How do I plan to use my hot tub?
Entertaining, family fun, relaxation? All of these? Choose a size that fits your lifestyle. Do you plan to entertain? How many at once? Do you have a big family that wants to soak together, or will no more than two people share the spa for quiet relaxation and intimate conversation? The most popular size seats four adults comfortably. A professional can help you measure your space carefully and select a spa that's appropriate for the area. Choose a dealer who provides an in-home consultation.
Does this spa fit my body? How comfortable is it?
Try it wet before you buy it. Want to know if a spa is really right for you? Get wet. Take a test soak to judge seat comfort. Note the torso depth when you’re sitting up comfortably. In the Northwest, you’ll want the water depth to be over your shoulders. Multi-level seating should accommodate both adults and children. The best option for all soakers are “Barrier-free” models with no confining seats or other obstructions to get in the way as you move around in the water.
It’s all about the jets. Don’t choose quantity over quality! Pay attention to jet types and jet placement. A single jet that provides the lower back pain relief you’re seeking is worth a dozen jets in the wrong places. Do the jets feel soothing or pummeling? Can individual jets be adjusted for direction? Find out if jet pressure can be regulated. Most spa users prefer to adjust jet pressure for the hydrotherapy they’re seeking. The Hot Spring spa line features the unique “Moto-Massage” jets that sweep up and down the length of your back at a speed you control, providing an underwater massage.
Hear the silence. Ask yourself: Would I want this right outside my bedroom window at night? A truly quiet spa like Hot Spring has no audible noise when the water is circulating, heating and filtering.
Take a deep breath and smell the water! If you smell chlorine in the water or on your skin, or you notice a scent that masks chlorine odor, the sanitizing system is not up to par. Look for a spa that’s sanitized with a corona-discharge ozonator with silver ion cartridges for boosting the cleanliness. Crystal clean water without effort or hassle should be your #1 concern.
What are the features of this spa and what will they do for me?
Keep it Simple. A simple on/off control panel is best. Avoid spas that need to be “programmed”. Look for an EnergySmart Spa™ that’s hot all the time. You’ll use a spa more often if it’s always ready when you are.
Keep it Clean. Don’t consider buying a spa without full filtration. The system should operate 24/7 and be 100% balanced. Soaking in dirty, unfiltered water is no fun. Filters should be “top-loading,” readily accessible for cleaning, not stuck in the equipment bay.
Keep it Safe. Select a spa with locking cover and locking control panel to keep out small children. Consider safety rails and steps for ease of entry.
How is this spa constructed?
Quality Counts. The quality of the construction and materials used will determine how long your spa will last, the actual long-term cost, and the maintenance involved.
Rock solid construction. Be sure the shell is made from a durable material that has been tested over time. Avoid fiberglass shells, which can crack and blister and require extensive waxing. The new pearl metalescent finishes should be laminated over the most durable material possible, such as ABS. Be sure the material you select is resistant to UV, chemical damage and cracking. Avoid wood cabinets, which will turn black and moldy over time. Embossed wood-look cabinets made from rigid polymers will give you low maintenance, high durability and retain their good looks for years. The cabinet warranty should be at least 5 years.
A good warranty protects. The components that run your spa should be backed strongly by the manufacturer’s warranty. Ask the dealer for a product brochure or search their website for the details on how each spa is made and the parts and materials used in construction.
What will this spa cost to operate monthly?
Energy efficiency saves. Portable spas can be much more energy efficient than built-ins, but only if properly insulated. That insulation as well as the insulating value of the cover will be the key determinants of operating costs. The most EnergySmart Spas™ are totally foam-filled. Avoid spas with bags of “peanut” pellet insulation stuffed under the skirt or no insulation at all! Some manufacturers claim that no insulation means that you can fix a plumbing leak. You don’t want to pay high-energy costs forever because the manufacturer is not able to guarantee against leaks!
When a “deal” isn’t a deal. Reputable dealers will provide documented information on typical operating costs. Heating costs for a “bargain” spa can run two or three times more a month than for well insulated models which may cost more initially. In the long run you will end up paying far more for an inferior product. Ask for the estimated costs in writing and ask every referral you call what their experience has been.
What is the manufacturer's track record and reputation?
Here today. Here tomorrow? Question each dealer about their spa manufacturer. How long have they manufactured spas? How big is their dealer network? In how many states? This will help gauge how long they’ll be around in the future. Without a strong manufacturer, how good is your warranty? Small regional and local manufacturers typically do not stay in business for any length of time.
How long has the dealer been in business and carried this spa line?
Good track record. The longer a dealer has been in business, the better their track record is likely to be. And, the longer they’ve carried a particular brand of spa, the higher your confidence level can be. Dealers with a history of switching brands are unlikely to have a strong customer referral base or be as willing to service spas they don’t currently carry. Look for a solid dealer who’s made a strong commitment to support a reputable manufacturer.
Enjoy the Experience. Shopping for a spa should be fun and informative. Seek out a low-pressure, reputable dealer who can answer all of your buying questions.
A FREE In-Home Consultation will save you time and money. Ask if the dealer provides a free site inspection to help you determine the best place for the spa. A spa professional can also recommend the size of spa appropriate for your space and family needs.
Service, Service, Service. Do business with a dealer who will give you service as good after the sale as before your purchase.
What is the warranty on this brand of spa?
See the warranty and… For every spa you look at, ask for a copy of the warranty to take home and examine. Most reputable manufacturers have their warranties clearly printed in their product brochure or website. If a dealer is reluctant to give you a copy of the warranty to take home, or tells you that it comes “with the spa,” consider this a “red flag”, do not purchase from him. Period.
Read the warranty. A reputable manufacturer will warranty the spa shell for up to seven years against cracking, blistering, yellowing. The plumbing, jets and all major components should be warranted for five years. The selling dealer, not a third party, should do Service on the spa at your home. Beware of hidden “trip” charges to your home for warranty service, and of manufacturers who require you to send in parts for repair rather than fixing them on site. Finally, the warranty should be 100% for the entire warranty period, not pro-rated like tire warranties.
Can I have customer references?
Check references. A reputable dealer will put you in touch with a number of their customers in your neighborhood so you can ask about the spa and the customer service provided by the dealer. The major part of a top quality dealer’s business is based typically on referrals from satisfied customers.
What is included in the purchase price?
“Add-ons” add up. Beware of “add-ons” not included in the purchase price — an insulating cover, delivery to your backyard, water care products and instruction in care and operation — all of which are vital and should not be considered extras. Avoid purchasing from a company that plans to drop off the spa in your driveway for you and your neighbors to wrestle into place. The day your spa is delivered should be one of the happiest days of your life. Don’t risk injuring yourself or friends. Professional spa installers should be sent to do the job.
One size does not fit all.
Want a hot tub with those frozen chicken wings? Choose a hot tub retailer whose only business is hot tubs. If hot tubs are an afterthought or a sideline for the retailer, service can be very long and your choices will be limited.