How to Winterize Your Hot Tub

Everyone knows that winter is the best time of year to go on vacation somewhere warm! If you are planning to leave home during the cold season and plan on draining your hot tub, it’s important that you winterize your tub before doing so. A cold snap can do quite a bit of damage to an unprotected and unused tub, especially when that tub is on a porch or in a backyard gazebo.

Sanitize and Clean the Plumbing Before Draining

Before you drain your hot tub, you will want to use a heavy dose of sanitizer to kill any bacteria that may be in the plumbing lines. This process will also reduce the chance of bacteria building in the plumbing when the spa sits empty. A half cup of granular chlorine is the recommended dosage for most hot tub sizes.

After you add the sanitizer to the water, it’s also a good idea to use a jet-line cleaner such as Marquis Jet-Line cleaner or Swirl-Away. Although it’s not a common occurrence, a hot tub can develop biofilm, which is a bacteria build-up that adheres to the surface of the plumbing. A jet-line cleaner will help to remove biofilm from the plumbing lines.

When sanitizing and cleaning the plumbing lines, it is very important to run the sanitizer and jet-line cleaner through all of the plumbing. If your hot tub is equipped with diverter valves or tri-zone jet controls, it is important to adjust these controls so that you run water through all of the jets. Also make sure that neck jets and waterfall control valves are turned on so that water is flowing through every possible area of the plumbing system.

Drain All the Water

Winterizing your hot tub goes beyond simply draining the water, but this is still the most important step. When cold weather moves in, it can cause water within the tub to freeze. Since water expands when it freezes, any ice in the tub can possibly cause cracks in the plumbing, pump(s), and other equipment.

For these reasons, water removal is a little more complicated than just draining the tub or pumping out the water you can actually see. To remove all the water from the system, you’ll need to use a wet vacuum on all of the jet lines and suctions fittings in the tub.

Before pumping out the water and vacuuming out the plumbing lines, make sure the power to the spa is off by turning the power off at the GFCI breaker, or unplugging the spa if you have a 110v plug-in model.

After you drain the hot tub, start vacuuming the top jets and work your way down to the bottom jets and suction intakes. If your spa is equipped with the Constant Clean/Spa Frog built-in sanitation system, you’ll also want to remove the cartridge holder during this process.

Dry Out the Filter Compartments and Remove Old Filters

Filter compartments can hold onto extra water quite easily, so it’s necessary to remove the filters and vacuum out any water that may be built up in the filter area. It’s a good idea to clean your filters and leave them out of the hot tub while it sits empty. Don’t store filters that are more than a year old; replace them with fresh ones when it’s time to use the tub again.

Remove Freeze Plugs

One of the most important steps in winterizing your hot tub is to remove the freeze plug(s) from the pump(s). The pumps are typically located in the front access panel with the other equipment in the hot tub. Depending on the model, a hot tub will typically have between one and three pumps. You will want to remove the freeze plug from each pump. The freeze plugs are located towards the bottom of the wet-end of each pump. The wet-end is the plastic side of the pump (not the motor side). Usually a freeze plug can be unscrewed easily by hand. After removing all of the freeze plugs, be sure to keep them in a safe place. It’s a good idea to place freeze plugs in a plastic bag and leave them in the equipment area of the hot tub, so that they can easily be found when it’s time to re-fill the tub.

Clean the Tub and Mop up the Excess Water

At this point, you should use a hot tub surface cleaner to clean the entire tub. This will remove any germs and grit on the surface of the shell. Marquis Spa Bright surface cleaner is a great product to use that is specially formulated for hot tubs. Avoid using household cleaners because they may leave a residue that can create water quality and foaming issues when the hot tub is used again. When finished, soak up any extra water at the bottom of the tub with a soft towel.

Cover the Tub

Place your locking hard cover over the hot tub and secure it. Make sure the cabinet door is fastened and that any accessories attached to the hot tub are clean and securely in place. Chairs, bars and shelving should either be contained under a tarp or put inside for the winter.

When you winterize your hot tub, you are ensuring its longevity through the seasons and years. Do the work, and you’ll thank yourself come spring.