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How to start
up a new spa or shut one down, for the season? Most spas and
hot tubs remain in use all year long, even in
cold northern climes. However, sometimes
circumstances will necessitate that a unit be
closed for a period of time. Closing or
winterizing refers to the steps necessary, in
order to protect the unit and related equipment
from the possible effects of freeze-thaw damage,
during the inactive winter months. Proper
winterizing protects your investment and can
help make reopening easier and less expensive.
Opening refers to the steps necessary in order
to return the unit to operating status and
achieve crystal clear spa water. If
problems arise, refer to the
Page, as a source of problem-solving
information, broken down into various
categories. Scroll down the page and click on the linked
or images, in the archived answers below, to access additional information, on that topic or product.
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Problem-Solving Information, in a question and
We were not anticipating using the spa
during the winter, so we followed the spa dealer's
suggestions last fall, and closed it up. We drained the spa
and added some antifreeze. Is there anything special that we
need to do to get back into the spa? We use well water and
did have some iron problems last year. Thank you.
C. S., Colorado Springs, CO, 5/1/2012
Make sure that you rinse and drain the spa thoroughly, in
order to remove all of the antifreeze. There will probably
be some mold or other microorganisms, needing to be
destroyed. Here is where some planning can save you a lot of
time and even money! You can use a
METALTRAP Filter to
pre-treat all new water added, which helps keep additions of
iron and other metals out and minimizes the possibility of
staining. You should, also, use the METALTRAP Filter to treat any
water added to top off the spa. A single METALTRAP Filter
can be used to refill a typical spa about 20 times. All you
have to do is attach the METALTRAP Filter to the garden hose
that is used to add water to the spa. You will definitely
save money, by not having to buy metal treatments. Get the
spa refilled and running and add a healthy dose of shock.
Make sure that the filter cartridge is clean: using The
BLASTER Filter Cartridge Cleaner makes it easy. I'm not
certain about which product to recommend, because you did
not provide sanitizer information. Basically, you must raise
the sanitizer and/or oxidizer levels high enough to
completely destroy any microbial accumulations. This can be
done while the temperature is being raised. When the spa
temperature is up where you want it to be and the water is
clear, there are no signs of microorganisms and there is an
adequate sanitizer level, you should be able to resume
normal usage. I hope that I have been helpful. Enjoy.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 5/1/2012
► Spa Winterizing?
I have an outdoor 275 gallon spa with
a cover. I was wondering if it would be possible to add a
few gallons of antifreeze and some chemicals to help keep
the spa from freezing over the winter. I won't be using it
and I don't want to pay for the electricity. Thank you.
John C., Fishkill, NY, 10/4/2010
Adding a few gallons of antifreeze to a 275 gallon spa will
have almost no effect on preventing freezing. The only thing
you can do is to completely drain the spa and remove as much
water as possible. Use a shop vacuum to blow out the lines.
At that point, you might want to add a gallon or two of a
propylene glycol based antifreeze (used in boats and
campers) and pour it into the lines or other areas that
might still hold some water. Afterwards, cover the spa
securely and seal to prevent water from getting in. Make
sure that snow or ice does not accumulate on top and
collapse the cover. The spa manufacturer might have
additional winterizing instructions, in a spa maintenance
tips guide, that you can follow or you could check with a
local spa professional. I hope that I have been helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 10/4/2010
► Frozen Hot
Please Help! I have a hot tub that's
been outside in Below Zero temperatures for the winter. It's
been covered up to keep snow off it. Water was drained out
before winter hit, but no vacuum was available to get all
the water out. What parts do you suppose I'll need to
replace before attempting to use it again. The tub itself
still looks new. It's only three years old. Thanks for your
Leslie in Alaska, 2/23/2006
I'll take that to mean that some water, few inches, remained
in the bottom? Depending upon the spa design and features
that could have allowed some pipes to have water in them and
this could result in freeze-thaw damage. There is no way to
be sure, other that filling the spa with some water. A
schematic might help determine which pipes, if any, might
need replacement. Good luck and I hope that I have been of
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 2/24/2006
We just refilled our spa and switched
to a non-chlorine regimen of maintenance with mineral
purifier cartridge (about 2 weeks ago). Now we will have to
not use the spa for several months due to certain health
concerns. What is the best way to maintain our spa during
this period - should we empty it, turn the heater off only
or keep the temperature low (how low?) and adding chemicals?
