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New hot tub tricks

Updated on September 9, 2013
Come on in - the water is AWESOME!
Come on in - the water is AWESOME!

The path to finding a new tub

Three years ago, my beautiful acrylic-coated fiberglass tub gave up the ghost on the last pre-freezing day of the 2009-10 winter season. It was a very long winter as I waited for the spring thaw to keep temps above freezing so I could get someone out to get it running again.

Once again the problem was caused by my former husband's quick fix methods that failed miserably. I was faced with a decision to sink about $500 into a 20-year-old-tub or buy a replacement.

Like everyone else, this economy had put me in a poor cash flow situation. So I thought I had better look at used hot tubs.

I went to the usual sources for a used tub - Ebay, Craigslist, the want ads. I visited a few local stores that sold hot tubs - only one had used tubs and I was a bit leery - what if something went wrong - there was no warranty.

Then I went on the Internet - of course. Unfortunately there was no good consumer information on the category of hot tubs. I went to a dozen or more manufacturer web sites to see what the differences were. The more I read the more I got confused. Who was telling the truth and who was feeding me a sales pitch?

Making a list, checking it twice - or more

I finally decided to make a list of the things I felt were important to me for my new tub and why I thought they were necessary.

  1. The price - I had to be realistic - the thought that I was considering buying a new tub was a bit overwhelming.However, my arthritic knees were enough reason on their own to justify the expense.
  2. The style - I truly wanted a round tub - mostly for the social nature. I found that square or rectangular tubs had mostly molded seating that dictated how one sat in the tub and I never enjoyed that. Hot tubbing in a round tub gave the flexibility to slide around, sit or recline - position in front of a jet or not.
  3. The number of jets - as few as possible. My last tub had five and that was more than enough. Living in far northern Wisconsin cold weather is a huge factor in managing a tub. Nearly everyone I knew with a high number of jets regretted it because of jet failure.
  4. No seat air bubbles - My current tub and the one before it also had air jets in the seat that could be turned on and off. Most men did not enjoy those air jets - I discovered that rather late in hot tub ownership. That was not so much a factor as most new tubs did not offer this feature.
  5. The depth - again a cold weather factor. A shallow tub that did not cover the shoulders is a very cold tub in below freezing temps - or any time the wind blows in any temperature. My current tub was 35" deep and I was looking to keep it at that number.
  6. Warranty availability - Again I found there was a lot of disparity in this depending on the manufacturer. Some warranties would only be offered if the tub was returned to their original location. YIPES!
  7. Energy efficiency - fortunately most of the sites did offer owner comments and I found this HUGELY helpful. Nothing like getting the whole story from the real users.

Now the real work began. Which tub would fill all of these requirements? It had to be a new tub. Many hit right on the button for most of the categories, but I was finding a real problem getting the style, depth and price to line up. By the time I found a tub deep enough, the price skyrocketed and the number of jet was way beyond what I wanted.


A detailed look of the Impulse DP
A detailed look of the Impulse DP | Source

Bingo!

I was just about to buy a tub from a company I was very impressed with. Unfortunately, it was rectangular and had more jets than I wanted. I was pretty nervous about their delivery and their warranty seemed a bit too restrictive. The price, evaluations and depth were all in line - but I wanted to check out a local appliance store that was having a special on hot tubs (?) Appliance store - well - can't hurt to check.

Cutting to the chase, after I checked out the manufacturer, this tub hit the bill on every count. The advantage of support of a local dealer was a luxury I never even considered. The manufacturer was also in northern Michigan and they talked the talk of cold weather hot tubbing.

It was very apparent that the experience level of the staff at the appliance store was pretty basic. The delivery guys said they never had delivered a hot tub up on a deck before (?) I went to the manufacturer's website and Facebook page for set-up tips. My installation went smooth as silk, thanks to my very talented home improvement friend and by the end of June, we were once again feeling like the pampered rich that we weren't.

Here are some of the products from Spa Depot that I use that were mentioned in this article

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The rest was history - just not my history

Not quite two years into owning this tub, i started having real water clarity issues. Doug also had started to develop some skin sensitivity problems and trying to find the right balance of chemicals was becoming a huge difficulty. I did do the water chemical level checks and only the pH was an out of line. We have extremely soft well water. So I got pH up and thought that would do it. Didn't make a bit of difference. Within three days of a water change it was cloudy and there were tan-ish bubbles that were slimy and floating on the surface. I bought more filters and changed them more often.

Back to the Internet. I did find an article that seemed to mirror my problem. This was the first tub I could leave on all the time and Doug and I used it almost daily - sometimes even more! This tub was being used a lot more than my previous two.

I wondered if the internal plumbing lines were coated with a build up. I found a few videos and decided I needed to give this a try. Sure enough, the product did the job it said it would! I had found three products for water sanitation and clarity that are doing a fantastic job.

My old routine of using bleach and infrequent filter changes have gone out the window. From the beginning of getting this tub I followed the manual on tub maintenance, including using specific products designed to keep this tub running a long, long time.

It does make a difference. Water can be extremely corrosive and can damage motors and other hot tub parts. Water balance is crucial.

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The who and what and how much

I cannot say enough good things about Spa Depot and its staff. Their prices and product selection are the best I have found. If there is a problem with running your tub, their customer service staff are experts and they really will work with you to get your tub running in top shape.

Then there is Nordic Spas who designed my wonderful Impulse DP. This was the tub I would have designed my self if I had the skills. The 300 gallon tub is the perfect size for us - we can accommodate four very comfortably. It is on year 'round and the utility bill varies only about $30-$40 a month between summer and the dead of winter. No more waiting for the tub to heat up to go in -it is always ready to go!

Nordic took the concerns of health issues for we arthritis sufferers into the design of its tubs. The whirlpool jet design makes quick work of aching joints and muscles. I so love the foot massage jet!

As I said earlier, installation was a snap - we even took a suggestion off a Nordic Spa Facebook entry and sunk the tub in the deck, with 17" above deck. This suggestion made it a breeze for my getting in and out of the tub with my non-functioning knees. Plus it looks terrific!

One last item worth mentioning - there are now products to clean and condition the hot tub cover - DO IT! The covers are not cheap and Spa Depot has a great kit to make the cover look and stay like new.

The options in hot tub selection are almost endless. This was the right combination for me - the whole process took about four months, including a refinance on my home that needed to be done whether I got the hot tub or not. The tub cost me $3300 including the cover - and about $500 for the deck renovation.

Take the time to weigh the different factors - do not compromise on what are the most important points - keep looking - you will find the right tub for you. And remember - nothing goes better with hot tub bubbles than a fine bottle of the bubbly!


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