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Hot tub for hydrotherapy
Old 03-21-2014, 09:40 AM   #1
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Hot tub for hydrotherapy

I am researching hot tubs, and have settled on something in the 4-5K range. We have a perfect spot right outside the bedroom door on the patio. It's something I have always wanted, as I love soaking in hot water, especially in the Winter and chilly evenings and after physical exertion. However, the water required in the bathtub is in the 32 gallon range, and it gets drained each time (obviously). So I figure a 200 gallon 2-3 person hot tub would save water. Other reasons for spending so much on what some would see as a luxury item:

hydrotherapy benefits-my lower back is sore from years of use, plus there is that foot massage jet thingy
sleeping benefits-soaking right before bed is supposed to be good for getting to sleep, and I think I need that.
Summer cool off-turn the heat down to 80 in the Summer for an instant above ground pool. We get into the hundreds here in Summer.
Quality time with DH-relaxing, looking at the stars, general chill time.

I am interested to hear from folks on this forum who have a hot tub, and your thoughts on the costs/benefits of ownership. I know there will be a hit on the electric bill, and some maintenance required but I think I'm ok with that. Mango
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Old 03-21-2014, 09:47 AM   #2
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I have one and have for 30 years (three houses). I installed them myself and have kept the size to about 300 gallons. These were not the self contained units as I installed the equipment in a dedicated area away from the tub.

A gas heater is the best bet for cost savings. Water chemistry is critical, but can be learned easily from the help of a pool store.

Filter maintenance and water treatment are pretty much it for ongoing periodic costs. I used a cartridge filter rather than a DE one. I cleaned the filter 2 to 4 times per year, depending on spa use.

Spas are not that complicated and are a nice addition.
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Old 03-21-2014, 09:57 AM   #3
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I had one for a few years.....really liked it. But it can be a money sucker. Most are electric and it takes a lot of oomph to keep the water heated. Kept mine at 104 which was just right for us.
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Old 03-21-2014, 10:13 AM   #4
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Hotsprings. Not bad on electric, water maintenance is easy. The reason I mention the brand, many of the lower cost models bring in cold air, while running. Nothing worse than 104 F water, with a zero degree bubble, going.........well you know.

Propane would be good. We live where it freezes so an extended electrical outage may be a major expense. Not sure how you would circulate water in that case. We just didn't worry about it.

Helps sore muscles, back etc. Best time is at night in a snowstorm.

MRG
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Old 03-21-2014, 10:27 AM   #5
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Hotsprings. Not bad on electric, water maintenance is easy. The reason I mention the brand, many of the lower cost models bring in cold air, while running. Nothing worse than 104 F water, with a zero degree bubble, going.........well you know.

Propane would be good. We live where it freezes so an extended electrical outage may be a major expense. Not sure how you would circulate water in that case. We just didn't worry about it.

Helps sore muscles, back etc. Best time is at night in a snowstorm.

MRG
I got a quote on a Hotsprings tub from a dealer an hour south. Over 7K for one the size we need. Ouch! I believe in paying for quality, but that is over the budget. The local family owned and run spa/pool dealer carries Marquis brand and Freeflow Spas (owned by the parent company of Hot Springs). I like the idea of buying locally if it fits the budget and quallity requirements. As for cost to run, it seems that these units are much more energy efficient than they used to be. Mango
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Old 03-21-2014, 10:56 AM   #6
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Whichever way you go, invest in a good, vinyl covered spa cover to retain the heat in the water when you are done using it. We buy 4" thick custom made insulating covers for about $300.00. They are generally hinged in the center and have locks on the ends to secure them. They last a good 5 years unless a kid, big dog, or tree falls on them.

