Hot Tub Buyer’s Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Hot Tubs!

Hot Tub Buyer’s Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Hot Tubs!

What you need to know about buying and owning a spa, from how it works and what it costs to how hot it should it be and whether to place your new hot tub in your home or on your deck or patio is right here. If you want even more incredibly valuable hot tub info, get our Ultimate Hot Tub Buyers Guide now. Or, if you simply know what you like and wish to review our selection of hot tubs, please visit our Hot Tubs page. We’re pleased to offer a wide range of extraordinary hot tubs to fit any lifestyle, backyard and budget. Now let’s get started!

How Does a Hot Tub Work?

Before you start looking at specific hot tub models and price tags, you will need to understand how a hot tub works. Once you know the workings of your hot tub, you can operate and enjoy your spa for years to come. In this Hot Tub Buyers Guide, you’ll learn which features are best for you, how to maintain your spa, and how to troubleshoot any issues that might occur.

What Is a Hot Tub?

The term “hot tub” is typically used to refer to a self-contained, above-ground spa. The spa’s hot water and jets create an enjoyable immersive experience for its users. And although there are different makes and models of hot tubs, and some differences do exist (i.e. the filter placement), essential operations of all hot tubs are pretty much the same. It is this same mechanical construction that allows water containment and basic hot tub operations such as heating. So, now let’s take a quick look at the main hot tub components.

What is a Hot Tub?

What Are the Main Components of a Hot Tub?

The Shell:

The inner spa surface (acrylic or other weather- and chemical-resistant thermoplastic) contains the water. The shell has seats in its mold and mounting points for the jets. Built to hold the weight of this water, equipment, and bathers, the spa shell is reinforced with fiberglass backing, high-density polyurethane foam, or some combination of the two.

The Hot Tub Cabinet:

The hot tub cabinet provides structural support for the shell and equipment, and hides the less-aesthetically pleasing plumbing, pumps, and heating equipment behind tasteful doors. Today’s cabinets are made from easy-to-maintain, weather-resistant polymer.

Spa Pumps:

One or more pumps are needed to circulate the water in and out of the hot tub, filter the water and operate the jets. The pump allows for two speeds: low speed for filtering (and most heating) and high speed for operating the jets.

Jets or Hydro Jets:

Just about everyone’s favorite hot tub feature – the jet nozzles create the powerful bubbles that massage the body and help relieve muscle soreness. Air is drawn through a constricted section of the jets to create a pressurized venturi effect and the water stream generated through the pump mixes with the air to create soothing and massaging bubbles that can be adjusted by the user.


Some older spas may use air blowers to create additional bubbles in the water. While these can be used instead of (or in addition to) the jets, their use increases electrical use and the cost of ownership.

Spa Pack: Controller and Heater:

The spa pack contains a controller and heater in one unit. The controller manages the operation of the filter, pump, heater, and jets. Water is heated each time it circulates through the heater. The spa pack can also control lights or power, and water cleaning, for the ozonator.

Topside (or Spaside) Control:

The control pad allows bathers to change water temperature from inside or outside the hot tub and lets the user control the pumps, lights, or blowers.

Filters / Sanitation System:

Critical to keeping your hot tub clean and your water clear, filters and water care sanitizers keep your tub running the way it was designed to. Filters are typically located in a designated filter area accessible from the top of the spa.


Similar in function to chlorine or bromine systems, the ozonator helps destroy organic material. However, the ozonator uses special light injected into the spa through a venturi to accomplish this important task. While effective for helping keep the hot tub clean, chemicals still must be added to the water for correct sanitization.

Spa Lights:

Whether it’s incandescent lights or energy saving LED lights in a variety of breath-taking hues with preset programs, today’s hot tubs have an array of striking lighting options, with controls conveniently located on the air button on the top surface of the tub.

Equipment Area and Access Door:

Review your user manual to get an idea of where your parts and plumbing live. For maintenance issues that you cannot do yourself, it is best to call a professional for assistance.

What Are a Hot Tub’s Basic Functions?

Now that you understand the main components of a hot tub, its basic functionality is simply to:

  • Drain and fill the tub
  • Filter the water
  • Heat the water
  • Light the tub
  • Provide ozone injection
  • Operate the blower
  • Power the jets

Basic Hot Tub Functions

How Does a Hot Tub Run?

Electricity is required to operate your spa. Along with your dealer, a professional electrician will help ensure that you have the proper voltage you will need prior to installation. As for the electricity cost of running your tub, that all depends on usage and climate. If you live in a warm climate with occasional soaks, you can turn the temperature down between uses. If you are in a colder climate and need it a few times a week, you’ll save money by leaving it running. However, if you are heading out for the winter and don’t expect to use it for several months, it’s critical you consider using a professional dealer service to winterize your tub properly.

How Do I Keep My Hot Tub Running Smoothly?

Keeping your hot tub maintained properly is the best way to ensure many years of trouble-free operation! Mainely Tubs is always happy to help you with all of your hot tub maintenance questions.

Read our “How a Hot Tub Works” web page to learn more.

How Much Does a Hot Tub Cost?

A hot tub is a great investment in your home and quality of life. But how much does a hot tub really cost? Can you afford it? Our Hot Tub Buyers Guide covers the typical costs of a hot tub to give you what you need to make an informed decision.

