Outdoor Spa: What You Need to Know Before Buying a Hot Tub

Outdoor Spa: What You Need to Know Before Buying a Hot Tub


Are you considering adding a hot tub to your deck?  Many home owners enjoy the relaxation of an outdoor spa.  Whether you plan on building a new deck with a hot tub or installing a hot tub in your existing deck, there are quite a few important factors to consider.  Hot tubs are large, heavy fixtures that require a water and electrical source.  Proper installation takes careful planning and professional knowledge.  Here are some important things to think about when buying a hot tub.

outdoor spa, deck with hot tub, spa on deck

Buying an Outdoor Spa

Our hot tub tips start at the very beginning of the process.  Before you even buy a hot tub, there are factors to consider.  First and foremost, the space on your deck.  Do your deck plans allow ample room for a hot tub?  Remember you’ll also need space around the hot tub for foot traffic.  This will also depend on the size of hot tub you want.  Hot tubs come in models for two people, all the way up to 8 people.  Make sure the size of the hot tub coincides with the available space.  Another helpful tip is to look for “full-foam” insulation.  Hot tubs with full-foam insulation use polyurethane foam between the unit’s inner and outer shell.  This results in preventing heat loss.  It also makes the unit more stable overall.


Location, Location, Location!

Where do you install the hot tub on your deck?  Well, the answer depends on your specific set up.  Examine the sun patterns to choose a non-shady location.  Also, avoid placing your hot tub directly under trees.  If not, expect to clean unwanted branches and leaves regularly.  Another important factor is wind.  Corner locations tend to amplify the wind.  How about deck privacy?  You don’t want your hot tub bordering with the neighbor’s fence.  Choose a location that allows for some privacy, or at least some distance from neighboring homes.


outdoor spa, deck with hot tub, outdoor living

Structural Support

Professionals recommend building a concrete pad for hot tub installation.  If you’re building a new deck, have the pad poured the same time as the footers.  To determine how much support is needed, use this helpful calculation:

Hot tub dry weight + water capacity + totaled average weight (average weight multiplied by maximum number of occupants)

With this calculation, you figure out how much total weight the hot tub needs to support.  Once you get this number, divide it by the square footage of the hot tub.  That will give you the amount of weight per square foot needing support.  Use this information when determining how many joists and beams are need, and the appropriate sizes for each.

Structural decision also depends on your preferred elevation of the spa.  Choices include no elevation (edges of hot tub meet at the deck floor), partially elevated, and top of deck installation.  Safety precautions discourage an un-elevated hot tub.  Consider the safety of your guests and children if they accidentally fall in.  Hot tubs sitting on top of the deck require steps for access.


Electrical Planning

Unlike natural hot springs, an outdoor spa rely on electricity to heat the water and fuel the jets.  Best practices suggest hiring an electrical contractor to correctly install the spa.  Hot tubs require a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GCFI).  The outlet requirements depend on the size of the spa.  Smaller hot tubs may be able to run from a 110v/20-amp outlet.  Larger units demand a 220v/50-amp circuit.  It is also important to note that all spas, by code, need an emergency shut-off 5-15 feet away from the unit.

If you plan to sit your outdoor spa on a concrete slab, electrical wiring must be run before the pouring concrete.


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