Many Canadians enjoy their hot tubs year round. While some may have “closed” the hot tub by going through the time-consuming ordeal of having to blow out all the lines, sometimes even adding RV antifreeze to the pipes and taking precautions such as removing freeze plugs from the pump or opening the heater union to allow remaining water to drain out, winterizing a hot tub is not the best practice. It is better for the hot tub to remain in service and use the built-in freeze protect function if necessary to save the spa from freezing. But where is the fun in that. Enjoying the crisp winter air from within the warm spa is part of winter fun.
You remember that ski hotel where the hot tub felt so great after a day of snowboarding or skiing? You can enjoy the very same feeling in your own portable spa. Just keep the spa filter clean and the chemicals balanced over the winter months and invite the whole family to spend some time relaxing and conversing together.
Winter Hot Tub Care
Keeping the chemicals balanced in the winter is the same as the rest of the year, except that some spa chemicals do not well being stored in freezing temperatures, so these items may have to be stored in the basement or at least the garage. Although a bit more inconvenient, it still pays to just go out and dip a test strip in the spa to see how the sanitizer level and pH are doing and adjust as needed.
Draining and Filling a Spa in the Winter
Filling and draining a spa in the winter is not the best fun, so the time for the winter water change is usually in November or December which gets you to about March until the next water change.
Still, some water may need to be added with a hose and most Canadian homeowners shut off the water to the exterior during the winter to avoid pipes freezing. Furthermore, any hose left out in the yard is sure to be stiff and have accumulated ice in it, rendering it unusable for filling up the spa.
Hoses stored in garages tend to fare better and can be pulled out as needed for topping off the hot tub. It is important to keep the water level at about half-skimmer height so the filter system does not start sucking air because the water level got too low. That could create all sorts of trouble in the winter, especially if the family is away on an extended trip.
If you travel during the winter months, it is ok to lower the spa temperature to its minimum because most modern hot tubs using a Balboa electronics system have built in freeze protection which would activate the pumps and blower in the event of an issue automatically to keep the spa from freezing.
Cleaning the Spa Filter in the Winter
Since the hose is usually not handy, it may be just as fast to bring the spa filter inside the house and use the shower, tub or sink to rinse it off. Note when removing the filter, the spa should not be circulating or heating. You can turn the heat down a few degrees to get it to stop heating temporarily until you can clean the filter and then reinsert the filter and turn the temperature back up.
Turning the temperature down alone will not work if the spa happens to by circulating in filtration mode. In that case you may need to either turn of filtration mode temporarily or shut the spa off until you clean the filter, but it is important not to forget to bring the filter back to the spa and turn it back on unless you want to create a small ice skating rink in your back yard!
Winter Fun for the Whole Family
Hot tubs are great fun for the whole family to enjoy during the winter months. Since the pools are all closed, the hot tub still gets us all together to enjoy the great and sometimes crisp outdoors. Having the hot tub situated near the back door of the house is usually better than having it all the way across the yard since you don’t have to shovel a path to get to it and also tend to use it more often if it is conveniently located.
Enjoy your hot tub this winter and that relaxing, fun feeling of soaking away in hot bubbling water while the surround winter air heightens your senses.