Relaxing in a hot tub is a great way to unwind after a tough day at work. A hot tub soak soothes your mind and body, and it’s a leisurely way to reconnect with your family after a long day. Hot tubs provide many health benefits, too. Regular soaks can ease sore muscles, reduce pain from arthritis or fibromyalgia, improve joint flexibility, decrease stress and anxiety, and lead to better sleep.
Fortunately, learning how to install a hot tub is not difficult. But before installing a hot tub, be sure to check your local zoning regulations or homeowners’ association requirements. Once you have the green light from your local governing bodies, follow these five simple steps to create an inviting oasis right in your own backyard.
5 Steps to Installing a Hot Tub
- Select a Suitable Location
Choosing the best location for your hot tub is essential. Study your yard, and try to envision your ideal hot tub space. Consider neighbors, traffic flow, and anything else that may interfere with your new sanctuary. Do you want the spa to be a focal point or do you prefer to have it nestled in a quiet corner of the yard? Are you thinking of a shady spot or one that catches the afternoon sun? You may want to install fencing or a gazebo for privacy or add an awning to reduce unwanted sun exposure. Another consideration: try to select a location that’s not too far from the yard’s entry point. Think about how you will move the tub from the delivery truck to your selected location with minimal tools and manpower. Although you could rent a crane, pre-planning is easier and more cost-effective!
Beyond aesthetics, there are a few practical considerations. Location essentials include:
- Firm, level ground or flat surface.
- A location that is at least 10 feet away from any overhead power lines.
- Adequate clearance between the exterior of your home, outbuildings, fences, and other objects. You’ll need space to safely enter and exit.
- Close proximity to a GCFI dedicated electrical circuit and a water source.
- Easy access from the house. Is there a walkway that leads to the location, or can one be easily installed? You don’t want to get grass or sand in the tub, and if you live in a cooler climate, you may want a quick path indoors, too.
- A space that doesn’t collect excess rainwater or falling tree leaves.
- Prepare a Suitable Foundation
Installing a hot tub directly on the ground, especially over soft dirt or sand, is not recommended. The weight of the water-filled unit may cause shifting, leaving the hot tub with an uneven foundation. Before installing on an existing deck, be sure to check load limits and structural integrity.
If you’re installing a hot tub on a raised deck, coding requirements may require professional consultation and/or a structurally engineered design. Figure out the load requirements by adding the dry weight of the unit, the weight of the water (multiply the number of gallons the tub holds by 8.3 to determine this) and the weight of occupants (multiply the tub’s maximum capacity by 185 pounds to get an average figure. For example, if the tub’s capacity is 6 people, multiply 6 by 185.)
Once you have the total weight, divide this figure by the tub’s square footage to determine the framing required for the load. As a general guideline, expect the design load requirements to be at least 105-115 pounds per square foot. A concrete slab is good long-term choice for a hot tub foundation. Be sure that the slab extends a few feet beyond all sides of the hot tub. If you’re pouring a new slab, run electrical wiring in a conduit before pouring. Reinforced concrete that is a minimum of four inches thick is recommended, and the slab should be designed to handle the weight. Use the above instructions to calculate anticipated weight and plan accordingly. Do not place the hot tub until concrete is fully cured.
- Other suitable bases for hot tubs include gravel, paver stones, or prefabricated hot tub pads. These options may be less costly or permanent than concrete slabs or decks, but make sure that the ground underneath is hard-packed dirt and that materials used are level before placing the hot tub.
- Upgrade Electrical Outlets
Be sure that your electrical system can safely meet the power requirements of the unit. Between heating components and pumps, hot tubs pull a lot of electricity. In most cases, a 220-240 volt/50 amp circuit with a GCFI (ground-fault circuit interrupter) outlet will be necessary to safely operate the tub. Some models may require 60 amp service. Hot tub circuit and GCFI installation should only be done by a licensed electrician. The National Electrical Code (NEC) also requires that an emergency shut-off switch be installed at least five feet away from the hot tub, but directly within line of sight.
- Position the Tub
Once you’ve wrestled the tub to your desired location, be sure to orient the tub appropriately. Entry ladders or steps should be conveniently placed away from obstacles. Always put the tub in a position that provides quick, easy access to control panels, and make sure there is adequate clearance to easily remove the cover. If you are placing the tub in a recessed position within a deck, consider installing with the edge about two feet above the deck floor, rather than flush with the floor. This will help prevent accidental tumbles into the water and provide extra seating, too. If you have children, be sure to add safety precautions like locking covers or alarms.
- Fill It Up!
Once your tub is set up and wired correctly, follow manufacturer instructions to operate. Begin by turning off electricity to the tub at the circuit breaker. Make sure the drain valve is closed and that filters are placed properly. You may want to wipe the interior with a mild, non-foaming cleaner before filling. Use a garden hose to fill with cold, clean water to the fill line. Inspect for leaks, paying special attention to fittings behind the equipment door. Tighten fittings, if necessary. Once the tub is filled and there are no leaks, restore power at the breaker, set the controls, and add water treatment chemicals. Once the water is warm – which may take up to 8 hours – settle in and enjoy!
Let Mr. Electric Help with Your Hot Tub Installation
Keep your family safe and avoid overloading your circuits. Let us install a dedicated circuit for your hot tub. Contact your local Mr. Electric at (844) 866-1367 or schedule service online.
Don’t let mosquitoes or other flying pests spoil your fun! Mosquito Joe offers all-natural pest repellants to keep your hot tub bug-free! And because they’re part of the Neighborly family of home service providers, you can count on Mosquito Joe to go above and beyond standard service.