How to Prep Your Hot Tub for Vacation in 10 Minutes

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Testing and balancing your water routinely is great, but what happens when you’re on vacation and no one is around to care for your spa? It can’t exactly fend for itself, so it’s up to you (as usual) to make sure it’s not a mess when you get back.

Here’s about 10 minutes’ worth of prep to make sure your spa doesn’t self-destruct.

man cleaning spa
Will your water look like this when you get back? It’s not hard to do!

Maintaining Water Quality

Draining your water is going to take more than 10 minutes and honestly, that’s the last thing you want to do as you’re rushing to get everything dialed in before leaving. Let’s focus on what you can do to keep your water clean and clear:

Bromine/Chlorine Systems

BromineTablets

Here’s what bromine and chlorine (that’s right Cl people, you should use Br while you’re gone) users should do before leaving on vacation:

  1. Test and balance your pH, Alkalinity, and Hardness level.
  2. Rinse the filter thoroughly. For an extra level of cleanliness, use ecoTUB Instant Filter Spray.
  3. Fill bromine feeder with bromine tablets.
  4. Set feeder opening to 1 (or the smallest notch) to decrease water flow to the tablets. This will help prevent over-brominating.
  5. To save money on electricity, turn down the hot tub temperature to the lowest setting or set the spa to economy/standby mode.
  6. Shock water with Oxy-Spa just before leaving.

Bonus Points: Use a ThermoFloat Blanket to reduce bromine off-gassing by trapping the sanitizer in the water. This will also increase the longevity of your hot tub cover.

Nature 2 & Alternative Systems

Do you use an alternative sanitizer like Nature 2 or Cleanwater Blue? Your job is even quicker and easier.

Nature 2 cartridge
  1. Test and balance your water like normal.
  2. Rinse the filter thoroughly. For an extra level of cleanliness, use ecoTUB Instant Filter Spray.
  3. To save money on electricity, turn down the hot tub temperature to the lowest setting or set the spa to economy/standby mode.
  4. Shock water with Sanitizing Granules just before leaving.

Salt Systems

Your chlorine generator is going to be your little champion while you’re gone. Do these things:

  1. Test and balance your pH, Alkalinity, and Hardness level.
  2. Rinse the filter thoroughly. For an extra level of cleanliness, use ecoTUB Instant Filter Spray.
  3. Reduce the run time of your chlorine generator by about half. This will help to prevent over-chlorination, which could damage your heater.
  4. Chlorine continuously off-gases so use a ThermoFloat Blanket if you will be away for an extended period. The blanket will trap the sanitizer in the water, helping to maintain water quality.
  5. To save money on electricity, turn down the hot tub temperature to the lowest setting or set the spa to economy/standby mode.
  6. Shock water with Oxy-Spa just before leaving.

Other Hot Tub Maintenance

Filter Cleaning

Most times simply hosing off the filter will be just fine, especially if you’re in a hurry. However, if your filter is looking grungy, an instant filter spray in addition to hosing it off will help revive it.

Dirty or worn-out filters will wreak havoc on your hot tub water by spreading bacteria. It’s worth spending a few extra minutes to get this part right.

Cloggedfilter
ecoTUB Instant Filter Cleaner and the Clarathon Jet Stream will revive this grungy filter.

No time to clean filters? Replace them! Find a quality replacement Hot Tub Filter Cartridge.

Spa Cover Maintenance

One last thing before you go…
CoverCleaning

  1. Rinse cover with a garden hose to loosen dirt and debris.
  2. Use ecoTUB Spa Clean and a damp rag to thoroughly wipe down the cover. Repeat as necessary until clean.
  3. Treat cover with 303 Vinyl or Fabric Protectant.

Read more about How to Properly Clean your Hot Tub Cover.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Latch and lock cover straps to prevent uninvited guests and neighborhood children from entering your hot tub.
HotTubCoverLocking

When You Get Home

You’re back so you’ll want to slide right into your hot tub care routine by testing and balancing the water before getting in the spa. If you notice any problems, here’s what to do:

Cloudy Water

This is likely due to dead organic material in the water, use Oxy Spa Oxidizing Shock.

If the problem persists, see our comprehensive guide on How to Fix Cloudy Water.

Foamy Water

Shock with Oxy Spa, wait 15 minutes and test your pH and Hardness level, adjust as necessary.

If the problem persists, see our recommendations for Getting Rid of Hot Tub Foam.

Stinky Water

Test sanitizer level and adjust according to test strip readings.

If the problem persists, follow these instructions to Decontaminate Your Hot Tub.

Drain & Refill

For water that’s been in the spa for longer than 3-4 months, do a drain and refill. It’s not worth wasting time and money trying to revive water that’s not going to come back into shape.

Old water (3-4 months) has a high level of TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) and is very difficult to sanitize and balance.