We live in central Florida. Thank you for your help.
Rich and Irena L., Florida, 5/30/2012
You have two basic choices. Draining the spa completely will
be the least expensive, but could result in seals drying
out. This is something that you might have to confirm with
the manufacturer. This is probably the safest course of
action, as it avoids the possibility of electrical problems.
Otherwise, shut off the heater and make sure that the water
is balanced. If you are supplementing the
with chlorine boost the level to about 5 PPM before leaving.
If the spa has an ozonator, the chlorine should not be
needed. Because the spa will not be in use, you should be
able to cut the hours of filter operation in half. Ask
yourself if you really want to leave this equipment
switching on and off for several months? I would opt to
drain the spa. I hope that I have been helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 5/30/2012
I recently closed my spa, I hired
someone to do it. I felt the guy he hired did not do a good
job. Let's say next spring when I open the spa, some of the
pipes are damaged, who is responsible for it? Do you have to
put anti-freeze to close the spa? Thank you.
This could easily become a case or you said and he said. Not
all spas are alike and some things may have to be done
differently. I doubt that it is possible to completely drain
all of the water from the lines, especially those on the
floor. What does the instruction manual say? Water remaining
in the lines could subject the pipes to freeze-thaw damage.
Removing as much water as possible and then adding a few
gallons of a propylene glycol based antifreeze should help
prevent a problem. Next spring, fill the spa, clean and
drain to remove the antifreeze. I hope this information will
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 12/18/2006
We had a short power outage today and
started up the hot tub without problems a few hours later,
but it got me thinking - what should I do if we ended up
having a long period of power outage? Temperature today with
wind chill was -10 degrees F. How long would it take before
pipes would freeze and again - what should I do if we had a
long period of power outage? Thanks.
Cindy S., 2/6/2007
This is a very good question. I really can't tell you how
long it will take to run the risk of freeze-thaw damage, as
it depends on spa size, temperature and how well it is
insulated. Eventually, it will freeze, given the worst case
scenario. It should be a minimum of several days and by
that time, it may prove difficult to drain completely. Under
good circumstances, it is difficult to completely empty a
spa. Adding a few gallons of a propylene glycol formula
antifreeze (RV vehicles and marine applications) to the last
of the remaining inch or two might help. I suggest that you
ask the manufacturer, as they know their product best. Let's
hope the outages are few and short.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 2/6/2007
► Deep Blue
Thanks for a great site. I hadn't used
my spa lately but I keep the heat on daily during periods of
freezing weather to protect the pipes. I went to use the spa
and when I opened it up it looked like someone had poured
blue dye in it. There was a blue ring and the filter had a
blue residue on it. The water had gotten very acid. I
drained and cleaned the tub and system, but I don't know
what caused it to turn blue. First time in 20 years. Best
Rodger G., 2/21/2006
A blue color? The cause was low pH (below 7.0) and the
presence of chlorine or bromine. This resulted in corrosion
of copper in the heater. You probably only paid attention to
the chlorine level during this period of disuse. Hopefully,
the damage was not extensive. In the future make sure that
the pH is 7.2-7.6. A TA around 100 PPM can help maintain a
proper pH. I hope that I have cleared up the mystery.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 2/22/2006
► Away For A
I have just drained my spa and in the
process of doing a spring cleaning. However, I will be gone
for the next three weeks, and will not have anyone to do the
required weekly maintenance. Will it hurt anything to keep
the spa empty until my return. I live in Northern Nevada,
with temps currently into the high 20's, low 30's at night.
