Delivery & Installation of a Portable Spa

Site Selection and Preparation

Where to locate your spa is completely up to you, but there are some things worth considering that may have been over looked.

  1. A filled spa is extremely heavy and needs to sit on a structurally sound, flat, level surface. Uneven settling could cause a spa to crack, and quite possibly would not be covered under warranty. Reinforced concrete or a deck engineered to carry the weight is preferred. In some areas where the soil is mostly sand and the water table is very high, pavers may be the only way to go. Be sure to check the owners manual/warranty for what's acceptable and if in doubt contact the manufacturer (more than once a dealer has mistakenly given the wrong advise on this).
  2. The door to the equipment compartment needs to be accessible for general maintenance and repairs. Usually 2' of clearance is the minimum required. More is better.
  3. An electrical disconnect switch will need to be located within visible sight and at least 5' from the spa.
  4. The closer the spa is to the house, the more likely it will be used. Most don't want to walk 1/4 mile through the rain, sleet and snow to use the spa, when in fact that can be one of the most enjoyable times.
  5. If a cover lifter is going to be used, most require some side clearance for installation and operation. Some distance between the side of the spa and a fence or wall may be necessary. If a cover lifter is not being used, a place to set the cover when using the spa will need to be determined.
  6. Spas being placed on an existing deck will probably require the deck be reinforced. Consultation with a qualified building contractor or structural engineer is advisable.
  7. Spas located indoors have some special considerations.
    1. A great deal of "splash out" and spill over can occur and eventually a spa will probably leak. An indoor location should be able to accommodate the entire contents of the spa without causing damage. A center floor drain or large catch basin is worth considering.
    2. Flooring materials should be non-slip and not effected by becoming moist.
    3. Steam and evaporation needs to be accounted for. This excess moisture could cause damage to the surrounding structure or mold and mildew. Proper ventilation is required to prevent this.

Installation According  to the Experts
by D. L. Anscombe for Pool & Spa Living magazine

Once you find a spa that's comfortable and will meet your primary needs for relaxation, entertainment or therapy, you must figure out where to put it and how to set it up. Here experts share their tips for successful installations.

About the Experts

Andy Tournas
President, ThermoSpas
Before founding ThermoSpas, Inc., 24 years ago, Andy Tournas was president and CEO of an advertising production company. A former board member of APSP's Hot Tub Council, Mr. Tournas has been cited as an industry leader by Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine and on CNBC, and has been named Business Person of the Year by Business New Haven Magazine.

Shiva Noble
Executive Vice President, Cal Spas
Extensive experience in sales, marketing and accounting preceded Shiva Noble's 11-year career at Cal Spas. She attended Illinois University where she received her B.S. in accounting.

Anthony Pasquarelli
Communications Manager, Jacuzzi Hot Tubs
Anthony has over 13 years' experience in marketing and communications in the building products industry. He has advised suppliers from around the world, helping to bring innovative products to the market. He received his bachelor's degree in communications.

Lynda Livingston
Vice President, PDC Spas
Lynda started PDC Spas in 1983. She continues to be involved in daily operations, including marketing and advertising. She is the VP of the West Branch Manufacturers Association and is a board member for several other organizations. She attended Cornell University and Lycoming College.

What should you know about installation before purchasing a hot tub?

Anthony Pasquarelli, Jacuzzi Hot Tubs: It is important to consider the surroundings when deciding where to locate your hot tub. Safety, plant life, privacy, views and access are all key factors.

Shiva Noble, Cal Spas: Homeowners should visibly check delivery access through gates, under eaves and around air conditioning units and other obstacles along the route to the hot tub's final destination. If access is an issue, most professionals can arrange for a crane to simply set the spa in place.

Lynda Livingston, PDC Spas: Look for a spot close to a door, so you will use the spa more often. On a cold windy day, you will think twice before walking 50 feet to the hot tub, but if it is just outside the bedroom door, you can take a few steps and savor the moment. Keep in mind what it will look like from inside the home and select an aesthetically pleasing area that offers privacy from neighbors and convenient access to watch children. If you plan to have a cover lifter, envision where you will position it so it will not hamper your view.

