Buying a hot tub just the first step

by Stickywire on Wednesday June 20, 2012

Hot tubs remain popular even though a growing number of people loathe the huge things that take up so much room on decks and in spa rooms across the nation. One thing probably every hot tub fan hates is installing a hot tub.

It is expensive to put in a hot tub but more important is that installation can compromise the safety of the home and, therefore, the family. 

If you are installing a hot tub, ask these questions:

  • Do I have enough room and is the location of the hot tub fully accessible?
  • What will support the tub? Do I have to build or reinforce the deck or flooring before installing the tub itself?
  • Do I need a permit for the installation?
  • If installing in a condo project, do I need approval of the board of directors (yes.) 
  • What installers will I need: architect, engineer, plumber, electrician …?  

We have mentioned installation of hot tubs indoors. This is not a great idea because a hot tub will emit lots of water vapor which means moisture in the home which translates, almost inevitably, into mould.  However, there are hot tubs indoors already and some people demand this installation.  In either case, an indoor hot tub requires heavy duty ventilation and maintenance and this does not come cheaply.

If installing a hot tub on an outdoor deck – the best option – the homeowner will need a good concrete foundation for the deck, professionally installed electrical and plumbing connections – by licensed trades people. One necessity is a dedicated GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter), dedicated to the hot tub. This is to switch the tub motor on and off and must be located a specific distance from the tub. 

It is typical to trench for a PVC conduit from the junction box along with a dedicated 30-50 AMP main breaker box . Make sure the electrician installs a shut-off or other disconnect close to the tub.

Don’t forget, a hot tub will weigh in the thousands of pounds when full of water and people. This is a tremendous load to place on a deck and it must be strong enough to support the maximum weight with a great deal of leeway. If people are injured by a collapse of a deck and hot tub, the homeowner is in for years of grief. 

Never install a hot tub without getting a building permit if required in your jurisdiction.  A permit is not only the law, it helps protect the homeowner from a hot tub disaster.  Buying a tub is only the first step in a lengthy process in which safety, not relaxation or expense,  is your top priority. 


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