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Restarting your hot tub after winter storage is a process, and you will have a better chance of success if you take your time.
After the winter, you will need to empty your hot tub, clean out any residual antifreeze solution, and check for damage. Then you can refill with water and start enjoying your hot tub.
11 Steps to De-Winterize your Hot Tub
Follow the following steps in turn when de-winterizing your hot tub. I recommend reading through all the steps before beginning.
Step 1: Uncover Your Hot Tub
Take off any covers that you have over your hot tub, including the winter cover, air pillows, and water tubes. Clean and drain the covers and hang them up to dry before putting them away for storage. It is better to store the covers in an outdoor storage locker or shed to prevent mold growth.
Step 2: Inspect for Damage
Before you refill your hot tub with water, you want to give it a complete inspection. You are going to see a build-up of dirt at the bottom of the tub, which is to be expected. But dirt can hide other problems, such as cracks in the shell and around the jets.
Cracks are more likely to appear at the bottom of the shell, where most of the weight rests. You may also see cracks around the water level if the water froze during the winter.
Check the rubber seals around the jets and skimmers. If they are split or cracked, you will need to replace them.
Step 3: Remove Antifreeze
If your hot tub does not have a drain plug, use a submersible pump to drain all the antifreeze and water from the hot tub, then rinse the hot tub shell with a hose. Look for hairline cracks in the shell.
Step 4: Clean the Filters
Use an acrylic spa cleaning solution to wash down your hot tub shell. Do NOT use liquid soaps and scouring pads, as these scratch and remove oils from the acrylic and will shorten the spa’s lifespan.
You will need to clean your spa filter with a cleaning solution specific to the task. Again, do not use liquid soaps. Soaps are also hard to remove from the surface and will end up foaming up in your hot tub when you fill it with water.
Step 5: Apply Wax
Stick with a wax designed for hot tub acrylics, do NOT use furniture or car wax. Use brands like Novus or Spa Brite and apply the wax with an old cotton T-shirt.
Step 6: Clean the Hard Cover
A neglected cover will start to show cracks after 4 years, but if you look after it, you should expect to get up to 7 years out of your hardcover. And while you are treating the rest of your spa, this is a suitable time to care for your hardcover.
Start by cleaning the cover, removing dirt and grime with a vinyl cleaning solution, then apply a vinyl protectant. Avoid using Armor All, as this can start premature aging. Instead, use Novus, Kover Kare, or Formula 303.
Older covers may have lost their waterproofing, and the internal foam may be taking on water. If the cover feels heavy, it is better to unzip the cover and pull the foam out so that it can dry. You can also use this occasion to clean and treat the inside of the cover.
It will take a couple of days for the foam to dry. Before replacing the foam, seal it in plastic sheeting and duct-tape up the ends.
Step 7: Check Spa Equipment
Check your hot tub pumping equipment for cracks or signs that there may have been leaks, such as calcium deposits. If you took out any drain plugs, put them back in and make sure all the jet nozzles are tightened.
Clear the gauze filters of any leaves or bugs and check the filter seal before you put the lid back on.
Step 8: Fill with Fresh Water
As you put water back into your hot tub, go back every 10 minutes to check on the progress, the seals, and the integrity of the hot tub. As the pressure increases, you may see small drips developing, especially around the jets.
Small drips may stop by themselves, but it is also worth trying to tighten up the seal more before continuing to fill the spa with water. If tightening the collars does not work, you may need to replace a gasket or O-ring.
Step 9: Connect to the Power Outlet
If you have fixed all the leaks and the floor is dry beneath the hot tub, you can reconnect it to the power. Set the thermostat at the lowest temperature and then reactivate the fuses in the breaker box.
Each fuse should be in an upwards position if it is turned on. Turn on the main fuse for the box, then a fuse at a time for the pump, the heater, the lights, and any other spa electronics. In this way, you will be able to pinpoint a problem component if the main fuse trips.
Your hot tub should have a GFCI circuit breaker, and before anyone gets in the water, you want to make sure that it works. Push the test button for each fuse, and make sure they trip, then reset.
Step 10: Adjust Settings
It is time to go around and adjust everything to your preferences. Try the speed of the jets, from lowest to highest, to see if the pump is working correctly. If the flow of water is good, then you can start the heating and begin on a half-heat setting to protect the pump.
Once you know that the heater and the pump are working well together, you can increase the temperature. If the pump keeps stopping, it could be that the flow of water is insufficient, and the water is overheating the motor.
Overheating can also occur when air is locked in the pipes or around the impeller. When starting the pump for the first time, try to create a surge. Turn the pump on and off in 5-second intervals until you get a burst of bubbles from the jets, repeat 5 or 6 times.
Step 11: Balance the Water
You need to check and add sanitizing chemicals to the water to prevent it from going green, but your hot tub should now be ready for the summer.
Common De-Winterizing Problems
If you follow the steps, you should have a trouble-free start-up. But you still need to watch out for problems in the first weeks of running your spa after de-winterizing.
Here are some common problems spa owners come across when de-winterizing their hot tub:
- Power – A complete lack of power will be due to a tripped fuse. Check the fuse box for any red fuses and the components they apply to. Before turning the fuse back on, check the component, such as the pump, for overheating or leaks before turning it back on.
- Noises – A loud humming noise from the pump can mean that something is blocking the impeller or that the starter capacitor is broken. Turn off the fuse and check that the impeller spins freely. If the water is not pumping, then you made need to call in an electrician to check the pump’s capacitor.
- Leaks – Leaks coming from cracks on the pump, or the filter, are difficult to fix. The pressure of water going through a pump means regular gluing will not work, and you will need to call in a professional to repair the plastic.
- Heat – If the water is not heating, check the fuse for the heater, then the thermostat, and turn it up. If you are on the highest setting, it could be one of the various safety switches has failed. Call in a professional to check.
- Cover – After removing the foam from your spa cover, you may find that it is damaged beyond repair. If the vinyl is healthy, you should be able to order new foam inserts to save yourself a lot of money.