12 Steps to Winterizing Your Hot Tub - Backyard Boss
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12 Steps to Winterizing Your Hot Tub

Winter and hot tubs seem like a great match. What’s not to love about a hot water spa in the middle of winter? However, you do need to know how to use a hot tub in winter. In some cold climates, this could be a recipe for disaster. If you’re not running your hot tub 24/7 in the coldest months, and you regularly get freezing temperatures, there are some steps you need to take to make sure that your hot tub isn’t damaged when the mercury drops.

Any standing water in pipes, pumps and filters may damage these components if it freezes. It is because water expands when it freezes. It is an essential element for freeze damage. So if a pipe is filled with water, it will crack when the water becomes ice and expands. 

How do you get all this water out of the pipes, pumps, and filters? Read on for a step-by-step guide to how to winterize your hot tub.

Things You Need

  • Chemical test kit
  • Garden hose
  • Sump pump (optional)
  • Cleaning materials of your choice
  • Shop-Vac
  • Chamois

A Step-By-Step Guide On How To Winterize Your Hot Tub

Step One: Allow The Chemicals To Dissipate

Beakers filled with chemicals
Image credits: Girl with red hat via Unsplash

To maintain the water quality in the hot tub, you need to add chemicals. Those chemicals are an essential element for your hot tub but are harmful to almost all plant and animal life. So, if you plan to drain your hot tub into your yard or garden, it’s a good idea to let the hot tub water sit for a few days to allow the chemicals in the water to dissipate.

Even if you’re draining your tub into the sewer, all that water, along with the chemicals has to end up somewhere. Test the water after a few days, and when the chemical level has dropped to zero, go to Step Two.

Step Two: Clean The Tub

Yellow soapy sponge washing black surface
Image credits: Pille R. Priske via Unsplash

It’s always a good idea to clean something before you store it for an extended period. Cleaning your tub before going any further means you can happily get your tub wet and use your regular cleaners. Don’t forget to focus on the scum line at the most common water level.

You could even cycle soapy water through your plumbing lines for an enhanced clean or if you prefer cleaning with hot water. You may even opt for a jet-line cleaner. Just make sure that your hot tub can handle detergents in the pumps, filters, and plumbing lines. Check with your hot tub dealer first.

Step Three: Turn Off The Breaker/Unplug The Hot Tub

Plug hanging in the shadows
Image credits: Fajrina Adella via Unsplash

Depending on how your hot tub is wired, you need to either turn off the breaker or unplug the hot tub. Simply turning the hot tub off is not good enough as there is still a small amount of power going to the unit.

You need to turn off the breaker or unplug the power cord to be sure that absolutely NO power is going to the hot tub. You’re draining a large amount of water from the tub. You don’t want electricity anywhere near to what you’re doing.

Pro Tip: This is the most important step, so do not skip it. Your life may depend on it.

Step Four: Drain The Hot Tub

Rusty drain
Image credits: Mick Haupt via Unsplash

Attach the garden hose to the drain spout, and make sure that the end of the drain hose is in an appropriate location to handle many gallons of water.

Remove the drain cap and allow the tub to drain. If you have a sump pump or submersible pump handy, you can use it to drain the tub instead. I wouldn’t go out and buy a sump pump for this specific purpose as hot tubs drain quite quickly, but that decision is up to you. Make sure to close the drain valve when you’re done.

For whatever reason, hot tub drains are never at the lowest point of the tub, so there will be an inch or two of residual water leftover inside the tub. Don’t worry about removing this water now because you’ll see why shortly.

Step Five: Drain The Blower

Brown dog lying on the edge of a hot tub
Image credits: Jakob Dalbjörn via Unsplash

Some hot tubs have an air blower. If yours does, you need to drain the blower before you carry on winterizing your hot tub.

Make sure the heater is in the off position before you do this. You never want to run the heater when there is no water in the tub because it can lead to some expensive damage.

Next, cover the hot tub and turn it on. If your hot tub won’t turn on, remember to plug it back in or turn the breaker back on.

Run the hot tub for about 30 seconds, or until water stops coming out. It will drain the blower of any residual water that was trapped inside.

