How to Install a Hot Tub
Hot Tub & Spa Installation [Expert Tips & Instructions]
When installing a hot tub, choosing the right location is paramount. You want a location that is both safe and convenient; avoid overhangs, areas with too many steps, and nearby power breakers or lines. If you keep the location in mind while planning for your new spa, the process will go more smoothly, and you will be on your way to a future of health and relaxation.
These are the steps to install your new hot tub (click on a link below to jump to the relevant section):
- Selecting a Site for Your Hot Tub
- Indoors or Outdoors, Where to Install Your Hot Tub?
- Spa Foundation
- Utility Requirements and Access
- Design Considerations
- Preparing for Delivery
- Final Installation of Your Hot Tub
- Sit Back, Relax, and Enjoy
Once you’ve installed your perfect spa, you get to begin enjoying a life of relaxation, better health, and fun. But all this is dependent on a proper installation. In this article, we’ll cover industry best practices for selecting a hot tub site, preparing for delivery, installation options, and hot tub set up instructions.
Let’s get started.
Selecting the perfect spot on your property for your new spa is extremely important to your overall spa experience. Where you place the spa not only effects things like longevity and durability but also your spa’s environment, your view from the spa and the overall aesthetics of your backyard. Here are a few considerations when selecting a site.
The first question you need to ask yourself is whether you’re going to place your hot tub indoors or outdoors. Both options offer a unique spa experience and come with their own benefits and challenges. Both are certainly possibilities. Outdoor installations are much more common and in many ways more simple but indoor installations can be luxurious and convenient.
With an indoor spa, you benefit from privacy and super easy access. You also avoid all kinds of potential weather issues—no dashing across the yard in the cold snow in the dead of winter! In addition, indoor spas make it easy to accommodate guests, as they can simply change just down the hall. On the other hand, if installed improperly, humidity, overspill or emitted gasses could accumulate and damage your home’s woodwork, structure or wall finishes. That said, an indoor spa installation is relatively simple to accommodate, as long as you plan ahead.
Outdoor installations offer incredible views, simple installation, hard water-safe surfaces, as well as plenty of ventilation for the humidity a spa can produce. Installing your hot tub outdoors may offer a bit less privacy, but it can also be more enjoyable if you’re looking to host outdoor parties with a large group of friends and family.
The key to making this decision is to take time to think out two important factors. First, how do you plan to use your hot tub in the future? Do you envision enjoying it outdoors during summer parties and as a way to get more outdoor time during the winter months? Or do see yourself valuing the privacy and easy access of an indoor hot tub?
The second consideration involves the practical issue of installation. If you are unsure about an indoor or outdoor hot tub, just take a look at where it would go in either scenario and determine which is more practical for installation and maintenance.
The very first thing you must do if you plan on an indoor hot tub installation is to ensure that the area in your home where you plan to install a spa is structurally sufficient to hold the weight of a filled spa and spa users. Here are some key considerations that must be addressed prior to deciding on an indoor spa installation:
- Ground floor installations are recommended but you may also be able to install a smaller 2 person hot tub on upper floors with adequate structural support. Always consult a licensed engineer prior to installation for structural recommendations.
- To protect your home from potential water damage, be sure to inspect the flooring in your installation area. We highly recommend water proof flooring with a floor drain or catch basin able to accomodate a volume equivalent to the amount water in your spa. This will protect your home from any overflow, splashing or (very rare, but possible) leaks.
- In addition, choose flooring materials that are non-slip and resilient to sanitizing chemical exposure—concrete, wood, non-slip tile, and linoleum are all potential choices.
- Once you choose a flooring material, ensure that the area you have selected has adequate ventilation to the outside. Ventilation fans and large windows that may be opened for cross-ventilation are best.
- Be sure to select wall and ceiling surfaces that can sufficiently accommodate higher than normal humidity, such as tiles or moisture-resistant paints. A ceiling fan or dehumidifier is also highly recommended to help disperse and control humidity while using your spa.
- Check with an architect or home ventilation expert if you have any questions or concerns about controlling humidity in your indoor space.
Before opting for an indoor hot tub, schedule a consultation with a contractor, engineer or architect to address the above considerations. This will help you determine how feasible an indoor spa is for your home as well as what needs to be done in advance of installation.
Pro Tip: Installation of an indoor hot tub can best coincide with a remodel project. If you are planning to remodel part of your home, this is a great opportunity to add a hot tub to your plans.
- It’s always best to avoid areas with excessive water exposure (areas in the path of sprinklers or under roof edges without rain gutters).
- Avoid areas of direct, prolonged sunlight where possible to avoid fading of hot tub exterior surfaces and possible damage. Also check for strong reflected light from windows and glass doors (check the area throughout the day as sun angles change) and avoid these areas.
- Check local and national codes for fencing and childproof gate requirements around the spa.
- Avoid positioning the spa in an area where dirt and debris would be tracked into the spa. Wherever possible, provide a stone, concrete, or paver path to the spa site.
Once you’ve determined the areas of your yard to avoid, next consider the areas that have characteristics that will enhance your spa experience. Depending on your personal preferences, you may want your spa to be near an entrance to your house for convenience, or you may prefer that your spa is set away from your home for the feeling of escape to a special retreat.
