How to winterize a hot tub

Allen Foster

Sanitizers such as chlorine are harmful to plants. Before draining your hot tub, it is best to let the chlorine evaporate. Once your chlorine level is at 0 after testing, it is safe to drain your hot tub into your yard.

If you were to sum up the winterizing process for a hot tub in three words, those words would be drain, clean, and cover

Although the modern hot tub is designed to operate year-round, if you don't use your hot tub in the cold weather or you spend most of the winter season in a different location, you should learn how to winterize your hot tub. Additionally, shutting down your hot tub will save you money on electricity, chemicals, and water, while also increasing the lifespan of your hot tub. Here are the key steps for fully winterizing and protecting your hot tub so it’s ready to go in the warmer months.

Cut the power and drain

To start the winterizing process, you need to cut the power to your hot tub, not just shut it off. If your hot tub has a plug, simply unplug it. If it’s wired, you'll need to locate the circuit breaker and turn it off.

After you are certain there is absolutely no power going to your hot tub, you can start the first stage of draining. Remove the drain cap (do not misplace this vital piece) and attach a garden hose so you can drain the water to a strategic location. To speed up the process, you can use a submersible sump pump as well. Drain the hot tub until nearly all the water is gone.

If your hot tub has a blower, turn the power back on (making sure the heater is off), cover the hot tub, and run the blower to clear any lingering water. This will only take around 30 seconds. Then, cut the power again and remove the cover.

Once you double-check that there is no power going to the hot tub, you can open the access panel and remove the unions to the plumbing lines so they can be drained.

Remove the filters

At this point, you can remove the filters and inspect them for wear. If they are still good, give them a thorough cleaning (as you should have done throughout the operating season) and store them in a safe place until you reopen the hot tub.

Blow the lines dry and drain some more

Next is the most important step of all. In order to properly winterize your hot tub, every drop of water must be removed from every part of your hot tub. If you miss a spot, when the temperatures drop and that water freezes, it can crack whatever part of your hot tub it is sitting in.

For this, you will need a wet/dry vacuum set to blow. Take your time and insert the vacuum hose into every conceivable spot where there might be water. This includes every hose, drain, jet, and union, as well as any little crevice that might be holding some moisture. Using a soft rag, dry up any stray puddles that you can find. When you are sure you've blown every droplet of water dry or into the hot tub, repeat the process. After getting all of the water out of the hoses, you can drain any water that is remaining in the hot tub.

Clean and cover your hot tub

Now that the hard part is over, you want to use a nonabrasive sponge and hot tub shell cleaner to give the hot tub the best, most thorough cleaning it’s ever had. If you prefer, you can use a white vinegar and water solution instead of a hot tub shell cleaner. While you're at it, give the cover a good cleaning as well.

When you are done with the cleaning, dry your entire hot tub with a soft towel, and for good measure, give it some time to air dry — any moisture left inside can invite mold and mildew growth, as well as the aforementioned risk of freezing. When you're ready, close up the hot tub, making sure you lock the cover. You're all set for winter.

The great antifreeze debate

Chances are, someone has told you to add a non-toxic propylene glycol swimming pool antifreeze to properly winterize your hot tub. This isn't bad advice. However, if you were thorough with your cleaning and you feel confident you removed every drop of water, there will be nothing left inside your hot tub to freeze.

If you'd like to err on the side of caution, we're not going to tell you not to add antifreeze. However, when you open up the hot tub again, you will need to clean up antifreeze-tainted water. This involves filling, disinfecting, draining, and refilling the hot tub, just to get the antifreeze out.

Allen Foster is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

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