A hot tub can be an excellent addition to any backyard, mostly due to the relaxing and revitalizing experience it can offer. However, proper hot tub installation can be a bit difficult to achieve as these features are associated with large structures and electrically complex systems.
Of course, modern hot tub models may be less involved than planning for a pool, but even so, hot tub installation isn’t a task to be taken lightly. You’ll need to consider a variety of factors before purchasing and sighting the unit, from planning to ensuring compliance with local codes.
This is the guide on how to install a hot tub in your backyard. Even if you don’t intend to do the work on yourself, a little planning can go a long way in getting that tub bubbling away in that favorite corner of the yard. Here’s what it takes to have a perfect backyard hot tub installation.
When to Install a Hot Tub
Hot tub installation is a fairly simple process and an ongoing commitment. The spa will need routine maintenance, which can be particularly costly when something becomes damaged. Also, expect higher power and water bills if you’re planning to run the tub throughout the year.
So if you’re considering installing a hot tub, make sure you’re well prepared to keep up with maintenance as any damage from overlooking the hot tub will take the cost even higher.
If you want to have your own hot tub and are ready to bear the task, begin by allowing yourself some time to plan and figure out the details. Consider doing the installation when the weather is favorable and not too cold to avoid any complications.
Hot tub installation should be conducted in a suitable and accessible place within your home, especially when there are certain electrical codes or building codes that you need to observe.
You should give yourself at least half a day to plan the installation and a couple of weeks for the whole project based on whether you need to obtain a permit, make a foundation, etc.
Spas and hot tubs can be excessively heavy. Before you start working around the tub, be sure to wear close-toed footwear and handle the unit with care. Don’t try to move the hot tub all alone.
These items are incredibly heavy and unsafe and any damage caused by doing so can terminate the warranty. Enlist the assistance of three or more people to safely move the hot tub.
Professional installers or movers can also help with the task, but be careful not to hire somebody without insurance. You can make the process easier by using moving equipment such as furniture dollies, straps, and plywood, especially if you’re dealing with a portable spa.
Measuring and preparing the way from the curb to the foundation ahead of time will help you understand precisely what you should do.
Hot tub installation also involves installing electrical systems that the unit will be connected to. You should never try to do the wiring yourself, of course, unless you are a professional licensed electrician. There might be certain local codes and electrical requirements that need to be met.
It is also important to consider safety when sighting the tub, especially if you’re likely to have kids or pets in your garden. You don’t want children to climb in while the facility is unattended.
Think also about accessibility and whether you can get in/out safely. Your hot tub should have sufficient handrails and a strong platform to get in and out comfortably.
Chemical additives like bromine and chlorine are yet another crucial factor as they can be dangerous when applied incorrectly.
All chemicals should have safety guidelines and cautions included on the container label. Check carefully through the details and follow any recommended precautions. Be careful with the storage as well.
Tools Needed When Installing a Hot Tub
There are various important tools and materials that you will need when sighting an outdoor hot tub. Normally, you should have a tape measure, bubble or laser level, moving equipment (dollies, straps, etc), and maintenance materials such as a garden hose and sanitizing chemicals.
Additionally, gather a few buddies to give you a jack- at least four for most hot tub models. Hot tubs can be exceedingly heavy, so bring all the muscle power you can.
Prepare for The Installation
When planning to buy a new hot tub or spa, you will have to think about the key details before you even start working on the installation process. Figuring out all the steps before making the purchase will help you avoid many complications thereafter.
It’s good to state that some of these efforts may take longer than you might expect. For instance, installing a foundation or getting building permits may take a while, probably several weeks. So keep that in mind.
Choose the Right Hot Tub
The two things that dictate the most suitable size for your hot tub are the number of people who will be using it and the material used in the making of the tub. Although it is important to keep your budget in mind, it is good to note that quality usually comes at a price.
This is a substantial investment in your home and unless you land a great deal on a popular hot tub brand, sometimes falling for the cheaper models and bargain brands can leave you with a low-quality product and sub-par warranty.
Hot tub prices vary based on style, model, and manufacturer. Specifications such as chemical systems, occupancy rate, water volume, and installation procedures also tend to vary and may affect the overall cost. Do your research and carefully pick a hot tub type that best meets your needs.
While most reputable hot tub manufacturers are generally thinking about the user’s comfort and the functionality of the hot tub, you might, however, have an idea what brand you prefer or which one has been recommended to you.
Popular brands you’ll come across include Maax, Jacuzzi, Bullfrog, Clearwater, Marquise, Arctic, and more.
Whatever you pick, the size of the tub will dictate its location in your backyard. The most common shapes you will come across for hot tubs are square, sometimes rectangle, and occasionally a circle.
Although the style of the tub is influenced by the shape, you will have your preferences for the specific style and material you want it to be made with.
Common materials for hot tubs include acrylic, vinyl, and roto-molded plastic, although there are others that are made from cement, fiberglass, stainless steel, or inflatable PVC (but these are less often). The material used will definitely affect the style and the overall weight of the unit.
Check Whether You need a Permit to Install a Hot Tub
Depending on where you live, your local government may instruct a building permit for outdoor spas.
You don’t need planning permission in most cases but it’s always important to check with your local building department to ensure compliance with the city codes. This is especially the case for those who live in a conservation area or on a listed building.
This should be done before purchasing the hot tub because the information you get may influence what type of hot you should get.
The local building department may ask questions about electricity/wiring, the planned location as well as the foundation. The final permit may cost anywhere between $50 and $500.
Choosing Your Location
The best location for your outdoor hot tub is where it will provide the most joy. It should be installed in a local-code-compliant space where you’ll have enough space around the tub.
