How Long Do Hot Tubs Last…and Why?
Many people wonder if an investment in a hot tub will be worth it in the long run. You may have even found yourself asking some of the following questions:
- How long with the components last before needing repair or replacement?
- Will the hot tub stay looking nice and feeling comfortable years down the road?
- What is the best way to go about researching brands and models to ensure I get the greatest value for my dollar?
- What’s the best way to ensure the longest lifespan of a hot tub?
Or maybe you’re just looking for an easy answer as to how to find a hot tub that won’t quit on you after a handful of uses. Either way, your main concern is the quality of the hot tub itself—the parts and the manufacture—as that’s the primary determining factor of how long the spa lasts. Well-built and well-maintained hot tubs can last anywhere from 15-25 years. Cheaper spas, meanwhile, can last as few as 3-5 years, especially if they aren’t properly maintained.
That’s why choosing the right hot tub is so important; it means the difference between replacing the spa within the decade, or owning a hot tub longer than it takes your kids to finish school and go to college. So to help you find a spa that’s going to stand the test of time, let’s look at some qualifiers that indicate quality parts and craftsmanship.
Hot Tub Quality—The Biggest Factor
A lot is going on behind the scenes, in and outside a spa, to ensure you have a relaxing and rejuvenating hot tub experience. A lot of different parts have to work together to make it function, including:
- Control system
- Filter system
- Ozone generator
- Power service
- Fiberglass shell
There’s a wide spectrum of quality where available parts are concerned, and you have to anticipate that the less you pay for the spa, the less the manufacturer paid for the parts. That’s because, in order to achieve lower prices, the factory has to spend less building the product, in order to maintain their profit margins. Though not every expensive hot tub will be built with quality parts, you’re more likely to find quality at the higher ends of the price range.
There’s a lot of value in the way the spa was designed, as well, especially with regards to maintenance. A well designed hot tub will make parts that need replacing easy to access (just like on a vehicle). When the spa is properly engineered, stress and wear are minimized, maintenance is easy, and repairs are straightforward.
Poorly manufactured spas will make maintenance and repairs a pain, and will often contain pressure points—parts of the design that increase stress and thus tend to break more frequently. Since paying an engineer to properly construct and test the product is an investment that costs money, you will usually see the quality of design, like the quality of parts, reflected in the price.
The manufacturing process puts the parts and the design together (literally). Even quality parts and a skillfully built design can result in a low-quality product if carelessly assembled. The labor that goes into putting the product together is very important for this reason. If assemblers fail to glue something, miss a seal, or otherwise improperly assemble the product, you’ve created another pressure point, and the spa will require repairs somewhere down the line because of it.
How to Find a Good One
Doing your research is important when selecting a hot tub because you want to get the most for your money in the long-term.
Unfortunately, hot tubs are a bit complicated to research and ratings can be confusing. Even though we are talking about a high-end, high-tech appliance, no trade organization has sponsored independent testing or a transparent review site for spas. There are still a few ways to tell if you’re buying a good one, though.
With the advent of internet reviews, as consumers we now have access to a wealth of information on products that wasn’t there even 10 years ago. So shop around by checking ratings and reviews. Pay particular attention to reviews that are two, three, and four stars, as those will be the most insightful. A five-star review will simply be saying “It’s great!” while a one-star review will simply tell you “It’s terrible!” The feedback in the middle will give you better pros and cons, highlighting areas of concern as well as positive points.
As you do, look for trends. Are there any recurring problems with the product in question, or with the company? Are there parts on the spa that are consistently breaking? If every review complains of a leaky seal, then there may be a problem with manufacturing. Keep an eye out for things like this, and you’ll have a better chance of spotting problems before they happen.
Another thing to look out for is the support services offered by the company. Companies with a lot of faith in their product will back it with support in case things do go wrong. Likewise, reputable companies that want to remain reputable won’t want to leave a sour taste in your mouth, so they’ll do what they can to mitigate your negative experience. Those companies just looking for a quick sale for a quick profit won’t care too much about whether you get to enjoy the product, and thus won’t care much for offering support in the event of a problem.
Reviews are also helpful at this stage of research, as many of those insightful reviews will mention how helpful support was at resolving the issue, so keep that in mind.
The final test of a company’s confidence in their product is their warranty. If the warranty covers the product for a number of years, you know they expect it to last that long. No company wants to offer repairs or replacements if they expect the product will break down frequently during that period. It would cost them more money than it’s worth. So if they cover it with the warranty, they plan on it lasting long enough that they won’t have to send a repair technician to you.
Be sure, though, that you review the warranty to be certain of what’s covered, as not all warranties are created equal. A warranty for a product that the company is confident in will cover the:
- Shell structure
- Shell surface
- Lighting system
- Audio system
- Ozone system
If any of those crucial systems are missing from the warranty, you can expect that the company doesn’t have confidence it will last.
What You Can Do
Once you’ve chosen your spa and brought it home, there’s a lot you can do to help extend its life and make sure it’s looking and running great for years to come. In only 30 minutes a month, your spa can be maintained, kept in pristine condition and, if any problems arise, they can be caught and fixed early. That way, they don’t turn into big problems down the road.