Are Hot Tubs a Lot of Work? The REAL GUIDE to Taking Care of Your Hot Tub

By Jon Filson

Hydropool Hot Tubs and Swim Spas

Published May 15, 2024

Many homeowners love the idea of having a hot tub in their backyard. However, the amount of maintenance many individuals believe a hot tub requires often deters them from even considering it any further.

Those people are missing out! Here’s the real truth: A hot tub does take regular upkeep, requiring about half an hour of maintenance weekly and a more involved process about every four months or so when you need to drain and refill your water.

We explain this time and time again at Hydropool retail outlets: That’s the standard maintenance regime in terms of time and effort for most hot tubs out there. It will vary depending on what type of hot tub you have and how much you use it. But in general, that’s the typical guideline for the workload.

There are features that have an impact on how much work your hot tub can be. So in this article, we will explain what features help minimize maintenance and what to look for when you’re buying.

We will discuss:

  • Weekly Maintenance and Drain and Refills
  • Pressure side vs Suction Side Filtration
  • Ozone Systems: Are they worth it?
  • UV Systems: Are they worth it?
  • Saltwater Systems
  • Other systems: Floating Systems, Hydropool’s Self-Cleaning

And by the end, we think you’ll have a strong sense of how much work a hot tub actually is!



What is the Regular Maintenance Like for a Hot Tub?

There are really three types of maintenance for a hot tub: weekly, quarterly and long-term.

Weekly Maintenance: Check the hot tub with test strips to ensure the water is balanced. If it’s not balanced, adjust with chemicals as required, balancing first alkalinity, then PH, the chlorine or bromine, depending on which sanitizer you’re using. Shock the hot tub once a week, which involves using a chlorine or non-chlorine product in the hot tub to clean it. If you’re using your hot tub frequently, more frequent shocking may be required.

You also should clean your filter each week. This involves simply hosing it down, removing any large particles to ensure your filter is able to clean properly. Once a month or so you should do a deeper clean on your filter, soaking it overnight in a special solution (your local retailer will have this in stock). That removes any buildup on your filter.

Filters should last a year. Each week it’s a good idea to survey your hot tub for any damage or problems as well.

Quarterly Maintenance: About every four months you should drain your water and refill it again. This will involve buying a product you pour into the hot tub that cleans out your jets. Biofilm often builds up in there because of the standing water there when the jets aren’t on. Drain your hot tub according to the manufacturer’s method and refill, balancing the new water immediately before using the hot tub. This process usually all takes at least a couple of hours.

Longer-term Maintenance: Hot tub covers can last between 5-7 years. So will heaters and pumps (sometimes much longer). All need to be checked regularly to see if there are any issues. There may be leaks or electrical difficulties, but those usually take place as soon as the hot tub is delivered or many years after. A hot tub is a running machine, and all running machines will require servicing from time to time.

What Is Pressure Side vs Suction Side Filtration in Your Hot Tub?

These are two main methods of filtration.

If you have pressure side filtration, it means pressurized water is pointed at your filter, as the hot tub’s pump focuses it there. That ensures all water is passed through the pump and as a result all water is regularly filtered – in most hot tubs about every 15 minutes or less.

Suction side filtration means the water is more passively moved through the filter, as it hits the filter and then hits the pump. The advantage of it is that the water is filtered before it hits the pump so you’re not getting any dirt or matter forced into your pump.

Either system works (Hydropool sells both, with its Serenity line having suction side and higher-end Signature side having pressure side). Since pressurized filtration forces all of the water to the filter, it is guaranteed to do a more thorough job than non-pressurized.  

Why does all this matter? Because what kind of filtration system you have will have an impact on how much work you end up doing to maintain your hot tub. If you really want to minimize your efforts, pressurized filtration is likely a better option for you.

What Is an Ozone System in a Hot Tub?

Ozone systems helps break apart things like soaps, oils, lotions and other gucky things like that in your hot tub. Basically, the ozone is sprayed into the water by a jet, where it attacks these impurities, breaking them down so they can be filtered out.

It’s available as an option on many hot tubs and can come standard on high-end hot tubs. Again, if you’re looking to minimize maintenance, it’s worth considering.

What Do UV Systems Do in a Hot Tub?

A UV system often works in tandem with an ozone system. Together they can proactively clean your hot tub before issues begin, which again leads to less maintenance over time.

A UV system is a blast of light that your water passes over. This is how drinking water is often purified. While you need to change a bulb every year or so, UV systems are another measure that can help minimize your maintenance efforts.

Is a Saltwater System Low Maintenance?

It sounds like such a good idea, doesn’t it? Saltwater to naturally keep you clean. But we have found saltwater systems aren’t ideal in hot tubs (Hydropool used to sell them and got out of the business because they were hard to maintain and required frequent servicing: We don’t sell them today).

Saltwater systems sound like you’re not using chemicals, but in actuality the “salt” in question simply turns to either bromine or chlorine, depending on what kind of tablets you buy. Some people swear by these hot tubs, but in most cases we suggest you ask to see the manual before you buy any saltwater hot tub. They are usually much thicker than a standard hot tub, due to the maintenance required. If you want the feel of softer, salt water, then salt water is worth considering, but not if you’re looking for less maintenance.

Are There Other Systems to Help Minimize Maintenance?

Some people swear by Spa Marvel’s line of products. Others love FrogEase’s floating system. There are pros and cons to both – both add to your costs, FrogEase has a floater literally living in your hot tub which some people dislike. But in general they have good reputations and do minimize your maintenance efforts. Your local retailer will typically know what is popular in your area and what will work best with your local water supply, which can play a factor.

What About Hydropool’s Self-Cleaning System?

We don’t usually like to talk about our products specifically in these articles, because they are meant to help everyone (if you don’t believe us, try this piece, which is a guide to the best hot tubs for Canada that aren’t Hydropool). But Hydropool does have a unique self-cleaning system, with a floor vacuum, top skimmer and pressure side filtration. You can read more about it here.

Are Hot Tubs Worth the Hassle?

Honestly, it depends on your lifestyle and how you plan on using it. If you anticipate using it daily as a part of your everyday routine for relaxing, leisure activities or any other reason, then having a hot tub and maintaining it usually isn’t viewed as a task. Instead, most hot tub owners find that it quickly becomes a part of their routine and that the benefits of having a hot tub make it well worth it. Think of your hot tub like a pet! Pets require a bit of work but are always worth it. So are hot tubs.

Regardless of how it is viewed, it cannot be denied that having a hot tub can be beneficial. It can increase quality interaction with family and friends, as well as improve your health. Not a bad trade for regular maintenance.

We hope we have answered your questions here in this article. If we haven’t, please don’t hesitate to contact your local retailer for answers. 

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