Thinking of getting a hot tub? Here’s what you need to know

Thinking of installing a hot tub in your back garden? Hot tubs and spas are a great way to relax and can be the focal point of a party, but there are lots of pitfalls and decisions to be made when buying one.

There are a range of different hot tubs and suppliers. You will need to decide what extras you want and will need to know how to choose a hot tub and supplier as well as how to get a good price. This guide will help you make informed choices.

How can a professional help me?

Professionals can help you in three main ways: they can advise you on what sort of configuration will be best; give you information on the various options and costs associated with them; and they can install your hot tub for you.

The normal way of buying a hot tub is to visit a hot tub fair or a hot tub specialist’s showroom. There will be a range of different hot tubs and a professional will be able to give you an idea of what things cost and what you might need in terms of size of hot tub and extras.

What are the benefits of using a professional over a D.I.Y. job?

You can, of course, order a hot tub off the internet and install it yourself. This is a pretty dangerous route to take, however, for several reasons.

A professional should be able to install the entire system for you – this isn’t a particularly easy job as you have to install heating pumps and three separate water connections (hot, cold, and drainage). If anything goes wrong, this could cost a lot to repair whereas a professional will guarantee their work.

In addition to this, a professional firm will be well-placed to advise you on what is and isn’t necessary for your hot tub - for example, they can go through different ways of insulating the hot tub.

What sort of hot tubs are there?

There are many different brands and types of hot tub. Hot tubs come in different sizes and will have different functions – some providing massage jets and whirlpools and some even providing a CD/radio headset and mood lighting systems.

There exist several different variations on the classic hot tub: a spa is simply a hot tub, which is made out of acrylic materials, and a whirlpool is like a large bathtub with a jet pump to create a current – whirlpools drain the water after each usage. In addition to these types, there are also above-ground and below-ground versions of each different type.

You would be well advised to opt for large, well-known brand, which guarantees its hot tubs for at least 3-5 years. You may pay slightly more, but it will be worth it because these tubs will cost you nothing in repairs for the first five years. Faulty hot tubs are very expensive to fix: a tip for choosing a brand would be to ring up local hot tub repairmen and ask them their opinion on which brands are reliable.

You will probably want to have an idea on what sort of size you want your hot tub to be before you go to a showroom. Remember to always wet test hot tubs – it is a common practice whereby you actually use a model; your opinion of a hot tub is likely to change once you’ve actually experienced it properly and dry tests do not seem to help as much.

Individual extras and options such as insulation and covers will vary, depending on your personal preferences.

Choosing a hot tub and supplier

Choosing a supplier is a difficult business. You can choose one straight out of the Yellow Pages but you do not really know anything about them in advance: if you have friends who have installed a hot tub, ask them what they thought about their supplier.

Ideally, your supplier will have been in business for a reasonable amount of time so that so you know they will still be here in years to come. If a supplier has been selling a particular brand of hot tubs for a long time that is also a positive: they will have a good relationship with the brand (good if you need to take up the manufacturer’s guarantee) and will be confident in the manufacturer’s products.

When choosing a hot tub, make sure you have tested your hot tub and are 100% happy with the model you are buying, the extras included, and the cost. Ensure that you get a decent warranty and that the supplier installs everything for you.

You should also base your decision on what type of hot tub you purchase on where you intend to install it. Common locations are as follows: sunk into decking or grass; an aboveground configuration on a raised platform outdoors; indoors in a bathroom; or outdoors underneath a wooden roof to protect you from the elements.

Cost of buying and installing a hot tub

Costs will vary wildly. You should always get multiple quotes and make sure that they include everything – fitting, parts, extras, guarantee and the like.

With hot tubs, it is perfectly acceptable to bargain. The best thing to do is to get a list of prices from several different suppliers and then compare them. When bargaining with a supplier, be sure to remain polite and non pushy.

Often, you will find that hot tubs are offered at knockdown prices in home shows. It may be worth telling a supplier that you have been quoted their home show price. Another way to save money is to ask if they have any new but slightly damaged hot tubs – this could mean just slight scratching on the body and will save you a lot of money off the list price.

Hot tubs will vary massively in price, depending on extras, size, and features. As a guide price, you'll probably not find a decent quality 3-person hot tub for less than £3,000.

What will happen after I have ordered my hot tub?

After you have chosen everything, the company will come and install your hot tub. There may be a waiting time before they can source the hot tub.

After it's installed, running costs will vary – mainly depending on size and insulation. You can reasonably expect to pay anywhere from £10-£40 a month per hot tub.

In terms of maintenance, you will need to check the pH level of the water daily and clean the water line on the tub regularly. In addition to this, you will need to oxidize your hot tub to keep the water clean – this is normally done weekly.

Cleaning your hot tub’s filter cartridge and completely draining and refilling your hot tub are other essential maintenance tasks, but will need to be done less frequently – it varies slightly, depending on usage, but two months is a good guideline.

Questions to ask your firm?

  • Can we wet test these?
  • Does that price include everything (installation etc.)?
  • How long would it take to order this model?
  • Can you beat a price for me?
  • Do you guarantee your work?

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