How Much a Hot Tub Costs Comes Down to the Variables

All hot tubs are not made equal. There are many options and variations to consider. And while that may seem overwhelming at first, it’s actually a huge benefit since you can get exactly what you want! Some of the key areas that determine the cost of a spa are:

Hot Tub Size:

Bigger hot tubs cost more to manufacture, so larger spas will be more expensive. If you aren’t sure what size you’ll need, think beyond your immediate family. Most people focus on users that will be enjoying the tub most of the time when considering which size spa to buy.

Hot Tub Features:

Today’s premium and luxury spa hot tubs have many built-in standard features like powerful jets, touch-screen control panels, and improved filtration systems that are reflected in the purchase price.

Hot Tub Features

Hot Tub Accessories:

Depending on your wants and needs, various add-on accessories and options that can enhance your overall spa experience (cover lifter, entertainment systems, and steps) will affect the total cost of a hot tub.

Engineering and Quality:

A spa built with advanced engineering will be more efficient, more intuitive and more reliable. Getting the best quality parts up front will reduce repair and replacement costs later.

Hot Tub Design:

The look of the spa you choose is up to you. Typically, hot tubs with a leading-edge design will be pricier as they are usually made with more expensive materials.

Geographic Location:

Because of their size and weight, spas can be challenging items to deliver. Some dealers, like Mainely Tubs, will waive the cost of delivery and a standard installation. Expect to pay a bit more for delivery if you live very far away from the place where you purchased your hot tub.

What Is the Average Cost of a Hot Tub?

Your local hot tub dealer is absolutely the best place to get information about models, features, upgrades, costs, and everything in between. You’ll save so much time and gain more valuable information on models and financing options if you visit your professional hot tub dealer for a personalized consult. You can even take a test soak!

Our Hot Tub Buyers Guide lists some general price ranges below but remember that various factors affect the final price, and this price can only be determined at the dealership.

Entry Level Hot Tubs: $3,000 To $5,000 Starting Range

These hot tubs are lightweight and easy to move, as they are typically rotationally-molded, meaning the spa interior and exterior are formed out of a durable plastic.

Value-Priced Hot Tubs: $4,000 To $8,000 Starting Range

This is the entry zone for the spas you typically associate with hot tubs: high-gloss acrylic shells, synthetic wood-like cabinets and lots of fun features, like multiple jets lining the spa seats.

Premium Hot Tubs: $6,000 To $10,000 Starting Range

Created with more advanced engineering and design for a more satisfying long-term ownership experience, premium hot tubs are more energy efficient than value-priced spas with more robust features (high jet counts, water features and lighting), higher-quality spa components (heater, pumps) and more advanced control systems.

Premium Hot Tub

Luxury Hot Tubs: $9,000 to $16,000+ Starting Range

Spas in this range are the crème de la crème of spas, and this investment should provide 10-20 years of enjoyment, not to mention the lowest energy costs, simplest operation, and most minimal maintenance. With these top-of-the-line hot tubs you will be getting high-quality components, durable construction, and many luxury spa features.

What About Used Hot Tubs?

Pre-owned spas come with advantages and risks. The pros include the reduced upfront cost, and many reputable dealers offer refurbished units that have been thoroughly cleaned, tuned up and double-checked for flaws. Some may even offer warranties. The downside is that the lifespan of a used tub will likely be shorter with a shorter warranty (if any).

How Much Does A New Spa Cost After the Initial Purchase?

The cost to install a hot tub will depend on the hot tub that you purchase and the options from the dealership. The cost of operating the new hot tub depends on the specifics of the model along with the current home set-up (i.e. if you already have a solid foundation or need to build something, current electrical set-up), your chosen water care system (chlorine, bromine, salt water sanitization, supplemental ozonator) and the suggested products (i.e. filters, cleaning agents) that you will use to maintain your hot tub. The best retailers, like Mainely Tubs, give you written, estimated ownership costs for every model they sell.

Does It Matter What Dealer I Choose to Buy My Hot Tub From?

Of course it does! Purchasing a hot tub is a significant investment, so you need to find a hot tub retailer that you can trust.

Hot Tub Showroom
At Mainely Tubs, we pride ourselves on being experts in the hot tub industry, not just people that sell the tubs. Some questions to consider as you evaluate potential dealers:

  • How long have they been in business? Longer is better!
  • What are the customer reviews like? Do they have referrals from satisfied customers?
  • Do they offer many types of hot tub brands, makes and models?
  • Has the dealer been carrying the same brand for a while or do they commonly switch  to different brands?
  • Are their technicians up-to-date and trained on current spa technology?
  • Do they provide hands-on training as to how hot tubs actually work?
  • Do they provide access to continued customer support/questions after the purchase?

No matter where you are in the process (you do not need to come in with the intent to buy), or what you are looking for, we’d love to help you find the hot tub that is exactly right for you!

Read our “How Much Does a Hot Tub Cost” web page to learn more.

How Much Does It Cost to Run a Hot Tub?

Thinking about buying a new spa but not sure what it will cost to operate? This Hot Tub Buyers Guide lists several of the more common variables to consider below when factoring how much it is likely to cost to maintain and operate a hot tub long term.

