Hot Tub / Spa Frequently Asked Questions

Questions With Expanded Answers:

What is the difference between a spa and a hot tub?

A hot tub is made out of wood, think wooden barrels with jets. Spas are made out of anything else. In today’s world, we call them all hot tubs. So there is really no difference.

Are your tubs salt?

We sell 7 lines of spas of which 4 are salt ready. We include a salt system or Ozone with every tub capable of having it!

Do saltwater tubs use chlorine?

Yes, saltwater tubs make chlorine constantly from the salt in the water. As a matter of fact, saltwater spas use more chlorine than a spa treated with ozone, bromine, and minerals.

How long will a hot tub last?

The quality of a hot tub and the care that is taken of it will dictate the life expectancy of a tub. The tubs we sell at Sandollar are engineered to last 5 to 20 years. The better the quality of parts and water management systems, the longer the life of your tub will be.

An internet or off-brand tubs life is about  5 years.

When evaluating a tub, some of the important considerations you’ll want to ask about are:

    • Materials
    • Workmanship
    • Structural insulation
    • Plumbing systems
    • Reputable and established equipment manufacturers
    • The ability to obtain parts as the tub ages

Are hot tubs insulated?

Quality hot tubs are, lower quality tubs use none or very little. Often cheaper tubs use a few-inch thick coating or interior foam and an exterior wrap or sprayed shell. Well-made tubs insulate every space possible. The insulation is expensive however this will on average reduce the operating cost by often over $100 a month. Lower quality tubs do not fully insulate due to the cost of doing so. Manufacturers sight easier access to pipes, trapped heat, and space-age insulation.

Fully foamed tubs are the least likely to leak due to the support for the jets and pipes that the structural spray foam creates. The reality is we know from homes that the more insulation the better. Hot tubs and spas are no different than any other type of construction with sprayed foam being the best, blown-in insulation being second, fiberglass being third (moisture and dampness will destroy the ability of the fiberglass to insulate) and thin reflective wraps being a little better than nothing. Some manufacturers use Heat lock claiming that anything more than 3-4”s of insulation is a waste which by the way does not even comply with building codes.

Why do we use 2 x 6 or 2 x 8 framing and insulation? We do that because the more insulation the better. Homes must have R20 at least to comply with building codes, which is AT LEAST  6” of spray foam. The recent zero energy home at Unity College utilizes R60 insulation in the walls with 18” of sprayed in foam. In short the more insulation the better.

Does a spa or hot tub need an electrician?

Normally yes. 110-volt hot tubs even when considered “plug and play” still require a receptacle that is a dedicated circuit. This means nothing else is on the same circuit with it if it is not, the tub as well as the other things on the components of the circuit will suffer and cause premature failure of parts.

A hot tub requiring  220 volts in most cases comes with the required breakers and box to contain it or them. All 220-volt spas must by electrical code be hard wired by an electrician. 220 Volt tubs heat faster and in the long run, will use less power than an identical 110-volt tub. They do not come with wires and it is against code to use any type of plug(s).

Which is better – spas and hot tubs with 110 volts or 220 volts?

Most hot tubs/spas are 220 volts that are used in the Northern climates. When a 110-volt hot tub is operating the jets and heat can not run at the same time. Meaning if you run the jets for 20 minutes the tub will lose heat until the jets are turned off. In addition, a 110-volt tub heats at about ¼ the speed of a 220-volt tub with an average rise of 1 degree per hour in contrast to 220 volts which usually heat at 6-8 degrees per hour.

The cost of operating a tub is much lower with 220 volts than 110 volts. Some tubs use 110 volts such as very small tubs, entry-level spas, tubs made specifically to cater to people who are challenged for power in their home, and low cost/quality tubs.

What is Ozone in a Hot Tub? How does Ozone Work?

Ozone generators in a hot tub create ozone (O3) or unstable oxygen, which is an oxidizer and kills bacteria. This ozone is injected into the water and stays in the water doing its job for about 30 minutes until turning back into regular oxygen (O2). Ideally, Ozone is introduced on a constant basis although any amount is better than none.

Ozone DOES NOT replace your need for bromine or chlorine but does reduce their use by 60 – 90%. Ozone is created in one of two ways. Through ultraViolet light or UV and Corona discharge or CD. UV ozone generators stop producing ozone after about 1 year of use while Corona discharge units last indefinitely.

We have seen CD or Corona discharge units last in excess of 20 years. Either type takes Oxygen (O2) and splits it into 2 molecules of O1. These O1 molecules attach to an O2 molecule to form O3 (ozone). This lasts about 30 minutes and reverts back to oxygen.

Do hot tubs come with a warranty?

Yes, most tubs come with a warranty. The warranty(s) vary from brand to brand and model to model. Usually, warranties range from 6 months to 7 years.