Here's examples:

http://www.spadepot.com/shop/Spa-Covers-C45.aspx

http://www.solisspacovers.com/
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Old 03-21-2014, 11:24 AM   #7
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We've had a Cal Spa 400 gallon hot tub for 12 years. The electric bill isn't bad, maybe $20/mo, since it is well insulated and we keep a 4 inch cover on it. Even if you keep the water chemically well balanced, you'll want to change out the water every 2-3 months if you use it regularly. We've had to replace the pump, the heater and sensors over the time we've owned it. We're on our third cover because the hot summer sun takes a toll on them. Overall it has been a wonderful investment. It does help me sleep well and provides relief for my arthritis and sore muscles. Visiting family love to use it too. I suggest you see if you can find a good repairman in your area, especially after the warranty is up. The dealers charge much more than the independent guy we now use.
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Loved it
Old 03-21-2014, 11:41 AM   #8
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Loved it

We had a tub for over fifteen years and loved it. Yes, there is an increased electricity cost. Yes, there is the chemical cost. Yes, there are the repairs. But it was worth every penny. So relaxing. We kept ours in the basement or garage so we could use it through the winter without having to run outside in the cold. Never used it much in the summer.

Ours was a two person tub (they claimed it was a three person, but that would just make the water pour out over the top). Not too hard to keep clean as long as you clean or change the filter frequently. The hardest thing is to get a handle on the cost so you can budget for it.
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Old 03-21-2014, 03:34 PM   #9
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We have a Sundance Maxxus spa. It is larger than what you want, but there are other similar Sundance spas that are smaller.

We have had it a little over a year and are very happy with it. It isn't appreciably increased our electric bill.

A few general comments:

1. Do not buy a spa without wet testing it. I am so glad that I followed advice on a spa forum to do that. Had I not wet tested we would have ended up with a spa that I would have been very unhappy with. There are many small and subtle things about how a particular body fits in a particular spa and you can't tell all of them without getting in the spa when there is water in there. For the spa I thought I wanted - but didn't want once I wet tested it - I found that I floated out of the seats. I was miserable since I couldn't stay anchored into any seat. On the Maxxus, though I am comfortable in 2 of the seats, although there is one seat I tend to float out of.

2. Think about where you want jets and make sure the spa has those jets and they hit you in the right place on your body. Another reason to wet test. For example, I really wanted jets that would hit my calves so I tested spas that would do that.

3. Go to a real spa dealer and primarily choose based upon dealers. Most of the leading spa brands are all acceptable. Many brands have multiple lines, by the way. Ideally find a dealer that handles 2 or 3 brands and check out that dealer. Once you buy the spa, if there are problems you want to have a reliable dealer to work with. By the way, any reputable, service oriented dealer will cheerfully let you wet test multiple spas. If the dealer won't let you do that, then run don't walk.

4. Don't pay list price for a spa. How much discount you get can vary. For example, you can sometimes get a good deal on last year's model when the new one comes out. There are often only small differences in the newer model. In any event, always ask for a better price or ask for the dealer to throw in extra stuff (chemicals, spa cover, steps, etc.).
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Old 03-21-2014, 05:08 PM   #10
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Do not buy a spa without wet testing it.
This may be completely inappropriate here, but for some who might be considering one, I think it would also be useful to make sure everyone prefers the wet heat (versus dry).

I'm a dry heat guy, so I've built saunas in the basements of this house and our last one. I got into the sauna habit from gyms that had them long ago, and it works much better for me. If I want a bit of humidity, I can just splash a bit of water on the rocks, but mostly I love the dry heat.
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Old 03-21-2014, 05:33 PM   #11
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Thanks for all the comments, thoughts and suggestions. We will definitely get a cover for it (most I've looked at come with the cover) There is also a nifty lift that you pay extra for that helps get the cover off (pretty effortlessly) and put it to the side. I had never thought about that. Maybe I can get the dealer to throw one in for free to make a sale. Also, I had never thought to "wet test" the tub first. I will ask our local dealer if that's possible. He has a last year's model of Freeflow in the right dimensions on sale right now. I guess I can just tell him to "fill 'er up"! I agree about working with a dealer for service before and after the sale. Thought about going the Costco route, but then discarded the idea. Thanks again, folks! Mango
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Old 03-22-2014, 07:17 AM   #12
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Just to bring up an issue that you may or may not be concerned about: soaking in chlorine, especially in hot water, might not be very healthy. Also, like you noticed, they are expensive to buy, expensive to maintain, expensive to run. Check this out: Hot Tub vs. Bath Tub | Low Carbon Girl