Hot Tub Maintenance

Average Monthly Electricity Costs

You might be surprised to learn that the best engineered, most highly insulated hot tubs can cost around $25 to $40 per month to run. Modern, energy-efficient hot tubs with improved insulation and powerful heaters can save you money in the long run. Other details that will determine your monthly electricity include:

  • Large spas cost more to heat than smaller tubs
  • The more you use your spa, the more you’ll run your heater
  • Spas are more expensive to heat in the winter than in the summer
  • An ozonator can boost electricity bills

Try using this energy efficiency calculator to get an initial ballpark, but the most accurate information will come from the spa dealer who has all your hot tub specifications. Mainely Tubs offers a written Energy Cost Guarantee (we pay if we’re wrong) for the electrical costs of every hot tub we sell. (BTW – we don’t know of any other hot tub retailer that offers this type of guarantee!)

Average Water Care Costs

Depending on which water system you choose to maintain your hot tub, the basic level of hot tub water care costs starts at about $20 each month. Upgrading your water care system may cost each month but will save you money and maintenance time in the future.

Hot Tub Cover

While this may seem like a small thing, a good hot tub cover can help in keeping the heat in and making your spa more energy efficient!

Hot Tub Cover

Other Important Hot Tub Products

To keep your hot tub in top-condition all year long, you will need to regularly balance your water, clean and replace filters, clean/drain/refill your tub, and make sure it stays protected in harsh winter months. This routine maintenance will require some important basic products and supplies. Be sure to talk to your spa dealer to make sure you have everything you need right from the start.

Read our “How Much Does It Cost to Run A Hot Tub” web page to learn more.

Maintaining Your Hot Tub: Everything You Need to Know

With today’s innovative hot tub models and options, it’s easy to maintain your hot tub without spending a lot of your free time to do so. Our Hot Tub Buyers Guide breaks down everything you need to know about how to keep your hot tub in tip-top shape right here.

Which Hot Tub Parts Do I Need to Maintain?

Good news! There’s no need to maintain the outside of the hot tub at all! Today’s spas have synthetic wood cabinets that require almost zero maintenance. Just an occasional hose down and you’re done.

Spa Water Care: As Little As 15 Minutes Per Week

With a little guidance from your spa dealer and key products on hand, it’s easy to keep your water pH balanced, clear, and clean. Your water care requirements will depend on the system you choose; chlorine, bromine or salt water sanitization, and the presence of an ozonator. Ask your hot tub retailer about how these systems compare with one another for specific maintenance requirements.

Hot Tub Fountain

Hot Tub Filter Care: As Little As 15 Minutes Each Month

Mineral particles or calcification from hard water can clog any water filtration system. Depending on your hot tub, you’ll have between 1 to 5 filters that need to be cleaned with some basic steps:

  • Rinsing filters: Once a month (there are also filter sprays)
  • Deep cleaning filters: Every couple of months, soak them in a bucket with special  cleansers. Some filters are even dishwasher-safe, making this even easier and faster.
  • Replacing filters: Filters should be replaced on the requested replacement schedule  or as needed, especially if the cleaning is no longer doing the trick.

Draining and Refilling the Hot Tub

Draining and filling can be as little as one time each year with a salt water system (3-4 times each year with traditional water care. Before you drain your spa, flip the hot tub breaker to cut all power and eliminate risk of electrical shock. If your hot tub has a floor drain, simply remove the cap from the drain, attach a garden hose, and open the drain valve OR use a sump pump that will speed up the process.

Make sure you check with your local ordinances on hot tub drainage regulations, as some cities require you to drain your hot tub water into the sewer system. If you don’t have sewer access, you can run a hose into the drain of a utility sink or water the lawn or gardens with old spa water once the chemicals have dissipated.

When you add a line flush product as the first step of your draining process, the special cleaner breaks down biofilm. Once you’ve added it, let it circulate for at least 20 minutes. (If it’s your first time cleaning your hot tub, but you haven’t been using a line flush, you should allow the line flush product to circulate for a few hours. Just follow product directions).

Cleaning Your Hot Tub

Once the water is out, it’s time to give the shell (the inner core of the hot tub) a good scrubbing. Be sure to check with your dealer about which products are best for your hot tub since harsh chemical cleaning products can damage the tub. Depending on your tub, spa cleaner, diluted white vinegar, or diluted bleach can all be good options. Be sure to use a soft cloth, micro-fiber cloth, or non-scratch nylon scrubber to remove residue.

Make sure you get into those nooks and crannies, prime hiding spots for mildew, algae, or bacteria. Rinse well and drain all the water. Then, double check that all your jets are open after your cleaning session. If you choose a salt water system, you may only need to drain, clean and refill the spa as little as once a year.

Refilling the Hot Tub

First, do a quick check to make sure the breaker is off, the drains are closed, and the sump pump is removed. Use a hose filter to reduce calcium and copper that may affect your water chemistry and overall spa health when refilling the tub. If you’ve had staining problems in the past, it’s worth adding a little metal sequestrant during the refill. Then, insert your hose into the filter compartment and begin filling your spa. Don’t overfill your spa! Overfilling can cause backflow into your heater. If you overfill it, drain the excess immediately. When all done, turn your spa circuit breaker back on.

Restarting the Spa

Now that your spa breaker is back on, and the water is filled, allow the water to circulate and heat up to at least 80°F (27°C). Be sure to turn off air valves if you have them, so they don’t disrupt chemical distribution. Test the water and adjust pH, alkalinity, and calcium hardness if necessary. Then, cover the spa for 24 hours to let the water warm up and the chemicals circulate. Finally, retest the water when the spa reaches 100°F (38°C). You likely won’t need to adjust anything, but this last step ensures the spa water is balanced and you are ready to soak!

