How to Clean, Drain, and Refill Your Hot Tub

As a hot tub owner, it’s important to regularly drain and clean your hot tub every 3-4 months to ensure its longevity and functionality. Just like a bathtub, your hot tub accumulates body oils, cosmetics, and other fluids over time, and adding chemicals only contributes to the buildup. This can cause your sanitizers to become less effective, and your hot tub may not function properly.

But don’t worry, the process of eliminating buildup and maintaining the surfaces of your hot tub is easier than it seems, and you don’t need a background in chemistry to do it. By learning the proper way to drain and clean your hot tub, you can ensure its longevity and enhance your hot tub experience.

Why Should I Know How to Drain My Hot Tub?

Jacuzzi Hot Tub | How to Clean, Drain, and Refill Your Hot Tub | WCI Pools and Spas

Let’s consider this for a moment. As time goes by, the same water in your hot tub can accumulate various substances like body oils, cosmetics, and other bodily fluids. Even if you are using a sanitizer and shocking the water regularly, it’s still the same water that’s been sitting in your hot tub for an extended period. So it’s essential to drain and clean your hot tub every 3-4 months to prevent buildup and ensure optimal hot tub performance.

While the thought of draining and cleaning your hot tub may seem daunting, it’s actually quite simple and doesn’t require a deep understanding of chemistry. The key is to eliminate buildup while taking proper care of your hot tub surfaces. And with the right steps, you’ll be able to do just that.

Every time you use your hot tub, organic contaminants are introduced into the water, such as:

  • Oils
  • Lotions
  • Cosmetics
  • Hair Products
  • Sweat
  • Soaps
  • Detergents 

It’s important to remember that the contaminants and bacteria from the water don’t just stay in the water. They also pass through the filter and plumbing system. While the filter does its best to remove most of these substances, it can only do so much. And over time, as the contaminants and bacteria continue to pass through the pipes, they can create a buildup of biofilm, which can be harmful to your hot tub and its performance.

What is the Film in My Hot Tub?

It’s a biofilm. As bacteria and fungi make their way down the pipes of your hot tub, they find the interior of the plumbing to be a cozy and inviting environment. In an effort to protect themselves from the arrival of chlorine, they form a barrier around themselves that is impervious to even this formidable enemy. With more and more bacteria and fungi attaching themselves to the pipes and not being eliminated by chlorine, it becomes a daunting task to clear them from your hot tub’s system.

If left unchecked, the biofilm that builds up inside the plumbing will lead to increased levels of contaminants in the water and may even start to impede water flow and affect the efficiency of your hot tub’s filter. To ensure your hot tub remains in top condition and free from harmful bacteria, it is important to drain and clean it regularly and use a specialized plumbing cleaning agent to effectively eliminate the buildup of biofilm.

When Should I Drain My Hot Tub?

Here are some signals that let you know it’s time to drain your tub:

  • Your hot tub is giving off foul odors.
  • The water won’t clear, no matter what you do to it.
  • The hot tub has sat unused for a long time.
  • You are struggling to keep your water balanced

If any of those conditions apply, it’s time to get fresh water in your tub.

How Often Should I Drain My Hot Tub?

It’s always a good idea to keep up with regular maintenance on your hot tub, as prevention is always preferable to correction. Draining and cleaning your spa at least quarterly, even if it appears to be doing well, will help prevent the buildup of biofilm that may damage the filter and plumbing system. Plus, you’ll be able to enjoy a cleaner and safer soak each time you use it!

To ensure that everything is done correctly when draining and cleaning your spa, make sure the owner’s manual is nearby so they can easily be referred to when necessary.

What Should I Do to Prepare My Hot Tub?