Mary J., Nevada, 3/8/2006
A lot depends on the actual spa design. If all the water is
removed that is one thing. However, if there can be small
amounts left in the pipes, it could freeze and that would be
bad thing. If unsure, fill the spa up and add a full bromine
floater. Make sure that the pH is around 7.8 and you should
be good for a few weeks, especially if the heater is off. If
you have an ozonator, there should be even fewer problems
with the water quality, during your absence. With all the
water in, freezing is not likely to occur overnight, under
the conditions that you described. Good luck.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 3/9/2006
A Pool/Spa Combo?
We are going to be closing our
inground pool and spa combination down for the winter. This
is our first year of ownership. Until now we have been doing
all of the maintenance ourselves. What is involved in
winterizing a combination such as ours. Our spa did not come
with a Spa Care Guide or a Problem-Solver, so your help will
Carla M., New City, NY, 9/2/2004
Closing a combination pool/spa unit, such as you are
describing is more complicated than winterizing separate
units. It would be best to allow the builder and/or an
experienced service company to close the pool/spa for the
first time. You may not be able to just empty the spa, cover
it and be finished. Hydrostatic pressures could "pop" the
spa out of the ground and this can result in severe damage.
If the possibility of hydrostatic pressure causing such a
problem exists, in all likelihood, the spa will have to be
left with some or most of the water in it, before completing
the winterizing procedure. Depending upon how the unit is
actually constructed, there are various steps that need to
be taken. All the lines have to be blown out and as much
water removed, as possible. A propylene glycol based
antifreeze should be added to completely fill all the lines.
Do not use automotive antifreeze. Drain all equipment. All
equipment that can be drained and removed to a safe indoor
location, should be treated according to the manufacturer's
directions. Seal off the skimmer intake with a plug, remove
the weir, place an ice compensator in the skimmer (a plastic
bottle or crushable shape), add antifreeze to the skimmer.
Place a poly or vinyl sheet (at least 6 mils thick) on the
bottom (helps deal with the hydrostatic pressure) and refill
the spa to just below the skimmer. Place an ice compensator
or crushable shape on the water surface. This will help
avoid freeze-thaw damage. Add some winterizing chemicals, as
used in the pool. Cover the spa securely with a solid cover
and hold down with water bags or other suitable means. Use a
cover pump to prevent accumulations of water on the cover
top. Before the arrival of serious winter weather, check the
water level to make sure that it is still below the skimmer.
The pool, of course should be winterized appropriately.
These instructions are a guide - your spa might require
something different, making it important to check with the
builder or dealer! I hope that I have been of assistance.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 9/2/2004
► Closing For
My question is that I have a hot tub
and I want to close it down for the summer months. Will it
cause a problem. I have no water in it and I turned the
power off and put a box of baking soda in it. Thanks.
Jacqueline L., 5/13/2009
The baking soda might help, but will not be enough. Most
likely you will see mold growing on some surfaces and
elsewhere in the plumbing. Remove the filter cartridge and
allow to dry out. After the summer, when the spa is
refilled, you will probably have to add some extra chlorine
to eliminate any mold growth. Once you get the sanitizer
level stable and the chemistry right, as long as the water
is clear the spa should be good to go. I hope that this
information will be helpful.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 5/13/2009
And Removing The Cover?
We have a large hot spa and the cover
is really a handful to manage. What is an easy solution,
that won't cost a fortune.
Jackie T, Kissimmee, FL, 11/14/2010
The best thing is to use something that will make it easier
to remove and replace the thermal cover. A spa cover lifter
is just what you are looking for. There are several
affordable models, with little or no installation required.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 11/15/2010
For The Winter?
Is it possible to drain the spa for
the winter and not have any damage to it? What would I need
Try as you might, if you drain the spa, there is a
possibility that some water will remain in some of the lines
in the lowest part of the spa. This could lead to
freeze-thaw damage. If you have to drain the spa, make sure
that you remove as much water as possible and add some
propylene glycol based antifreeze. Consult the spa
manufacturer's manual for other recommendations and
suggestions. Good luck and have a good winter.
Sincerely. Alan Schuster, 11/5/2004
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