Winterized Hot Tub

Winterizing a Hot Tub

Before we get into the “how to” of winterizing a hot tub, let’s quickly determine if you need to.

  • If you are spending most of the winter at home:
    Keep your hot tub running! Winterizing your hot tub can be complicated, so if you plan to enjoy it, keep it filled, test and treat your water on schedule, and keep it ready for you!
  • If you are taking a short (up to 2 consecutive weeks) vacation during winter:
    Before you head out, make sure the filters are clean, the water is freshly sanitized, and secure your tub with a childproof cover. To save energy, you can also lower the spa temperature by 5 or 10 degrees as long as it stays warm enough to prevent expensive freezing to your hot tub.

Some other quick tips for keeping your spa perfect in the winter:

  • Use a Winter Blanket to keep your spa hot year-round, even in areas with freezing temperatures, to maximize energy efficiency.
  • Check for wear and tear, as well as ensure the seal is tight, on a regular basis.
  • Remove snow and ice: Routinely brush snow off of your spa cover and splash warm  water on ice rather than prying it off.

If you are going to be gone for the entire winter season:

You will need to winterize your tub. The most damage that can occur to a spa is typically caused by improper winterization. So, seek the help of a professional spa service to do this right, so you can enjoy a stress-free vacation!

Keeping the Hot Tub’s Water Clear

Hot Tub Chemicals
Talk to your hot tub professional about what products are best for your specific hot tub! If you have cloudy water, probable causes may include:

  • Dirty filters
  • Excessive oils or organic matter
  • Improper sanitizing
  • Suspended particles or organic matter
  • Overused or old water
  • Metals in your water. Metal contaminants in your hard water could make it cloudy.
  • Poor water chemistry
  • Tree seed pods, dead leaves, grass clippings, and all the other natural matter can get into the hot tub. When sanitizers try to attack these instead of bacteria, this natural debris can contribute to clogging.
  • Insufficient sanitizer levels, especially if you have had many spa bathers! Showering  before a soak is always a must to maintaining a clean tub!

With the right maintenance and products, your water can stay clear and balanced for all of your hot tub soaks!

Read our “How to Maintain A Hot Tub: Everything Your Need to Know” web page to learn more.

What Are the Health Benefits of Having a Hot Tub?

Beyond relaxation, there are several healthy benefits of owning a hot tub. And we’ve got the facts here in our Hot Tub Buyers Guide! Please note that these are general observations and recommendations based on existing research and testimonials regarding hot tub hydrotherapy. However, these do not replace the medical advice you have received from your doctor. If you have specific questions, especially around pre-existing medical conditions, when it comes to your hot tub usage, please consult your doctor.


Is a Hot Tub Good for Sore Muscles?

Hydrotherapy uses water to deliver temperature and pressure changes to the body. Highly beneficial for anyone with muscle tightness, immersion in a hot tub boosts circulation which sends more blood to the muscles. This helps alleviate pain-causing chemicals that build up in muscle tissue. A good soak also promotes the release of endorphins which can suppress pain messages sent to the brain.

Can a Hot Tub Help with Swelling?

When immersed in a hot tub, water puts pressure on our body, and this can reduce swelling. And, as we discussed in our “Article xxx”, salt water therapy can be especially effective for swelling. According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association, swelling and edema can be treated with hot salt water therapy since salt water has a higher solute concentration than body fluids, helping to open pores and pull fluids caused by swelling out of the skin.

Is a Hot Tub Good for Joint Pain or Arthritis?

The buoyancy we feel when immersed in a spa means that we are putting less weight and less pressure on our body. This gives our joints a natural break from gravity. Scientific research indicates that warm water therapy can:

  • Help ease painful joints
  • Reduce inflammation and stiffness in joints
  • Restore and preserve strength, mobility, and flexibility in joints (if done regularly)
  • Increase joint mobility

While soaking in a spa is recommended for many arthritis sufferers, it is not for everyone. Always consult your personal physician for health advice.

Is a Hot Tub Beneficial To Heart Health and Circulation?

The heart works at a higher capacity and more efficiently when a person is immersed in hot water. Arteries and veins dilate to carry more blood that can flow more easily through the body and enhance circulation. According to the American Journal of Physiology, there may be a 59% increase in blood flow with younger people and a 22% increase with older people. Additionally, it is believed that warm water immersion can help reduce the effects of cardiovascular risk factors, but this is very important to discuss with your doctor if you have an existing heart condition or are looking for heart health advice.


Does a Hot Tub Lower Blood Pressure?

Studies show that most people will see their blood pressure go down while they are immersed in warm water. It is believed that soaking in hot water for up to 20 minutes will cause organs of the endocrine system to become less active, and can decrease blood pressure, relaxing the body. However, anyone with high blood pressure should consult his or her physician to determine if a hot tub soak is recommended.

Is a Hot Tub Good for You If You Exercise?

A hot water soak is great for promoting flexibility in muscles, allowing for better stretching and helping improve your range of motion either before or after strenuous exertion. Heat therapy helps increase blood flow, stimulates healing, and relaxes muscles. In fact, you’ll benefit from soaking in the hot tub before and after exercise! It’s also important to note that studies have shown that both heat and cold therapy can promote healing and prevent muscle damage following exercise, helping keep your body durable for your future workout routines.