Buying a tub from a dealer you trust is very important when it comes to warranties. Although a warranty is provided by the manufacturer it is fulfilled by the dealer or retailer that sells the tub.

We have a highly trained and experienced service dept. Tubs purchased from the internet or “blow out sales” usually have little to no warranty and no one to service them. The parts are shipped directly to the customer from the manufacturer once the homeowner diagnoses the problem.

Do spas and hot tubs include delivery?

Usually, a spa purchased from a dealer will include delivery,  although some dealers do charge extra for this. We include delivery and start-up. Often tubs purchased from the internet, big box stores, and fly-by-night blow-out gypsy spa companies deliver to the driveway and the homeowner moves the spa into place, set it up, and gets it running.

How much does a hot tub weigh? Will my deck support a hot tub?

Hot tubs vary in weight due to size and capacity as well as manufacturing quality but are typically between 2000 and 6500 pounds filled with water. The weight is well distributed and is generally 50 to 100 pounds per square foot. A hot tub manufacturer has specific requirements as to what a tub should sit on for a deck or surface.

Concrete is always ideal but not normally necessary. If you are in question if your deck has the structural strength to hold a hot tub, consult a deck professional.

Can I buy a hot tub or spa on the internet?

Yes, but not one of good quality. All well-made spas are sold only through dealers.

What is the best Hot Tub?

Hotspring Spas and Caldera Spas are the best hot tubs money can buy.  Having produced more tubs than any other manufacturer, they have produced millions of hot tubs and have a network of the world’s finest and most experienced dealers. Additional information about the quality and construction of hot tubs can be found here.

Can I finance a hot tub?

Yes, most dealers offer finance. Here at Sandollar Spa And Pool, we help you to get into the hot tub you want now, with great financing options! *Subject to credit approval

Why are hot tubs from Dealers more expensive than tubs on the internet?

The main reason is normally they plainly are better tubs. There are no high-quality tubs sold on the internet, all quality tubs are sold by dealers. There are two reasons for this. Great tubs come with great warranties and the manufacturer needs dealers’ highly skilled technicians to fulfill these warranty promises.

The second part is that internet tubs usually have little to no insulation, low-quality heating components and pumps, low-quality controls, and off-brand or imported parts which are less expensive but not replaceable. Low-quality parts and goods cost less to produce and with no or little warranty with no one to honor it, being cheaper is easy.

Over the course of 5 years, these high-quality dealer-sold tubs have a much lower cost of ownership and are much nicer to own during this period.

What do I do if my Hot Tub breaks down in the winter?

This is where buying from a reputable, experienced dealer becomes very important. A high-quality dealer will have a service and parts dept. That can fix your tub in a quick and efficient way. Time is of the essence. If the tub is purchased from the internet or big box store,  you are limited to fixing it yourself with parts that hopefully can be found and purchased on the internet.
One way to triage a Hot tub is to use light such as a clip-on lamp or work light.

Install a 60-watt incandescent bulb if you have one, An LED if you do not. Remove your equipment door and find a location where the heat from the light bulb will not overheat or melt anything. Replace the equipment door and cover that side of the spa with a blanket. This will keep your tub from freezing for many days, Always consult your dealer for specific information.

Can hot tubs and spas go outside?

Yes, most tubs are made to go outside. Most tubs purchased from a dealer are fully insulated and made to be outside and will run very efficiently. The exceptions are tubs sold on the internet, through big box stores, from Blow out sales, and through stove and billiards companies are not insulated and although they can go outdoors they would be terribly expensive to run and would freeze very quickly without power.

Can a hot tub be inside?

Many people put their hot tubs inside. Ideally, moisture-resistant materials are used when constructing a room for a tub. Most people treat a new “tub” room like either a bathroom or an exterior space. Ideally, this room would have a bathroom or ventilation fan although a cracked window can provide plenty of air movement.

How often do you drain a spa/hot tub?

It depends on several factors. If the tub uses bromine ozone it should be drained every 3-4 months depending on the amount of use, initial water quality, and water treatment by the spa owner. If the tub is saltwater, some manufacturers claim 1 year or more before needing to be drained and refilled. This has not been our experience, we have seen the need to drain and refill after 6 months or so.

What is the best way to clean a hot tub filter?

The best way to clean a filter is to soak it in a filter cleaning solution and rinse it out with an aqua comb. We use Freshwater filter cleaner and have for over 20 years with great success. The second best way is with a spray-on filter cleaner and again rinse the cartridge well with an Aqua comb. It is VERY important to clean them monthly and to be SURE to get all of the cleaners out of the cartridge. The last and least effective way is with a dishwasher. The cartridges can go right into your dishwasher. When doing this it is very important to make sure the dishwater is set to not dry or to interrupt the cycle before this happens. We also recommend giving the filters an additional rinse before reinstalling them into the hot tub.