Along with knowing how to winterize your pool, you should know how to winterize your hot tub. Below, you’ll find tips and tricks for keeping your hot tub in good shape during those cold, Alberta winters.  

Why Should I Winterize My Hot Tub?

When winter temperatures arrive, freezing water can wreak absolute havoc on your hot tub. When water turns to ice it expands and the force of that expansion is more than enough to crack your hot tub’s heater, pump, pipes, filter, and jets. In the end, dealing with freeze-damaged hot tub parts can be very costly.

On the other hand, when you properly winterize your hot tub, you can keep your costs relatively low. 

Shutting Down vs. Running

The first thing you need to consider before winterizing your hot tub is whether you will completely shut it down for winter, or keep it operational.

Shutting Down Your Hot Tub for the Winter

There are two main reasons why you should shut your hot tub down for the winter:

  • You simply don’t plan on using it.
  • You’re going away for an extended amount of time.

Whatever the reason may be, if you know you aren’t going to be using the hot tub for the winter, shut it down. This will save you from the efforts of regular maintenance and from having to power the hot tub to keep it warm.

Running Your Hot Tub through the Winter

If you aren’t leaving town for the winter, you might want to consider keeping your hot tub running throughout the season. After all, there isn’t a much better reprieve from the bitter cold than a nice soak in a hot tub. Having your hot tub powered and running all winter should be enough to keep it from freezing, but there are still some steps you’ll want to take to prepare for the winter.

Shutting Down and Winterizing a Hot Tub

If you have decided that you want to shut down your hot tub for the winter, it’s important that you take the following steps to lower the chance of costly freeze damage.

What You’ll Need

You will need the following tools to winterize your hot tub:

  • Wet/dry vacuum
  • Garden hose
  • Pliers or pipe wrench
  • Drill or screwdriver
  • Sump pump and extension cord (optional)
  • RV antifreeze (optional)

Step One: Shut Off the Hot Tub Breaker

Safety first! Make sure you turn off the breaker at your hot tub’s electrical panel to ensure that no power is getting to it. Keeping the power on can put you at risk for electrocution, and your hot tub at risk for damage.

Step Two: Drain Your Hot Tub

To drain your hot tub, find and uncap its drain spout (usually located somewhere towards the bottom). Once open, connect your garden hose and direct the flow of water to an open space that is lower than the lowest point of the hot tub. With gravity as the main force here, this will take a considerable amount of time.

If you own or have access to a submersible pump (sometimes called a sump pump) you can save yourself a big chunk of time. To start, simply connect your garden hose to the sump pump and place it at the lowest point of the hot tub. Be careful not to place the sump pump plug and your extension cord in the water. With the pump running, you should be able to drain your hot tub relatively quickly.

You don’t have to sit and watch the pump for the entire duration of the draining process, but you will want to check on it frequently. You’ll want to make sure the pump isn’t running dry since that can cause serious and costly damage.

Tip: If you’ve recently treated your hot tub water with chemicals, avoid draining it directly into your yard since it could put both plants and animals at risk. According to the Pool and Hot Tub Alliance, you should wait at least 48 hours to allow the water to cool and chemicals to dilute. Then, you can recycle your hot tub water by using it to water your lawn and shrubs.

Step 3: Remove Filters

With your hot tub resting for the season, the filters serve no purpose. To save them from potential damage from the cold, remove the filters and find a place to store them indoors. While you have the filters out, use a store-bought filter cleaning solution and your garden hose to sanitize them.

Step 4: Drain Pump and Heating Element

While your hot tub may be mostly drained at this point, there is still a considerable amount of excess water in the inner workings of the spa. It’s important to dry out this water since these parts can be costly to fix or replace if broken.

To start, find your hot tub’s pump and heater. You’ll likely need to use a screwdriver or drill to open up the side panel of your spa. Once you locate the heater and pump, loosen any and all unions surrounding each and remove any drain plugs. Water should start flowing out. Once you have everything opened up, use your wet/dry vacuum to drain any excess water in the pump and heating element.

Step 5: Dry All Hot Tub Lines

With your wet/dry vacuum, go over every single jet and filter opening. To really ensure that all water is removed, you may want to go over all once with the vacuum’s blow setting followed by a round with the vacuum’s suck setting.

Step 6: Vacuum out the Shell

At this point, you probably have a small amount of water pooling around the shell of your hot tub. Vacuum up as much of this water as you can. Once you are satisfied that the vacuum has done the best it can, either let the rest of the residue air dry or towel dry it yourself.

Step 7: Antifreeze (Optional)

With your hot tub dry, there should be no reason to add antifreeze into your hot tub plumbing. If, however, you want added protection against any freeze damage, you might want to put some RV antifreeze into your hot tub lines (make sure you don’t use car antifreeze as it is highly toxic). Just note that by doing so, you’ll be adding the extra work of having to flush the antifreeze out once you get your hot tub ready for operation again.

Start by pouring the antifreeze into the filter cavity. Eventually you should see the antifreeze start entering the shell of the hot tub. From here, pour a bit of antifreeze down each jet opening and any other opening where water can get into your spa’s plumbing.

Step 8: Cover the Hot Tub

With your hot tub dried inside and out, remember to cover and seal it well. The last thing you want is to have snow or rain sneak in and ruin all of the hard work you did meticulously winterizing your hot tub.

Winterizing Your Hot Tub to Keep It Running

An entire winter of not using your hot tub may sound absolutely horrible to you. Fortunately, as long as you can handle those cold moments dashing from the indoors to get into your hot tub, rest assured your hot tub can handle the winter.

If you maintain and clean your hot tub regularly, you won’t need to do too much winterizing prep. Keep in mind, you will want to drain and deep-clean your hot tub before temperatures reach below freezing.

Most modern spas have winter freeze protection settings. This will monitor air temperatures and turn the pump and heater on if it gets too cold. Get familiar with this setting on your hot tub and switch it on once temperatures start dropping.

Another important task for winterizing your hot tub is checking the cover. Make sure it still fits snugly on your hot tub. Your cover is one of the most important features of the hot tub, as it keeps water from getting too cold when you’re not using it. In fact, a properly fitted hot tub cover can help you conserve energy during the winter since less energy is required to reheat the water.

Keep this and other winter energy efficiency tips in mind so you’re fully prepped for the cold months ahead. As your Alberta energy company, we’re here to help you with your natural gas and electric needs, no matter the season. If you have questions about how we can help you, don’t hesitate to call us at 1.866.420.3174.