How to Hook Up Your Hot Tub
If you have purchased a hot tub on the internet, from a big box store or even second hand, understanding the intallation steps is important before you take delivery.
First determine where the spa should be located. Putting it far away from the home may mean you will tend to use the spa less, especially in the winter months as the barrier to going in the spa increases with the distance from your door. No one wants to walk far in the cold to get in and out of the spa, so situating the spa closer to the home is usually a better idea.
Make sure there are no large trees right near the spa that could cause an excess amount of leaves and debris to fall into the spa.
Once you have established an ideal spot, make sure the foundation on which the spa will rest is even, stable and meant for the full weight of the spa.
In most installations, a qualified electrician will be needed because a new and dedicated electrical supply line should be run from the main electrical breaker panel to the hot tub. The electrician understands the local electrical codes and will be able to assist you in determining proper wire gauge (thickness), GFCI type and breaker size. Installations further from the main panel may require thicker wire. Exterior runs of wire may require conduit. Usually spas run on either 50 or 60 Amp breakers in North America. The voltage of the spa can be either 110V or 220V depending on the spa model, type and brand. An electrical disconnect in a subpanel near the spa is even required by code in some locales.
A disconnect near the hot tub is an exterior box mounted near the spa. A spa GFCI or ground fault circuit interrupter is used to protect anyone that is in or near the hot tub from stray currents. The GFCI operates on the same principle as protecting you in your bathroom if the hair dryer should accidentally fall into the water while plugged in to a GFCI outlet. The GFCI does not protect the spa from electrical overload. That is the job of the circuit breaker in the main panel.
Hooking the GFCI up properly can even confuse some electricians. Most spas are delivered with a user manual containing wiring diagrams to aid in making sure the 4 wire hookup is completed correctly. Sometimes diagrams are also on the control box of the spa electronics. The spa manufacturer can also be asked in case there are any questions. The electrician should test the GFCI when the installation is complete.
When setting up a new spa, check for leaks after filling it to the optimal level. In the case of a spa with a weir door or skimmer opening, the ideal spa level is about half way up the filter. The pillows should not be under water. Filling the spa to the ideal level is a balance between not having enough water which can damage the spa pumps if they are not constantly full of water, to having too much water which can lead to overflowing of the spa if several people get in at once.
Another thing to be aware of when first hooking up a spa is to avoid direct sunlight on the acrylic surface of the open and unfilled spa. Many spa buyers do not realize that direct sun can cause deformations in the acrylic surface and even bubbles in the acrylic. Make sure the spa cover is in place while working on the surrounding area of an unfilled spa. Although this does not happen when the spa is full of water, it is a risk if the spa is left uncovered in bright sunlight.
Finally, after the spa is filled to the appropriate level, any water valves meant for servicing the spa are confirmed in the open position, sanitizer (usually either bromine or chlorine) is added to the water and the spa is checked for leaks by observing the spa from as many sides as possible with access panels removed, the spa can be turned on and checked to make sure everything works as intended. Note it can take as much as half a day or more for the spa to heat up to the desired temperature for the first time.
All your hard work will have paid off now that you can sit back and enjoy your hot tub massage.