There are so many factors to consider when calculating the amount of space needed around a hot tub. Some are purely for functionality, but some are also to prevent serious injury or death. So how much space do you need?
The minimum clearance necessary around a hot tub is 18 inches (46cm). This extra space is needed in order to access the inner workings of the hot tub for maintenance purposes and to allow for accessories such as the steps and cover. Hot tubs need a clearance of 22 ½ feet (6.9m) from overhead power lines.
This article will help you understand the importance of having adequate clearance space, how close your hot tub can be to your house without causing damage, and how to find the ideal location in your yard.
Hot tub side clearance
The dimensions of your hot tub are only part of the equation when working out how much clearance is necessary.
While not all cities require building permits when installing hot tubs, some do. It’s best to check local code so that there are no unwanted surprises later down the road.
Whether you need to access 1, 2, 3, or all 4 sides of your hot tub depends on the model you purchase.
Some manufacturers have all the mechanical equipment on the front side, while others place pumps on one or twos sides in addition to the front.
It’s important to take this into consideration when you’re deciding where to place your spa.
Wherever you decide to place your new hot tub, you must ensure that there is enough clearance to access the panels where the inner workings are housed.
Ideally, you want to allow 30 inches (76cm) around the sides of the hot tub that house the inner workings. As a minimum, never allow less than 18 inches (46cm).
If you or an engineer needs to service the hot tub, having 30 inches of clearance will ensure that the inner workings are easily accessible.
Access isn’t likely to be an issue if your hot tub is going to be free-standing on concrete, gravel, decking, etc.
However, if the spa is partially or fully recessed into decking, you’ll need to create something like a hatch so that maintenance can be carried out.
If you want the hot tub to be fully recessed into the decking without a hatch, you can install a removable trim ring that allows for straps to be inserted and ran under the tub so that it can be “coffin lifted” out when maintenance is required.
Steps and covers
You need to allow enough space for the steps and cover. If your hot tub has all of its mechanical parts on the front, then access to all sides of the tub is not necessary. Access to the front panel and the side where the cover lifter is installed will be enough.
Depending on the model you choose, the steps could easily add an extra 25 inches (64cm) to the front of the hot tub, but you can easily find steps with a shorter depth if space is at a premium.
When it comes to covers, many hot tub owners prefer to use a cover lifter, which makes moving the cover a lot easier and means you don’t have to place it on the floor.
The cover will be stood upright when you’re in the hot tub, so extra clearance is needed. All of these add-ons really add up to the overall footprint of your hot tub.
Electrical connections made to and around water have to be protected by a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) device.
A GFCI device needs to be at least 5 feet (1.5m) from the spa to prevent electrocution from being able to operate the switch while inside the hot tub.
If your hot tub is going to be placed on a concrete slab, a trench will need to be dug so that the wiring can run inside a conduit from the GFCI. This needs to be in place before pouring the concrete.
The longer the trenching for the conduit, the more expensive it’ll be for the electrical installation. Also, the longer the conduit, the more expensive it will be to power your hot tub.
With the exception of the wiring that attaches directly to your hot tub to run the heater, pump, filter, etc., all other wiring (for lighting and so on) must be at least 5 feet from the edge of the spa.
Overhead power lines
Do not place your hot tub directly under or within 22 ½ feet (6.9m) of overhead power lines. These include telecommunication lines, cable lines, and broadband wiring communication systems.
How close can a hot tub be to a house?
In most cases, having your hot tub butted right up against the wall of your home is too close. The steam from the water may seep into the windows and the surrounding area can become dangerously slippery.
A hot tub should be 5 feet (1.5m) away from your house to avoid damage and several feet away from walkways to avoid slipping. The close proximity allows you to power your spa and fill it with water. It’s also far enough away to ensure that the water is directed away from your home’s foundation when draining.
Having your spa too close to your home’s entrances can be a real nuisance for those going in and out if the floor is wet and slippery. And having people constantly entering and exiting will only disturb your time trying to relax.
In some US states, a hot tub must by law be set back at least 5 feet from the property line. While having the hot tub further away might not be a problem in the summer, consider how uncomfortable it’ll be to get in and out in the dead of winter.
It’s also well worth mentioning that placing a hot tub close to the corner of a house tends to accentuate wind, which is why it’s so important to consider the prevailing wind.
Something that most people won’t have considered is the proximity of the hot tub to any windows. Because the area around a hot tub gets wet, there is a real danger of slipping and falling into a glass window, which can result in death.
This is why certain states require safety glazing for any glass located within 60 inches from the water’s edge and 60 inches measured vertically from the walking surface.
While this might sound a little over the top, add alcohol and relax muscles to the mix, and you can see why serious injury is a real possibility.
Whether or not a similar code is required in your state or country, it’s something that you should definitely address.
Several brands manufacture films that can be applied to glass to meet impact requirements, costing only $3 per square foot.
Where should I put my hot tub?
A hot tub can be placed anywhere (indoors or outdoors) where there is a solid, level surface with a nearby water and electrical supply. Hot tubs can sit on firm foundations such as concrete, decking, patios, or gravel. The ideal location has easy access, privacy, shade, and no wind.
Pay attention to things such as the prevailing wind and the orientation of the sun to find the most comfortable spot for your new hot tub. Sunlight and winds have an impact on the cost of maintaining the water temperature.
Increasing sunlight exposure and reducing the impact of winds can save you money on your energy bill.
Look to choose a location for your spa’s foundation that’s as level as possible. The more uneven the surface is to start, the more work you’ll have leveling it out.
It’s best to avoid having the spa foundation in an area close to trees or shrubs. Over time, the roots may find their way beneath your hot tub foundation, which will cause your hot tub to become unlevel.
When a hot tub is on an uneven surface, the dips put stress on the frame and shell of the hot tub, which can lead to fractures and cracks.
Another issue with having your spa close to vegetation is that the foliage can find its way into the hot tub water. Apart from being a nuisance to remove, it can also lower the pH and cause havoc when trying to balance the water chemistry.
You also want to take privacy into consideration. The last thing you want is to be overlooked by your neighbors and their annoying children.
If possible, choose an area of your yard that naturally blocks views and noise from the surrounding homes. A cheap privacy screen is often all you need to relax in peace.