March 4, 2017 by bridgitgillis
Being a new hot tub owner, I approached winter with much fear and trepidation. I didn’t know what to expect. Not familiar with using a hot tub in the winter, much less caring for one, I wasn’t sure that it would be worth the hassle and operating costs. I did some research on the subject and decided to try it out for the season.
It is now March, and although we still have lots of snow and cold weather left, I thought I would share my experience for those of you who are wondering whether a winter hot tub is right for you. I live in South-central Alaska, where the winter temperatures fluctuate between a brisk -20*F up to 35*F. Keep in mind that what works for me and my specific hot tub may not be the best option for you, your hot tub, or where you live. When in doubt, always consult your owner’s manual or a local hot tub dealer familiar with your climate and specific needs.
I knew that once I decided to keep my hot tub running through winter, I was locked into that decision. When the outdoor temperatures start dipping below freezing, it is next to impossible to drain your tub without putting it at risk for freezing in the process.
We got our hot tub in early August, and since it was used we cleaned it and flushed the pipes with a line flush product. Some sources say that hot tubs should be drained and cleaned every 3-4 months. This is ideal when the hot tub is located in a more mild climate. However, not knowing what winter will bring, it is best to drain and clean your hot tub in the fall to prepare it for the winter season and potentially a longer time of use before it can be properly drained and cleaned.
Other things to consider before winter hits are:
- Ease of snow removal from around the hot tub
- Proximity of hot tub to roof line- will snow melt drip onto or in your hot tub?
- Outdoor lighting for dark winter nights
- Benefits of a lid lift system that keeps the lid off of the snowy ground
There is something novel about sitting in a hot tub surrounded by frozen tundra. The snow is pretty to look at, and my neighborhood is so much quieter on winter nights. Alaskan summers are rarely dark enough to see the stars, so it is a special treat to see the stars from the comforts of my warm hot tub on clear winter nights.
Snow removal is probably the most time-consuming maintenance item during the winter months for my hot tub. I’ve found that a push broom works well to clear off the lid. Every so often I need to shovel around the hot tub and clear the pile that’s accumulated from the push broom or from a lot of precipitation. I typically wait until a warmer day do the shoveling. If you have a lid lifter that goes to the ground, make sure to shovel around it so that it works properly.
It might be tempting to ignore the inch or two of snow on your lid and just flip it open, but even that small amount of snow could possibly damage your lid by stretching or tearing the seam in the middle. Notice the ice coming out from the side of the hot tub lid in the first picture. This is common. I usually just knock it off when I see it.
I’ve noticed that the snow and ice are hard on my lid, and winter use will most likely require a replacement sooner than if I only used the hot tub in the summer.
As far as chemical maintenance goes, I’ve noticed that it takes a bit more motivation to check the levels of my water in the winter, especially when it’s dark before I get home from work. If I happen to get in the hot tub when it’s light out, I take a cleaning sponge out with me to clean the head rests and other items that might get yucky.
For me, the extra effort of maintaining my hot tub in the winter is worth it. Despite the colder winter temperatures, I typically use my hot tub 2-4 times a week, and have found it comfortable in temperatures down to 0*F. I could probably even use it below 0*F but I haven’t been brave enough to try it!