No matter what age, people purchase spas for positive effects on the body and mind. The hot water bubbles away tension and stress, massaging sore, tired, and stiff muscles. The health benefits are many including lower blood pressure and increased muscle and joint flexibility. The spa also provides an ideal place for socializing with friends and neighbors and renewing or cementing relationships with family members.
But before you decide to buy, there are several things you need to consider:
· Category of spa
· Spa location
· Features and accessories
· Jets and water pressure
· Control system
· Dealers and Warranties
For many people the terms "hot tub" and "spa" are interchangeable and there are two basic types: "self-contained" and "non self-contained". A self contained hot tub is free standing and has an exterior (cabinet) with the electrical, heating, and filtration systems housed within the unit which is typically installed above ground on a patio or deck. Non self-contained spas are installed in-ground and are considered permanent. Their filtration and heating systems are located in an area removed from the spa.
One of the big questions is where the spa will be located. Hot tubs are usually placed atop decks. That deck has to be reinforced with posts (usually twice as many as the rest of the deck) to support the hot tub. With water, a tub will weigh over 4,000 pounds… that's two tons! If the deck is not strong than the structure will crack, bend, and eventually break. Another consideration is the size of the deck. Is it large enough to accommodate the tub the want?
Hot tubs come in depths from 30" to 36" and sizes ranging from five by seven feet to eight by eight feet. Some tubs can accommodate up to eight adults. The best way to determine the size is to ask yourself: How many people will be using the tub on a regular basis? How often will you be entertaining? And, how much space you have to work with? The spas have three different types of layouts: "contoured", "barrier free", and a combination of both. Countered seating feels like a comfortable easy chair, your body will be in a reclining position. The barrier free style will have bucket seats where you can slide easily from one to another, which is great for families with young children. A combination of the two types will give you the best of both worlds. Some of the seating also comes with cushioned neck pillows. There are various styles of hot tubs, but the material they are made from area all fairly similar. The interior shells are made of acrylic or weatherable polymer, surrounded by a cabinet made of wood or plastics. Hot tub manufacturers have taken a cue from the kitchen and bath industry and now offer a variety of styles and finished, such as granite. Homeowners can now choose a style that fit in architecturally with their house.
The number and position of jets for your spa is important. The jets direct small streams of water toward your body in a pulsating or rotating motion. A well-designed hot tub will place jets so those key muscle groups will be massaged. Pumps push the water through the jets and there are usually one to three in each unit. The pumps in various tubs will be of different horsepower. It's recommended that these pumps be able to push through a minimum of 150 gallons a minute.
These days a minicomputer operates the spa. The control center programs the temperature, the jets, and the time. Most systems are fairly easy to operate and electronic messages will scroll on the screen to disperse information. The control center will even remind you when it's time for routine maintenance, you simply "set it" and "forget it".
Purchasing a hot tub should be easy if you are dealing with a reputable distributor. Brand name is also important since some manufacturers have higher standards than others do. Also before buying consider whether the dealer is locally based so that if something were to break you would be able to be serviced quickly. The warranty is another consideration. Finally, make sure that you know exactly what the sales price includes, for example: who will be paying for shipping, delivering, and setup? Are aftercare services or periodic checkups included in the contract?
Most hot tubs are heated by electricity so some wiring is needed. 220V is better than 110V for most tubs. The 220 will be able to push heavier pumps needed for better jet action and isn't all that more expensive. A "GFCI" is mandatory. A qualified electrician who is familiar with local codes should do the work.
In the past hot tubs were hard to maintain, but now things are much simpler. This is one area where the industry has come a long way. You don't need a chemical engineering degree to balance the pH. There's a built in ozanator to help purify the water. Also, there is a silver catalyst to help keep the water clean. Once the balance is set, the water and filter only need to be checked once a week and the tub drained once a season. Water temperature is a personal preference but for therapeutic effects the temperature should be set between 100-104 degrees. The lower the temperature the longer you'll be able to stay in the hot tub. Anything above 104 could be dangerous especially to heart patients and pregnant women. A cover is also a must for the hot tub because it keeps the heat in and the debris out. The cover also comes with a safety latch so young children have a hard time climbing in if adults are not around. Prices of spas vary from a couple of thousand of dollars to ten thousand. As for the electric bill it's not as high as some people might think. Many tub owners say they only spend a few dollars extra each month.