The exact measurements will depend on the size of your model, but it’s important to allow yourself at least one foot or two around the unit for optimal accessibility.
Sighting the hot tub in the backyard should be relatively simple and straightforward as the whole thing will be delivered to your home by the delivery crew. Even so, the team will need an access point into your garden that is at least as wide as the tub.
In the event that there’s no entryway into your backyard, your dealer may arrange for a crane delivery, where the unit will be lifted over the house and then lowered right into the yard. Here are a few things to consider before making the final decision:
The proximity of Your House: Keeping your hot tub near the house will make it much easier and safer to use when it’s dark and cold. Consider sighting it at least 16 feet away from overhead power lines to reduce the risk of electrocution.
Also, keep it at least 5 feet from any backyard structure to protect your home and outbuildings from potential flooding. You might also want to locate it close to a doorway into the house or create a small changing area nearby for wintertime purposes.
Adequate Space: Leaving ample space around the tub will make it easy to remove and store the cover and enhance accessibility, especially for the maintenance panel.
That Thing Called Privacy: If you don’t want to be overlooked by the neighbors, try and pick a private spot. You may want to install your hot tub behind a hedge, wall, or privacy fence.
Note that a view covered by trees could change when the trees are cut or when they shed their leaves. Since you’re not installing the hot tub indoors, take time and mark the area under consideration, then walk the perimeter of the garden viewing it through your neighbor’s eye.
Protection: In addition to privacy, you can make your outdoor living space more enjoyable by installing windbreaks, particularly in cold months. A well-sheltered location also cuts maintenance and operating costs.
You’re likely to have a great experience if your view comprises a gorgeous sunset as opposed to a brick wall. In case your home doesn’t have picturesque landscapes, think about an outdoor location with bird feeders and flowers, or calming sound of wind breezes.
Prepare and Install the Foundation
Your hot tub needs to be installed on a solid surface. Hot tubs can weigh as much as 3000-4000 pounds; therefore, the installation should be done on a flat solid base that can bear the weight. Level spa pads, reinforced deck, or concrete slabs, all are all ideal options for a foundation.
However, based on your specific spa model, you might not need to pour concrete. A composite slab made of wood, a level pad built of stone pavers, a cement pad, or a modular tub pad made from heavy-duty plastic could also be ideal options.
Talk to your contractor to ensure that the considered foundation can accommodate your hot tub. They might also give suggestions about the common surfaces hot tubs available.
Install the Electrical System
You also need to consider the electrical requirements for your hot tub. Unless you are a professional and are well-versed in terms of the city’s codes electrical codes, the best thing would be to hire an electrician to complete the electrical work and wire the power source for you.
This will likely cost you about $400-$800 and you’ll normally need a GFCI circuit breaker that features voltage and amperage requirements based on your spa’s specifications.
There’re two common ways to achieve power supply for your tub; you can connect it directly to your property’s central circuit-breaker box, or simply plug it into a wall outlet.
Make sure to keep this in mind before purchasing. Your dealer can assist in analyzing the pros and cons of either electrical configuration and suggest the specific electrical details for the model you want.
Outdoor hot tubs require a lot of power, so check that your electrical work is up for the task. The heater and onboard pumps generally featured by a hot tub demand a 240220V with a 50-60 amphere circuit- although there are some tubs designed as plug-and-play that requires a 110V.
Consider the Weather
As with other outdoor items, the hot tub’s usability and level of enjoyment are so influenced by the weather. Try to find a sheltered spot off the wind that receives the sun, particularly during the time of the day that you intend to be using the tub.
A southing facing exposure may be a nice idea as you’ll be able to relish the benefits of the maximum amount of daylight hours. After all, it’s easier to create a canopy or bring down overhanging branches than it is to relocate a hot tub once you have put it in place.
Put the Hot Tub Into Place
At this point, the electrician will have left and now it is up to you to gather a few guys to help move the tub into its purposely prepared location.
Make sure that the hot tub is installed in a suitable place for entry; a position that allows easy access to the facility’s control center as well as the service panels.
Fill the Hot Tub
Now here comes the fun part. It’s always important to check your hot tub user’s manual for optimal operation of the tub. To fill up the tub, you will normally have to disconnect the power by flipping the circuit breaker.
Close the drain valves and set any onboard filters as per the guidelines and then install the tub’s skimmer. Using a gentle cleaner, wipe off the outside of the tub, and then use a garden hose to fill in water to the unit’s fill line.
Check for any leakes while filling the spa, particularly in fittings put behind the spa’s equipment door and the panels.
After filling the tub, and you’re sure there are no leakages, you can turn on the electricity, and put the controls as per your preferences. Then prepare to add the start-up chemicals.
Treat and Maintain the Water
Just like swimming pools, all hot tubs need regular upkeep along with chemical additives to keep the water healthy and hygienic. Get yourself a nice water testing kit to help know which chemicals you need to apply.
The kits reveal the water’s alkalinity, pH, calcium hardness, and sanitizer levels. All these levels need to remain balanced on an ongoing basis. This way you will be able to know whether to add bromine, chlorine, or other chemicals.
Normal pH levels fall between 7.2 and 7.8. Anything else means that the tub water is either too alkaline or too acidic, which can lead to cloudy water and skin irritation.
While bromine is a little more expensive than chlorine, it works well in hot temperatures and doesn’t have much of a surface gas. Both are ideal for inflatable and hard-shell tubs.
Installing a hot tub will enable you to enhance your home and create a cozy place for romantic moments or serve as a lively spot for social gatherings, get-togethers, and barbecues.
Provided you have a location near your house, a stable base, a power supply system with a dedicated circuit, and a reliable electrical panel, you can install a hot tub right on your patio.