How to Winterize Your Outdoor Hot Tub

If your hot tub is outside, and you live in a climate that experience freezing winter temperatures, then you will have to take careful precautions in order to protect the plumbing.

While hot tubs feel so very comforting and relaxing when it’s cold outside, it’s not a matter of simply leaving them running all season long. When the tub is subject to freezing temperatures, your hot tub can suffer irreversible damage. We have put together a simple guide for winterizing your outdoor hot tub, in order to protect the pump and plumbing for future use.

As we all know from elementary science class, water expands when it freezes. Thus any water left in your pipes during winter will expand and burst the pipe, causing headaches and financial loss. Follow these steps to avoid devastation:

1. Unplug

Firstly, turn off the circuit breaker for the hot tub, or unplug the unit if possible. Remove the thermal cover, and open all of the jets as wide as they can go.

2. Drain the tub

The next step is to drain all water from the hot tub. You can do this by hooking up a garden hose to the faucet/spigot, which is located on the primary water pump, or by hooking the garden hose to the bottom drain spout. Lead the hose to a safe draining spot and pump it out. Alternatively, you can drain the water manually using a submersible pump. Leave the faucet open once all the water has been drained.

3. Blow out the lines

Next, locate the spa heater, and turn it off. This step is important. Put the thermal cover back on the tub, turn the circuit breaker back on (or plug it back in). If your spa has a blow system, you may now activate the blower and run it for thirty seconds. This will remove all air from under the spa seats by blowing it out. If you don’t have a blow system, you can use a canister-style wet vacuum to suck all water our of the pump’s return and suction lines. You can also use a shop vac. Make sure you get all the water out.

4. Clean the shell

Remove the cover again. There will be some moisture left in the shell of the tub: you can remove this with a sponge or towel. Clean the shell and make sure there is no debris. Clean the filter and store it indoors over the winter, along with the filter basket.

Go to your home breaker box and turn off the fcircuit breaker used for the hot tub. If it is a 110 volt unit, unplug the hot tub.

5. Unscrew all plugs

Remove the drain plug from the water pumps (quick disconnect fittings on either side of the heater and pump). As you loosen these plugs, water will come out. This is what we’re looking for. Leave them all unscrewed. Remove any drain plugs from the pump housing. and drain the water, then put the plugs back in. be sure to drain the filter canister and heater, and remove any drain plugs here.

6. Blow out the piping

The next step is to blow out any leftover water in the jet piping. You can use the blowing end of a shop vac or air compressor for this. Get into the spa and open the jets as wide as possible. Begin at the jet closest to the exhaust side of the pump, and put the blowing end of the hose against the jet. Work your way around the spa, one jet at a time. You will see water pouring from the fittings you unscrewed.

Important: do NOT put antifreeze anywhere in the spa. It will be very difficult to remove in the spring time. If you have performed the winterizing steps properly, you need not worry about antifreeze, as you will have removed enough water to stop it freezing/expanding/cracking the pipes.

Freeze damage is painful

7. Cover and secure

Get out of the spa and replace the cover: secure it so the wind cannot flip it up. Make sure all cabinets are securely closed for the season to prevent mice and other creatures getting in. they will chew wires and cause expensive damage. If you have an inground or indeck spa, you will also need to place a tarp or winter cover over the hard thermal cover, in order to prevent any rain water getting in over the winter.

Final notes

You can continue to use your hot tub into the autumn months, but as soon as the temperatures drop below 5 degrees at night, be sure to check it regularly to make all is in working order. If you do not feel comfortable winterizing the spa on your own, suggest a local spa professional to do the job. They will guarantee their work.

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