What do you need to know before you buy a hot tub? 6 key considerations

Everything you need to know before splashing out on a hot tub

A hot tub in a garden
(Image credit: Getty Images / Bill Oxford)

There are few things as relaxing as a hot tub. These little pools are perfect for unwinding after a hard day's work, and they're great for entertaining.

However, before you take the plunge, there are some things you need to know. I spoke to H&G Content Director Lucy Searle, who bought a hot tub at the start of the pandemic and has had four summers' experience using and maintaining it.

Even the best hot tubs need a lot of upkeep, and there are a few things to plan before you buy.

1. Understand they need constant monitoring and maintenance

A hot tub in a yard

(Image credit: Getty Images / irina88w)

Before you buy a hot tub, you should know that it's almost like having a pet. It's not an appliance that you can just switch on and off, but a permanent fixture that needs a lot of attention.

Lucy Searle told me that 'Hot tub water, just like pool water, needs regular testing to ensure it stays hygienic. Because you are often heating it up and letting it cool, you can close the lid on your hot tub and then lift it to find it's quickly filled with patches of algae or, worst-case scenario, that the water has gone yellowy-green.'

While that's a solvable problem, it's not a quick fix. Lucy says that 'You can use chemicals to correct the balance rather than emptying and refilling the pool, but the results aren't instant and the hot tub will be out of action for that period of time - perhaps even a few days.'

In order to stop this from happening, you need someone to keep an eye on the hot tub every day. Lucy found that 'The best way to ensure good quality water is to have someone in the family monitoring it daily and correcting the pH levels with chemicals.'

Lucy Searle
Lucy Searle

Lucy has written about interiors, property, and gardens since 1990, working her way around the interiors departments of women's magazines before switching to interiors-only titles in the mid-nineties. Lucy is a serial renovator and also owns rental properties.

2. They take ages to heat up

Hot tubs hold a lot of water - usually around 300 gallons. It's easy to assume that they heat up in minutes, but it takes a lot of energy to get that much water to a comfortable temperature and maintain it. Lucy told me that 'Depending on how often you use your hot tub, you may not always have it heated, which means you need to plan ahead to get it to the temperature you find comfortable in advance.

'With our hot tub, we found that this could take a full day - if we turned the heater on in the morning, it would be just warm enough by evening - but only if the lid was kept closed during this time. Even when the hot tub is running, it loses heat fairly quickly if the lid is left off.'

3. You need to plan for drainage

Every so often you need to drain all that water for maintenance or to shut down the hot tub over winter if you won't be using it. You need to make sure you have a way of dealing with a large volume of water. Lucy says that 'Our Lay-Z Spa has a removable plug that we can either simply drain off into the yard, or we can attach a hose to it and feed that to a drain.'

However, it's not as simple as just opening a valve. Some hot tubs - particularly inflatable hot tubs - don't have a plug in the base, so gravity won't do the work for you. You may need to invest in a pump like this from Amazon to get it all out of the tub.

You also need to make sure that your drain can handle the volume of water. A French drain can take a lot of water, but if you're draining it into a typical drain you may need to use a hose attachment to limit the flow of water and drain it safely.

4. Hot tubs can be noisy

A hot tub in a backyard with a view of other houses

(Image credit: Getty Images / irina88w)

You should also consider that hot tubs are pretty noisy in more ways than one. Lucy found that 'The heating element makes a little noise, and the bubbling of the water does too - however, it's the hot tub occupants that are noisiest. In order to be heard over the water movement, they have to raise their voices quite significantly. It's a small thing but you might want to plan the position of your hot tub away from neighbors' patios or patio doors, down to the end of your backyard where the noise won't annoy them.'

In fact, you may not have a choice about this. If you live in a homeowners association, you should check the rules before you buy a tub. Many have rules about where in your yard you can place a hot tub, and some even ban them outright because of the noise.

5. Consider your flooring

A really great tip from Lucy which I hadn't considered is to consider the floor around the hot tub. You need something easy to keep clean and that doesn't pick up or track mud.

A hot tub is supposed to be relaxing and hygienic, and the last thing you want is to track dirt or dead leaves into the tub and watch them float by you as you try to unwind. Even cheap rubber matting like this from Amazon should keep your feet dry, or try waterproof vinyl flooring like this from the Home Depot for a more elevated look.

6. Consider your electrics

A close up of a hot tub in a yard

(Image credit: Getty Images / Bill Oxford)

The final thing to consider is your outdoor electrics. It seems obvious but it's easy to forget that hot tubs need power. A corner of the yard that you think is perfect for a tub will be useless if there isn't a power outlet there. It also needs to be safe power.

Hypothetically you could run an extension cord from the house to the tub, but if your tub doesn't have a long power cable, it could be a hazard, as the cord is likely to get wet.

Hot tub FAQs

Can a hot tub help with back pain?

A hot tub can alleviate back pain, but it can't cure it. Back pain should always be discussed with a doctor.

Should I buy a hot tub or a jacuzzi?

Hot tubs and jacuzzis are the same thing - Jacuzzi is just a brand name.

For more information about buying a hot tub, take a look at our rules for buying a hot tub, or our head-to-head of hot tubs vs saunas if you can't decide which to buy.

Alex David
Head of eCommerce

As Head of eCommerce, Alex makes sure our readers find the right information to help them make the best purchase. After graduating from Cambridge University, Alex got his start in reviewing at the iconic Good Housekeeping Institute, testing a wide range of household products and appliances. He then moved to BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine, assessing gardening tools, machinery, and wildlife products. Helping people find true quality and genuine value is a real passion.