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Step by step, summer and winter hot tub start up and water care

New spa startup with air temperature above 32 degrees

  1. Do not add water until the electrical connections are completed.
  2. Have the electrician drill through the black base of the spa only, not through any of the side panels to bring the wiring into the spa cabinet.
  3. Once the power has been connected, your electrician should turn the breaker on for 10 to 20 seconds, just long enough to make sure the control lights up, that it is wired correctly, and that it doesn’t trip the GFCI. Once tested, turn the power back off immediately.
  4. Remove the filter or filters, insert a clean garden hose into one or more of the holes that the filters screw into and fill the spa through those holes. This floods the pumps and pushes the air out of the lines.
  5. Dissolve 1 tablespoon of Chor-Aid into warm water and add the dissolved solution to the cold water as the spa is filling.
  6. Pour 10 ounces of Prevent II into the cold water as the spa is filling.
  7. Once the spa is completely filled, about an inch below the pillows, turn the breaker on. (never have the power on if the spa is not filled to the normal level)
  8. The spa will begin to run and heat to the default temperature. Refer to your owners manual to adjust the temperature to your liking.
  9. During the first couple of weeks it’s a good idea to program the filtration system to filter continuously. This makes it easier to have nice clean water during your water balancing learning period. Refer to your spa owners manual for that.  It’s just like working a cell phone, pushing buttons.
  10. Drain and refill your spa every 6 months.

This information is designed for spas that are perimeter insulated, not foam insulated spa like hot spring or marquis.

 Winter start up addendum.... very important!

Our new spas are kept around 70 degrees.  Due to the efficient perimeter insulation systems, interior components, pumps, heater and electronics, will stay above freezing in an empty spa for 24 hours or so in sub freezing conditions. (That may be less time in very sub freezing or windy conditions.) After about 24 hours sitting outside, not full and running, those components will freeze. Normally this is not a problem because the factory blows 99% of the test water out of the pumps, pipes, and equipment.  However…..

If there is as little as 1 oz of water sitting in a pump impeller that water will freeze and may prevent that pump from starting.  No pump = no heat.  During these months it is best to get the electrical connection done the same day we deliver the spa.  If that is not possible and the spa sits for several days in freezing weather it’s very possible that 1 oz of ice that may be in the pump will prevent the spa from starting up once connected. 

To avoid this situation either get it running the same day as delivery or prevent the temperature inside the cabinet from dropping below freezing.  This can be done in most cases by placing a very small cube heater inside the cabinet positioned so it won’t melt anything and with the cabinet panels all in place to hold the heat in.  It’s also possible to place a small cube heater inside the actual empty spa pointing as far away from any surfaces as possible and with the hard cover on.  The small amount of heat will flow through the spa shell into the insulated airspace around the spa and keep everything from freezing. 

If none of the safeguards above have been done and the spa has been sitting in sub freezing temperatures for more than 24 hours proceed as follows.  After your electrician has finished and prior to filling the spa, you should turn the breaker on long enough for the system to initialize and for the pump to start running.  If you hear a hum or buzz, (like a motor that can’t spin) that is an indication that the pump has ice inside it and it’s not spinning.  In this case shut the breaker off immediately and place a cube heater inside the cabinet as described above.  After 4 to 8 hours of heating the airspace, turn the breaker on again and see if the motor spins freely now or just hums.  If you can hear the motor running, (sometimes you can even hear a little water sloshing) turn the breaker off, fill the spa through the filter hole, turn the breaker on only after it is completely filled to just below the pillows.  If you still hear the hum, leave the heater inside the cabinet overnight and try again in the morning.  Do not add water to a spa that may have ice in the lines.

Best practice is to get the spa up and running on the day of delivery. This info only applies to perimeter insulated spas, not foamed spas like Hot Spring or Marquis.


Once full and running, keep your spa water clean in about 5 minutes a week

  1. Always fill an empty spa by inserting a hose into one or more of the holes that your filters screw into. This floods the pumps so no air is trapped in the system.
  2. Add makeup water as needed to keep you water at the proper operating level, about an inch below pillows and just above the jets. (Except for above the water neck jets)
  3. Add Prevent II and dissolved Chlor-aid as you spa is filling, see start up section.
  4. Test your water every day for the first 2 weeks. After that test it each time you get out and if you aren’t using it much test it at least a couple of times each week.
  5. Keep your Chlor-Aid level between 4ppm and 7ppm at all times. Never let it go below 3ppm.
  6. Keep your pH between 7.2 and 7.6 at all times. You may need to lower your pH every day for the first couple of weeks.
  7. Clean your filter elements each month or more if your spa is getting heavy use. Buy an extra set of filter elements and rotate them for longer life.
  8. Keep your venturi air controls on the top edge of the spa turned off before you cover the spa.
  9. Keep your cover open for a minute or two after adding chemicals, especially Chlor-Aid.
  10. Make sure any granular products dissolve fully so you don’t damage your interior finish.
  11. Drain and refill your spa twice each year. Late fall and early spring work best.
  12. In winter, remove snow from the cover immediately to prevent damage to your cover and lift.


