Continuing on our journey of reasons people give for not owning a hot tub, we are going to next explore the maintenance reason. We hear it all the time - 'I don't need another thing on my to-do list', or 'it's just going to be a headache'. Again, when we evaluate the potential upside of hot tub ownership - health and well-being benefits, and relationship & connection benefits, you have to ask, isn't a little bit of my time worth it? But I think a bigger piece of this is people simply don't understand how easy hot tub maintenance has become, if you know the right questions to ask upfront when you are shopping for the perfect hot tub...
First and foremost, we are big advocates of ozone systems on hot tubs - they handle 99% of the sanitization of the water and require no effort from you. Zero. The ozone system will run 24/7 on certain models, and as long as you ensure you see those little bubbles each time you open the cover, it is working and requires nothing else. If your hot tub model doesn't have a re-circulation pump, the ozone will operate during the hot tub filter cycles - so you just want to ensure it is functioning during those times.
Due to the ease of maintenance the ozone system leads to, we install ozone standard on every acrylic hot tub we sell. Not planning to buy from us? No problem - just ensure you ask your hot tub store if their hot tub comes equipped with ozone. If it doesn't come standard with ozone, ask if you can add it to the hot tub as an upgrade - this is definitely an upgrade worth adding. It will ultimately pay for itself in decreased chemical cost later on down the road. A good ozone system for a hot tub, if you have to 'add it on', should run about $250 - $300.
So far, we have 99% of our water cleaning handled and haven't spent a dime (unless it is an upgrade from your hot tub retailer). Even with the ozone system, you will want a back-up sanitizer running in your hot tub to help with the remaining 1%.
Generally you will be using either chlorine or bromine. With advancements in technology, adding either of these chemicals to your hot tub is quicker than your nightly flossing routine. You can purchase chlorine or bromine cartridges that you simply turn a dial indicating how often you use the hot tub. You then either add it to an inline system directly in the hot tub shell, or in a floater that allows the cartridge to float around and dispense the chemicals all on its own. These cartridges will run $12 - $20 depending on the brand and whether it is chlorine or bromine. With daily hot tub use, you will need to change this out every 3-4 weeks. If you use your hot tub less, it will last up to 8 weeks.
Your water sanitization is handled at this point, but I would recommend weekly testing of your water to ensure your pH and Alkalinity are within normal range. This test is an easy test strip you dunk in the water with a readout in 30 - 90 seconds.
Don't trust the handy strip? Most pool and hot tub retailers will offer free water testing of your hot tub water and it takes about 3 minutes.
***Helpful hint - hit the store up at opening or mid-morning for water testing for the quickest water testing experience.
Depending on your pH and Alkalinity, you may have to add a few chemicals to increase or decrease these levels. Having your pH and Alkalinity in balance ensures your sanitizer is effective and your water stays clear and enjoyable.
At this point your water is handled - there are a few troubleshooting items you may come across if you have hard water or have a lot of people using the hot tub one night. Hard water brings with it scale and lots of bathing suits bring foam from the laundry soap. Both have remedies - Stain & Scale and Defoamer. Neither cost much and aren't needed by every hot tub owner. They are definitely not needed frequently, so one bottle will last you many months.
The filter is the next item that needs to be maintained. And it is super easy and free!
To clean your filter, simply take it out every 30 days and spray it down with a high pressure nozzle on your hose. If you want to get super fancy, you can let the filter soak in an acid bath, which will get it super clean, but that is really not necessary on a monthly basis. Maybe every six months... I can tell you from personal experience, simply rinsing with a hose nozzle is sufficient. You will need to replace your filter at some point, but should be able to get a good 2 years out of it minimum with monthly rinses.
The last thing on the list of hot tub maintenance is the exterior and that is simply a personal preference type of thing. A type A personality is probably going to want to rinse off and/or wipe down the cabinet more frequently than your type B persona - so the amount of time to be spent here is really your call. Most hot tub cabinets today are made from very durable material that holds up well in the environment and doesn't require much hands on effort.
The one item I would encourage you to look at quarterly is your hot tub cover. Similar to the dashboard in your car, it bears the brunt of the sun and UV rays and it will need a bit of TLC to stay in good working condition. There are protectant products for your hot tub cover that will help minimize sun damage and prolong the useful life. I like the wipe version of these products - very similar to a Clorox or Windex Wipe - simply pull it out and wipe it over a clean cover.
So, in taking a tally, realistically you can expect to spend about 20 minutes / month on maintenance with a cost of about $20 - $30 on average - the majority of that cost being your chemical sanitizer. The other products mentioned will last quite a while, so one purchase of any of them could realistically last an entire year or more, as you won't need to add them often.
***Caldera has a video that discusses their thoughts on the time necessary to maintain a hot tub, and what items to look for in a hot tub that can actually minimize your time spent on maintenance.
Everyone's available time and monthly budget vary greatly, I understand, but I will tell you, most of the maintenance needed can be done while you are actually in the hot tub enjoying it, or immediately after you get out while you are drying off. If you've been telling yourself you don't have the time to take care of a hot tub, it might be time to re-think that reason - you are looking at less than a minute / day and about $1 / day on average for your hot tub maintenance. I can almost guarantee you the upside to hot tub ownership will outweigh this effort after your first soak!