Hot tub start-up…5 tips for opening your spa this fall

Fall in New England for a lot of homeowners is when it’s time to close the pool and start up the hot tub. There is nothing better than slipping into 101 degrees for hot bubbly water on a crisp autumn night. Today I want to give spa owners a quick run down of the hot tub start-up process.

hot tub start-up

These guidelines can be used whether your tub has been shut down all summer or it is just time for your normal drain and re-fill.

1. Cleaning the spa surface and jets.

There are many products out there for cleaning the spa surface like Leisure Time’s Spa Fast Gloss, but you can also use non-abrasive cleaners like windex on the spa shell. Avoid using products with bleach in them like soft scrub as these harsh chemicals can harm the spa shell.  Also at the time you are cleaning the spa shell you also want to clean out the spa jets.  Dirt and grime can get in behind the jets can affect the functionality of the rotating bearings. Most spa jets can be taken out by turning them counter clockwise and pulling them out. This will allow you to clean out the jet orfice as well as the back stem of the jets them self, this is very important to maintain the life of the jets.

Remove spa jets to clean

2. Filling the spa

Once the interior of the hot tub is clean you are ready to fill the spa up with the hose.  When filling the tub there is one preventative measure we can take to avoid what we call an airlock in the lines; once the tub is about halfway full or almost to the filter wall place the hose into the filter well and try to fill up the plumbing from the filter area. This can help prevent tough air pockets from forming which can prevent the jets from pushing water through the system (more on airlocks below) . A lot of spas will have a water level mark on the spa somewhere usually near the filter well. Generally you want to make sure the filters themselves  are completely submerged in water and most of the time a few inches above them.  Low water level is often a cause of air getting into the system and can cause the heater not to heat.


3. Firing up the tub

Now that the hot tub is filled to the proper level it is time to hit the GFI breaker and fire it up! When the spa first starts up the topside control will probably start flashing and going through its initial start up program. Once it is done doing that you want to get the jets firing and pushing water through the system.  Often times when the spa starts up and the jets try to fire you will hear the jet pumps turn on and running but nothing will be coming out of the jets. If this happens you have an airlock in the system, I will be covering air locks in its own post, (Read: How to fix in airlock in your spa) as it deserves its own post, for now lets just say your spa is running and water is flowing freely through the jets as its supposed to.

Once the spa is running and it is starting to heat up go ahead and put your filter cartridges into the filter well. The reason I wait until now to place the filters in is that  it is easier to get the flow running through the heater upon start up with the filters out as they add resistance to the water flow, once the spa is heating you are good to put the cartridges in.

4. Balance the water and treat for minerals

A lot of town water or water from wells coming out of the hose have minerals such as copper and iron in them. These minerals can often turn the water brown or green as you are filling it up, other times the water will be clear when you fill it up but cause problems once you add your chlorine or bromine. This is why before we do anything with our spa water we want to treat the minerals with a metal sequestrate or chelating agent. These products prevent the metal ions from oxidizing and turning the water green or brown. These products like Leisure Time Metal Gone and others are very PH sensitive so make sure to test an adjust your PH before you add a metal sequestrate.

So your chemical start-up should look like this:

  • test and adjust your PH and Alkalinty
  • add a full bottle of Metal Gone or other metal sequestrate
  • wait 24hrs before treating your spa water further

5.  Sanitize the spa water

Once you have waited 24hrs for the metal treatment to do its thing it is time to add your spa water sanitizer of choice. Now there are a few options for spa water sanitation; chlorine, bromine tabs, and baquaspa/peroxide based sanitizers. I recommend chlorine as a hot tub sanitizer but debating the differences is the topic of a future post. If you are using chlorine granules you want to add 2OZ. of granules to the spa water while running the jets, 2oz. will super chlorinate spas up to 500 gallons.

If you are using bromine tablets this is a two step process; first you want to add 2 oz. of granular sodium bromide to the spa while running the jets. Wait about 2 hours for the bromide levels to increase and then you can add your bromine tablets to your bromine floating dispenser and you are good to go.

Also at this time if you are using a mineral purifier such as a Nature 2 stick or a Spa Frog Mineral stick you can add this to your spa filter well as well. Remember these mineral sticks only last 4 months once they have gotten wet so make sure you replace them if needed or else they are just a piece of plastic sitting in your filter.

I hope this article has helped when starting up your hot tub this fall, to keep up to date on future spa care article please subscribe to the RSS feed up on the left side of the page or sign up for our email list as well.

Also if you are in Massachusetts or Seacoast NH and don’t have time to drain and fill your spa give us a call and ask about our spa drain and fill service 978-388-2585.

About Jay Broyer

Jay is the retail sales manager at Precision Pool Construction and has been running the store for the past 6 years. He has been in the pool and spa industry for the last 11 years and is CPO certified by the National Swimming Pool Foundation. In additionto his pool and spa experience, Jay is an accomplished solo singer/songwriter who has been featured on various Boston radio stations and has played in some of the areas best music venues. Connect with Jay on Google +

3 Comments
  1. This is a great step by step guide! I would also recommend using a pre-filter than you attached on the end of your garden hose to filter out any metals while you’re filling your hot tub. Especially if you have well water.

    Great stuff. It’s refreshing to find other swimming pool and hot tub blogs out there that know what they are talking about.

  2. Thanks Matt, that is a great point about the pre-filter, getting those minerals out before hand makes the job even easier.

    -Jay Broyer
    Precision Pool

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