Draining and refilling when you get home also allows you to start your hot tub with cleaner, more pure water. Here’s how:

  1. Use Spa System Flush before draining to remove oily buildup in the plumbing. Drain and wipe down the spa shell with a damp cloth.
  2. Refill the hot tub using a Pre-Fresh pre-filter that attaches to your garden hose. This device filters out impurities like odor-causing organics, heavy metals, scale, and other contaminants.
  3. Thoroughly clean and re-insert your filter cartridge.
  4. Test, Sanitize, and balance your water as usual.

Bon Voyage!

Do you have an unslakable desire to learn all about hot tubs? In addition to spa supplies and parts, SpaDepot.com has a fantastic How-To section with everything you could ever need to know.

Leave your questions, comments, and thoughts below!

17 comments

  1. How long does a heater last in a Hot Tub? I have a 7 year old Thermo Spa hot tub, is this a good time to replace the heater? It is still working OK I am just wondering if it was time to do some preventative maintenance?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Ronald,
    Thank you for posting your questions.
    Heaters normally last about 5-10 years. Balanced water chemistry will help preserve the longevity of your heater element. It is always a good idea to have a spare on hand for immediate replacement.
    Also, if you have harsh winters you should take into consideration the risk of the heater element burning out during this time, when it is crucially needed. Some folks opt to replace an older element before the harsh weather to prevent this risk.
    If you need any assistance finding the correct replacement element or have any additional questions at all, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us: Support@SpaDepot.com or 1-800-823-3638.
    Thank you,
    Kaisa
    SpaDepot.com

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good advice about draining the tub before you go away for a long time; much easier to start afresh, so to speak, rather than dealing with a tub full of stale water! And I think your idea about having a spare heater on hand is also great, particularly if the existing one is more than a few years old.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Really great tips in this blog post. Maintaining clean water can be hard even when you’re home. When you come home from vacation filling your tub with fresh water is the best start you can make.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Layne,
    Thanks for your question! Yes, these tips should work if you are leaving for a month. The important thing will be to turn down your spa temperature. Cooler water does not grow bacteria as quickly.
    If you use a sanitizing system that requires a lot of maintenance like granular chlorine, you may want to drain the spa before you leave. Chlorine dissipates quickly and may not keep the spa clean over such an extended period of time.
    I hope this helps!
    Thank you,
    Sarah
    SpaDepot.com

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I am leaving for about 6 weeks. Should I drain my hottub and if yes should I keep the lid closed while I am gone or just a crack open.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Nancye,
    Whether or not you should drain and refill your spa depends on how long your water has been in your spa. If you changed your water 2 months ago or more, then definitely drain and refill. Just make sure you have adequate sanitizer and balanced pH and Alkalinity in your spa, and turn the heat down before you leave.
    Let me know if you have any other questions.
    Thank you,
    Sarah
    SpaDepot.com

    Liked by 1 person

  8. We are going on vacation for 3 months, can I leave fresh water in the tub for this amount of time, as there will not be anybody around to check the water during this period. Or should I just drain it, if I drain it will the heater element get damaged I have heard this can happen. Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Terry,
    For that length of time, you should definitely drain the spa. Water left stagnant and untreated in the spa for 3 months can grow mold and bacteria inside the plumbing and attract insects and pests.
    If you are in an area where temperatures may drop below freezing while you are away, follow our winterizing procedure:
    http://www.spadepot.com/spacyclopedia/winter.htm
    Properly winterizing the spa prevents freeze damage to the plumbing, which is the biggest issue that can occur with a drained spa. As for the heater, as long as you don’t turn the spa on when there is no water in it, you will be in good shape.
    Let me know if you have any further questions.
    Thanks,
    Sarah
    SpaDepot.com

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I found out by draining the tub, upon returning the water dries out. When filling the tub and starting the pumps the dried contaminated white scum comes out. It makes a mess.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I really like the point made about draining and refilling the hot tub before leaving for vacation. Doing so allows the new water to stay relatively new while you are away. I will be sharing these hot tub maintenance tips with my sister since she’ll be leaving for vacation soon and needs to keep up with her jacuzzi.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. We will be leaving our inflatable hot tub for almost six months. It appears from comments that we should drain the tub before leaving. One person told us that they drained and got yellow mold or algae in their pipe system. What can be done to ensure that this does not occur. Our tub is inside. How do we make sure that water is completely drained out of motor/circulating parts?

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi Carlene,

    Before draining your spa, use a product like our Spa System Flush. This will clean out the plumbing system to make storage a much cleaner affair. To get every last ounce of water out of the spa, use a shop vacuum on the blow mode. Put the hose on the suction port and the remaining water will evacuate into the spa. Once you’ve drained the water, wipe down the surfaces of the tub with ecoTUB Spa Clean All Surface Cleaner prior to storage.

    Thanks,
    Brian
    SpaDepot.com

    Liked by 1 person

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