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Setting Up Your Hot Tub - A guide for New Hot Tub Owners

Setting Up Your Hot Tub - A guide for New Hot Tub Owners


Are you a new hot tub owner or considering purchasing a new hot tub? This article is intended to help new hot tub owners get their tub up and running the very first time. Although there is a lot to know about your new hot tub, we will attempt to simplify the process of initial hot tub set up, water balancing, and testing. 

Basic Hot Tub Operations

hot tub plumbing diagram

Depending on the size and complexity of your hot tub, you could have hundreds working and structural hot tub parts. As a new hot tub owner, it's not important to understand the function of each part. But, it is important to have a solid high level understanding of your tub's operations. 

All hot tubs are designed differently but the basic concept remains the same. It all starts with water. You need to move water from your tub to a pump, through a filter, through a heater (normally contained in your tubs spa pack). The spa pack is your tub's command center. It houses the mechanisms that control things like filtration cycles and flow rates. Once through the hot tub's heater, the water moves toward the jets and any other water features you may have like waterfalls. 

Two Types of Hot Tub Pumps

Your hot tub will most likely have one of two common pump types, a circulation pump or a dual speed pump. 

Circulation Pump

A circulation pump moves water from the tub through the filter and heater, then back to the tub. This loop has a relatively low flow rate and does not produce the fast moving aerated water we associate with the jets. Hot tubs with circulation pumps will have at least one jet pump which pushes the water back to the tub at a much higher flow rate. 

Dual Speed Pump 

A dual speed pump will actually drive the water through the filter, heater cycle and also through the jets. While the pump is working in the filter setting the flow rate is slow. And, while the pump is on the jets setting the flow rate will be much faster. In essence, the dual cycle pump drives both water cycles one at a time. This means when the pump is set to jets, the water in by passing the filtration line. 

The Blower

A hot tub blower is basically a unit that has both a pump and a fan. The fan draws in air that is pumped into the water lines. The air in the lines causes the wonderful bubbles we all associate with the hot tub experience. 

The Jets

hot tub jets

Hot tub jets are designed to create the fast moving, pulsing, massaging water flow experience that we all love so much. The blower adds the bubbles and the jets form the water as it re-enters the tub. 

Now that you have a basic understanding of hot tub mechanics, let's move on to preparing your hot tub for the first time. Many elements of this process will be similar to the steps required when opening your hot tub at the beginning of the season. 

Rinsing or Purging Your New Hot Tub

There are differing opinions about purging a new hot tub. One thought is that a new hot tub with brand new pluming shouldn't need purging. On the other hand, you don't know the history of the new tub. How long has it been since the new tub was wet tested? How long was the tub stored in a warehouse before being delivered to your house? Not knowing the answer to these questions is enough to consider purging your new hot tub.

Every hot tub manufacturer will have slight variations in their process. It is important to consult the set-up documents for specific details. Conceptually, the process is similar for most tubs. 

  • Wipe the empty hot tub down with warm water and a light soap solution. Then wipe it down with a wet rag to remove any soapy residue which might cause foaming.
  • Fill the bottom of the tub above the pump drains and run the pump for 5 minutes. This will clear any debris that may have accumulated in the plumbing after wet testing. 
  • Drain the water from the hot tub.

After you purge and drain the system, it's a good idea to wipe the tub down again before you fill it for the first time. Next, fill the tub!

Priming Your Hot Tub Pump

Each hot tub will have a unique priming process similar to purging process. Consult you set-up instructions for specific details.

The process of priming your pump means removing all the air from your plumbing system. Air trapped in plumbing can impact the performance of the system. 

Treating Your Water

hot tub and woman

Before you begin balancing your water you will need to warm it. Wait until your water is above 85 degrees. Remember cold water and hot water chemistry are completely different. Now it's time to add your hot tub chemicals. 

Over time you will learn everything you need know about you hot tub's water chemistry, but for now just follow the manufacturers instructions. Once you have added the chemicals, you will need to run your circulation for 20 - 30 minutes. This gives the water the chance to thoroughly mix. 

Cover your hot tub and keep it warm for at least 12 hours. Test your water to make sure you have good balance and make any necessary adjustments. Now you are ready to enjoy your hot tub. 

Test your water a couple of times each week and do your best to keep it balanced. But don't worry, if something does go wrong you can probably find a solution right here on the Great Backyard blog. Check out the list of our favorite hot tub chemicals below and love your tub!

Caribbean Spa Granular Chlorine

Caribbean Spa pH Increaser for Hot Tubs

Caribbean Spa pH Decreaser for Hot Tubs 

Caribbean Spa Clarifier to Clear Cloudy Water

Caribbean Spa Stain and Scale Preventer for Hot Tubs


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