Andy Tournas, ThermoSpas: Before purchasing a hot tub, ask for a professional site inspection. A trained inspector will assist in determining the largest model that can be delivered to your proposed site, make recommendations on alternative locations, assist in assuring that the installation does not violate building codes and determine if your home's electrical service will handle a hot tub's requirements.

Can you install a hot tub yourself or will you need an expert?

Pasquarelli: Some small spa models are made to plug into a wall outlet, while most luxury models require hardwiring. It is always best to work with a reputable spa dealer.

Tournas: Some installations are quite easy and could be done by a homeowner, but I never recommend it. Failing to install properly, such as not mounting on a solid structure, could result in unnecessary future service work.

Noble: It is not a good idea to install a hot tub yourself. Hot tubs are large heavy units that take a lot of skill and know-how to install-not just muscle. Improper installation of a spa may affect your warranty coverage.

Once the hot tub is installed, can you move it?

Livingston: Hot tubs are heavy, but they can be moved with a furniture dolly. Full-foam installation makes a spa even heavier. If you are thinking about moving it, consider purchasing a thermally efficient spa without foam filling.

Pasquarelli: Nearly any spa can be moved with some effort; a homeowner would need to factor in all elements, including electricity.

Noble: As long as the hot tub is empty and not electrically connected, the hot tub may be moved a couple of feet with minimal effort. Greater distance may require special equipment and a trained professional.

Tournas: If you are expecting to move and take the hot tub with you, ask your dealer for a predetermined price.

Do all hot tubs need to be installed on top of a deck or on a concrete slab?

Pasquarelli: Hot tub installation can be as creative as a homeowner's imagination. For instance, decks can be built around a hot tub to allow for easy access and unique aesthetics.

Noble: Most spa manufacturers require that hot tubs be placed on a solid, flat foundation that is either a 4-ft. cement concrete slab or a deck rated at 150 pounds per square foot.

Tournas: Some manufacturers offer portable pads that provide the appearance of concrete or other stone surfaces without the cost of pouring concrete.

Livingston: You often can place a spa on a sand or gravel bed, as long as it is solid and flat.

What are the benefits of recessing a hot tub and how is it done?

Pasquarelli: Installation of a hot tub flush with the ground can give it the look of a traditional inground spa. When doing this, access needs to be considered to ensure serviceability over time. Spas that are partially recessed are popular, because they eliminate the need for steps.

Noble: Portable hot tubs can be successfully recessed only if there is adequate drainage, at least 36 inches of air flow and service space around the entire spa. Removable decking can be used to cover this space and provide ventilation.

Tournas: Installing a hot tub 18 inches off the surface of the deck vs. a flush-mounted installation will provide easier entry and minimize the chance of debris blowing into the spa water. Plus, a slightly raised installation is more attractive. It should be done with the assistance of an experienced contractor or spa specialist and discussed before purchase.

Who is typically responsible for powering the hot tub?

Noble: In most cases, the homeowner. Check with your local hot tub professional. Some have an electrician on staff, others will be able to provide a list of qualified licensed electricians.

Pasquarelli: Professional hot tub dealers will provide electrical hookups as one of their services, or they will help arrange this with a local electrician.

Livingston: Always use a licensed electrician. Full-service hot tub dealers often have one on staff.

Do you need a building permit?

Livingston: It depends where you live. Check with your local government.

Pasquarelli: Some communities require special permits or considerations when installing or locating a hot tub. Homeowners' associations may also have special rules or regulations.

Tournas: Permanent installations often require building permits where portable installations often do not. A professional spa dealer can often recommend installations that appear permanent but remain within the portable category.

What should I do if I want to install my hot tub indoors?

Pasquarelli: You'll want to talk with a licensed architect or contractor before doing so. Special considerations from flooring to air ventilation are critical to a successful indoor installation.

Noble: Ventilation requirements will vary depending on where you are located geographically.

Tournas: In addition to proper ventilation, where possible, add a floor drain. Ozonators that release ozone gases into the air should not be used indoors.

Livingston: You'll need to ensure that the hot tub fits through the doorway. This could limit the size. Hot tubs are enjoyed more outside, where you can gaze at the stars.

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