Will a Hot Tub Soak Help Improve My Sleep?

Research indicates that a 15-minute soak about 90 minutes before you go to bed will raise your body’s core temperate, and then cause a drop in body temperature once you are out of the tub. This temperature drop tells your body it’s time to sleep and may help lull you into a deeper and more restful experience.

Can a Hot Tub Help with My Overall Well-Being?

Dopamine is released as we settle into the hot tub water, immediately sending our bodies and minds into a state of relaxation with less stress and less anxiety. It’s also the perfect time to unplug from staring at screens and to connect with loved ones. This disconnection from the world and connection back to yourself is powerful for your health!


How Long Should You Stay in a Hot Tub for All These Great Benefits?

Your length of hot tub soak is completely up to you! However, a study conducted by Washington State University’s Bruce Becker, M.D., showed that soaking in a 102°F tub for 25 minutes produced relaxation and an accompanying decrease in anxiety.

Read our “What Are the Health Benefits of Using A Hot Tub” web page to learn more.

How Hot Should a Hot Tub Be?

Our Hot Tub Buyers Guide explains what you need to know about hot tub temperature. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that hot tubs should not exceed 104° F (40° C). Many new hot tubs have controllers to keep water temperature from exceeding this limit. Older tubs require manual temperature monitoring to ensure you don’t exceed it. Whether it’s new or old, it’s a great idea to keep a separate hot tub thermometer on hand to quickly and easily confirm your spa’s temperature..

What Temperature Should a Hot Tub Be for You?

Just like your home’s thermostat, temperature preferences vary from person to person. It’s recommended that you start off at the average normal body temperature, 98.6°F (37°C). If that feels too cold, slowly increase the temperature until you’re comfortable. Play around with different degrees to see which works best for you. You might enjoy a cooler soak (85°F / 29°C or so) on hot summer days. when the sun is hot!Hot Tub Temperature

Is There Anyone Who Should Not Use a Hot Tub?

Children don’t tolerate heat as well as adults. That’s because their smaller bodies and thinner skin make them more susceptible to heat. This is why the CDC prohibits infants using a hot tub AND strongly recommends that kids under the age of five stay out of hot tubs. Older children should be limited to soak time at temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and should avoid full immersion. A timer will help to ensure a that a proper limit is set.
It is always advised to talk with your health care provider before you use a hot tub, especially if you have a heart condition, high blood pressure, diabetes, or other serious illnesses, or are (or may be) pregnant.

What Happens If Your Hot Tub Is Too Hot?

You never want your body temperature to reach or exceed 103°F (39°C). That can place you in danger of developing several conditions related to hyperthermia (excessively high body temperature), including heat rash, heat cramps, heat stroke, and heat exhaustion. This risk is even higher for older folks, very young children, pregnant women, and those with chronic illness.

Does Temperature Determine How Long You Can Stay in a Hot Tub?

We generally recommend keeping your hot tub soaks to 30 minutes or less. Spending long periods of time in hot water can be dangerous, even if your overall health is good. Talk with your doctor for recommendations on what’s safest for you and limit your hot tub temperature and soaking time accordingly.

Couple in Hot Tub

What Temperature Should the Hot Tub Be When Not in Use?

Don’t assume lowering the hot tub temperate will lower your energy costs. If you use your hot tub regularly, and lower the temperature setting between each use, you might actually be increasing your energy costs. That’s because reheating the tub is hard work for your spa.
If you live in a cold climate it’s a good idea to keep your hot tub running in the winter. That’s because freezing water could lead to burst pipes, damaged hardware, and other problems. If you leave your home for the entire winter, ask a spa pro about winterizing your hot tub.

Establishing Hot Tub Safety Rules

In addition to temperature safety, you should make sure that the safety rules for your hot tub are clearly provided to everyone who uses your hot tub. Safety Rules will help create a safe and relaxing hot tub experience for you, your family, and your guests.

For a comprehensive list of spa safety rules, read our “How Hot Should a Hot Tub Be” web page.

What Are the Benefits Of Salt Water Spas?

Salt water hot tubs are an ideal solution for people who are sensitive to chemical products used in traditional spas. Plus, they’re great for people who want to spend more time enjoying their tubs and less time maintaining them. Here in the Hot Tub Buyers Guide, we discuss everything you need to know about these unique spas.

Which Hot Tub Water Treatment System Will Work Best for You?

Before we get into the specific benefits of salt water hot tubs, these are the most common spa water treatment systems:


Chlorine oxidizes contaminants, invading them and destroying them from the inside out. Chlorine dissipates and turns into a waste product called chloramines. These remnants are responsible for the “stinging and drying” sensation and reduce the sanitizer’s effectiveness. Chlorine must be added on a regular basis.


This chemical ionizes contaminants, forcing apart their chemical bonds. A good amount of it remains active and working, even after combining with contaminants. Bromine also produces a waste product called bromamines that are not as noxious as chloramines, but they too still reduce the effectiveness of the bromine in your hot tub, requiring regular water care maintenance. Learn more about Chlorine vs. Bromine.