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Before jumping right into draining, there is some prep work to be done first:

Flush Your Hot Tub Plumbing with a Cleaner

Even if your sanitizer levels are exactly where they should be, it’s possible for your hot tub to develop biofilm. Bacteria will feed off the biofilm while also using it as a shield from the sanitizer. Ultimately causing an influx of contaminants in the water. These contaminants include Legionella (which causes Legionnaires’ Disease), Staphylococcus aureus (commonly causing hot tub folliculitis), and E. coli (which can cause intense gastrointestinal distress).

Unfortunately, this film cannot be removed through regular spa water circulation, filtration, or even by adding more sanitizer or shock. Instead, you’ll need to use a plumbing line cleaner or line flush product before draining and cleaning your hot tub. Be sure to follow the package directions carefully to ensure you use the right amount for your hot tub’s volume. Typically letting it circulate for at least 20 minutes should do the trick! If it has been unused for some time, then consider letting the plumbing cleaner circulate for several hours or even overnight.

Note: It is common that when circulating through pipes, foam may form on the water surface—this indicates that the cleaner is actively breaking down built-up biofilm within them so don’t worry about any bubbles appearing during this process since you will drain/clean afterward anyway!

How Do I Drain My Hot Tub?

Here are a couple of different ways to drain your tub:

Drain Your Hot Tub with The Built-in Drain Plug

Using gravity is the most cost-effective way to empty your hot tub, but it can also be the most time-consuming, usually taking several hours. That said, it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It gives you time to carefully move your hose in order to prevent water pooling in one area if you are draining into a yard or garden. 

Important: Remember to turn off the hot tub breaker beforehand in order to avoid any potential risk of electrical shock!

Drain Your Hot Tub with a Sump Pump

If you’re in a rush or just don’t have the time to wait for gravity to take its course, no worries! A sump pump can help you empty your hot tub in minutes rather than hours. To make the draining process go even quicker, open up all of your spa drains as well. However, it’s important that you stay nearby while the sump pump is running so that when all the water has emptied, you can turn it off right away. Allowing the motor to continuously run without any water present can cause damage. 

Depending on which type of sump pump is used, some may get rid of every last drop while others will leave a few inches behind before they need to be shut off – either way though, your hot tub drains will take care of whatever remains afterward.

Dispose of the Water

It’s important to note that many cities have laws that regulate the proper disposal of hot tub water. If you live in one of these cities, you will likely be required to drain your hot tub water into the sewer system using a special drain on your property.

It’s important not to confuse this with a storm drain, as hot tub water should never be disposed of in a storm drain as it can harm local wildlife and aquatic ecosystems.

If you don’t have direct access to a sewer drain, you have a few options. You can run a hose into a drain in your home’s utility sink, or you can use the old hot tub water to water your lawn or garden, but only after the chemical levels have dissipated. Keep in mind that plants don’t respond well to high levels of chlorine.

Before draining your hot tub, it’s important to check your city’s ordinances to ensure you’re following the law and protecting the environment.

How to Clean Your Hot Tub

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Great! Now that your hot tub is empty, you’re well on your way to a sparkling clean spa. Here are the next steps you need to take:

Clean or Replace the Hot Tub Filter

While the water is draining from your spa, you have plenty of time to clean your filter. A hot tub filter cleaning spray is suitable for this job; however, if the filter is heavily soiled and difficult to clean, then you may need to soak it in a solution. To do this, grab a 5-gallon bucket and fill it nearly to the brim with water. Follow the directions on the product’s instructions and mix in an appropriate dose of cleaning spray before submerging your filter into the bucket. Allow it to soak for 24 hours for best results. 

However, if you find that the filter isn’t getting clean no matter what you try, it’s time to get a replacement. This should be done regularly in order to prevent such extreme dirt accumulation. 

It is important that any residual cleaner be rinsed off thoroughly with clean water before placing it back into your hot tub. Even trace amounts of cleaner can cause foam to build up when restarting the tub. If that happens, you will need to start the process all over again – something you want to avoid.