Personally I LOVE to take hot baths, especially after my workout. I often use some Epsom salts, as well, to take in some magnesium. No chlorine, very relaxing, and as it turns out, if the above article is even close to accurate, not as 'wasteful' as I thought.
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Old 03-22-2014, 08:41 AM   #13
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Had a hot tub for several years. My opinion is, you MUST keep it pristine, i.e., you MUST be able to clearly see a dime laying on the bottom of the tub. Otherwise it's gross. To keep it that way took maintenance at least twice a week for me. Plus it was a money pit, both for chemicals and for electricity to heat. So when we moved, we sold it with the house, didn't get another one, and don't really miss it at all. I do have some nice memories of being in there when it was snowing outside, or just relaxing. But those are eclipsed by the maintenance and expense. We swim a few times a week at the community center that has both indoor and outdoor tubs that they keep pristine. I enjoy them immensely.
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Old 03-22-2014, 09:06 AM   #14
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Ours is an 8 person tub, kept at 104 degrees 24/7 year round. Six power jets and comfortable seating. The bonus is that we can share it with friends, and often have parties in and around the tub in the evening... summer and winter.
We spend nothing for upkeep, cleaning, repairs or the propane heating. there is an extensive seven stage filter system that keeps the water consistently clean and fresh.
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Old 03-22-2014, 09:38 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by braumeister View Post
This may be completely inappropriate here, but for some who might be considering one, I think it would also be useful to make sure everyone prefers the wet heat (versus dry).

I'm a dry heat guy, so I've built saunas in the basements of this house and our last one. I got into the sauna habit from gyms that had them long ago, and it works much better for me. If I want a bit of humidity, I can just splash a bit of water on the rocks, but mostly I love the dry heat.
Braumeister, not inappropriate at all. We happen to love the combination of soaking in hot water, then sitting in a dry wood fired sauna, then doing a cold plunge and repeating several times. Our favorite place to stay and enjoy this (especially after a long day hike) is Stewart Mineral Springs Retreat Mango
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Old 03-22-2014, 09:42 AM   #16
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Just to bring up an issue that you may or may not be concerned about: soaking in chlorine, especially in hot water, might not be very healthy. Also, like you noticed, they are expensive to buy, expensive to maintain, expensive to run. Check this out: Hot Tub vs. Bath Tub | Low Carbon Girl

Personally I LOVE to take hot baths, especially after my workout. I often use some Epsom salts, as well, to take in some magnesium. No chlorine, very relaxing, and as it turns out, if the above article is even close to accurate, not as 'wasteful' as I thought.
Jowi, I appreciate your point about the chlorine. Some tubs can be coverted to salt water, apparently. That would be ideal. My thought on a hot tub versus the bath tub was the water usage. Much lower for the hot tub, as the bath water needs to be drained each time. And water is more and more a precious and limited resource. Plus the hot tub is outside, and doesn't cool off quickly as the bathtub does. Mango
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Old 03-22-2014, 09:57 AM   #17
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Had a hot tub for several years. My opinion is, you MUST keep it pristine, i.e., you MUST be able to clearly see a dime laying on the bottom of the tub. Otherwise it's gross. To keep it that way took maintenance at least twice a week for me. Plus it was a money pit, both for chemicals and for electricity to heat. So when we moved, we sold it with the house, didn't get another one, and don't really miss it at all. I do have some nice memories of being in there when it was snowing outside, or just relaxing. But those are eclipsed by the maintenance and expense. We swim a few times a week at the community center that has both indoor and outdoor tubs that they keep pristine. I enjoy them immensely.
This is another good point. The maintenance. Just something else to take care of. And I try to resist the urge to get more "stuff". I guess that's where the cost benefit analysis needs to be rigorous to make sure it adds more to your life than takes away. I went through that when deciding whether or not to get a kayak. In the end, I bought one, as it will enhance our outdoor activities. Mango
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