Once that’s done, unplug the tub or turn off the breaker (remember how important this is), remove the cover, and move on to the next step.

Step Six: Drain Pumps And Plumbing Lines

Old pump in workshop
Image credits: Denny Müller via Unsplash

Now it’s time to drain the pumps and plumbing lines. To do this, loosen all the unions to allow excess water to drain from the lines.

Make sure any diverter valves are in the correct position to allow the water to flow where you want it to go. If your pumps have drain plugs, remove them to allow the extra water to drain.

Step Seven: Remove The Filters

Empty Hot Tub
Image Credits: The Shifted Librarian on CreativeCommons

Remove any filter cartridges that your hot tub has. If they’re still in decent shape, give them a good clean with your preferred method. Make sure you clean the filter basket too.

If the filter cartridges are too far gone, throw them away and start with clean filter cartridges when you fire things back up.

Use the Shop-Vac or the chamois to remove any water left behind in the filter housing.

Pro Tip: Make sure the filters are completely dry before storing them. Damp filters will become moldy over the winter months.

Step Eight: Clear The Lines

Many plumbing pipes
Image credits: Bruce Warrington via Unsplash

The main idea behind winterizing your hot tub is to remove all the water from the tub, the pumps, the filters, and the plumbing lines.

To get all the water out of the lines, put your Shop-Vac into blower mode. Insert the blower nozzle into all jet lines, joints drains, and any filter cavity you can find. Turn the Shop-Vac on and force all the water in the lines into the tub.

Pro Tip: Depending on the design of your tub, you may have to get creative here. You may have to block some drains while you blow in another to force the water to go where you want it to go and not back into the pump you’ve just drained. The second set of eyes is also helpful to keep all the angles covered.

Step Nine: Dry The Tub

Colorful towels in a folded stack
Image credits: LumenSoft Technologies via Unsplash

Now’s the time to dry your tub. Use the Shop-Vac to suck any remaining water out of the hot tub. You can then use a chamois or a towel to mop up the last few droplets.

Step Ten: Clean The Tub Again (optional)

Hand wearing pink glove holding yellow spray bottle
Image credits: JESHOOTS.COM via Unsplash

Some folks prefer to use waterless cleaners on their hot tubs. If this is you, then this would be the time to grab your cleaning gear and get to work. Make sure you lift any removable items (headrests, drink holders, etc.) and clean thoroughly under them. These are prime spots for mold to accumulate over the entire winter.

Step Eleven: Clean The Cover

dirty hot tub cover
Image credits: by zieak on Creativecommons

There is no point covering your clean hot tub with a dirty cover. Besides, hot tub covers are hotbeds for mold and mildew growth. Make sure you clean the entire cover. Top, bottom, inside, outside, sides, and any nooks and crannies you find.

It is important as mold or mildew spread quickly from your cover to the rest of your tub, even in cold weather.

Step Twelve: Cover Your Hot Tub

Covered hot tub in a garden
Image Credits: by alistairas on CreativeCommons

Finally, it’s time to cover the tub and put it to bed. If your cover has any locking mechanisms or ties downs, secure those. If not, I would strongly recommend securing your cover with some weather ties or something similar.

If you’ve lost a cover in the past, take a look at our reviews on the best hot tub covers for your replacement.

Last Word

There you have it, 12 steps to prepare your hot tub for winter weather. The main goal is to get any standing water out of the plumbing lines and pump housing of your hot tub before freezing temperatures. It will hopefully eliminate the potential for freeze damage.

Truthfully a drop of water or a small puddle here and there won’t wreak havoc on your hot tub. However, full pipes, pumps, and filter housings will cause freeze damage. So when it’s time to use your hot tub again, you’ll spring a leak or two.

Making sure your hot tub is clean before you close it up for the months of winter is also an important step. You don’t want to open your hot tub up in spring and find a dirty, moldy hot tub waiting for you. So make sure to give it a thorough clean. And don’t forget to get into all the nooks and crannies and underneath any removable features.

What do you think about this tutorial? Will you be using it to winterize your hot tub? Comment below and let us know.