Ozone System/Ozonator:

Ozone works to breakdown radical contaminants in your hot tub water such as soap, body lotion, and oil. An ozonator (an electrically-powered device) helps reduce the need for chlorine by generating a high concentration of ozone. An ozonator works in conjunction with the chosen hot tub sanitizer system, whether it’s salt water-based, chlorine-based, or a bromine-based hot tub system. Learn more about Ozonators.

Why Should I Consider A Salt Water Hot Tub?

Have you ever taken an Epsom Salt bath? If you have, you know right away how effective these baths are for relaxing the body and relieving muscle tightness. This is also the same effect with a salt water hot tub, with the addition of powerful jets for a deep massage from your upper back to the soles of your feet!

Salt Water Hot Tub

How Does a Salt Water System Compare to Other Systems?

Salt water systems automatically generate natural chlorine sanitizer from salt added to the water. This system allows you to add fewer bottled products to the water and enjoy better water quality with less maintenance. It avoids much of the harsh side effects of chemical-based water care systems. In addition, the water has a much softer feel, and the skin-drying characteristics of manufactured chlorine are eliminated.

As an environmental bonus to your minimal maintenance schedule, salt water hot tubs allow you to conserve water by reducing spa drain and refills to potentially once a year, where standard hot tubs need to be drained/refilled 3-4 times a year.

Is The Salt Water Cloudier Than Other Spa Water Treatment Systems?

With fewer additives and less chemicals, the spa water stays cleaner longer with a salt water hot tub. As mentioned earlier, you will achieve clear water with a salt water tub with much less maintenance than a chemically treated tub, and you will need to drain and refill your salt water just spa once a year.

Is A Salt Water Hot Tub System Healthier for Me and My Family?

If you, or any members of your family, are sensitive to chemically treated tubs, then a salt water hot tub will be the right choice for your household. While it’s certainly a matter of preference and personal sensitivity to chemicals, salt water tubs are universally gentler for your family. And with less time maintaining your tub, you’ll have a lot more quality family time to enjoy this new hot tub!

Family in Hot Tub

How Does the Cost of a Salt Water System Compare to a Traditionally Treated Hot Tub?

Salt water systems will cost you more initially than a chemical water system due to its technological advancements, functionality, and improved overall spa experience. In terms of ongoing maintenance, a salt water hot tub will be easier and more cost-effective to own than a chemically treated tub.

The exact cost of any water system is dependent on the make and model of your spa. The best way to determine the cost comparisons between a salt water system and a chemically treated system is to discuss the specifics with your hot tub retailer.

How Easy Is a Salt Water Hot Tub to Maintain Compared to a Non-Salt Hot Tub?

When it comes to salt water vs. chlorine water treatment for hot tubs, salt water hot tubs win hands down! With less water care maintenance, less required products, and once-a-year draining/refilling your hot tub, a salt water tub is a snap to maintain when compared with a traditional hot tub.

Read our “What Are the Benefits Of Salt Water Hot Tubs” web page to learn more.

How Do I Decide What Kind of Hot Tub Is Best for Me?

There are several important factors and features to consider when finding the perfect hot tub for you. The good news is this process is much easier than you might think when you narrow your focus on a few key areas:

How will you use your hot tub?

Need some hydrotherapy for your sore back or aching muscles? Look for hot tubs with options to adjust the direction and strength of water jets.

How to Choose a Hot Tub

How often will you use it?

Want to use your hot tub every day? Then energy efficiency will be near the top of your priority list.

How many people will use your hot tub?

Ae you planning on throwing lots of hot tub parties? How many people are there in your family? Who will use the tub the most?

How big or tall are the users?

Did you play basketball for the Celtics? Spa seats are typically built for people of average height and weight. A “test drive” at your spa dealer will ensure that your new tub will fit you perfectly.

Where will I put my new hot tub?

Photos and scale drawings of your preferred and potential locations can be very useful for hot tub professionals in helping you in this part of the planning process. Begin by answering these questions about your space:

  • Could your hot tub fit into an area that allows access to all sides for maintenance or repairs?
  • Can your tub be physically delivered to your site? Route planning is important (we can help)!
  • Can your “foundation” support the weight? (Your base, or deck, should have at least  125 lbs. per square foot load capacity)
  • If it’s outdoors, will it be easy to access in all seasons? Is there a logical place to drain the tub?
  • If it’s indoors, do you have the right ventilation systems and flooring in place?
  • Does your home have adequate electrical service to support the new hot tub?

From a maintenance perspective, what kind of hot tub is best for me?

Hot tub maintenance is dependent upon the type of spa you purchase. Typically, you will have these items on your to-do list:

  • Caring for your hot tub’s water can take as little as 5 minutes per week.
  • Your hot tub filter care can take as little as 15 minutes per month.
  • Draining and refilling your hot tub can happen just 1 time each year with a salt water  system (3-4 times each year with traditional water care systems).
  • Winterizing your hot tub (if needed) should be done each year by a trained professional.
  • Check out our “XXX article” for more details.

Budgeting a Hot Tub

Which hot tub fits my budget best?

There are so many hot tub choices on the market today; our “XXX article” is a helpful reference! Entry level hot tubs typically start around $3,000 and luxury spas could range up to $16,000. The greater the functionality and features, the higher price. With so many options to explore, it’s wise to discuss in depth the short- and long-term ownership costs of different models and the benefits of each with your hot tub retailer. Financing options are another area to discuss with your dealer if you need help with budgeting. As a brief summary, many important things determine the cost of a hot tub:

  • Size
  • Features
  • Accessories
  • Engineering and Quality
  • Warranty
  • Design
  • Geographic Location
  • Water system (salt water vs chemically treated tubs)

Can I choose the right hot tub online?

