Hand Me Down Hot Tubs – Where to Start

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This rough looking spa can be transformed into a beauty with a little know-how and elbow grease.

So, you got a used hot tub – Now what?

I hear it all the time: “My parents just got a new hot tub and gave me their old one”, or “I bought a house that has a hot tub on the patio”. If you have had a hot tub before, you probably know what to do to get the spa up and running, but if not, your head may be spinning.

In the case of a family member’s hand-me-down hot tub, you may have a sense of the tub’s history, and its condition. In most other cases, all bets are off – you don’t know if it’s good or if it’s a junker.

Let’s dive into what you should do when you receive a new to you spa.

Setting Up the Spa

If you just bought a house with a spa, no worries, continue on to the next section. If the spa is new to the property, you’re going to have to set up an area for the spa to live and bring power to that location.

Finding a place to put your spa is full of challenges you may not even realize yet. That’s okay, here’s a great resource for setting up a spa.

The Cursory Inspection

Now that your spa has a home and power, a few quick inspections will give you a better idea of what you’re in for.

  1. First thing’s first, fill the spa to 3” past the highest jet (excluding neck jets). What you’re looking for here are any obvious leaks, so root around in the cabinet a bit and see what you can see. No water dripping down there? Great – moving on…
  2. Now that the spa is full, power it up. The topside control keypad should start displaying information immediately. If you’re not familiar with spas, take a note of what’s being displayed, then check to see if any of the codes are error codes.
  3. Once any error codes have been resolved, look under the tub again for leaks. In particular, pay attention to the pump and any plumbing attached to the pump.
  4. Now, note the temperature of the spa water. Come back in an hour or two and see if the heat has increased. If not, you may have heater or circuit board issues to troubleshoot.
  5. Take a good hard look at the spa cover. Chances are you’ll need to replace it, but you might luck out. In addition to inspecting the outer skin for rips, tears, and deterioration, look for waterlogged foam, or foam that sags, as these are sure signs that the cover is toast.
Warped green cover
This warped, waterlogged cover has definitely seen better days.


Now that everything is looking tip-top, it’s time to decontaminate the spa. You don’t want to soak in who knows what germs and bacteria the previous owners left in the spa.

Foamy contaminate riddled hot tub
Aren’t you glad you’re not soaking in that?

It’s important to decontaminate the cover, filters, spa shell, and plumbing. Here is a great resource for decontamination.

Fill, Balance & Sanitize the Water

Finally, you’re ready, all your hard work has paid off. It’s time to do the final fill of the spa.

You’ll want to have all of your balance, sanitizing, and shocking products at the ready, plus a brand new filter(s). Balancing and sanitizing the water is fairly straightforward, but you’ll want to make sure you do it correctly. You don’t want to damage your mechanical equipment or undo any of the work you’ve already done.

The old saying goes, never look a gift horse in the mouth. If you end up with a hot tub for whatever reason, we’re here to help. From chemicals to get your water just right to technical advice and troubleshooting, we do it all. Simply shoot us an E-Mail, give us a call, or comment below with all your burning hot tub questions.

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