 303 Protectant to the spa cover vinyl to keep it from fading due to UV. Please let me know if you have any additional questions. Thank you, Kaisa The Spa Depot

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  18. I have a hot tub that is not being used, but we want to keep it at the house for resale purposes. What is the best way to maintain it in the meantime? Should we drain it since it”s not being used?

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  19. Hi Joy, Great question! Since the spa is not being used it would be a good idea to drain it, blow out the plumbing with a wet/dry vac and clean the shell really well. This is essentially the same as winterizing your spa, you can follow these tips to properly drain and clean your spa: http://www.spadepot.com/spacyclopedia/winter.htm Please let me know if you have any additional questions! Thank you, Bonni The Spa Depot

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  20. Hi Kim, Thank you for checking with us! There are two common drain valves. With one design, you will need to pull the plug all the way out, hook up the hose, then push the valve in half way to start the flow of water. With the other common design, you simply hook up the hose, then unscrew the plug. If you have any other questions or need further assistance, please feel free to call our tech support at 1-800-823-3638 M-F 8-5 Pacific. Thank you, Bonni The Spa Depot

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  21. How can I turn the heater off for the summer? I have it turned as far down as the temp control allows which is 85, I think. Is there a way to turn just the heater off?

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  22. Hi Rachel, With newer tubs, typically there is no way to completely turn off your hot tub heater from your topside control. If you are trying to cool your spa for summer I would recommend setting your filtration cycle to the lowest setting, and changing your spa to Economy mode. Economy mode will only allow your spa to heat only during the filtration cycle, which will be less frequent after you change the setting. If you have any further questions please feel free to give our technical department a call at your convenience: (800) 823-3638 Mon-Fri 8am-5pm Pacific. Thanks, Bonni The Spa Depot

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  23. Hi I have just bought a 4 person lay-z-spa in my holiday apartment. Between now and November the apt is intermittently occupied with the biggest gap of 4 weeks. I want to leave it up throughout this period but do I need to leave the filter on 24/7. I am not there to maintain it so will it be okay in the 4 week gap without filter and additional chemicals?

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  24. Hi Eileen, Thank you for writing. The spa does not need to operate 24/7. However, it does need to circulate, I recommend a minimum of two times a day, for two hours. Prior to leaving make sure that the water is balanced and shocked. If possible it is best to have someone check and maintain the sanitizer in the water while you are away or drain the spa until the next user. Thanks, Bonni The Spa Depot

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  25. I had some people using our home and hot tub. They put something in the hot tub that said shock 1 & 2 She said it was brown. Now we have this sticky brown stuff that sinks to the bottom of the hot tub but when they turn the hot tub on it makes the water brown. All the ph & others test perfect on the strips and the water is crystal clear when the motor is off for a while but we don”t know how to get rid of this brown stuff. I hope you can help 🙂

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  26. Hi Rita, Thank you for writing! That fact that the brown residue you are experiencing in your hot tub is sticky, leads me to believe that the issue may not have stemmed from the shock that was added to the water. Typically colored or sticky residues stem from organic matter contaminating your spa. I would recommend closely following these steps on decontaminating your hot tub: http://www.spadepot.com/spacyclopedia/spa-contamination.htm Please let me know if you have any further questions, or feel free to call and talk to one of our hot tub technicians: (800) 823-3638 M-F 8am-5pm Pacific. Thank you, Bonni The Spa Depot

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  27. wondering how to winterize my outdoor hot tub,besides the normal draining all water and pumps,is there any thing special to do?

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  28. Is it dangerous to get in a hot tub that has not been treated for 2 months but the circulation has remained on?

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  29. Hello,
    Thank you for your question. Yes, it can be dangerous because bacteria can reproduce in untreated water.
    I would test and balance your water and give it a good dose of sanitizer.
    Please let me know if you have any additional questions.
    Thanks,
    Kaisa
    The Spa Depot

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  30. when you drain your tub can you use the water in your garden?
    Where i am i don’t have sewerage or drains, so it’s difficult to empty such a large quantity of water, though i have a big garden, so potentially i could empty it into the garden over a week or so, assuming it’s safe to do so.