Buying a spa is a significant investment. While doing some initial research online will help you to learn more about hot tubs, we believe you are best served by not purchasing a hot tub online. At Mainely Tubs, we want you to be fully educated on this decision and be 100% satisfied with your selection.

Read our in-depth article on “How Do I Decide What Kind of Hot Tub Is Best for Me?” for additional tips and buying insights. As a local, qualified hot tub dealer, we’re always available to help you with any service questions, repairs, and warranty issues you may have. We look forward to helping you find the perfect hot tub.

Spa Placement Planning and Site Preparation

Now that you have decided that you want a hot tub, you’ll need to do some planning and preparation first. The good news is, your hot tub dealer can help you do that. In the meantime, our Hot Tub Buyers Guide addresses some of the most common questions about hot tub placement and preparation planning here.

Hot Tub Site Preparation

Should I Contact My Local Planning Department?

A quick call to your Town’s planning office would be useful. Most cities and counties require permits for exterior construction and electrical circuits. Check in with your local planning department to see if a building permit is required specifically for hot tub installation.

Do I need a fence or a gate around my spa?

Ask your local or county building codes department to determine the need for a fence or gate. Some communities require “residential barriers” (i.e. fences, self-closing gates) on the property to prevent unsupervised access to a spa by children under the age of five.

How Do I Prepare My Home for A Hot Tub?

When determining where your hot tub will be located, you’ll need to determine if you have enough space. This will largely be determined by the hot tub’s specifications. Other factors to consider:

Spa access:

For both indoor and outdoor installation and routine maintenance and repairs, you need to allow access to all sides of the hot tub.

Nearby drainage site:

You will need a proper drainage spot nearby, unless this is specifically outlined in your city regulations. If you are draining onto your property, avoid delicate plants like roses or vegetables.

Site access:

Can you ensure the hot tub can be physically delivered to the spa destination at your property? Identify any trouble spots like low eaves, air conditioner units, gas/water meters, overhanging branches, etc. to maneuver around or over. Measure the width of doors, gates, steps and sidewalks, etc. You and your dealer need to evaluate the delivery route. If you live on a hillside or difficult site, inquire about crane services to lift the spa over walls and other obstructions.

What About Electrical and Plumbing Needs?


You will need an electrician to come to your house to verify your set-up can support a hot tub and ensure the right components, parts, and wiring are in place. Your hot tub dealer can assist you with the selection of an electrician experienced in hot tub installation requirements.


You won’t need plumbing since your hot tub is entirely self-contained! You will fill it using a garden hose and empty it via siphon with a garden hose or submersible pump.

What Kind of Foundation Do I Need for My Spa?

The purpose of a foundation is to support your tub. Can the outside foundation, deck, patio, or floor room support the weight — even when it’s unfilled? The floor load of a hot tub filled with water is around 115 lbs. per square foot. Your base should have at least 125 lbs. per square foot load capacity.

Spa foundations should be placed on a solid, uniform, level surface. Adequate foundations include things like concrete floors, compacted crushed stone base, and decks/patios. A hot tub must rest completely flush with its foundation. It must easily hold the tub, the water, and bathers. The spa’s foundation should be an elevated foundation so that water drains away from it.

Foundations should never be placed on bare ground or grass. And don’t ever attempt to hand level or manipulate the hot tub onto a foundation if it is not naturally flush on the floor; doing so could crack your hot tub shell or cause other internal damage. Damage caused by inadequate or improper foundation support is not covered by any manufacturer’s warranty.

If you are not comfortable with your foundation or if you are unsure if your foundation can support a hot tub, you’ll definitely want to consult with a structural engineer or qualified contractor to have it inspected and add bracing if necessary. Your spa dealer should have someone on their staff who can inspect your structure and give you feedback.

Hot Tub with Umbrella

Should I Place A Hot Tub on A Deck? On A Patio? Which Is Best?

Some considerations include views and privacy. What view do you want? Is it private enough? Proximity to trees and plants: While pretty, leaves and debris could then drop into your spa. Adequate drainage? Where will the water go? Water source. You’ll want this close by to fill and drain the hot tub with a garden hose. Utility lines? Never place your hot tub directly under or within 12 feet of overhead power, telephone or cable lines. Climate considerations. If the ground is covered in deep snow, how close can you get your tub to your house door for convenient access? In hot climates, is your tub in a shady location? Will you need a gazebo? Do you have a clean path to the hot tub? This will keep your tub free from dirt and debris.

Indoor Hot Tubs: Can You Put A Hot Tub in Your Basement or Bath?

If you are thinking about placing a hot tub indoors, most regular, code-compliant floors or level basement concrete are adequate to support the weight. You will need to consult with a professional contractor regarding four-season rooms, screened-in rooms, and porches to see if they have adequate floor support Other considerations include water-resistant flooring, vapor barriers, drainage, and ventilation requirements. Read our “Article” for additional indoor installation details.

Plan the Delivery and Installation of Your Hot Tub

Now that you have everything figured out and planned, work directly with your hot tub dealer to purchase the hot tub and coordinate logistics around delivery and installation! You are almost done!