You will want to consider both the privacy and the view of scenery and the sky from your hot tub site to make the most of your spa experience. Sometimes the area with the most privacy, like a covered patio or under a deck, may not provide the best views. This is where pergolas and gazebos are often very nice compromises. These types of structures offer some protection and privacy but don’t inhibit your views too much. They can be set off in an area of your yard that is quiet and make a great decorative addition to your landscape.
When selecting your installation location it’s also important to consider electrical wiring logistics. Most hot tubs are hard wired by an electrician and the longer the run of wire to the spa the more it can cost in materials and labor.
Key Takeaway: It is a good idea to envision your new hot tub in a certain location before having it installed. Think about how enjoyable it will be in a given location as well as what installation would be like. You can ask the advice of a contractor in this scenario as well to get an idea of any logistical issues that might arise.
Once you’ve determined whether your spa will go indoors or outdoors, it’s time to address the spa’s foundation. For both indoor and outdoor spas, you will need a structurally sound flat surface that is reasonably level. What does “reasonably level” mean? While it’s okay to have a slightly sloped pad (most patios are built to slope away from the house), there should be no dips, sags, or unevenness in the pad; particularly for above ground hot tubs. We recommend that there should be no more than a ½” slope per 8” run.
When looking for a level surface area, also consider the weight requirements for the space. A filled hot tub can weigh as much as 6,000 pounds, not including the weight of the occupants. If you’re looking to install your spa on a deck or other elevated structure, consult with a qualified structural engineer or contractor before installation.
If you’re not placing your spa on an existing patio or deck, one of several other foundation or flooring options are recommended: concrete pads, concrete pavers, concrete bricks, compacted pea gravel, or compacted crushed rock. Please note that concrete foundations should be a minimum of 4” thick and should be reinforced with either rebar or mesh, and attached to bond wire for electrical grounding purposes.
Key Takeaway: One benefit of placing your hot tub on a new foundation is that you can make sure that it meets all of the necessary structural requirements. You can get a quote on the foundation at the same time you get advice from a contractor on locations, if you go that route.
Make sure to select a location within reach of power and with access to a proper drain or outdoor drainage area. Make sure that you have the proper wiring in place prior to installation. Check with both local and national wiring rules and a licensed electrician for logistical advice and requirements specific to your area. Also, as you’re finalizing your spa’s location, be sure that the spa is positioned so that access to the equipment compartment will not be blocked.
Pro Tip: When measuring the location for your spa, be sure to add the space necessary for accessing utilities and equipment to your measurements.
While it’s important to consider the structural requirements when selecting a hot tub site, it’s also equally important to consider the aesthetics of your chosen installation location.
When choosing base materials, consider textures and colors that will complement your spa and your surrounding landscaping. Adding planters and garden landscaping nearby can soften the hard edges of your spa and add a touch of color. A landscape architect can offer great insight into incorporating your hot tub into your overall backyard design.
Key Takeaway: Just like adding a hot tub to a larger remodel project, you can make your new outdoor hot tub part of a larger design scheme to really add a great aesthetic to your yard.
Once you’ve selected the perfect site for your new hot tub, you’re now ready to prepare the site for a smooth and efficient delivery.
The first step is to clear the delivery path so that it’s clear of obstacles and obstructions, such as overhanging tree limbs, awnings, gas and water meters, and A/C units. In order to get the spa to its desired location, it may be necessary to remove a gate or part of the fence. If your delivery path involves more than six consecutive steps without a landing or turns that are too tight, you may need to choose a different delivery path. Before your delivery date, check the measurements on 90-degree turns to make sure the spa will fit through.
A crane may occasionally be required to lift the spa over your house to its final installation location. While it may sound extreme, it’s actually a common practice and is sometimes the easiest and safest delivery method, particularly if you otherwise risk property damage.
Pro Tip: You may need to take into account some damage to your yard during installation. Doing so can help you avoid unpleasant surprises during the process. This also makes adding some landscaping to the process a potentially helpful consideration.
Once your spa is safely delivered, it’s time for the final installation procedures like electrical wiring, filling, and start up chemicals. Because of the specific electrical and technical requirements involved in installing a spa, Bullfrog Spas recommends that you always have a licensed electrician perform the electrical installation. Detailed electrical installation instructions can be found in your hot tub’s owner’s manual.
The installation of all spas must be in accordance with national and local wiring rules. Each Bullfrog Spa is manufactured and tested to a standard that provides maximum protection against electrical shock, and it is critical that your spa be installed correctly to protect against dangerous malfunction.
Operation of your new hot tub will vary according to model. Your Authorized Hot Tub Dealer can help you get the basic operations down in no time. Hot tub sanitation procedures can also vary according to the water type in your location. Your dealer will be a valuable resource in setting up your spa with the right chemicals for your area. Contact your dealer at any time for questions on operation or hot tub water care. For specifics on filling your hot tub, starting and setting up your control panel, you may also reference your owner’s manual.
Pro Tip: To make the installation process as smooth as possible, and to help avoid future problems or issues, plan on incorporating professional experts in the planning and installation processes. Consulting a contractor prior to installation and getting an electrician to do the wiring can save you a lot of trouble down the road.
Once your hot tub has been professionally installed, you’re ready to enjoy the fun and relaxation that comes with years of happy hot tub ownership. Check out our tips on how to clean a hot tub to keep your hot tub fresh, clean, and ready for fun all year round.
Like many of the big payoffs in life, a little extra thought and planning beforehand can make the whole thing that much better. Follow these tips, and your hot tub can be even better than you imagined.