Beginners Guide to Hot Tub Maintenance: How to Set Up Your Spa

We know that a hot tub is a significant investment, so why wouldn't you arm yourself with all the information necessary to take care of your tub. Our beginner's guide will help you through your first steps in spa ownership and ensure you have all the knowledge needed to set up your hot tub or swim spa.

Let's start with the basics

Vintage Jacuzzi advert

The hot tub was invented by Jacuzzi when they coined the idea for the first hydrotherapy jet in the 1950s. The brand then went on to create the first hot tub in 1970. Unlike some modern spas on today's market, Jacuzzi’s are high quality and designed to be low maintenance.

All hot tubs require regular maintenance to keep the water healthy and safe for bathers. Before getting started you will need to choose what type of chemicals to add based on your needs and skin sensitivity. Our hot tub chemical guide will help you choose the right sanitiser.

Setting up your shiny new hot tub

When a hot tub is filled with fresh water, it is important to add a sufficiently high dose of sanitiser. This can be done by adding 60g of chlorine granules per 1,500 litres of water to start the sanitation process and allowing the level to drop to 3-5mg/l (mg per litre) before using your spa.

To dose your hot tub ready for use, we advise using chlorine or bromine granules. Then, ensure your spa water is at a normal level of 3-5 parts per million (ppm) for free chlorine and 4-6 ppm for bromine before taking a dip.

Don't forget about filters

Most acrylic spas will have a cartridge filter system and hot tub pump. You should regularly check that your filtration system is in good working order at least once a week. Please note that when your hot tub cartridge filter is dirty, its performance will deteriorate. This can lead to dirty and potentially contaminated water.

Usually, spa cartridges will need cleaning weekly (depending on use), however, we would advise more regular cleaning if your hot tub is being used a lot. Other factors that can affect how often you should clean your filters are contaminants like grass, leaves, fake tanning products, body creams, make up, soaps and detergents.

How to test hot tub water

Testing your hot tub's water is a vital step to keeping it clean, safe and healthy. For quick and accurate detection, we recommend using test strips to check the sanitiser, pH and total alkalinity levels of your water, this then allows you to make any chemical adjustments that may be required. We recommend testing your water daily whether the spa is in use or not.

When using test strips, please follow the instructions carefully. After testing your water for several months, you’ll learn how refilling, topping up, adding chemicals, and general usage affect your readings and chemical levels.

Hot tub water care and spa maintenance

Sanitising your water

Hot Tub Bromine

The two most popular hot tub sanitisers are chlorine and bromine. We highly recommend using granules to maintain your spa, these should have a reading of 3-5ppm for free chlorine and 4-6ppm for bromine. Along with bromine, using oxygen as a sanitiser is kinder on sensitive skins compared to chlorine.

It is important to note that the rate of your chosen sanitiser's consumption will vary depending on the usage of your tub. The consumption of chlorinebromine or oxygen will continue even when your spa is not in use. Therefore, we recommend testing your hot tub water daily.

Check out our chlorine, oxygen or bromine maintenance guides for more information.

Balancing your hot tub’s water

Balancing your hot tub water is a vital part of being a good hot tub owner. The pH scale measures acidic and alkali conditions using a guide of 0-14. pH 7 is neutral, meaning anything below 7 is acidic, while a pH rating of above 7 gives you an alkaline reading.

The ideal pH level for bromine is 7.0-7.4, and for chlorine, the ideal pH level is between 7.2 and 7.6. This is to ensure your spa equipment is protected and any friends and family who come to bathe can do so in comfort. If your pH level is incorrect, you will need to use more chlorine or bromine, as your chemicals won't be as effective if your pH levels are not correct.

So, let’s talk about Total Alkalinity and Total Hardness

Maintaining a balance between Total Alkalinity (TA) and Total Hardness (TH) of the water is essential. Low levels of alkalinity can cause scale within a hot tub. You can raise the alkalinity with Total Alkalinity Plus and lower the alkalinity by pre-dissolving pH minus in a water bucket and pouring it directly into the centre or deepest part of your hot tub with no jets running.

However, high pH levels due to hard water can be prevented with regular doses of Jacuzzi No Scale. Please note this product does not reduce the level of hardness in the water, it prevents the build-up of scaling so hot tub elements are not damaged by the hardness.

Read our guide to balancing a hot tub’s pH level and total alkalinity here.

Hot tub foam – what to do if it appears


If foam is appearing on the surface of your water, it is usually caused by remnants of detergents left in bathing costumes. It is always a good idea to encourage hot tub bathers to shower with their costumes on before using your hot tub. This will not only help to remove detergents but will also remove cosmetics and lotions.

If foam does occur then there is a simple solution, No Foam! You can find more advice on hot tub foam in our blog.

To make life easy, we offer chemical starter kits with everything you need to get your hot tub water ready to use. 

General cleaning

Periodic cleaning of waterline grease using Jacuzzi Surface Cleaner will not only keep your spa looking fresh, but it will also optimise the use of any spa chemicals dosed into your water.

Note: It is vital to use specific spa cleaning chemicals as many household products contain chemicals that can cause foaming in a hot tub or alter the pH.

Draining your hot tub

Over time your spa water will absorb minerals, chemicals, and other soluble materials, which will lead to an increase in Total Dissolved Solids (TDS). TDS reduces the efficiency of spa chemicals, making the water harder to maintain.

With the above in mind, The British and Irish Spa and Hot Tub Association (BISHTA) advises that the change of water should ideally be done once every month, but it may be extended up to once every 3 to 4 months if tub usage is low. When doing so, it is a good idea to clean your hot tub pipework using Jacuzzi Pipe Cleaner to maintain clear, working pipes.

Your hot tub do's and don't’s

General hot tub maintenance safety tips

For any hot tub owner or user it is important to keep our safety tips in mind at all times:

  1. Do not allow your water temperatures to exceed 40℃ (lower if children will be using the hot tub)
  2. Never leave children unattended in a hot tub
  3. Do not overload your spa with more people than its recommended size
  4. Do not use electrical appliances near your hot tub
  5. Do not use glass around or in your spa
  6. Do not drink alcoholic beverages before or while using a hot tub
  7. If you're pregnant, have high blood pressure or any cardiovascular conditions please contact your doctor before using a hot tub
  8. Always wear gloves when cleaning or changing hot tub filter cartridges

Hot tub chemical handling

When handling any chemicals, please stick to the following guidelines:

  1. Read instructions before use
  2. When pre-dissolving any hot tub chemicals, always add the chemicals to the hot tub water and not vice versa
  3. Never mix any chemicals in concentrated (or dry) forms
  4. Always pre-dissolve our chemicals in a clean, plastic container in a well-ventilated area
  5. In the event of a spillage, clean up using a bucket or old container and empty into your hot tub or spa. Wash the area afterwards with clean water
  6. Never use any unlabelled chemicals
  7. Always wash your hands after contact with spa or Jacuzzi chemicals

Parting advice 

And there you have it. We hope our beginner's guide to spa and hot tub maintenance was useful. 

Need more advice? Give us a call on 01482 212322 or email and we’ll help you out. Or drop in and see us in our Hull or Leeds showrooms. 

Not near one of our Yorkshire hot tub showrooms? No problem, if you’re looking for a new hot tub you can explore our virtual showroom or book a video call with our showroom team

Stay up to date with our latest products, hot tub guides and updates on Facebook or Instagram.

Happy hot-tubing!

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