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A new hot tub cover can cost upwards of $600, so looking at ways to extend its lifespan is an easy way to save hundreds on the maintenance costs of owning a spa.
To protect your hot tub cover, you should purchase a cover cap, a floating blanket, and a cover lifter. You can extend its lifespan by using a protectant and conditioner spray, by routinely removing the cover and drying it, cleaning it regularly, and sheltering it from the elements.
Items such as cover caps and floating blankets are two simple and economical ways to add years to your expensive cover, totally offsetting their cost.
1. Cover Cap
Cover caps cost between $50-$100 and are made of thick woven polyethylene. Using a cover cap during the seasons when you are not using your tub will extend the life of your hot tub cover.
If your hot tub is outside and located in an unprotected area of your home, you are leaving your cover open to the sun and other elements. Snow, ice, and rain will weigh down and wash out the oils in the artificial material and UV rays will cause cracking.
Once your cover begins to degrade from UV exposure, it is near impossible to bring the material back to life. Cover lotions will help, but if left alone, cracks will develop, exposing the foam insulation beneath.
The cap also protects the cover from pets and wild animals that will use the flat cover as a bed during the winter and may scratch or puncture the cover’s skin.
Some cover caps go further and protect the walls of your hot tub. So, when you get to show off to your friends, you can display a clean, straight, and undamaged cover and hot tub.
2. Floating blanket
A large percentage of energy lost from a hot tub is in the form of heat escaping into the water vapor at the surface. A floating blanket can save up to 95% of the water and chemicals in the hot tub from being lost to the air.
Preventing evaporation is a major part of the battle, and it reduces the frequency of having to fill up your hot tub with cold water. And less water vapor loss means having to add fewer chemicals to keep the water in balance.
These blankets float on the surface of the water like a type of bubble wrap, which works in conjunction with the main cover. Air bubbles trapped between sheets of polythene or polypropylene function as a heat barrier. This insulation helps to reduce the amount of direct contact between the water and the air beneath the main cover.
A floating cover will reduce the amount of condensation building up on the underside of the main cover. This condensation contains chemicals that will crack the vinyl and plastic skins, which are there to prevent moisture from attacking the foam.
Blankets with a thickness greater than 16mm are preferable since these will last longer and offer better energy savings. A thicker cover will also sit flatter on the water and not scrunch up when the jets are running.
3. Cover Lifter
A hot tub cover often weighs over 60 pounds, and it will continue getting heavier as the foam ages and absorbs water. A cover lifter makes opening your hot tub easier, eliminating the need for brute strength or having to risk straining your back.
Cover lifters offer an extra pair of hands on the other side of the hot tub and take on a significant portion of the weight as you open the tub. Since the cover is easier to remove, there is nothing to prevent you from using the tub more often or checking for issues.
So, you can perform cleaning and maintenance routines more often to keep the water clear and algae-free. A lifter will also hold the cover in place against the wall of the hot tub rather than leaving the cover on the floor to be kicked.
The lifter protects your hot tub and the cover from the damage that dragging the cover off can cause. Lifting the cover off by yourself can lead to tears in the fabric or breaking the insulation foam inside the cover. Broken foam is less efficient at keeping in the heat and will lead to sagging and the cover contacting with the water.
4. Cover Protectants and Conditioners
As with any material, the effects of the sun and harsh weather will take their toll and shorten the lifespan of the skin over the cover. Vinyl cover protectants, such as 303 Aerospace Protectant, function as a sun shield against the harmful effects of UV rays.
303 is a non-greasy formula that keeps your cover looking new and helps to slow down the development of cracks and fading of your cover’s skin. The protectant also reinvigorates the appearance of the vinyl on older covers, bringing back the color and the sheen.
Leisure Time also produces a cover care and conditioner treatment for your hot tub cover. This liquid protects the vinyl from UV and the damage that harsh weather and dust can cause. You can also use this same treatment on the edges and the walls of your hot tub to keep it looking new.
Finally, The Cover Guy’s Hot Tub Cover Cleaner and Protectant works on all vinyl surfaces to add a layer of UV resistance. This clear spray prevents premature cracking, dulling, and tearing of the vinyl. The cleaner removes marks without damaging the material and restores the color and flexibility.
5. Remove and Dry the Cover
Hot tub covers become easier to waterlog as they crack and get older. A sodden hot tub cover can lose heat up to 32 times faster than a dry cover. The solution is to treat the cover to prevent splitting and to fix any cracks as soon as they appear.
But you also need to dry the foam core in the cover out before you go back to using it. This is to prevent cupping and further damage to the skin. Most vinyl covers should have a zipper to allow full access and removal of the foam core.
- Once you have the foam out, leave it to one side to dry while you tend to the skin.
- Try to wipe away patches of mold and dirt on the cover with a vinyl cleaning solution.
- Apply an anti-mold treatment for vinyl to the inside of the cover and leave it to dry in the sun.
- The foam core should be wrapped in a plastic vapor barrier. Take it off carefully and leave it to dry. These plastic barriers can split, and you may need to replace them.
- After a day in the sun, the foam core, the barrier, and the skin should be dry.
- You can then re-assemble the cover.
If you see that both the foam core and the vinyl skin are falling apart and covered in mold, you should replace the cover.
6. Regular Cleaning
Regular cleaning of your hot tub cover can save you a lot of money. Moisture finds it easier to cling to a dirty and scuffed cover as opposed to one that is smooth. Dirt and moisture are also a good combination for mold to thrive and develop.
- Vinyl and plastic treatments rejuvenate the material, add a layer of protection from the elements and dirt, and kill molds.
- Treatment solutions will protect the underside of the cover from the chemicals you need to add to keep the water clean.
You need to be careful about what you use to clean, protect, and restore a hot tub cover. Vinegar is inexpensive and easy to find, it is effective in removing dirt and germs, and it is a non-toxic natural cleaner.
Bleach and soap are too harsh, so try this DIY method of cleaning your hot tub cover:
- Pour a gallon of white vinegar into your hot tub skimmer and leave the pump running to mix it in for a couple of hours. This allows the vinegar to reach everywhere that water circulates in the system.
- While you are waiting, mix a 1-to-1 solution of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle to apply over all surfaces.
- Leave to dry for 15 minutes.
- Wipe this mix over both sides of the cover, including between the folds and hinges.
- You can use the mix around anywhere you see patches of mold or where the cover is in contact with the hot tub.
- After two hours, you will notice particles of dead mold being washed out of the jets.
7. Hot Tub Location
Start smart by setting up your hot tub in a sensible location to save yourself a lot of effort later. Trees, flowers, and anything that will drop debris is bad news for a hot tub cover. Fallen branches will push down on the cover, and pollen and dead leaves can stain the skin.
While you do not want vegetation hanging over the cover, you also do not want to have a hot tub out in the open with uninterrupted exposure to the elements. If possible, you need to build a gazebo over the hot tub to prevent heavy rains and snowfall from landing directly onto the cover.
A roof will add shade and protect both the cover and the hot tub from direct sunlight. The roof gives you more privacy, and you can even add a fabric wall around the structure to keep the heat in and nosy neighbors out.
Keep the tub near a garden gate and in reach of a hose. You want an easy route to bring in water treatment chemicals and to top up the tub with water. The weight of a hot tub full of water can come to several thousand pounds, so set it up on a level and stable surface with good drainage.