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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.