Visit our “Hot Tub Placement Planning and Site Preparation Tips” web page to learn more.

What Are the Top 10 Hot Tub Buying Tips?

Buying a new hot tub has never been so simple or easy to do. We’ve put together our top ten top hot tub buying tips here.

1. Define Your Top Hot Tub Benefits

If you are looking for hydromassage, pain relief for sore muscles, entertainment, relaxation, or all of the above, your hot tub should deliver everything you want! Think about your priorities as you evaluate various hot tub options.

Hot Tub Benefits

2. Understand Your Perfect Fit – Literally!

The best way to see if a hot tub fits is for you and the people who will be using it to sit in it before you buy! Go visit your hot tub dealer and take a test soak – and a seat–in some tubs to see what feels right.

3. Pick A Hot Tub Location at Your Home

Pick a couple of ideal spots to see which ones are feasible. Take measurements! Will the tub fit in this spot (with enough clearance for maintenance)? Can you make the delivery path to get there? Will your tub be outdoors? Is it a pretty and private view? Is it away from trees and plants that can put a lot of debris in the tub? Is it near a water source? Does it have an ample spot for drainage? If you are in a cold climate, is it near the house door? If you live in a hot spot, will this be shady enough?

4. Consider Your Overall Budget and Think Long-Term

A hot tub cost is going to factor in three distinct things: the purchase price, the cost of installation, and the ongoing costs of the hot tub. Our most important piece of advice: look beyond the initial purchase price. Which hot tub is going to be the best for you over the course of its lifetime in terms of maintenance costs? A more expensive, energy-efficient hot tub can save you money down the road. Talk to the hot tub dealer about the considerations behind the price tag, including energy costs, maintenance, repairs, parts, and warranties.

5. Compare and Contrast Several Hot Tubs

It’s critical to compare features, engineering, functionality, and maintenance. Put together a comparison spreadsheet or have your hot tub dealer help you with this to give you a deeper understanding of the best choices for you.

Couples in Hot Tub

6. Understand Your Ongoing Hot Tub Maintenance Requirements

The amount of maintenance you will need is dependent on the type of hot tub you choose. If your objective is to spend more time soaking than maintaining, some models with more technically advanced water systems (integrated salt water sanitization, for instance) will help you achieve that goal.

7. Talk with a Reputable Hot Tub Dealer

Purchasing a new spa is a big investment, so doing some research upfront on hot tubs and dealers is always the right thing to do. Finding a reputable retailer will help you choose the spa that is exactly right for you. Checking on their time in business and looking for customer reviews is a great place to start. Are they providing comprehensive information and training from non-commissioned sales staff? Do they offer try-it-before-you-buy-it test soaks.

8. Narrow Your Focus with A Visit to The Dealership (And That Test Soak!)

Now that you’ve completed your online research, it’s time to visit the hot tub dealership at the top of your list! (We sincerely hope that if you’re in Maine or New Hampshire, that will be us!) Go and see the tubs. Touch them. Ask questions. Discuss the hot tub location options at your home. Ask about pricing and the pros and cons of different models. Ask about financing options if you think you might need them. This should narrow down your final spa choices. Then, it’s time to test them out! A test soak is fun – and it is absolutely the best way to determine which spa is the winner!

9. Finalize the Details of Your Hot Tub Purchase

After you’ve selected which spa you want, it’s time to start negotiating and talking details. This is the time to discuss delivery logistics, installation costs, and financing options. Are there any free accessories or products the dealer might throw in to sweeten the deal? Think long-term. Ask about your warranty and how future ongoing service will be handled. Make sure that all your questions are answered to your complete satisfaction — including the best ways to maintain your new spa.

10. Take Good Care of Your Hot Tub!

You’ll need to balance the water on schedule, maintain your filters, drain and fill your tub as required, and make any needed service call or repairs right away. Your new hot tub is a lifestyle investment. Take great care of it and you can enjoy it for many more years to come!

Visit our “What Are the Top Ten Tips on How to Buy A Hot Tub” web page to learn more.

You’re Ready to Consider A Hot Tub; Now What?

At Mainely Tubs, we pride ourselves on being experts in the hot tub industry, not just people who sell the tubs. No matter where you are in the process, learning the basics, comparing spa models and features, or ready to purchase the hot tub of your dreams, we’d love to help you find the hot tub that is exactly right for you. Give us a call, email us, or drop in to our showroom in Scarborough, Maine or our Rye, New Hampshire showroom. We look forward to talking to you more about your hot tub needs!

About Mainely Tubs in Scarborough, Maine and Rye, New Hampshire

Mainely Tubs is a 100% Employee Owned premier Hot Spring Spas dealer. We sell and service new hot tubs, used hot tubs, portable spas, swim spas, saunas, gazebos, hot tub accessories, hot tub water treatment and more. Our Brands Include: Hot Spring Spas, Caldera Spas, Freeflow Spas, Bradford Spas, Endless Pools Swim Spas, Finnleo Saunas, Covana, Pool & Spa Enclosures, Leisure Time, Fresh Water, Silk Balance, Wellness, and other brands you can trust. We have been in business since 1978 and service over 28,000 customers in New England. In our 40 years we have found that the happiest hot tub owners are folks who shop diligently (including touching and feeling) before they buy, and who use multiple criteria (not just price) to make their decision.

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