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How to Drain & Fill

How to Drain and Fill Your Hot Tub

Whether you prefer an early-morning spa session to mentally prepare for a busy day, or a late-night soak in the warm, soothing waters to help you sleep better, there’s one thing we can all agree on: No matter what time you prefer to step into your hot tub, the water needs to be clean to truly enjoy the experience.

Although chemicals will help you keep the water balanced, you’ll also need to drain and refill your hot tub to keep things fresh. In fact, most manufacturers agree that you should drain your hot tub every two to four months.

Which water changing schedule is right for you? That depends on a few factors, such as how large it is and how often you use it. Here are some signs to watch for that indicate you should drain and clean your hot tub before the next scheduled time.

  • The water is cloudy. If the water in your spa is cloudy and you can’t clear it up with chemicals, it’s time to drain it.
  • There is foam in the water. Foam in the water indicates a buildup in the pipes, and if you can’t get rid of it using a foam remover, it’s time to drain it.
  • The water has an odor. Finally, if there is an unpleasant odor to the water, you should eliminate it by draining and refilling the hot tub.
Getting refills down to a science

Want a more precise water change schedule for your hot tub? Use this industry-accepted formula:

  1. Divide the number of gallons in your hot tub by three.
  2. Divide that number by the number of people who use the spa each day.

For example, if your tub holds 420 gallons, and two people use it each day, you would divide 420 by 3, which is 140. Then, you’d divide 140 by 2, which gives you 70. So, you’d want to drain and refill your hot tub every 70 days.

How to Drain, Clean, and Refill Your Hot Tub

Draining and refilling the hot tub isn’t difficult -- in fact, there are only four basic steps you need to follow:

Step 1: Flush the lines

Before you pull the plug, it’s a good idea to clean your hot tub’s plumbing to eliminate a biofilm, which is a substance that can form in your pipes. Biofilm -- which is a naturally occurring bacteria -- can form even if your sanitizer levels are perfect.

You can get rid of biofilm (and help prevent it from returning) with a specially formulated line flush product. Apply the flush per the manufacturer’s instructions and then let it sit for 20 minutes to a few hours, depending on whether you’ve ever flushed the lines before. And don’t worry if you see foam rising in your spa water—that’s just the product getting rid of the biofilm buildup.

Step 2: Drain it

The easiest way to get the water out of your spa is to hook up a garden hose to the spa drain and let it run out (Important: Be sure to turn off the breaker to the hot tub before draining it!)

The garden hose is cheap and relatively easy -- but it can take several hours. If you’re looking for a quicker option, you can use a sump pump instead. This will drain the spa water in minutes rather than hours. Keep in mind that most sump pumps won’t drain the water completely—there may be a few inches left. To get rid of the remaining water, simply hook up your garden hose and drain it.

Step 3: Start cleaning!

Now that your hot tub is empty, it’s time for a thorough cleaning: First, remove and clean the filter. Let it soak overnight in a specially formulated cleaner (keep in mind, though, that even when you clean your filter regularly, you should plan to replace it once a year). Next, spread out your hot tub cover and give it a good cleaning on both sides. Be sure to check your manufacturer’s guidelines for cleaning your spa cover. And, of course, clean your hot tub with whatever product is recommended in your owner’s manual.

Step 4: Refill it

Now that your hot tub is squeaky clean, you’re probably itching to get in for a soak. But before you can enjoy the fruits of your labor, you need to fill the spa with clean water.

Your first step is to ensure that the hot tub breaker is still off. Next, close the spa drains and pull out the garden hose again. As you’re refilling your hot tub, it’s important to keep an eye of the water level. If you get it too high, water could flow into the heater and damage it. Next, replace your spa cover and let the fresh water sit under it for 24 hours to warm it up.

Just think, all that hard work will only make your next soak that much better. Twenty-four hours from now, you’ll be back in the tub wondering how you ever went a full day without it.

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