 Additional information and more detailed explanations

Keeping your pH around 7.2 is the single most important component as far as protecting your spa from damage and also making sure your sanitizers work properly. Sanitizers will work at maximum efficiency when your pH is at 7.2. A higher or lower pH will cause your sanitizers to work much less efficiently resulting in dirty water and excessive chlorine consumption. High pH = calcium buildup, spa deterioration.  Low pH = dissolving of metal components, accelerated deterioration of your spa.


As your new spa is filling for the first time, dissolve 1 to 2 tablespoons of Chlor-Aid in warm water and pour that dissolved solution into the spa. In addition to the use of Ozone, UV, and Mineral sanitizers, for super clean water it is necessary to use a chemical sanitizer like chlorine to provide a residual and keep surfaces and your filter elements clean. Keep between 4 and 7 ppm of chlorine in your spa water at all times. Check the pH and sanitizer level each time you get out of the spa and 2 to 3 times a week if you aren't using it much.  Never let your Chlor-aid level go below 3ppm.  The capacity of your spa will determine how much chlorine you will need to add but normally it’s 1 to 2 tablespoons.  When you fill your spa with fresh water, add one tablespoon of chlorine to a jar of warm water, stir to dissolve and pour that mixture into the spa. Wait until it's evenly distributed throughout the spa and test it. If 1 tablespoon took you from 0 ppm to 6 or 7 ppm, you have added exactly the correct amount. If one tablespoon took you from 0 ppm to 2 ppm then you need to add more next time. With a few trials you should be able to determine exactly how much chlorine to add to increase your sanitizer level to the desired 4 to 7 ppm.  Heavy spa use by many dirty people will require more Chlor-aid.  Light spa use by only a few clean people will require less Chlor-aid.  Turn all the jets and air controls on whenever adding Chlor-aid and leave your cover open for a minute or two after adding it.


If you let your Chlor-aid drop to zero, the organic matter and the bacteria in the water will grow into a living organism. This living bacteria will attach itself inside the pipes and will grow stronger each day. Once present, you can add a tablespoon or two of granular chlorine to try and clear up the water, but the chlorine will be very quickly consumed by the bacteria that is present. Once that chlorine is consumed the bacteria will continue to multiply and grow. You will see that the water usually will not clear up with just one application of chlorine. You may weaken the bacteria and reduce it some but as soon as it finishes consuming the chlorine it will go about it's business growing, multiplying, and clouding your water.


Bacteria is easy to prevent but very difficult to get rid of once you allow it into your spa. Your filter element will also grow bacteria often in the form of a living slime. This stuff is a real filter clogger. When this happens it's usually best to replace your filter elements as it can be very difficult to remove allthe slime. When you keep the proper 4 ppm to 7 ppm of chlorine in your water this sanitizer level actually helps to keep your filters clean and free of obstructions like slime mold and other nasty things that can grow and clog your filter element. Even with a very powerful ozone system you would still need a chemical sanitizer because ozone is a gas and does not kill bacteria on surfaces, in the pipes, on the filter, etc.  If your Chlor-aid keeps testing at zero even after adding it, you may need to add small amounts several times each day for several days to get rid of the organism in your water.  The alternative is to drain, clean and refill the spa.


Keep your filter system working at full efficiency to maintain crystal clear water. Once a month or more use cartridge cleaner chemical to soak the elements overnight. It's also a good idea to buy a spare set of filter elements so you always have a clean filter ready to be put into service.


Program your filter system to run 24 hours a day for the first couple of weeks. After that, reduce the run time by a little each week but only as long as your water is staying nice and clean.  Refer to your manual for instructions on how to do this.


Keep your air controls turned off.  Each jet has a water line, and an air line. The air line is connected to one or more valves that are normally located on the top lip of your spa. When you open them, air is pulled into the water flow. This air makes the massage from the jets feel softer, more powerful, and more comfortable.  To avoid high electrical bills and huge amounts of evaporation, turn these controls OFF before closing up the spa.


To order supplies go to LEISURECONCEPTS.NET or call us at 608-257-4200.  We ship out FREE every day on orders over $100.00 and a flat fee of only $7.00 under $100.00.