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  31. Hi Steve,
    Thank you for your message. If you are using a mineral sanitizing system or your chlorine/bromine level is very low, you can drain the water into your garden without a problem.
    I hope this is helpful, please let me know if you have any additional questions.
    Thanks,
    Kaisa
    SpaDepot.com

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  32. I drained my hot tub with it still plugged in (I thought my wife flipped the breaker & she thought I had). The jets still work but only half strength and it heats up but it takes about a day to heat up 10 degrees. It also keeps tripping the breaker and shutting off. What did I break when we drained it with the power on?
    Thank you so much for any guidance in advance.

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  33. Hi Trey,
    The breaker is likely tripping because the heater element was damaged when draining. The element is the component most likely to fail when the tub is drained with the power on. Your tub heating 10° when you turn it on now is caused by the waste heat from the motor, not from the element. As for the pump not pumping as much, that is unusual but it could indicate that the pump is bad as well. I recommend replacing the heater element, then addressing the pump issue. If you would like help identifying the correct replacement parts, please email photos of your heater and pump to help@spadepot.com, attn: Mark.
    Thanks!
    Mark
    SpaDepot.com

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  34. Mark, I have a 325 gallon hot springs tub. I use it about 3x per week. The water gets very cloudy and foamy after only two months. Is it possible that 2 months is the right time to drain or is it more likely I’m doing something wrong. The water seems in balance every time I test. I also use the ace salt system. Thank you.

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  35. Hi Oren,
    Thanks for checking with me. Be sure you’re removing your filter and cleaning it at least once a month. It may be a good idea to use a cleaner like Power Soak when you clean them –
    http://www.spadepot.com/shop/Power-Soak-Filter-Cleaner-P779C57.aspx
    Two months seems like premature if you’re only using the spa 3 times per week. If you’re not using a chlorine-free shock, that could extend your refill time to 3 months. Using 1-2 tablespoons of Oxy Spa after each use will help your spa stay cleaner and clearer –
    http://www.spadepot.com/shop/Oxy-Spa-Non-chlorine-MPS-Shock—2-lbs-P93C43.aspx
    If you already use shock, using it more frequently or using a bit more each time could extend the drain time as well. I hope this helps, and please let me know if you have any other questions.
    Thank you,
    Mark
    SpaDepot.com

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  36. I want to buy a hot tub to put on my lakefront property. The placement is about 100 feet from the lake. What do I need to consider regarding chemicals and draining to protect the lake and the wetlands environment.

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  37. John – we have a small tub (7×7) that has had numerous problems. Place that sold it is replacing with a new tub. They say they will place the spa boy probe and cell from the 2 month old defective tub in to the new tub, save the water in a tank from the old tub to use in the new tub because the spa boy parts are calibrated to the water and they don’t want to have to recalibrate. We are quite confused. Thoughts? Bill

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  38. Hi Bill,
    The spa parts can’t be calibrated to the water, but they may be referring to the water chemistry. Either way, we would recommend dumping the old and starting fresh to avoid any contamination.
    Thanks,
    Sarah
    SpaDepot.com

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  39. My hot tub is brand new as of August 2016. The rule of the my hot tub is to shower before entering the hot tub. I am primarily the only one who uses the hot tub, sometimes my husband will join me. I used it about 2 times a week in the warmer temperatures, but now that we are having 30-40 degrees days (much cooler at night) it’s not being used. I do weekly maintenance on it. I make sure the filters, tub and chemicals are properly maintained. There are no problems whatsoever with my hot tub. Is it absolutely necessary to drain and refill my hot tub now that I’m at the 4th month marker since buying it brand new? I bought a Signature Spa S-14.

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  40. Hi Kristin,
    Four months is not a hard rule. Some daily hot tub owners may need to drain sooner, some may get another month or so out of their water. What is important to remember is that the longer you go without draining and refilling the spa, the more chemicals it will require to maintain.
    You may want to purchase some Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) test strips so you can monitor how much dead skin, sweat, chemicals, etc, is in the spa water. When you go above 2000 ppm TDS, it is recommended that a water change be performed to avoid hot tub bacterial contamination or equipment damage.
    http://www.spadepot.com/AquaChek-Total-Dissolved-Solids-TDS-Test-Strips-P846C60.aspx
    Thanks,
    Sarah
    SpaDepot.com

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