Clean the Hot Tub Shell

Once your sump pump has been removed and the spa is empty, it’s time to start the surface cleaning process. Begin by spraying the hot tub shell with a specialized hot tub cleaner, diluted white vinegar, or diluted bleach. Make sure to pay special attention to all nooks and crannies that may harbor mildew, algae, or bacteria. Next, use a soft cloth or non-scratch nylon scrubber for residue removal; be sure to rinse away all surfaces after you’re done. Before refilling your spa with water again make sure you’ve drained out all of the rinse water – this will prevent any foaming from occurring when you refill your spa. Lastly, double-check that all jets are open once cleaning and rinsing are complete so that air pressure problems resulting from trapped air won’t be an issue.

Tip: Between quarterly draining and cleaning sessions don’t forget to clean any portion of your hot tub shell above the waterline as well. Keep in mind though that whatever cleaner is used could end up in the water itself. That is why we recommend using a melamine sponge (also known as Magic Eraser) for the best results!

How to Refill a Hot Tub

Jacuzzi Refill | How to Clean, Drain, and Refill Your Hot Tub | WCI Pools and Spas

Ah, look at that pristine hot tub! It’s so beautiful, you almost don’t want to fill it back up again, right? But a spa without water isn’t much fun. So shut the drains and get out the hose. Before you start adding freshwater though, double-check to make sure that the breaker is still off. Safety comes first! 

You should also use a hose filter when refilling your hot tub as this will reduce impurities like calcium and copper which could affect your spa’s water chemistry and overall health. This way you’ll have better quality water in your spa plus lower chances of staining or mineral deposits building up. Make sure to set aside some time for refilling—leaving it unattended can lead to flooding (especially if it’s inside). 

Once everything is ready, here are 7 steps for successfully filling up your hot tub: 

  1. Put the hose into the filter compartment and open up the spigot. This will help force out any trapped air from circulation systems and prevent ‘hot tub air lock’. Be careful not to overfill as this may cause serious issues, such as backflow into heaters, when starting up; if an accidental overfill happens drain immediately
  2. Turn on your spa breaker
  3. Switch off air valves (if there are any), so they don’t interfere with chemical distribution
  4. Add metal sequestrant (this is particularly necessary if using well or city water with high metal content – helps avoid staining)
  5. Test out pH levels alkalinity & calcium hardness making adjustments where needed;
  6. Cover for 24 hours allowing chemicals & temperature reach between 80°F-104°F 
  7. Retest once desired temp has been reached. If not balanced, adjust accordingly.

While You’re At It …

As you patiently await for your hot tub to drain and refill, there are a few other important tasks that you can undertake to ensure a thorough clean. Not only will these tasks make your hot tub look great, but they will also extend the life of your spa.

Take Care of Your Spa Cover

If you have a hot tub cover, this is an excellent opportunity to give it a good clean. If your spa is located outdoors, you may want to consider applying a protectant to the cover to help prevent sun damage. And if you don’t have a cover, you’re missing out on the benefits it provides in terms of water, chemical, and energy savings. So, consider getting one!

Caring for Your Spa Cabinet

While you’re focused on the inside of your hot tub, don’t forget about the outside! Your spa cabinet is exposed to a variety of elements such as splashes, humidity, and sun if it’s located outdoors. By taking the time to care for your cabinet, you can help extend its lifespan.

The type of material your cabinet is made of will determine what product you should use to clean it. Most cabinets are made of wood, so a gentle wood cleaner and a soft cloth should be sufficient. Additionally, you may want to apply a wood protectant, whether your hot tub is located indoors or outdoors. If it’s outside, look for a protectant with a UV shield.

Enjoy Soaking with Peace of Mind

Now that you know how to drain and clean your hot tub, there’s no reason to let it become a swampy mess. By regularly testing the water balance, keeping your filter clean, and following these steps every quarter, you can enjoy a hot tub that is always sparkling clean. So sit back, relax, and enjoy your hot tub with crystal clear, biofilm-free water. 

Don’t want the hassle? Contact us and we will take care of the servicing for you.